Columbia Records began full scale production of the 33 1/3 RPM “Long Playing” record today in 1948. Only slightly larger than the 10 inch 78 RPM single, it could hold 23 minutes of music per side, where the 78 was limited to 3 minutes. RCA would introduce the 7 inch 45 RPM single a year later, but it would be another 15 years before artists like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, and The Kinks would start using all 23 minutes as a broad palette for storytelling and psychedelic experiment, and fans would stop buying singles altogether largely due to Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant, who quit releasing them because Zep-heads wanted full albums anyway. Columbia’s first LP release was a reissue of a 78 RPM box-set of singles, The Voice of Frank Sinatra. Today vinyl records are making a huge comeback, with audiophiles shelling out big bucks for glass-plattered turntables and tube amplifiers, and Rod Moody at West Seattle’s Easy Street Records reports they sold more vinyl last year than ever before.
Paul McCartney spent his 22nd birthday playing with The Beatles in Sydney Australia tonight in 1964, well-chuffed to have his friend and drummer Ringo Starr back after having his tonsils out. After the show was a backstage birthday party that included 17 girls who had won The Daily Mirror’s “Why I would like to be a guest at a Beatle’s birthday party” essay contest.
It’s been fairly common to see this at rock concerts since, but tonight in 1974 Rare Earth’s drummer Peter Hoorelbeke was arrested after their show for throwing his drumsticks to eager fans in the crowd, which the police considered “reckless endangerment”.
Fleetwood Mac went to #1 on the U.S. charts with Dreams today in 1977, surprisingly their first and only song to hit the top spot, and pretty good for a song Stevie Nicks said she wrote in about 10 minutes. By now the band was a British-American hybrid, but back home for Mick Fleetwood and John McVie the Brits had already moved on to punk rock and the song got no higher than #24.
Of course not all Brits were enamored with the new musical style, as The Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten and drummer Paul Cook found when they were dragged from a parked car outside a London pub tonight in 1977 and beaten and stabbed by several men incensed by their disrespectful single God Save The Queen, which the band had played the week before on a barge outside Buckingham Palace on the Thames timed to coincide with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Rotten in a later interview claimed to be baffled by the uproar: “I don’t understand it. All we’re trying to do is destroy everything”.
John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics to A Day In The Life, done in blue felt pen replete with studio recording notes, sold at auction today in 2010 at Sotherby’s in New York for $1.2 million to an unnamed buyer who was not Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who likes Jimi Hendrix a lot more than The Beatles.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Derek and the Dominoes bass player Carl Radle would be 74 if he hadn’t died of kidney failure at 38.
Sir James Paul McCartney (KBE) is 74, arguably the most successful musician of all time, and still playing live almost as often as he did in his Hamburg days…only with better hotel accommodations and fewer prostitutes.
Guns-N-Roses keyboard player Dizzy Reed is 53. Joining the band in 1990 for the recording of their Use Your Illusion albums, he is the only member of the band left from that era not named Axl Rose, and though he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with them in 2012, he did not attend the ceremony.