Elvis Presley reported as ordered to the Memphis Draft Board at 6:30 AM today in 1958. From there he and 12 other inductees were taken to the local veteran’s hospital, given physicals, and assigned U.S. Army serial numbers. Elvis could have had a cushy Army life given his superstar status: He’d have to get a haircut, but all the Army wanted from him was a few media appearances, and he could have stayed stateside easily, but he wanted to be treated like any other soldier. Like any other solider his arrival at Fort Chaffee Arkansas was a major media event, and when he was sent to join the cold warriors of the 3rd Armored Division in Freiberg Germany, like any other soldier he lived in a fancy hotel off base, bought extra uniforms for his entire unit, and TV’s for the barracks. And he mostly enjoyed the experience, learning to love Karate (he’d later put martial arts moves into his shtick) and amphetamines on long tank maneuvers. Other rockers who’ve served did it before they were famous, and didn’t enjoy it so much. Elvis’ friend Johnny Cash had enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, Jerry Garcia had joined at 17 because he was bored and wanted a place to play guitar, Jimi Hendrix was given the option of jail or the 101st Airborne Division after being caught riding in a stolen car for the second time by Seattle Police.
The Beatles were at London’s Twickenham Film studios today in 1965 working on Help!. In a sound stage made up to look like the interior of an Indian temple, the script called for them to “dive through a hollow sacrificial altar into water” after escaping yet another attempt at Ringo’s ring. Later the scene would cut to them landing in a very nice swimming pool in the Bahamas, where they’d been filming in February.
Simon and Garfunkel were on the British charts for the first time today in 1966 with Homeward Bound. Paul had written it in England when he’d left Art Garfunkel and moved there to start a solo career which wasn’t working out, and wanted to come home to America. The Brits love to put historical plaques everywhere, and there’s one at the Farnworth Rail Station in Widness commemorating the spot he wrote it. It gets stolen a lot.
Alice Cooper was at #1 at home and in England with the title track to their 6th album Billion Dollar Babies today in 1973. They’d started recording at a mansion in Connecticut, then moved to a proper studio in London where Donovan who was recording down the hall happily sang along with Vince “Alice” Furnier on the title track. The band were out on the road when they heard the news, on a tour using two semi-trailers full of mannequins, baby dolls, a surgical table, hatchets, 14 bubble machines, pyrotechnics, and the show-climax guillotine. They would break attendance and revenue records set by The Rolling Stones, but Vince was drinking heavily, guitarist Glen Buxton was drugging heavily, and they would manage one more album that year, Muscle of Love, before Vince became Alice and the rest of the band went go to court. Most of them would go on to release one album in 1977, Battle Axe, as The Billion Dollar Babies, but it was the original band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame four years ago.
Lou Reed was playing in Buffalo New York tonight in 1973 when a fan jumped on stage and bit him, hard, on his ass. The man was subdued by bouncers and tossed from the theater, and Lou valiantly winced his way through the rest of the show.
The Black Crowes were fired today in 1991 as the opening act of ZZ Top’s tour after last night’s show in which singer Chris Robinson had again made disparaging remarks about the Miller Beer in their dressing room. Though large corporations coming on to sponsor big rock and roll tours was still a fairly new thing, this one’s was the Miller Brewing Company.
Sir Elton John’s musical Aida opened on Broadway in New York today in 2000. Elton had written the music for it in 21 days, but it took Walt Disney Theatrical 5 years to ready the production that would do 1,852 performances and be nominated for 5 Tony Awards.
A stretch of Highway 19 in Macon Georgia was renamed Duane Allman Boulevard today in 2001. It’s where he crashed his Harley Sportster into the back of a construction truck in 1971.
Mark Weinstein was a devious little Beatles fan back in 1965 when he forged a press pass to take his camera to the media pit at the side of the stage at Shea Stadium in 1965. It paid off for him today in 2013 when his 61 black and white shots of the band sold at auction for £30,680 (a little over $50k).
Rock and Roll Birthdays.
War harmonica player, harmonica manufacturer, and all around swell Seattle neighbor Lee Oskar is 68.
Supertramp heyday 72-88 bass player Dougie Thomson is 65. This isn’t one of their better songs, but the only one on the interwebs with Dougie in it.