Much is made of the mid-60’s “British Invasion“. We devote a weekend to it every so often…there’s one starting this Friday at 3pm with Stacy Ireland! But today in 1957, it was the Brits who were going bull-goose looney for American Rock and Roll in the form of Bill Haley and the Comets, who arrived from New York at the dock on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner at Southampton to 5000+ rabid fans.
The Beatles were filming what would later be called a “music video” for their song Penny Lane today in 1967. Penny Lane is a relatively short stretch of road that runs between Greenbank Road and the A562 Highway in their hometown of Liverpool, and would probably not have been that big a deal if not for the song. Today it’s a huge tourist attraction there, with tons of businesses named for it now, from the Penny Lane Wine Bar to the Penny Lane News to the Penny Lane Gallery. But Liverpool is way the hell North. The Beatles filmed in London, walking around a stand-in street Angel Lane.
The British News Of The World reported today in 1967 in an article called Pop Stars And Drugs: Facts that Will Shock You that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was addicted to hashish and benzedrine, and had taken LSD at the home of one of The Moody Blues. Mick sued the tabloid for libel, and some speculate that Keith Richards’ drug bust 5 days later was arranged as retaliation.
David Bowie was at the BBC’s Paris Studio in London today in 1970, doing some songs for John Peel’s influential radio show, but Ziggy didn’t play guitar. It was the first performance with Bowie for guitarist #41 on the rolling Stone Magazine Top 100 Guitarist of All Time list, Mick Ronson.
Black Sabbath were in London today in 1970, starting to work on their 3rd album. Guitarist Tony Iommi (he’s #25 on Rolling Stone’s list, BTW) who plays left handed, had lost the tips of two of the fingers of his right hand at a sheet-metal factory he worked in at age 17. He uses rubber tips on those fingers, but also found that loosening the tension on the guitar strings made it easier to play. For Master Of Reality, he went all the way down to a C-Sharp, and bass player Geezer Butler tuned down to match. The resulting sound was “heavier”, and the 3rd Black Sabbath album is generally considered the template for all “Stoner Rock” that followed, especially with some Seattle (and Seattle influenced) bands who used Tony’s “drop tuning” extensively: Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Kyuss (later Queens of the Stone Age) to name but a few.
Your Seattle Seahawks were the NFC Champions playing in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit today in 2006, being cheated by corrupt referees on the Pittsburgh Steelers payroll. Naturally organizers wanted the absolute best in halftime entertainment for Seattle’s first appearance in the championship game, and selected The Rolling Stones as a suitable act for such a momentous occasion. The Stones expressed their displeasure after the three-song performance that Mick Jagger’s microphone was turned down on the phrase “You make a dead man come” on the song Start Me Up, and on a barnyard double-entendre of the word “cock” in their new song Rough Justice. Seahawks guitar-playing defensive tackle Craig Terrill expressed his displeasure at not being able to meet his idols The Rolling Stones.
Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who had introduced a gaggle of British rock stars, most notably The Beatles, to transcendental meditation and Hinduism, died today in 2008 at age 91.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Session drummer Hal Blaine is 84. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the famous Wrecking Crew backing band, he played on an unbelievable number of #1 hits, including Jan and Dean’s Surf City, The Beach Boys Help Me Rhonda and Good Vibrations, The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man, Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Were Made For Walkin’, Simon and Garfunkle’s Mrs. Robinson to name but a few.
One of Three Dog Night’s 3 lead singers, Corey Wells is 71.
Songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Al Kooper is 68. He first found success at age 14 in The Royal Teens, and later when he formed Blood Sweat and Tears, on the Super Session album with Mike Bloomfield and Steven Stills, and has appeared on hundreds of records from the likes of Bob Dylan, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Alice Cooper. He’s credited with discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd, and produced their first three albums, and has written a couple of rock and roll memoirs, which gave him the “published author” status necessary to be the most musically accomplished member of The Rock Bottom Remainders, a band made up of wanna-be musician writers including Stephen King, Dave Berry, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Amy Tan.
Guitarist David Denny is 65. He played in San Francisco psychedelic band Furious Bandersnatch, but is most famous for playing on The Steve Miller Band’s Book of Dreams and Wide River albums. He wrote this one, called The Stake:
British-American actor, writer, and guitarist Christopher Haden-Guest is 65. Best known in rock and roll circles as lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel in Rob Reiner’s 1984 rock-mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, he started in comedy contributing to the National Lampoon Radio Hour, wrote for and was a one-year cast member of Saturday Night Live, and with the ensemble Spinal Tap cast has also appeared in the films Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, and A Mighty Wind. From his British father (he was born in New York while dad served as a United Nations diplomat) he inherited the title The 5th Baron Haden-Guest, and served in the British House of Lords until the House of Lords Act of 1999 cut short the number of “hereditary peers”.
Guns and Roses original bass player Michael Andrew “Duff” McKagen is 49. He grew up in Seattle’s U-District and played guitar, bass, and drums in quite a few punk bands including The Fastbacks, The Fartz, and 10-Minute Warning before moving to Los Angeles in 1983, where he met G&R’s Slash and Steven Adler when he answered a “bass player wanted” ad in a local paper. He was an honor student at Roosevelt High School when he dropped out in the 10th grade, but since quitting G&R in ’97 started a business that provides financial services to rock stars, and writes an excellent column for The Seattle Weekly. Just after being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, this last summer he was Grand Marshall of the Seafair Torchlight Parade.