The Quarrymen “skiffle” group played the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool tonight in 1958. It was the opening night for the teen hangout started in the former coal cellar of a Victorian house owned by Mona Best. The Quarrymen at the time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ken Brown, did not have a drummer at the time, but would tap Mona’s son Pete a year later when they went to Hamburg, after they’d seen him play there with his band The Black Jets. Mona would manage the band briefly when Pete joined, and while her husband John was away on one of his many business trips, started a relationship with Pete’s best friend and the band’s tour manager Neil Aspinall, 17 years younger than her. They would have a child, born just three weeks before Pete was booted from the band, and while Neil was initially upset at Pete’s dismissal, decided to stay with the band and ended his relationship with Mona and her three week old baby. Mona died in 1988, but her house, which still had the original paint job the future-Beatles had helped her with before that first gig in the basement, was listed as an English Heritage sight (with the requisite blue plaque) in 2006, and is a regular stop on “Beatle Tours” of Liverpool to this day.
Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman was released today in 1964. The song came when Roy and the song’s co-writer Bill Dees were interrupted by Roy’s wife Claudette, who announced she was going out. Roy had asked if she was okay for cash, and Dees had said “A pretty woman never needs any money”. The song would go to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic, and be a hit again in 1982 when it was covered by Van Halen.
The Beatles played their last paying gig ever today in 1966 at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park to a sold-out crowd of 25,000 (fans were not allowed on the field). Interestingly they played exactly no songs from their latest album
Revolver on the tour. Though the audience had no idea, the band knew they were done with playing live, and brought cameras on stage to document the show from their perspective. Originally built to house the San Francisco Giants (who moved to AT&T Park on the downtown waterfront in 2000), Candlestick has been home to the 49ers NFL franchise since 1971, but they are moving to Levi’s Stadium (already nicknamed “the field of jeans”) in Santa Clara at the start of the 2014 season, at which point the stadium will be imploded. Giants fans are hoping the team will play one more game there before then, and Paul McCartney has offered to play a final concert there.
Edwin Starr (no relation to Ringo) had his one hit today in 1970 when War went to #1 in the U.S. It would get to #3 on the British charts.
Just 11 days after his burial next to his mother at the Forest Hill cemetery in Memphis Tennessee, three people were arrested for attempting to dig up and steal the body of Elvis Presley today in 1977. The King and his mother’s bodies would be moved to the grounds of Graceland in October.
Britain, the country that had changed rock and roll music forever when bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin offered an American audience new versions of American songs by African-American artists unheard on American radio (and in the late 70’s offered the dangerous new “punk rock”) was at it’s insipid worst today in 1987 when Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up went to #1. The song was so horrific to rock fans it became one of the first “internet memes” in 2006. “Rickrolling” is a bait-and-switch joke, where a hyperlink to some topic is actually the video for Rick’s song. It led to a revival of Rick’s career by people who actually like the song, and led to his appearance at New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 2008.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a fan of 77 year old legend Fats Domino spray- painted the message “R.I.P. Fats-You will be missed” on his New Orleans house today in 2005, which was photographed and made it to news media all over the world. Luckily he was still very much alive, though he had ignored evacuation orders, as the Coast Guard discovered later that afternoon, when they sent a helicopter to pluck him off his roof. Many of his gold and platinum records were destroyed by the flooding, and his National Medal of Arts that had been awarded by President Bill Clinton was replaced by George W. Bush in person, also well-covered by the media as Bush attempted to stop a flood of bad public relations following the federal government’s response to the disaster. Fats is till with us today at age 85.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Procul Harum bass player Chris Copping is 68. The band was nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time last year, but did not get voted in.
Blue Öyster Cult’s early 80’s drummer Rick Downey is 60.
The Guinness Book of World Records’ “most successful entertainer of all time” Michael Jackson would be 55. His Thriller album (produced by former Seattleite Quincy Jones) knocked Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album from the best-selling record ever spot, and before his death at age 50 he’d acquired the publishing rights, on the advice of his friend Paul McCartney, to an astonishing catalog of popular music that included nearly all the early Beatles songs. Michael also has the distinction of having been a high-school classmate of KZOK morning host Danny Bonaduce.