Liverpool-born singer John Askew started the short tour of Scotland tonight in 1960 that would make him a footnote in history. His manager, the flamboyantly gay Larry Parnes was the most successful British music manager of the late 50’s, and had a special knack for finding attractive young men who would appeal to a teenage audience. Like all the singers in his stable, he had given him a catchy stage name, Johnny Gentle, and hooked him up with a group of talented but unknown backing musicians who at the time were calling themselves The Silver Beetles. Perhaps getting into the spirit of things and perhaps because they had bigger plans and didn’t want to be known for backing a crooner, three of them also adopted stage names for the tour: Paul McCartney became Paul Ramon, George Harrison became Carl Harrison (after his idol Carl Perkins), and bass player Stu Sutcliffe became Stuart de Stael. Johnny Gentle’s own career fizzled as The Beatles went on to become the most famous band in the world, but he still makes appearances at Beatles conventions to this day, and is all too happy to tell tales of the short tour and how on his return he’d suggested to Parnes that he take on The Beatles, but Parnes was only interested in solo male singers.
Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey of The Who grew restless waiting for the band’s rhythm section, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon, to arrive at their show at the famous Ricky Tick Club (later recreated on a soundstage for The Yardbirds performance in the movie Blow Up) tonight in 1966, so they decided to take the stage and play some R&B covers with the drummer and bass player of the band that had opened the show. When John and Keith finally showed up halfway through the set, they were angry they’d started without them, and a fight broke out among the four, ending with Pete beaning Keith over the head with his guitar. Moon and Entwhistle quit the band on the spot, but were back in the fold a week later.
Bob Dylan played the ABC Theater in Glasgow Scotland tonight in 1966, backed by The Band. Bob was still getting crap from many of his fans for “going electric”, but many of them in Glasgow had come up with the idea of bringing their own harmonicas, with which they unsuccessfully tried to drown out The Band.
BBC disc jockey and comedian Kenny Everett got to world-premier The Beatles new album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on his show Where It’s At tonight in 1967, playing every track on the album but one: A Day In The Life had been banned by BBC censors who were convinced it would promote drug use.
The Chicago Transit Authority bass player Peter Cetera was at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles today in 1969 enjoying a baseball game when he was spotted by 4 U.S. Marines who didn’t like his long hair. They beat him senseless, breaking his jaw, and sending him to the intensive care ward of a hospital for two days.
A week after it’s world premier in the United States, The Beatles Let It Be movie opened in England tonight in 1970 with simultaneous screenings in London and Liverpool. As with the American premiers, none of The Beatles showed up.
A new bio-pic about one of The Beatles idols, The Buddy Holly Story, had it’s world premier in Buddy’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas tonight in 1978. 33 year old Actor Gary Busey lost some 32 pounds to portray the skinny Holly, who weighed just 145 pounds when he died at 22, and while Busey did all his own singing, his guitar parts were overdubbed by a better player, but he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for the role.
Though he’d famously dated Stevie Nicks, Bond girl Lois Chiles, been busted having a 16 year old naked girl overdose on cocaine and Quaaludes at his house, and been engaged to Battlestar Galactica actress Maren Jensen, The Eagles singing drummer Don Henley married for the first time today in 1995 to model Sharon Summerall. The ceremony in Hollywood included performances by their friends Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmidt, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, John Fogerty, Sheryl Crow, and Tony Bennett. Sharon was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and she and Don have become major fundraisers for fighting the disease.
Even though they had paid the Kansas City Police Department for traffic control while they shot a video for their song Last Night On Earth, U2 still caused major gridlock in that city today in 1997. Aside from the massive traffic jam, at one point a Cadillac trying to avoid a cameraman crashed through a plate glass window.
The original lineup of Black Sabbath were back together and rehearsing for their upcoming Reunion tour in London today in 1998 when drummer Bill Ward had a heart attack. He was rushed to a hospital and recovered nicely, but had to be replaced on the first few dates of the tour by Dio drummer Vinny Appice, the younger brother of Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine.
The Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek, who’d started the band after a chance meeting with former film school classmate Jim Morrison on Venice Beach in 1965, died today in 2013 after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
John Robert “Joe” Cocker (OBE) would be 72 if he hadn’t passed just before Christmas in 2014.
Cherilyn “Cher” Sarkisian is 70.
T Rex bass player Steve Currie would be 69 if he hadn’t died in a car crash in Portugal four years after the band’s frontman Marc Bolan had met the same fate.
Black Oak Arkansas guitarist Jimmy “Soybean” Henderson is 62.
The Go Go’s rhythm guitarist and songwriter Jane Wiedlin is 56. In 1980 they became the first, and remain the only all-female rock band ever to top the Billboard album charts writing their own songs and playing their own instruments.