The Supremes were at Motown Studios in Detroit today in 1964, recording their first #1 hit Where Did Our Love Go?
John Lennon took his black two-year-old Rolls Royce Phantom V to J.P. Fallon Ltd. Coachbuilders in Surrey England today in 1967 to undergo some customization. Only 516 Phantom V’s were built between ’59 and ’68, most of them going to the über-wealthy and heads of state like The Queen of England, the Royal Mother, the Shah of Iran, and King Olav of Norway, but John wanted some special touches: A state-of-the-art sound system with both internal and external speakers (so John could heckle bystanders on the microphone), a back seat that converted to a bed, a Sony TV, a small refrigerator, and very rare for the day, a telephone (the number was WEYBRIDGE 46676). But what turned the car into a counter-cultural icon was the “psychedelic” paint job (actually copied from a Gypsy wagon), usually credited to the Dutch hippie art collective The Fool, who painted Cream’s instruments, and though the design was suggested by one of the group’s members, it was artist Steve Weaver that did the work. It was used extensively by The Beatles until their breakup, and frequently lent to friends including The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, and Bob Dylan. At one point an elderly woman attacked the car at a crosswalk in London, hitting it with her umbrella shouting “You Swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls Royce!”. John and Yoko had it shipped to New York in 1970, but largely stopped using it, and in ’77 John donated it to a museum there for a $225,000 tax credit from the I.R.S. That museum auctioned it off in ’85 and it was bought by the owner of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum for $2,229,000, who two years later donated it to the Canadian province of British Columbia who transferred ownership to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, where it’s currently sitting in the lobby, and will be until April 28th (they periodically loan it to other museums around the world).
Paul McCartney and Wings first single Give Ireland Back to the Irish peaked at #16 on the British charts today in 1972, despite being banned from all British radio stations. Paul had written it after the January 30th “Bloody Sunday” massacre of 26 unarmed-but-rock-throwing protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland by the British Army.
The Damned became the first British punk band to play at New York’s legendary CBGB nightclub tonight in 1977. While the “punk” movement started there with American bands like The Ramones and The New York Dolls, it would become hugely popular in England yet be all-but-banned from American rock radio in favor of lighter fare until the early 90’s when Seattle’s Nirvana killed the hairspray-and-spandex “buttrock” movement once and for all.
Electrician Gary Smith was installing an alarm system in the Denny-Blaine area Seattle home of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love today in 1994, when he discovered a body in a room above the garage. Even before calling police, he called radio station KXRX just a little before the morning-midday shift change at 10 AM. Kurt had apparently been lying there dead of a self-inflicted shotgun blast for four days. Morning announcer Marty Reimer went on the air with the news immediately, leaving midday host Scott Vanderpool to deal with the ensuing media s***storm. Vanderpool, who’d had Nirvana open for his band Chemistry Set at their first Seattle show, become something of a fan, and been one of the first disc jockeys to play the band that had now become huge worldwide, became irritated by a KING-TV reporter who’s third question was “Do you think Nirvana will get a new lead singer”, and asked them not-so-politely to leave, only to be identified as Steve Zanderpool as KING fed the story nationwide, and still gets jokingly called Steve Zanderpool in certain Seattle bars to this day.
The Faces and later Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood narrowly escaped death today in 1998 when the engine of a tour boat he and 11 other passengers were exploring some islands near Rio De Janiero Brazil caught fire. Another boat came to their aid and moments after all were removed from the stricken vessel it was destroyed in a massive fiery explosion.
After several failed attempts a few years earlier, The Rolling Stones finally played for the first time in China tonight in 2006 in Shanghai. Government officials banned them from playing Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women, and Rough Justice, and required them to do a song with Chinese rock star Cui Jian, who joined Mick Jagger for a duet of Wild Horses.
The organizers of London’s Olympic Games closing ceremony sent an e-mail to The Who’s manager Bill Curbishley today in 2012, in inquiring as to whether or not their legendary drummer Keith Moon would be able to perform. Bill responded, “Keith currently resides in Golder’s Green Crematorium, having lived up to The Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old’, but if they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might be able to contact him”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Yes guitarist Steve Howe is 69.
Guns-N-Roses original rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin (real name Jeff Isbell) is 54.
John Lennon’s first son, with first wife Cynthia (who sadly died of cancer a year ago), Julian Lennon is 53.
Donita Sparks is 53. The singer-guitarist of all-female Los Angeles based yet Seattle connected “grunge” band L-7 was responsible for “the most unsanitary piece of rock memorabilia in history” at England’s Reading Festival in 1992, when during an equipment malfunction restless fans began throwing mud on stage, which Sparks answered with “Eat my used tampon, f***ers!” and threw it into the crowd.