Bo Diddley made his R&B chart debut today in 1955 with a song he’d written about himself: Bo Diddley. He wouldn’t become nationally known in the U.S. until his songs were covered by Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and The Velvet Underground. Bo died in 2008.
The Kingsmen from Portland were back on the charts today in 1966 with their 1963 cover of Richard Berry’s Louie Louie. The resurgence in popularity was largely due to Indiana Governor Matthew Welsh banning the song (and the FBI investigation that followed) over it’s supposed “indecent” lyrics (which it did not have).
John Lennon and Paul McCartney appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show tonight in 1968. H0st Johnny Carson was on vacation, and his guest host baseball great Joe Garagiola was obviously not a fan. He conducted a terrible interview, at one point even asking them “which one is Ringo?” NBC destroyed the video tape, but the audio remains preserved for posterity.
The Rascals were in New York City today in 1968 recording their hit People Got To Be Free. After it’s release, the band inserted a clause in their contract that said they would only perform live if an African-American act was also featured, and cancelled several shows when promoters overlooked and/or ignored it.
Folk-rock band Fairport Convention were on the way back to London from a gig in Birmingham tonight in 1969 when their van crashed, killing 19 year old drummer Martin Lamble and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie Franklyn. Thompson left the band two years later to start a solo career, that’s still going strong (He played Seattle’s Showbox last weekend), he’s guitarist #69 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 of All Time list, and was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011.
33 year old Keith Relf, the former lead singer of The Yardbirds, was electrocuted by an ungrounded electric guitar today in 1976. He was at home in London, and tragically was found by his 8 year old son, still involuntarily clutching the still plugged-in guitar.
The Talking Heads were on their first tour of England tonight in 1977, playing the Rock Garden in London. They made quite an impression on one audience member, former Roxy Music keyboard player Brian Eno, who went on to produce their next three albums.
The three surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the second time tonight in 1988 at the 40th anniversary party of their label, Atlantic Records. It was the first time they’d played live with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums. The first reunion, a short set for 1985’s Live Aid concert with Genesis drummer Phil Collins had been described by Robert Plant as “an atrocity”. This one didn’t go much better, with Jimmy Page describing it as “one big disappointment”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Cream singer and bass player Jack Bruce is 70.
Herman’s Hermits lead guitarist Derek “Lek” Leckenby would be 70. He died of lymphoma at age 51.
The Talking Heads guitarist, songwriter, and front man David Byrne is 61.
The Cult’s lead singer Ian Astbury is 51. He filled the shoes of The Doors Jim Morrison for a tour in 2002 at the invitation of Ray Manzarek and Robby Kreiger.
Bass player Mike Inez is 47. He played with Ozzy Osbourne before joining Seattle’s Alice In Chains after the departure of Mike Starr, and has made guest appearances with Heart.