RCA Records bought the recording contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records Sam Phillips today in 1955 for the then ridiculous sum of $35,000, which is interesting in that the intellectual rights to all of Elvis’s estate (save the Graceland mansion, which is being kept by Lisa Marie Presley) were sold to Authentic Brands Group a year ago last Tuesday for an “undisclosed sum”, sure to have added a few zeros to that ’55 figure.
The Beatles played Hamburg’s Kaiserkeller Club tonight in 1960 without George Harrison, who had just been deported from Germany for performing underage (he was just 17) after midnight. Paul McCartney and Pete Best would be deported a week later, at the insistence of the club’s owner, who was still angry after having them arrested for setting fire to a wall tapestry in the room he’d provided for them to stay in, which they in turn had done because he fired them for playing one show at the rival Top Ten Club.
The Partridge Family were at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with I Think I Love You today in 1970. Danny Bonaduce did not get any royalties for not playing bass and not singing on the song, David Cassidy and Shirley Jones sang, and all the instruments and backing vocals were done by studio musicians, but Danny can fake-play bass as well as anyone. He did get to keep the Fender Precision bass he used in the TV show, and while it would be worth a small fortune now, he long ago traded it for a bag of weed while he was still doing such things.
Jimi Hendrix was at #1 on the U.K. singles chart today in 1970 with the last track on Electric Ladyland, Voodoo Child (Slight Return). It was his only #1 hit there, but unfortunately he wasn’t around to enjoy it, as he’d died in London two months earlier.
Elton John started the British leg of a tour promoting his new album Madman Across the Water tonight in 1971. The album’s cover was an elaborate embroidery job done over the course of two weeks on the back of an old Levi’s jacket by Janis Larkham, the wife of the record company’s art director, who after the photo shoot gave it to Elton. He still has it.
Elton John was in Hollywood today in 1975, receiving a star on the “Walk of Fame”, and enjoying what the Mayor of Los Angeles had officially proclaimed to be “Elton John Week”.
The Eagles singing drummer, the then 33 year old Don Henley, was arrested today in 1980 when a naked 16 year old girl was found at his house suffering from a drug overdose. He was fined $2000 and given two years probation.
Queen and David Bowie went to #1 in England today in 1981 with Under Pressure, which they’d written and recorded at a studio in Germany both happened to be working at.
Billy Idol went to #1 on the U.S. singles charts today in 1987 with a cover of Mony Mony by Tommy James and The Shondells. Interestingly the song that Billy knocked out of the #1 spot was a cover of I Think We’re Alone Now, also by Tommy James and The Shondells as performed by teen idol Tiffany.
Led Zeppelin guitarist and mastermind Jimmy Page started his first and only solo tour tonight in 1988 in Birmingham England, with John Miles on bass and John Bonham’s son Jason on drums.
The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger married Texas-born model Jerry Hall today in 1990 in a 6-hour ceremony on the Indonesian island of Bali. 9 years later this would save Mick a great deal of money, when his lawyers discovered the marriage hadn’t been legally registered, and they were able to have it declared “null and void”.
Aerosmith appeared as animated versions of themselves on The Simpsons tonight in 1991, a series created by Evergreen State College graduate Matt Groening.
Peter Grant died of a heart attack at age 60 today in 1995. He’d been a professional wrestler, movie extra, and tour-manager and roadie for British tours in the 50’s by Bo Diddley, The Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent (Eddie died and Gene was seriously injured in a car crash on that tour), and The Animals. But he is most famous as the notorious manager of Led Zeppelin, who forever upped the cut performers got for a rock shows, intimidated record store owners (often with a Cricket Bat, as parodied in the movie This Is Spinal Tap) from selling Zeppelin bootleg recordings, and once beat a Canadian government official in Vancouver measuring sound levels with a decibel meter he thought was recording the show.
Apple Corps Records released The Beatles Anthology I today in 1995. The 60 tracks included the first recordings ever released from their early Hamburg days to feature Pete Best on drums and the late Stuart Suttcliffe on bass, and the first “new” Beatles song since their breakup: Free As A Bird was a Beatle-era home demo recording given to Paul McCartney by Yoko Ono, which he, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr added parts to as produced by George’s friend Jeff Lynne of E.L.O. The song got some radio airplay as a curiosity, but it was easy to tell why John had left it off any Beatles albums.
A cheap Dutch-made Egmond acoustic guitar, bought for £3.50 by one Harold Harrison and given to his son George sold at auction today in 2003 for £276,000. George had learned to play quite well on the flat-top, and moved on to much better guitars, but had kept it until his death two years earlier.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., a keyboard playing New Orleans icon better known by his stage name Dr. John, is 74.
Lonnie Jordan, multi-instrumentalist and singer of War, is 66, and the only original member of the band that is still somewhat active. He is still embattled in a bitter legal dispute with 4 other original members of War (including harmonica player Lee Oskar, who now lives here in Seattle), who perform together under the name The Lowrider Band.