Elvis Presley was playing in Jacksonville Florida tonight in 1955 when he made the mistake of joking to his mostly female audience that he’d see them backstage after the show. They took him up on it, creating the first riot of his career, shredding his clothing, and making his manager Col. Tom Parker realize just how big Elvis was getting.
The Monkees went to #1 in England today in 1967 with their second album. More Of The Monkees. Singing drummer Mickey Dolenz freely admitted that the band was “A TV Show about an imaginary band that wanted to be The Beatles but was never successful.”, and later “The Monkees really becoming a band was like the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan”, and no one expected them to become popular on the Beatles home turf, but The Monkees had visited them while they were working on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (which would come out in June), and the Beatles were quite pleased to meet their American imitators: John Lennon told them they were the greatest comedic talents since the Marx Brothers, and that he never missed a show, and George Harrison said, “It’s obvious what’s happening, there’s talent there. They’re doing a TV show, it’s a difficult chore and I wouldn’t be in their shoes for the world. When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best!” He ended up using Peter Tork to play banjo on his Wonderwall Music album.
Two days after utterly destroying Seattle’s Green Lake Aqua Theater, Led Zeppelin became the first major British rock band to appear in Hawaii tonight in 1969, at the civic auditorium in Honolulu. The local paper published a review the next day: “The showmanship exceeded any rock performance here to date. I wondered before the concert if Led Zeppelin could sound as good as their Atlantic album – they sounded better!”
The Beatles film Let It Be premiered in New York City tonight in 1970. Originally titled Get Back and started before the Abbey Road sessions, the film was intended as a BBC television special with a concert at the end. While the finished product does have a concert at the end, the unannounced session on the rooftop of the Apple building ended up being their last performance together, it mostly avoids the infighting going on at the time, but there are places where the real vibe shines through. While John and Paul are said to have been pleased with the result, George and Ringo were not, as they thought it showed a particularly unhappy time in their lives.
“Little” Stevie Wonder (he singed with Motown Records at age 11) was legally entitled to all the money he had earned on his 21st birthday today in 1971. He was given a cool 1 million dollars, despite the fact that he had earned over $30 million.
Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick was hospitalized today in 1971 after she crashed her Mercedes into a wall near the Golden Gate Bride in San Francisco.
Bruce Springsteen married an actress and model 11 years his junior, Julianne Phillips, today in 1985 in her hometown, the Portland suburb Lake Oswego, Oregon. She would file for divorce in 1988 after The Boss had written several songs about his unhappy marriage (Pretty much the entire Tunnel of Love album), and taken to shagging his E-Street Band backup singer, guitarist, and longtime friend Patti Scialfa on the tour for that album. They got married in 1991. Julianne would star opposite Chevy Chase in Fletch Lives, and had a pretty good run as one of four main characters in the TV drama Sisters in the mid 90′s, but has not acted since 1997, and seems to enjoy being out of the spotlight.
Queen guitarist Brian May was living under 24-hour security today in 2007, after police investigating the disappearance of a schizophrenic discovered a letter he’d left behind stating his intention to kill May, blaming him for his mental illness, claiming he was an imposter, and signing it “the real Brian May”.
Legendary bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn, who grew up in his Memphis neighborhood with guitarist Steve Cropper and went on to play in the Stax Records house band, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and The Blues Brothers with him, died in his sleep today in 2012 at age 70.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Guitarist Ritchie Valens would be 72 today if he hadn’t been killed at age 17 in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper “The Day The Music Died”.
J. Geils Band harmonica player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz is 68.
J. Geils Band bass player Danny “Dr. Funk” Klein is 67.
Mott The Hoople bass player Pete Overend Watts is 66.
Fleetwood Mac singer, songwriter, and guitarist Danny Kirwan is 63. He was fired some 18 months into the Bob Welch era of the band.
Stevie Wonder is 63, and has been recording for Motown Records since he was 11.