The Jimi Hendrix Experience were in New York tonight in 1967, playing a show at the small but influential Café-Au-Go-Go in Greenwich Village. Jimi had been “discovered” there by one of Keith Richards’ girlfriends, Linda Keith, who turned him on to Animals bass player Chas Chandler who became his manager, but this was the first trip for bandmates Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, who Chas had set Jimi up with in England.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1969 recording Come Together, a song John Lennon had written, inspired by the California gubernatorial campaign of Timothy Leary, who was running to unseat governor Ronald Reagan, and who’s campaign ended abruptly when he was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.
The Buxton Festival in Derbyshire England today in 1973 featured performances by Canned Heat, Nazareth, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Chuck Berry. In the crowd was a large contingent of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, who’s British chapters had started when George Harrison met several members when he went to check out San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” in ’67, and invited them to stay at Apple Records Headquarters if they ever came to London. A few of them took him up on the offer, and proceed to recruit new members from England’s “cafe racer” crowd of motorcycle-riding “rockers”, and by ’73 the chapters were growing quickly. The Angels proceeded to drink the festival dry, initially paying for their booze, but when they’d run out of money, organizers took up collections to keep them in booze and happy. About 20 minutes into Chuck Berry’s set, he stopped to show some of the bikers how to do his trademark “Duck Walk” properly, then as the band started back up and continued to play, “duckwalked” off the side of the stage and into his car, and left the site in a hurry, never to return.
Producers of the BBC’s Top of the Pops ignored protests and booked The Sex Pistols to appear on tonight’s show in 1977. They mimed (lip-synched) to their song Pretty Vacant, and the song would go to #7 on the charts.
Guns-N-Roses debut album Appetite For Destruction was released on Geffen Records today in 1987. It would eventually sell over 28 million copies worldwide, with 18 million of those here in the U.S., making in the best-selling album in American history.
Roger Waters production of The Wall-Live In Berlin took place tonight in 1990, staged between the Brandenburg Gate and the Potsdamer Platz on vacant land that 8 months earlier had been the “no man’s land” between sections of the Berlin Wall that escaping East Germans would be shot for entering. Though there was some speculation that the event might bring Pink Floyd back together, they were still fighting, and Waters instead invited guest performers like Van Morrison, members of The Band, Sinéad O’Conner, Cyndi Lauper, Marianne Faithful, The Hooters, Joni Mitchell, Thomas Dolby, Bryan Adams, and German band The Scorpions.
British bluesman John William “Long John” Baldry died of a chest infection in his adopted home of Vancouver B.C. today in 2005 at age 64. He got his nickname because he was 6′ 7″, and had given a start to the musical careers of Rod Stewart and Elton John, who he later talked out of suicide as documented in Elton’s song Someone Saved My Life Tonight.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Songwriter, producer, and manager Kim Fowley would be 77 if he hadn’t passed last year. He wrote songs and/or produced records for Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, Cat Stevens, KISS, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer, and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers to name a few, but he’s most famous for starting the tradition of holding matches and lighters aloft (now cell phones) at rock shows, which he did to welcome a nervous John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band to the stage at a show he was MC’ing in Toronto in ’69, and for bringing together one of the first all-female hard rock bands The Runaways (Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Curie, Sandy West, and Jackie Fox).
Folk-rocker Steven Georgiou is 67, better known by his stage name Cat Stevens, which he again changed, to Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam in 1977.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers bass player Howie Epstein would be 61 if he hadn’t died from using heroin at age 47.