The Beatles were at EMI Studios in London today in 1962 for the first time. Though they would later single-handedly rename the place for the street it’s on, Abbey Road, this was an EMI Records “artist test” with producer George Martin, who thought they were “rough” (especially their drummer Pete Best, who they would later replace at his suggestion), but “saw something promising” and gave them a shot. They recorded a song Paul McCartney had written while skipping school at age 16 and got his then-new friend John Lennon to help finish, Love Me Do, which they would re-record again with new drummer Ringo Starr, and one more time (at Martin’s insistence) with studio drummer Andy White. Americans would get the latter version with Ringo on tambourine only as a single a year later, while the Brits got the Ringo version. The original Pete Best recording from today’s session was thought to be lost for years, but was eventually discovered and included on The Beatles Anthology 1.
Roy Orbison’s wife, the “Pretty Woman” Claudette, was killed today in 1966 when a truck pulled out of a side road and hit her motorcycle. Both Roy and Claudette were avid motorcyclists, she had grown up around them, and he’d been turned on to riding by his friend Elvis Presley.
British prototype “shock rocker” Screaming Lord Sutch was touring the United States in his psychedelic Rolls Royce Hearse tonight in 1968 when he played the Freehold Hullaballoo in Freehold New Jersey. Opening the show were The Castilles, a local band with a frontman who would later become quite famous as Bruce Springsteen.
Syd Barrett played his first show since leaving Pink Floyd tonight in 1970 at Extravaganza 70 at the Olympia Hall in London. His backing band, including his old Purse School chum and Floyd replacement David Gilmour, along with the audience, were stunned when Syd took off his guitar and walked off stage in the middle of the 4th song. Syd would make two solo albums, both produced by his former Floyd bandmates, but continued to be erratic and would give up playing music altogether by 1974.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were joined onstage at the Fillmore East in New York City tonight in 1971 by John and Yoko Lennon. The show was recorded, and parts of it were released on Lennon’s 6th solo album Some Time In New York City, and would be remembered fondly by The Mothers (and former Turtles) singer Howard Kaylan (who now lives on Seattle’s Eastside) in his book Shell Shocked: My Life With The Turtles, Flo and Eddie, Frank Zappa, etc.
Def Leppard played a show at the Crooke’s Workingman’s Club in their hometown of Sheffield England tonight in 1979. Not many people were there, but one who was wrote for the British music magazine Sounds, and gave the show a favorable review which was noticed by Phonogram Records, who signed them to a contract.
Dick Rowe died of diabetes today in 1986 at age 65. He’s most famous for turning down The Beatles while he worked for Decca Records with the line “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein“, but a year later signed The Rolling Stones on the suggestion of George Harrison, and would go on to sign guitar groups Them, The Moody Blues, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Zombies, and The Small Faces.
Houston-born keyboard player Billy Preston died of kidney failure today in 2006 at 59. He played with Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, and many others all the way to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and has the distinction, along with crooner Tony Sheridan, as the only performers to get their names on a record by The Beatles. He was also once asked politely by Stephen Stills if he could use his phrase “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” in a song.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Byrds guitarist Clarence White would be 72 if he hadn’t been hit by a drunk driver while loading instruments after a show at age 29.
Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist Peter Albin is 72.
Frank Zappa, Public Image Ltd., David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake guitarist Steve Vai is 56.