Bob Dylan wasn’t Bob Dylan yet when he played a folk showcase at New York’s Carnegie Hall tonight in 1961, he was still Bob Zimmerman, who Columbia Records’ John Hammond would sign to a contract this month. Many of his co-workers would refer to Dylan as “Hammond’s folly”, possibly because tonight’s show attracted all of 53 paying fans.
British instrumental group The Tornados went to #1 there today in 1962 with a piece it’s writer, producer Joe Meek, named after one of the first privately owned communications satellites, Telstar, which had been launched for AT&T in July. It would hit #1 in the U.S. in December, the first single by a British band to hit that mark, and arguably the start of the “British Invasion”.
The Beatles appeared for the first time on the British pop-music TV show Ready Steady Go! tonight in 1963.
The Yardbirds (featuring Jimmy Page) started a tour of British nightclubs tonight in 1968 at the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Eric Clapton had quit in ’65, Jeff Beck had been fired for being a consistent no-show and having a violent temper, singer Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty, bass player-producer Paul Samwell-Smith, and bass player/rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja had all quit, leaving Page the last man standing to fulfill the band’s contractual obligations, but he’d already assembled a new band with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham that would soon be known as Led Zeppelin.
The Full Tilt Boogie Band’s road manager John Cooke was sent to the Landmark Motor Hotel in Hollywood to retrieve Janis Joplin when she failed to show up at a recording session today in 1970. He’d found her psychedelically-painted Porsche 356C in the parking lot, but on entering the room found her on the floor next to the bed, dead of a heroin overdose at age 27. Apparently the smack she’d gotten into was much stronger than that she’d been used to, as several of her dealer’s customers also overdosed that week.
Pink Floyd were at #1 on the U.S. and British album charts today in 1975 with their 9th studio album Wish You Were Here. The album’s title referred to founding member Syd Barrett, who’d been booted for his erratic behavior in 1968. Interestingly the band got it’s wish during a mixing session for the album in June at Abbey Road, which also happened to coincide with a wedding reception for Barrett’s recently married replacement David Gilmore, being held at the studio’s commissary. Barrett showed up unannounced, having gained a great deal of weight and having shaved off all his hair, including his eyebrows. None of them recognized him at first, but when they did they were horrified, with Roger Waters reduced to tears. When an EMI employee asked how he had gained so much weight, Syd replied that he had a large refrigerator, and ate a lot of pork chops, and that he was ready to “avail the band of his services”, but drummer Nick Mason later said he’d been “not entirely sensible”, and when listening to a playback of Shine On You Crazy Diamond showed no sign of connecting with the music let alone realizing the song was about him. He joined guests in the canteen at the reception, but left without saying goodbye, and it was the last time any of them saw him. Barrett died in 2006 at age 60 of pancreatic cancer.
Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood were at the University of Southern California today in 1980 to award the Trojan Marching Band a framed platinum record for their work on the Fleetwood Mac single Tusk .
CBS Newsman Dan Rather was walking along Park Avenue in New York City today in 1986, when he was punched from behind by two assailants who demanded to know “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” The primary of the two, later identified as the man who shot and killed an NBC technician outside the Today Show studios in 1994, repeatedly punched, kicked, and repeated the question as Rather made his escape. The incident was the basis for R.E.M.’s hit song What’s The Frequency Kenneth? from their ’94 album Monster.
Janie Hendrix, the adopted step-sister of Jimi Hendrix, announced plans today in 1999 to move her brother’s body to a pay-to-view mausoleum, with plots around it being offered to fans who would pay to buried next to the guitarist. She cancelled those plans after negative public reaction, but following the death of Jimi’s father Al in 2004, Janie was awarded Jimi’s entire estate in a King County Court, that determined that brother Leon had taken drugs and deserved nothing.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jim Fielder is 66. Most famous for being the original bass player for Blood Sweat and Tears, he also played with Buffalo Springfield and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and is now slumming in Neil Sedaka’s backup band.