The Speakeasy Club in London was a hang out for Britain’s rock royalty, and many of them gathered there tonight in 1967 at a private party thrown for America’s TV “Pre-Fab Four”, The Monkees. Among the guests, The Beatles, The Who, Manfred Mann, Eric Clapton, Procul Harum, and Dusty Springfield. The Monkees idolized all of these performers, were quite aware that their show had been based on The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night, and were more than a little nervous about meeting them. But Michael Nesmith had been invited to Abbey Road earlier in the day, witnessed them recording A Day In The Life, and had asked John Lennon, “Do you think we’re a cheap imitation of The Beatles? Your movies and your records?”, to which John had replied, “I think you’re the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers! I’ve never missed one of your programmes!” Tonight’s party would inspire Mickey Dolenz to write a song, Randy Scouse Git, his first to be released commercially, and surprisingly it would get to #5 on the British charts, although it was labeled Alternate Title, as RCA Records felt the real one would be somewhat offensive to the English.
There was another party tonight in 1968 at the Laurel Canyon home of singer Joni Mitchell, and three of the guests, David Crosby of The Byrds, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield, and Briton Graham Nash of The Hollies met and jammed together for the first time.
It was early this morning in 1969 that a very wasted ex-Rolling Stone Brian Jones decided to go for a swim. He was found at the bottom of the pool at his Crotchford farm house by his Swedish girlfriend, who insisted Brian still had a pulse when he was pulled out, but when doctors got to him they pronounced him “dead by misadventure” at age 27. On hearing the news, Pete Townsend wrote a poem called “A Normal Day For Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day“. Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to him on U.S. Television. And Jim Morrison wrote a poem he called “An Ode To L.A. While Thinking Of Brian Jones, Deceased“. Two of those three would join Brian in what Kurt Cobain’s Mom would later call “That Stupid Club”, one on the same day. The only members of the band Brian started…and had been kicked out of less than a month earlier…who attended his funeral were Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman.
Jim Morrison of The Doors was found dead in the bathtub of their Paris apartment by his longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson this morning in 1971 at age 27. As there was no evidence of foul play, French law did not require an autopsy, and the official cause of death was listed as a heat attack, but according to Pam, Jim had snorted a pile of what he thought was cocaine, but was actually her heroin. She never got over his death, and overdosed herself three years later, also at age 27. Jim’s grave at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris is that city’s most visited tourist attraction behind The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre art museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre Dame cathedral.
Mechanical engineer Laurens Hammond died today in 1973 at age 73. He’d invented a spring-driven clock and a card-shuffler for Bridge players, but though he was not a musician is most famous for inventing a “tone wheel” that he adapted to an old piano, creating the Hammond Organ. It was originally intended for use in churches, but when Blue Note jazz artist Jimmy Smith started using one in the 50’s, he inspired rock players like Ian McLagen of The Small Faces, Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and MG’s, Rick Wakeman of Yes, John Lord of Deep Purple, Steve Winwood of The Spencer Davis Group, Matthew Fisher of Procul Harum, Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band, Tony Banks of Genesis, and Keith Emerson of The Nice and Emerson Lake and Palmer, who famously would get certain notes to “hold” by sticking a knife between the keys.
Despite the supposedly anti-drug stance of their hit cover of Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come (which he wrote for Eric Burdon’s first solo album), Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron was found with a rather large pile of cocaine by police in Louisville Kentucky tonight in 1975.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Tommy Tedesco would be 86. He died at 67, but not before becoming the most-recorded guitarist of all time as a session man in Los Angeles. You’ve heard his axe on everything from the themes to Batman, The Twilight Zone, and Bonanza to records by The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, and the Ronettes. It was his son Denny who put together the excellent 2008 documentary about dad’s group of session players who became known as The Wrecking Crew.
Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere is 67.