The songwriting team of Jerry Leiber (the lyricist, he died five years ago at 78) and Mike Stoller (the composer, still with us at 83) had their first hit recorded today in 1952. Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton’s version of Hound Dog would go to #1 on the R&B charts, but when Elvis Presley covered it 4 years later it would again be at #1 on the R&B chart, as well as the Country and Pop lists, and sell over 10 million copies. Leiber and Stoller would go on to have hit songs like Kansas City, Yakety Yak, Poison Ivy, Charlie Brown, Stand By Me, Jailhouse Rock, Love Potion #9, On Broadway, Searchin’, Spanish Harlem, and Young Blood.
The Jefferson Airplane debuted tonight in 1965 at the Matrix Club in San Francisco, where they took their best-known band photo, featured on the ’67 album Surrealistic Pillow.
The Dave Clark Five were playing Chicago tonight in 1965, when lead singer Mike Smith was pulled off stage by fans, painfully breaking two of his ribs.
The Beatles arrived at New York’s JFK airport to start their second North American tour today in 1965. They’d be transported to Shea Stadium by helicopter and armored car, because by this time the running away from girls that seemed so cute in A Hard Day’s Night had turned to genuine fear for their lives. Some 2000 security personnel kept fans in the stands (though periodically individuals broke through and ran onto the diamond, to be chased down by security) and off the field at what to that point was the largest and most profitable concert ever put on: 55,000 fans paying some $300,000. Sound systems were still quite primitive, and though Vox had designed special and much louder 100-Watt amplifiers for the tour, they struggled to hear themselves over the constant screaming, and at one point John Lennon decided the whole thing was so ridiculous he started playing keyboards with his elbows, making silly faces while the other 3 laughed hysterically. Their set for this tour was quite short by today’s standards: Just 30 minutes (Paul McCartney played for 3 hours at Safeco Field three summers ago), and the limited number of dates included two shows (both on the 22nd) at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum, the only Pacific Northwest stop.
The National Jazz and Blues Festival, West of London in Windsor today in 1967 included Jeff Beck, Cream, The Small Faces, The Move (which Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood would later evolve into the Electric Light Orchestra), The Pink Floyd, Donovan, Chicken Shack, and the first ever live show for Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Singing keyboard player Christine Perfect, later to become Christine McVie was not yet a member of Chicken Shack let alone Fleetwood Mac, but she and John McVie may have met for the first time at this show.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono left London’s Heathrow Airport for New York today in 1971. In December they would release Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and land themselves on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list, and while they would fight the resulting deportation efforts until ’76, John would never set foot on British soil again.
Four masked intruders broke in to the upstate New York house of Todd Rundgren today in 1980, and after tying him and his girlfriend up, proceeded to remove everything of value including stereo gear and paintings, and though he was blindfolded, Todd told police that one of the robbers had been humming his hit I Saw The Light.
Woodstock ’94, also sometimes called Mudstock or “Commercial Woodstock” was in it’s second day today in 1994. Held to mark the 25th anniversary of the original “3 days of Peace and Music” at the Winston Farm in Saugerties, New York (the site intended for the original festival 10 miles from Woodstock, chosen largely for it’s proximity to Bob Dylan’s house…he did not play at it and the permit was denied and the festival moved to Max Yagur’s farm some 40 miles further). Performers playing to an estimated crowd of 350,000 included some who had been a the original festival (Santana, Joe Cocker, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Band, who shared their set with Jack Cassady and Jorma Kaukonen of The Jefferson Airplane and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead), Aerosmith (Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Joey Kramer had all been there as fans), one who was invited but went to England instead (Bob Dylan), and many who had been either kids, too far away to attend, or not born yet, such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day (who started the famous mud fight as the weather was similarly wet to that of the original), Metallica, Melissa Ethridge, Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveller, The Allman Brothers Band, The Violent Femmes, Blind Melon (who’s singer the late Shannon Hoon got into the spirit of the thing by playing in his girlfriend’s dress while high on acid), and inexplicably, Seattle’s Candlebox. Alice In Chains had been invited to play, but bowed out due to singer Layne Staley’s heroin problems, though guitarist Jerry Cantrell did appear with Primus.
Mick Jagger’s common-law marriage to model Jerry Hall was declared null and void by a high court in London today in 1999, as their Hindu ritual had taken place in Bali, Indonesia and wasn’t recognized by British or Indonesian law. Mick had dumped wife Bianca for Jerry, and Jerry in turn dumped Roxy Music singer Brian Ferry for Mick. The two had 4 children, and Jerry settle for an undisclosed sum out of court, reportedly less than the £30 million she was seeking.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Soft-rock singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg would be 65. He died of prostate cancer in 2006.
Danny Bonaduce is 57. The former bass player for The Partridge Family was discovered to not, in fact, be able to play bass at all, and was demoted to a career as a celebrity boxer, Charlie Sheen-type social pariah, and then the ultimate insult, radio disc-jockey here at KZOK.