The Who Unleash Tommy…Twice, And Clapton In Seattle Car Crash: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

Elvis Presley had the “music gates” installed at his new house “Graceland” today in 1957. The iron gates were designed by Abe Saucer to look like sheets of music, with silhouettes of The King, custom built by John Dillars of the Memphis Door Co., and today are probably the most recognizable icon of the third most-visited private residence in America, behind The White House and George Vanderbilt’s 250-room “Biltmore” mansion in North Carolina.

The President of the British National Federation of Hairdressers made a public offer of free haircuts to the next #1 group on the charts today in 1964, adding that “The worst are The Rolling Stones. One of them looks as if he’s got a feather duster on his head”.

The Troggs went to #1 in the U.S. with Wild Thing today in 1966. The band from Hampshire England, who had shortened their name from The Troglodytes, would be a major influence on thousands of “garage” and “punk” rock bands to come, but they didn’t write their biggest hit. It was a guy from New York City named Chip Taylor’s song, and he first gave it to New York band The Wild Ones to record a year earlier, with much less spectacular results.

In a brief ceremony on the roof of the Apple Corps building in London, John Lennon officially changed his middle name from “Winston” (after Winston Churchill) to “Ono” today in 1969.

The Who were playing Dolton, England tonight in 1969 when they played Pete Townsend’s new “rock opera” Tommy in it’s entirety for the first time ever.

Deep Purple had their 2nd #1 album with Machine Head today in 1972, the biggest selling album of their careers.

Mod-revivalists caught up in England’s “punk” scene The Jam released their first single In The City today in 1977. The band fronted by guitarist Paul Weller (who would later be referred to as “the Modfather”) borrowed heavily from 60’s bands like The Who and The Kinks, but brought that lovable punk rock sneer shared by contemporaries The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and The Buzzcocks. The Jam brought back the snappy 60’s suits and Italian scooters favored by Mods, and became one of England’s best-loved bands. The Jam’s Greatest Hits can still be found on the jukebox in any U.K. pub from Land’s End in the South to the farthest Northern reaches of Scotland, but they never really caught on in America.

Saturday Night Live cast members John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd performed on the show as musical act The Blues Brothers for the first time tonight in 1978.

Keith Richards made good on the community service part of his bust for heroin possession in Toronto two years earlier when he played two shows to benefit the Canadian National Institute for the Blind tonight in 1979. The rest of The Rolling Stones had had enough of the draconian Ontario police and didn’t want to go back, so Keith assembled Ron Wood, Ian McLagen, Stanley Clarke, and Ziggy Moeliste and played the shows as The New Barbarians.

Eric Clapton had been released less than a week earlier from a hospital in St. Paul Minnesota where he’d been treated for bleeding ulcers brought on by heavy drinking, forcing him to cancel the rest of his tour, but today in 1981 he was back in the hospital, of all places here in Seattle. He’d come to the Pacific Northwest on the advice of doctors for the opening of trout fishing season, and the then 36 year old guitar god was riding in a car with 19 year old fan Gail Coe crashed into another car, bruising her eye. Eric was taken to Harborview Medical Center where he was determined to have bruised his ribs (painful, but there is no “cure”) and was released.

24 years to the day after they’d played it live for the first time, The Who’s rock opera Tommy had it’s official opening as a Broadway Musical tonight in 1993. The production, written by Pete Townsend and American artistic director Des McAnuff, would close in ’95 after 899 performances.

Richie Havens, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist who had opened the 1969 Woodstock festival, died of a heart attack at age 72 today in 2013.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Glen Campbell is 80. He’s best known as a country guitarist, singer, and songwriter, but moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session musician, where he joined surf-band The Champs, filled in for Brian Wilson on Beach Boys tours, and became part of the group of studio players collectively known as The Wrecking Crew, who played on albums by the likes of Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, The Monkees, Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, and his daughter Nancy. Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011.

Former The Herd and Humble Pie guitarist, who as a solo act became one of the biggest sex symbols of the 70’s, Peter Frampton, is 66.

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