The Rolling Stones were on their first U.S. tour today in 1964 and it wasn’t going well. As bass player Bill Wyman said “It was a disaster. When we arrived we didn’t have a hit record or anything going for us”, and they had just played a show in San Antonio Texas where they’d been booed and gotten “the hook” by promoters who put a group of trained monkeys on in their place (On the plus side Texican saxophone player Bobby Keys, who’d played with Buddy Holly, came to see what these skinny English kids doing Buddy’s song Not Fade Away were all about expecting to hate them, and when they discovered they had the same birthday left as Keith Richards best friend for life ’til he died last December). But all of that was forgotten today when they got to visit Chicago’s Chess Records recording studio where most of the records they idolized were made, and meet some of the men who made them: Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Buddy Guy.
The Beatles played Hong Kong tonight in 1964 on the first stop of their first trip “Down Under”, with studio drummer Jimmie Nicol filling in for Ringo Starr who was still back in London after having his tonsils out. They left the British colony immediately after the show for Australia, where their plane made an unscheduled fuel stop in Darwin on the northern coast, where even though they had no show and arrived unannounced their plane was met by some 400 screaming fans. It then continued on to Adelaide where they were met by thousands and played two more shows with Nicol, but Ringo met up with them in Melbourne on the 15th, and Jimmie went back to England and relative obscurity. He has since avoided interviews, and has never tried to make even one thin dime from his brief time in the band.
The Small Faces were performing on the BBC’s Ready, Steady Go! tonight in 1966 when frontman Steve Marriott collapsed mid-performance. They had to cancel a week’s worth of shows while he recovered from exhaustion.
Joe Strummer and Nicky “Topper” Headon of The Clash were arrested today in 1977 and each fined £5 for spraying their band name on a London wall with a rattlecan of paint.
The Grateful Dead were forced to cancel their tour today in 1986 when guitarist Jerry Garcia went into a coma brought on by diabetes, which nearly killed him. While he was completely out for five days so far as his friends, family, and bandmates knew, Jerry later said of the experience, “I had some very weird experiences. My main experience was one of furious activity and tremendous struggle in a sort of futuristic, space-ship vehicle with insectoid presences”.
Ray Charles died of liver failure in Hollywood today in 2004 at age 73. His career had started in the 50’s when he moved to Seattle from his native Florida because he wanted to get as far away from The Sunshine State as he could. It was here that he met and began playing Central District jazz clubs with a 14 year old Quincy Jones, who would later become famous as the record producer responsible for the best selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Led Zeppelin began rehearsals at a top-secret London location for their reunion performance at the Concert for (Atlantic Records founder) Ahmet Ertegun tonight in 2006, using the late John Bonham’s son Jason as their drummer. It was the first time the three surviving members had been together in the same room with musical instruments since 1995’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Though the show would be universally acclaimed (and filmed and released as Celebration Day on DVD), and Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham seemed keen on a reunion tour, Robert Plant was not, and there is still speculation that the others may do something with a replacement singer.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Chester Arthur Burnett would be 106 if he’d made it past 65. Better known by his stage name Howlin’ Wolf, the blues legend was never hugely popular at home in America, but his British fans in the 60’s and 70’s turned many of his songs (Back Door Man, Killing Floor, and Spoonful to name a few) into the “Classic Rock” we enjoy today.
Rick Price is 72. He was the bass player for The Move, and though he recorded tracks for the debut album as the band morphed into The Electric Light Orchestra, Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood ultimately didn’t use them or him.