Elvis Presley released his version of the Leiber and Stoller song Jailhouse Rock today in 1957. They’d written it intending it to be performed by The Coasters (of Yakity Yak fame), but Elvis sang it straight, even the obvious gay-prison-love reference, when inmate “number 47 said to number three, you’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see”, which they were amazed made it past the censors of the day. It was The King’s 9th #1 hit, it topped the country and R&B charts as well as the pop, and it would inspire a movie of the same name, with a song-and-dance routine to the title track that is considered by most music historians to be the first-ever “rock video”.
The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd today in 1964. He’d been dating her since before the band hit it big, and unlike most rock and rollers, they are still married. They had one daughter together, who has since produced a granddaughter. Charlie is so loyal to his wife that he famously hung out in Hugh Hefner’s elaborate game room when The Stones were invited to the Playboy Mansion on their ’72 tour, while the rest of the band cavorted with girls in The Grotto.
Pink Floyd their first “underground” psychedelic show at All Saints Hall in London’s Notting Hill borough tonight in 1966. Snubbing the usual music venues, these shows featured arty light shows and for the time, fairly blatant use of cannabis and psychedelic drugs.
Singer Grace Slick made her first appearance with The Jefferson Airplane tonight in 1966 at The Fillmore in San Francisco.
The Who released the only single to come from their The Who Sell Out record today in 1967. I Can See For Miles went on to be their biggest selling single in North America.
The second season of The Monkees premiered in England tonight in 1967. The show, loosely based on The Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night, was surprisingly popular there, even with the Beatles themselves (John Lennon later told Mickey Dolenz he thought they were the greatest comedic talents since the Marx Brothers). The BBC had hoped to be broadcasting in “colour” by then, but weren’t ready with the technology, and Brits watched The Monkees in black-and-white for it’s final season.
The publishing rights company Arco Industries filed a half-million dollar lawsuit against Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty today in 1971, alleging that he’d stolen almost all of their hit Travelin’ Band from the Little Richard song Good Golly Miss Molly, which CCR had also recorded (and paid proper royalites for) in 1969. The suit was eventually dropped.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono made a rare television appearance tonight in 1971, when they were the guests on ABC’s The Dick Cavett Show to promote John’s new album Imagine, as well as a book, film, and art show from Yoko that very few people cared about.
Joe Cocker and his band were arrested in Adelaide, Australia tonight in 1972, with police claiming to have found cannabis, heroin, and hypodermic needles in their possession. They were not formally charged, but were given just 4 hours to leave the country.
Def Leppard became the first act in recording chart history to have two consecutive albums sell over 7 million copies each today in 1988. Pyromania, their third album from ’83 was still selling when Hysteria hit record stores, eventually selling over 20 million copies worldwide.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer at #1 in their list of the Top 100 Music Videos of All Time today in 1993. Nivana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion, Neil Young’s This Note’s For You, and Sinead O’Conner’s Nothing Compares 2 U rounded out the top 5. Two years later MTV would begin reducing the amount of programming time devoted to rock videos, and would stop showing them altogether by the mid 2000’s.
Eric Clapton was suspended from driving in France today in 2004 after being nailed doing 134 mph in his Porsche 911 turbo on the A6 motorway outside Merceuil, just south of Dijon. He was fined €750 on the spot (about $1100 U.S.), and his U.K. license was confiscated, but the Gend’armes managed to get themselves in snapshots with Eric and his car before letting him go, with his secretary behind the wheel.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Billy Harrison (no relation to George), guitarist for Van Morrison’s band Them is 71.
Nazareth lead singer Dan McCafferty is 67.
The Moody Blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Justin Hayward is 67, and playing Seattle’s historic Paramount Theater this coming Saturday night.