Buddy Invades Britain, Airplane Becomes Starship, And Goodbye Randy Rhodes: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

Buddy Holly played two shows at a movie theater in Hull, Yorkshire England tonight in 1958 on his only trip there. Contrary to popular belief, John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t see him live. Though the 25-night tour would include 2 shows on March 20th at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, they couldn’t afford to go, but they were glued to the telly for his appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He may have been the single biggest influence on the Fab Four. The Quarrymen would make a cover of his Peggy Sue a regular part of their set, and by the time they’d become The Beatles, they recorded a faithful cover of Words of Love, which showed up in America on Beatles VI. Indeed their very name was an homage to Buddy’s backing band The Crickets. John Lennon would re-record Peggy Sue for his Rock and Roll solo album, and of course Paul McCartney now owns all the publishing rights to Buddy’s songs, purchased from his widow Maria Elena Holly.

Bob Dylan’s self-titled debut album was released in the U.S. today in 1962. While Bob is widely considered one of America’s greatest songwriters ever today, the album had only two Dylan originals. The “alternative” newspaper of the Greenwich Village folk scene, The Village Voice, heaped praise on the “explosive country blues debut”, but it sold poorly, leading staffers at Columbia Records offices to refer to it as “Hammond’s Folly”, after John Hammond, the executive who’d signed him and produced the record.

The British men’s fashion magazine Tailor and Cutter ran an article today in 1965 imploring The Rolling Stones to start wearing neckties again. They’d fallen out of fashion, partially because bands like the Stones had stopped wearing them, and the neck tie industry was in dire financial straits. Mick Jagger was asked about the article in an interview, and said “The problem with a tie is that it could dangle in the soup. It’s also something extra to which a fan can hang when you are trying to get in or out of a theater”.

Paul Kantner, David Freeberg, and Grace Slick announced their new band Jefferson Starship today in 1974. The Jefferson Airplane had been, next to the Grateful Dead, the biggest stars of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury “Summer of Love” hippie scene, but they’d gone through quite a few band members and were fizzling in popularity by the early 70’s. It wasn’t the first time they’d used that name. Kantner and Slick had released a “concept album” called Blows Against the Empire in ’70, credited to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, that told a story of a counter-cultural revolution against the oppression of  “Uncle Samuel” and a plan to steal a Starship from Earth orbit and search for a new home (it also includes the first of many derogatory references to then California Governor Ronald Reagan). It didn’t sell well, but it did win the prestigious sci-fi Hugo Award. The loose assembly of musicians on the record included former Airplane members, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and members of Santana and The Grateful Dead, but afterward the Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady started their own band Hot Tuna. Jefferson Starship would go on to far more successful commercially than the Airplane had been, but since Grace Slick has repeatedly expressed her love for the old Airplane years, and her disgust for the commercial fodder of the Starship.

25 year old Free guitarist Paul Kossof died of a drug-related heart attack on a flight from L.A. to New York today in 1976.

Ozzy Osbourne had played a show in Knoxville Tennessee, then passed out from heavy drinking on his tour bus as it drove all night toward the next show in Orlando Florida today in 1982. He was still asleep when the bus stopped in the morning in Leesburg near a small airport to fix the faulty air-conditioner. While the bus was in the shop, it’s driver Andrew Aycock, a former commercial airline pilot, suggested a joyride, taking keyboard player Don Airey and the tour’s manager up in a Beechcraft Bonanza he took without permission. After landing he offered a ride to lead guitarist Randy Rhodes and the tour’s makeup artist Rachael Youngblood. They thought it might be fun to “buzz” the tour bus and wake the sleeping Ozzy, but on the third pass the plane’s wing hit the bus, sending it careening into a nearby mansion and killing all three.

The Beatles Anthology 2 was released today in 1996. A collection of outtakes and alternate versions of previously released songs, it opened with what would be the last “new” Beatles song ever, Real Love, which started as an unreleased demo recording by John Lennon from 1977, with added overdubbed tracks and production from Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Blues pianist Johnnie Johnson, who’d worked with Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, and rockabilly guitarist James Burton were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a nice little speech by Keith Richards at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York tonight in 2001, Afterward Keith got up for the end-of-show jam on stage with Bono, Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, soul singer Solomon Burke, and for some reason Kid Rock.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

The Zombies guitarist Paul Atkinson would be 70, and probably would have played at their reunion at Bumbershoot three summers ago if he hadn’t died in 2004.

3/19

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