British folk duo Peter and Gordon hit #1 in America today in 1964 with World Without Love. Credited legally to Lennon/McCartney, Paul wrote the song for the brother of his soon to be fiancé Jane, Peter Asher, who after his singing career with Gordon Waller fizzled, became head honcho at The Beatles Apple Corps record company, singed James Taylor to a contract, then moved to Los Angeles to manage Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.
Elvis Presley, by now apprehensive about playing live because his fame had been eclipsed by The Beatles in particular, took to the stage for the first time in 7 years today in 1968. It was at an NBC TV sound-stage in Burbank California for a special simply called Elvis, but became later known as his ’68 Comeback Special. Dressed in a black leather outfit surrounded by a mostly female audience, the performance drew rave critical reviews, the album version topped charts worldwide, and it was later the subject of a rather good book by excellent Seattle rock writer Gillian Garr.
The Trans-Continental Pop Festival took to the rails out of Montreal today in 1970. Rather than tour by bus or airplane, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Delany and Bonnie and Friends (who would later morph into Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominoes) instead chartered a Canadian National Railways train to make the planned 5 stop trek across the Great White North. The first and last dates of the tour never happened, largely due to the efforts of rock-hating local government in Montreal and Vancouver, but the train ride produced some excellent drug and booze fueled jam sessions as documented in the 2003 film Festival Express.
Billed as Smile, Freddy “Mercury” Bulsara, Brain May, Roger Taylor, and then bass player Mike Grose had already decided on changing their name to Queen when they played live together for the first time in Cornwall England tonight in 1970.
Led Zeppelin didn’t know it yet, but the tour they were on tonight in 1980 would be their last. 3 songs into their set in Nuremberg Germany, drummer John Bonham passed out on stage, and rest of the show was cancelled.
Carlos Santana was arrested at the airport in Houston Texas today in 1991 when the dreaded gateway drug “marijuana” was found in his luggage.
It was one day before the start of their planned American tour today in 2002, that John “The Ox” Entwistle, the brilliant “lead bass” player for The Who, was found dead of a cocaine-induced heart attack by the hooker he’d retired to his room with at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. He was 57.
Chris Squire of Yes died after a long battle with Lukemia today in 2015. Like Entwistle, the 67 year old was considered one of the best bass players in rock. His wife thought he would be amused now that people had to call him “the late” Chris Squire, and he’d been notoriously late for everything his whole life.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Bruce Johnston is 74. After working as a studio guitarist and producer, he joined The Beach Boys in 1965 to replace Wrecking Crew guitarist Glen Campbell, who’d been covering live appearances for the band’s songwriting genius Brian Wilson, who was taking increasing amounts of drugs and stopped touring.