The Hillbilly Hoedown in Memphis Tennessee’s Overton Park today in 1954 featured Billy Walker, Sugarfoot Collins, Sonny Harvelle, Tinker Fry, Curly Harris, Slim Whitman (who’s vocal stylings later proved to be Earth’s best defense against alien invasion in the movie Mars Attacks), and a 19 year old Elvis Presley, who was so nervous he got up on the balls of his feet and started shaking his leg in time with the music. When he finished his set he asked someone why the girls had been screaming at him, and was told that with the baggy, pleated pants he was wearing, the leg shaking created a wild, sexually suggestive gyrating effect. This was the beginning of Elvis’ trademark stage moves that would cause sop much commotion when he went on Milton Berle’s show, and the Ed Sullivan show to show him from the waist up on national television a few years later.
The Troggs went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart today in 1966 with Wild Thing. Because of a distribution dispute, the song had been released simultaneously on both the Atco and Fontana record labels. With both versions coming from the same master recording, Billboard combined the sales figures for both records, making it the only time in the history of their charts two record companies had #1 hits with the same song.
The Beatles gave up on their retail venture today in 1968. The Apple Boutique, at the corner of Baker and Paddington Streets in London’s Marylebone neighborhood was supposed to be the first of a chain of shops that would be, as Paul McCartney said, “A Beautiful place where beautiful people could buy beautiful things.” Managed by John Lennon’s childhood friend and former Quarrymen member Peter Shotton and George Harrison’s wife’s sister Jenny Boyd (who later lived with Eric Clapton while he was pining for Pattie), the shop lost money to rampant shoplifting by customers and the staff, and when the Westminster City Council ordered the psychedelic mural on the outside by the Dutch artist’s collective The Fool (who also regularly helped themselves to the merchandise) painted over, and they realized they were some £200,000 in the hole, they decided to close it and give away the remaining stock. The shop had been open a total of 7 months.
The Beatles were at London’s EMI Studios a year later, and were working on overdubs today in 1969 for the album that would give the place the name it would be known as from then on: Abbey Road. They came up with the idea of stitching several short song ideas together in the Golden Slumbers medley, but Paul McCartney wasn’t hot on Her Majesty, and told tape operator John Kurlander to get rid of it, but instead he spliced the short number on at the very end. When Paul heard it in that context he decided to keep it.
Variety magazine reported today in 1986 that RCA records was dropping John Denver from it’s roster over his single What Are We making Weapons For?, because RCA’s new owner, The General Electric Corporation, was one of the nation’s biggest defense contractors, and was not amused.
Steve Winwood was at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with Roll With It today in 1988. Publishing company BMI noticed a similarity between it and the Junior Walker hit (I’m A) Roadrunner, and split the songwriting royalties between Winwood and the Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Axl Rose’s limousine was pulled over for making an illegal turn in Inglewood California this afternoon in 1991, as the singer was making his way to The Forum for the second of 4 shows there. Rose told the police officer that if he didn’t tear up the ticket, he would cancel the rest of the shows, costing the city tax revenue and possibly starting a riot of angry fans. The cop complied.
Sun Records founder Sam Phillips died of respiratory failure today in 2003. He’d been working at Muscle Shoals Alabama radio station WLAY as a disc jockey when he recorded what is widely considered the world’s first “rock and roll” record, Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (featuring a 19 year old Ike Turner on guitar). Later after moving to Memphis he launched the careers of B.B. King, Junior Parker, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and of course Elvis Presley. The first non-performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, he was at the vanguard of not only a whole new musical genre, but was a tireless advocate for equal rights instrumental in breaking down racial barriers in the music business.
Royalty credits for Procul Harum’s debut single A Whiter Shade of Pale were finally decided in a British court today in 2009. When the song was released in 1967, singer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid got all the credit, but organist Matthew Fisher sued successfully, claiming that he’d come up with the song’s Bach-inspired melody. Procul Harum were nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, but did not get voted in.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Blues guitarist (ranked #30 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 of all-time list) George “Buddy” Guy is 80.
Jethro Tull’s heyday bass player Jeffery Hammond-Hammond is 70. His parents were not related but had the same last name, like Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, so he adopted “Hammond-Hammond” as a stage name because it amused him.
Sweet lead guitarist Andy Scott is 67.
Influential British punk band The Damned’s mild mannered drummer Rat Scabies (real name Chris Millar) is 61.