Gram Parsons Checks Out, Simon And Garfunkle Fill Central Park: This Day In Classic Rock [Video]
Creedence Clearwater Revival started a 4 week run at #1 on the U.S. album chart today in 1969 with their third studio album Green River. There are several Green Rivers in the U.S., including one here in Washington, but the one John Fogerty was singing about is actually Putah Creek near Winters, California, he just called it Green River because he remembered it being green when he went there with his parents when he was little. The big hit from it, Bad Moon Rising, would go to #1 in England, the only time CCR would do that.
Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons of The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers died of a heroin overdose at a hotel near his favorite place in the world, Joshua Tree National Park today in 1973. Gram was close friends with Keith Richards, and had lived at his rented house in the south of France while they recorded Exile on Main Street. Gram’s body was taken to L.A. International airport to be flown to Louisiana for burial as his family had asked, but Gram had told his manager Phil Kaufman if he died he wanted to be cremated at Joshua Tree, and Kaufman obliged, stealing his coffin and taking it out to the park, where he dumped 5 gallons of gasoline in it, which made it erupt into a huge fireball that burned itself out almost immediately. Kaufman and his assistant were arrested, “unencumbered by sobriety” according to the report, and fined $750, and Gram’s partially burned remains were eventually buried in Louisiana, but fans created a memorial to Parsons at Joshua Tree, which is torn down regularly by the National Park Service, and promptly restored by fans.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle reunited for a show at New York’s Central Park today in 1981, playing to some 400,000 people for free. The performance was recorded and released on the newfangled Compact Disc format as well as a VHS tape.
Pearl Jam released their second album Vs. today in 1993. It set a record for the most copies of an album sold in it’s first week that stood for 5 years, but the band took the unprecedented step of making no music videos to promote it on MTV.
Research by the Guinness Book of World Records organization released today in 2005 showed that the band with the most all-time hit singles in the United Kingdom was not The Beatles, but in fact Status Quo, who’s only hit on our side of the Atlantic was their 1968 psychedelic gem Pictures of Matchstick Men. In second place with 10 less than Status Quo’s 61 was Queen, and third place on the list was a tie between The Rolling Stones and UB40. The Fab Four surprisingly were way down the list, because they didn’t record together past the 60’s.
Rock and roll Birthdays
The Beatles manager Brian Epstein would be 79. He died at age 32 of an overdose of barbiturates and brandy, which Paul McCartney has said was pivotal to the band’s breakup.
The Mamas and The Papas singer Cass Elliott (real name Ellen Naomi Cohen) would be 72. Contrary to legend she did not choke to death on a sandwich, but died in her sleep of a heart attack at age 32 in a London flat owned by Harry Nilsson, the same flat Who drummer Keith Moon died in four years later at the same age. “Mama” Cass had in fact lost some 80 pounds in the 8 months prior by fasting four days a week, which weakened her heart.
Status Quo drummer John Coghlan is 67.
The Runaways lead guitarist Lita Ford is 55.