Elvis Presley, along with his lead guitarist Scotty Moore and stand-up bass player Bill Black (both were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame’s “sideman” category two years ago) were promoting The King’s second single on Sun Records, Good Rockin’ Tonight, by playing the Grand Old Opry in Nashville tonight in 1954. Reaction at the staid home of country music to the new “rockabilly” style was lukewarm at best, and Opry manager Jim Denny told Elvis he should go back to driving a truck.
The Beatles were back at EMI studios in London today in 1962, rerecording Love Me Do with Ringo Starr. They’d done it already in June with Pete Best, but producer George Martin thought Best was sloppy and suggested they replace him, which they did, but Martin wasn’t floored with Ringo’s timekeeping either, and would record the song one more time next week with session drummer Andy White. The Ringo version would be released as a single, the Andy White version was used on their British debut album, and the Pete Best version wouldn’t be heard at all until it came out on The Beatles Anthology 1 in 1995.
The Who were inside the Battersea Dog’s Home today in 1965, inquiring about buying a guard dog to sit in their van and discourage theft of their equipment. While they looked at dogs, their van parked out front containing some £5000 worth of guitars, amps, and drums was stolen, though the van was eventually recovered.
The Bee Gees were not yet the kings of disco when they had their 2nd #1 hit today in 1968 with a song about a man awaiting execution in the electric chair, who asks the prison chaplain to get a note to his wife. Gotta Get A Message To You featured all three Gibb brothers singing, Barry on rhythm guitar, and Maurice on bass. A huge Paul McCartney fan, Maurice freely admitted to copying his style.
Having debuted in the U.S. in July and winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Easy Rider premiered in London tonight in 1969. Starring, written, and directed by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, the film is considered a landmark of 60’s “counterculture”, showing the “hippie” lifestyle, a “commune”, the use of real marijuana and cocaine, and featuring a soundtrack that included Steppenwolf (Born to Be Wild is still considered a “biker anthem”, even though legally-blind guitarist John Kay said the biggest bike he’s ever been on was a Schwinn), Jimi Hendrix, The Band, and Roger McGuinn from The Byrds. Bob Dylan had been asked to contribute music, but just wrote the opening verse to The Ballad of Easy Rider, and gave it to Fonda and Hopper, telling them, “Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.” It marks the breakthrough role of actor Jack Nicholson as a hard-drinking ACLU lawyer, and the acting debuts of Fonda’s 4-year old daughter Bridget as a kid in a commune, Toni Basil (who would have a hit in ’81 with Mickey), and record producer Phil Spector, who plays the biker’s Rolls-Royce driving cocaine “connection”.
Paul and Linda McCartney went to #1 on the U.S. singles charts today in 1971 with a song from their Ram album that was only released as a single in America. Paul said of Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey that Albert was his real life uncle, “…someone that I remember fondly…it was like a nostalgia thing…as for Admiral Halsey, he’s one of yours, an American Admiral”, making reference to WWII U.S. Navy Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.
The new version of Yes played the first of three sold out nights at Madison Square Garden in New York tonight in 1980, with Alan White, Chris Squire, and Steve Howe being joined by Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, who’s 1979 Video Killed The Radio Star was the first music video played on MTV when it debuted the following summer.
Having just gotten his driver’s license back after a 5-year suspension, Greg Allman was arrested in Florida for driving under the influence of alcohol today in 1986.
Badfinger’s “classic lineup” drummer Mike Gibbins died in his sleep at age 56 today in 2006. Guitarist and songwriter Pete Ham had taken his own life in 1975, and guitarist Tom Evans followed in 1983.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist Gary Duncan is 67.
The Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers is 62.
Soundgarden lead guitarist Kim Thayil is 53. The Seattle resident and all-around good guy was at #100 on the first Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003, but was knocked off when it was updated in 2011.