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Sir Elton’s Birthday, John And Yoko’s Bed In For Peace, The Beatles Shoot The Butcher Cover: This Day In Classic Rock [Video]

Buddy Holly played the last date of his only British tour tonight in 1958, at the Gaumont Theater in London. Buddy was a huge influence on English rockers like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, who released a cover of his Not Fade Away as their third single in 1964.

The Beatles were at the studio of photographer Bob Whitaker (Not to be confused with the Seattle-based Mudhoney and R.E.M. tour manager, who is the son of the first American to summit Mt. Everest, Jim Whittaker) shooting the cover of their next American album Yesterday and Today, today in 1966. They thought they were being quite clever with the concept: The band dressed in butcher’s white coats, draped in dismembered baby-doll parts and large cuts of meat. Paul McCartney was particularly keen on the photo, calling it “Our comment on the war (in Vietnam), and John Lennon quipped that critics were “being soft”, but George Harrison (who was the first Beatle to become a vegetarian) didn’t like it at all, saying, “It was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things thinking it was cool and hip when it was naïve and dumb; and that was one of them.” After advance copies were sent to radio stations and record reviewers, the reaction was so negative that Capitol Records decided to recall some 750,000 copies and replace the cover with a more sedate shot of the band gathered around a “steamer trunk”. Albums with the original cover, especially the stereo versions, are one of the most highly-sought records by collectors ever,  fetching prices pushing $40,000 sometimes, and even the copies with the non-offensive cover glued over the original are worth substantial sums.

New York disc jockey Murray “The K” Kauffman gave his listeners a rare treat tonight in 1967, with a showcase at Manhattan’s RKO 58th Street Theater featuring The Who and Cream.

The Rolling Stones were in Copenhagen, Denmark today in 1967, starting a 3-week European tour. They were delayed for several hours while customs officials thoroughly searched every bit of their luggage for drugs.

The 58th and final episode of The Monkees aired on NBC tonight in 1968. The show about a struggling rock band modeled on The Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, filmed at a two-story beach house in Malibu that no struggling rock band could possibly afford, launched thousands of other bands, and picked up two Emmys in it’s short run, besting American favorites like The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, Get Smart, and Hogan’s Heroes.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono started their week-long “Bed-In For Peace” at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel today in1969, inviting the press into their room each day to rail against the war in Vietnam.

Detroit’s highly influential Motown Records celebrated its 25th anniversary today in 1983, with a concert in Pasadena California featuring Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Jr. Walker, The Commodores, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and a reunited Jackson 5.

Guns-N-Roses signed with David Geffen’s Geffen Records today in 1986. They sold over 100 million albums for the label, with the first, Appetite For Destruction, accounting for over 28 million of those.

Pearl Jam’s singer Eddie Vedder was rescued by New Zealand lifeguards today in 1995, after a riptide carried him 250 feet offshore and nearly drowned him.

The Comic Relief charity record Love Can Build A Bridge went to #1 in England today in 1995. A collaboration between Cher, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Neneh Cherry, and Eric Clapton, it’s surprisingly the only time Clapton has ever been associated with a #1 hit.

U2’s frontman Bono Vox was in court in London today in 2002, to testify in the air-rage trial of his friend R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. Buck was living in Seattle at the time, married to Crocodile Café owner Stephanie Dorgan, when he supposedly consumed some 15 glasses of red wine before his British Airways flight from Sea-Tac to London even took off. In the company of tour manager Bob Whittaker, he allegedly tried to get a CD to play in a food-service cart, and when it wouldn’t became frustrated, up-ending the cart and spewing yogurt all over the first-class cabin. Bono told the court “I came to court because Peter is actually famously known for being a peaceable person. I once had to twist his arm to get him to a boxing match.” Buck told the judge he was very, very sorry, and was acquitted of all charges on grounds of “non-insane automatism”.

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were thankful that they regularly change the batteries in the smoke detectors in their Buckinghamshire mansion tonight in 2005, when a fire broke out while they were asleep. The peeling alarm did as it was supposed to, and they escaped to safety in their garden, rescuing their pets on the way out. Good thing they’re punctual about these things, ’cause it wouldn’t be the last time.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Rockabilly guitarist Johnny Burnette would be 79. He was killed at age 30 when the unlit fishing boat he was in was struck bya cabin cruiser on Clear Lake in California. His songs Train Kept A-Rollin’ and Your Sixteen were big hits later for The Yardbirds, Aerosmith, and Ringo Starr.

Guitarist and songwriter Hoyt Axton would be 75 if he hadn’t died in 1999 after a stroke. He wrote songs that were huge hits for other artists, including Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley), Joy To The World (Three dog Night), The Pusher (Steppenwolf), and The No No Song (Ringo Starr).

The Queen of Soul, singer Aretha Franklin, is 71.

Sir Elton Hercules John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, is 66.

Rockpile guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer Nick Lowe is 64. His songs What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding and Cruel To Be Kind were big hits on records he produced for Elvis Costello.

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