Bert Kaempfert was an orchestra leader who’d played in the German Navy during WWII, then came home to Hamburg, started his own big band, and started dabbling in recording and producing other artists. One he’d worked with was a crooner from Liverpool England who needed a backup band, and Bert found one tonight in 1961 playing at the Top Ten Club in that city’s “Reeperbahn” district, and signed them to a contract.. By October a man would walk into Brian Epstein’s NEMS record store in Liverpool and ask for Tony Sheridan and The Beatles single My Bonnie, which he didn’t have, but he was intrigued and did some investigating, which led to him becoming their manager and getting them signed to EMI Records. Kaempfert would go on to write some pretty big hits of his own: Strangers in The Night would be a huge hit for Frank Sinatra; Elvis Presley worked his song Wooden Heart into his movie G.I. Blues; Danke Schoen would become the signature song of Wayne Newton; and his L-O-V-E would make Nat King Cole a star.
It had been over a year since Bob Dylan had first auditioned for The Ed Sullivan Show. The producers weren’t quite sure what to make of him, and Bob certainly didn’t expect to be called back, but he was, and scheduled to be on tonight’s episode in 1963. Ed Sullivan himself had been at the rehearsal the day before when he’d run through the song he planned to do, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues, a cynical little mockery of the most conservative of American political groups (at the time), and thought it was delightful, but when he showed up for the final dress rehearsal in the afternoon, he was told to pick another song by a CBS programming executive because they feared a libel lawsuit from The John Birch Society. Bob told him if he couldn’t play that song he’d rather not appear on the show and walked out. Unfortunately CBS also owned Bob’s record label Columbia, and had the song removed from his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which was scheduled to come out in a few days, but the controversy got all kinds of attention in the press, and ended up boosting his career.
The Rolling Stones were in Hollywood today in 1965, re-recording (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Keith Richards had come up with the riff in a Miami hotel room the week before, Mick Jagger had added lyrics, and they’d recorded it first at the home of many of their blues idols, Chess Records in Chicago, using Brian Jones on harmonica to play the riff Keith had envisioned done by a horn section, but today instead it was Keith’s guitar played through his brand-new Gibson Maestro fuzz box. It would be the first American #1 hit for The Stones, and by the end of the year the Gibson Guitar Co. had sold every last Maestro fuzz box they were able to build.
Pink Floyd played a show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London tonight in 1967 they called Games For May: Space Age Relaxation For the Climate of Spring. Engineers at EMI had come up with the world’s first “Quadrophonic” sound system with speakers in the back that allowed the sound to be “panned” completely around the audience, but after the show the entire system was stolen and not recovered for several years.
The Rolling Stones played New Musical Express magazine’s Poll Winner’s Concert at the Empire Pool in London tonight in 1968. It would be Brian Jones’ last live show with the band, though he would make one more appearance with them in December when they taped The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which wouldn’t be seen by the public for 25 years because Mick Jagger thought their performance wasn’t as good as The Who or Jethro Tull.
Mick Jagger was in St. Tropez on the French Riviera today in 1971, getting married for the first time to Nicaraguan model Bianca De Macias, with a guest list that included Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, and the rest of The Rolling Stones. They would have a daughter, Jade, before she left him in 1977 citing adultery, saying “My marriage ended on my wedding day.”
The Clash’s frontman Joe Strummer was in court in London today in 1986 being banned from driving in England after his conviction for doing so whilst drunken.
The famous wrought-iron gates of the former Strawberry Field Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool England were stolen in the wee early hours of today in 2000. Apparently the thieves were not Beatles fans, because they were later recovered when they tried to sell them to a scrap metal dealer. After more attempts to steal the 10 foot high gates by would-be thieves who were familiar with John Lennon’s song, they were removed and replaced with replicas in 2011.
Biologist Jason Bond discovered a new species of trapdoor spider in Alabama, and named it after his favorite musician today in 2008: Myrmekiaphila Neilyoungi.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Motown songwriter-producer-arranger Norman Whitfield would be 76 if diabetes hadn’t killed him at 68.
Ian Dury and the Blockheads frontman Ian Dury would be 74 if cancer hadn’t killed him at 57.
The Small Faces and The Faces keyboard player Ian McLagen would be 71 if he hadn’t had a stroke in 2014.
The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood is 68.
Guitarist Billy Squier is 66.