Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun, who’d been a fan of African-American R&B since moving to Washington D.C. with his U.S.Ambassador from Turkey father, started recording his latest signee today in 1952, a pianist, singer, and songwriter from Florida who’d moved to Seattle to get as far away from there as possible, and ended up playing jazz clubs with Quincy Jones before moving to New York, 21 year old Ray Charles. Ahmet would make Atlantic the most powerful label in rock and roll right up until his death at age 83 when he suffered a head injury in a fall backstage at a Rolling Stones concert.
The Beatles were at EMI studios in London today in 1962, recording Love Me Do for the third time. This time they used session drummer Andy White, more because it was standard record company procedure and less because producer George Martin didn’t like Ringo’s drumming, in fact Martin has said repeatedly he was not the one who insisted they boot Pete Best. EMI ended up releasing the Ringo version of the song as a single, the Andy White version on the album Please Please Me, and the Pete Best version sat in a vault until it was released on The Beatles Anthology I in 1995.
The London Evening News reported today in 1964 that 16 year old Eltham College student Laurie Yarham was the winner of a Mick Jagger look-alike contest, and that everyone in attendance had marveled at how much he not only looked like The Rolling Stones singer, but moved and spoke like him as well, at least until someone discovered that “Laurie” was actually Mick’s younger brother Chris.
The Beatles began their third major film project today in 1967, intended to be a one-hour BBC Television special called Magical Mystery Tour. The other three credit Paul McCartney with the idea, but while Paul had been playing around with an 8mm camera he defers credit to the others. Fact is, they had no real script let alone any idea of what they were doing other than “strange things would happen” while driving around the West English countryside in a large bus that over the next two weeks would become a magnet for an ever-increasing line of cars full of fans following, which ended when the massive traffic jam they’d created caused John Lennon to angrily tear the signage off the bus. Scenes cut from the final version include the band Traffic playing their version of Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.
Tacoma native Bing Crosby was already looking ahead to the holiday season when he taped Christmas special Merrie Olde Christmas today in 1977, singing a duet-medley of Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy with David Bowie that still gets played on KZOK every AC/December.
Reggae superstar and founding member of Bob Marley’s Wailers, Peter Tosh, was found dead in his Kingston Jamaica home today in 1987, shot dead in a home-invasion robbery.
Half of the 70’s stoner-comedy duo Cheech and Chong, Tommy Chong, was sentenced to 9 months in prison and $20,000 for selling some 7500 glass bongs over the interwebs today in 2003. The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Operation Pipe Dream” tied up some 2000 officers and cost U.S. Taxpayers some $12 million. Tommy managed to delay going to prison for a year, but eventually served his sentence at a medium-security Federal Correctional Institution.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Grateful Dead drummer and world-percussion enthusiast Mickey Hart is 70.
Styx and Damn Yankees guitarist Tommy Shaw is 60.