The Beatles started their first run on The Reeperbahn, a 930 meter stretch (It’s nickname “die sündigste meile” means “the most sinful mile”) of street in Hamburg, Germany that’s home to Nightclubs and the city’s Red Light District, tonight in 1960, the first of 48 nights at the Indra Club. Many think of the Beatles as an overnight success from 1964, but they had in fact had years of practice playing live and songwriting before they hit it big. Author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success points out that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become “expert” at something, and that John, Paul, George, and Ringo had played together well over that mark by the time of the “British Invasion”. Lennon famously said later, “I may have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.”
This city council in Glasgow, Scotland declared today in 1964 that all men entering public swimming pools sporting “mop-top” Beatle haircuts would have to wear bathing caps as their hair was clogging the pool filters.
It was day three (Sunday) of Woodstock today in 1969, starting with Joe Cocker at 2 pm (Saturday’s performances ended with The Jefferson Airplane just before 10 AM that morning), followed by Country Joe and the Fish (their second performance of the festival…they were the only band to play twice), 10 Years After, The Band, Johnny Winter, Blood Sweat and Tears, Crosby Stills Nash and Young (who played an acoustic set without Neil first), The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha Na Na, and Jimi Hendrix, who finished up before the 30-40 thousand of the festivals near half-million attendees who were left at 11 am Monday morning. Two people died at Woodstock, one overdosing on heroin, the other run over by a tractor when he had fallen asleep in a nearby field. Performers who famously declined invitations to play Woodstock include: The Beatles, who according to rumor declined because John Lennon demanded a spot for The Plastic Ono Band as well and festival promoters refused(others say it was because Richard Nixon prevented him from entering the country); Led Zeppelin, whose manager did not want them to be “just another band” on the bill (though they had just played the Seattle Pop Festival a month before); Bob Dylan, who left for England on the QE2 the day it started; The Doors, who thought it would be “a second rate repeat of the Monterrey Pop Festival”; The Jeff Beck Group, who had just broken up; The Chicago Transit Authority who claimed that promoter Bill Graham made sure their slot went to Santana, who he managed; The Byrds, who also thought Woodstock would be “just another festival”; The Moody Blues, who decided they’d rather play a gig in Paris; Procul Harum, because guitarist Robin Trower’s wife had just had a baby; Jethro Tull, because frontman Ian Anderson did not like hippies; and Roy Rogers, who had been asked to sing “Happy Trails” at the end, but wanted nothing to do with it.
The New York Post issued today in 1979 reported that Keith Richards wife (and previously Brian Jones’ girlfriend) Anita Pallenberg was part of a coven of witches in South Salem, New York, where Keith owned a house. A policeman claimed he had been attacked by black-hooded caped youths, and a local boy who claimed Anita had invited him to a “pot smoking sex orgy”.
Nirvana shot the video for Smells Like Teen Spirit today in 1991 in Culver City, California for a budget of $50,000…far less than was usually spent on the hair-metal buttrock videos of the day that were almost never seen on MTV again after Nirvana’s video took the screen.
Jackson Browne filed a lawsuit today in 2008 against the campaign of presidential candidate John McCain for unauthorized use of his song Running On Empty, saying that he thought it would lead people to believe he endorsed the Republican, which he most certainly did not.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Box Tops guitarist Garry Talley is 69.
Boston drummer Sib Hashian is 67.
Colin Moulding is 61, bass player and with guitarist Andy Partridge the songwriting braintrust of British band XTC, who quit playing live shortly after blowing The Police off stage at Seattle’s Paramount theatre in the early 80’s due to Partridge’s chronic stage fright. More importantly, under the name The Dukes of Stratosphear released homages to the psychedelic era that is some of the best Classic Rock you’ve likely never heard.
Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the most successful all-female original rock band of all time, The Go Go’s, is 58.
The Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman is 51.