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The Who Debut Tommy, Birth Of The Blues Brothers, Clapton Crashes In Seattle: This Day In Classic Rock [Video]

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Peter Frampton back with his favorite 3-pickup Gibson Les Paul, missing for many years. He's 63 today. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Peter Frampton back with his favorite 3-pickup Gibson Les Paul, missing for many years. He’s 63 today. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Photo by Doug Cooper Scott Vanderpool
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Abe Saucer and John Dillars of Memphis Doors Inc. were at Graceland today in 1957, installing the iconic custom-built “music gates” that Elvis Presley had ordered, about 10 years before a young Bruce Springsteen would climb over them in an unsuccessful attempt to meet The King.

The President of the British National Federation of Hairdressers issued a press release today in 1964 offering a free haircut to each member of the next group to hit #1 on the British pop charts. There was no doubt who he expected that to be. “The Rolling Stones are the worst.”, he said. “One of them looks like he’s got a feather duster on his head.”

British band The Troggs, who’d shortened their name from The Troglodytes, were at #1 in the U.S. today in 1966 with Wild Thing, a song that would launch thousands of 60’s “Garage” bands, and be a huge influence on “Punk” bands in the 70’s and beyond.

24 bands played three songs each at a “Battle of the Bands” at the Matawan Keyport Roller-Drome in New Jersey tonight in 1966. 1st place went to The Rogues, 2nd to Sonny and the Starfires, but 3rd place band The Castilles are the only ones anyone remembers, and only then because their lead singer was named Bruce Springsteen. All three of the top finishers were invited back to the Roller-Drome the next week to open up for The Crystals.

John Lennon was back on the roof of the Apple building in London today in 1969, three months after The Beatles had played together for the last time there, holding a brief ceremony to legally add Yoko’s last name to his own. Using a legal document called a “deed poll” he became John Winston Ono Lennon.

The Who performed their new “rock-opera” Tommy in it’s entirety for the first time tonight in 1969 in Dolton, England.

Deep Purple were at #1 on the British album charts for the second time today in 1972 with their latest, Machine Head.

One of England’s most revered bands of the “punk” era, The Jam released their first single today in 1977. Though they got big around the same time as contemporaries like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, and The Damned, The Jam were much more derivative of The Who (the single shared a title with a Who song, In The City), and were credited of reviving the scooter-riding “Mod” craze of the mid 60’s. They never caught on in America, where the radio industry was intent on blacklisting the new styles coming out of Britain in favor of softer female oriented love songs from bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon, but even though bandleader Paul “The Modfather” Weller broke up the band in 1982, you can’t go into a pub even in the most remote parts of the U.K. to this day without finding The Jam’s Greatest Hits on the jukebox.

Saturday Night Live cast members John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd appeared on the show as “The Blues Brothers” for the first time tonight in 1978.  Their backing band included long-respected members of the Stax Records house band and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and the sketch would be such a hit that it inspired an album Briefcase Full of Blues later that year, and a feature-length film in 1980 that due to delays caused by Belushi’s enthusiasm for intoxicants and the massive car chase scene where hundreds of police cars were destroyed made it the most expensive comedy ever made.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards fulfilled his court-ordered community service obligation tonight in 1979, playing two shows outside of Toronto Ontario to benefit the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He’d been busted with Heroin there two years earlier, but of The Stones, only Ron Wood joined his New Barbarians, which also sported Ron’s old Faces bandmate Ian McClagen.

Two days after being released from a hospital in Minnesota for treatment of bleeding ulcers, Eric Clapton was admitted to Seattle’s Harborview Hospital following a car crash today in 1981. Clapton had come to the Puget Sound area to go trout fishing, and was a passenger in a car driven by a 19 year old Seattle girl, who was cited for the crash that left him with a cut chin and bruised ribs.

24 years to the day after they had first played it live, a Broadway musical version of The Who’s 1969 album Tommy opened on Broadway tonight in 1993 at the St. James theater. Tweaked for the stage by Pete Townsend himself with minor plot changes, the production won several Tony Awards, including a Best Original Score award for Pete.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Country singer, guitarist, actor and TV host Glen Campbell is 77. He started his musical career as a session musician, playing with the “Wrecking Crew” group on recordings by Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson,  The Monkees, Jan and Dean, and many more, and toured as a member of The Beach Boys. He did a farewell tour last year after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Humble Pie and solo guitarist Peter Frampton is 63.

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