Elvis Presley played a show in Vancouver BC tonight in 1957 at the Empire Stadium. It was only the third time he had performed outside the U.S. Borders, and it would be the last. The next day he would play a daytime matinee in Tacoma and a nighttime show at Seattle’s Sicks Stadium that left quite an impression on a 14 year old Jimi Hendrix, who’d been spotted at school strumming a broom and recently acquired for free a one string ukelele and after the show wailed along to Hound Dog as best he could until he got his first guitar for $5 the next year.
Today in 1968 was the first of the two-day Isle of Wight Festivals organized by Ron, Ray, and Bill Foulk on a farm on Britain’s second-largest island 4 miles off it’s Southern coast. Some 15,000 people ferried over to see The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Move, Smile, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Plastic Penny, Fairport Convention, The Pretty Things, and the headliner all the way from San Francisco U.S.A. The Jefferson Airplane. The festival would continue the next year with 150,000 and bigger stars in the lineup, notably Bob Dylan who famously blew off the Woodstock festival in his own backyard, leaving for England on the Queen Elizabeth II the day it started to play his first live show since crashing his motorcycle three years earlier. By the same weekend in 1970 the festival had grown to just shy of 700,000 people, by all accounts much better organized and executed than Woodstock, and with many of the same artists, but Parliament was outraged at the counter-cultural massiveness of it all and passed the Isle of Wight Act, which prevented gatherings of more than 5000 until the festival was revived in 2002 with headliner Robert Plant, and in 2004 it got a repeat performance from The Who, who’s ’69 and 70 shows there are considered some of their best.
The Rolling Stones released a single today in 1969 written by Mick Jagger after he attended an anti-Vietnam war protest outside the London U.S. Embassy where police used horses to control the 25,000 protesters: Street Fighting Man is still considered their most political song, and was banned by many U.S. radio stations as “subversive”.
Traffic played their last live show ever today in 1974 at England’s Reading Festival, which predated the Isle of Wight as England’s first major annual “Bank Holiday Weekend” music gathering starting with jazz in 1961, but it’s happened every year since, except for ’84 and ’85 when the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher managed to get it shut down. Interestingly, though it was revived as an annual event afterward, attendance was declining with promoters dumping it’s traditional bent for cutting edge bands in favor of mainstream pop acts like Starship and Meat Loaf (who was driven from the stage by thrown bottles in ’88), it was Britain’s embrace of Seattle bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden that revived the festival that was headlined by Metallica this last weekend.
George Harrison was found guilty in court of “subconscious plagiarism” today in 1976 for using the melody of The Chiffon’s hit He’s So Fine for his song My Sweet Lord. George’s earnings from the song were awarded to writer Ronnie Mack, but you be the judge. The Chiffons would later record a version of My Sweet Lord.
Boomtown Rats frontman and Live Aid organizer Bob Geldoff married his live-in girlfriend of the last 10 years, TV presenter Paula Yates, at a small ceremony in Las Vegas today in 1986, with Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon as best man. Yates would die of an overdose in 2000.
Jackson Browne, Stevie Wonder, and Bonnie Raitt would sing Amazing Grace together today in 1990, at a memorial service for Stevie Ray Vaughn, who had been killed in a helicopter crash four days earlier.
Hilly Kristal died of lung cancer today in 2007 at age 75. He was owner and operator of the CBGB nightclub in Manhattan that started out bands like The Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, The Police, Television, and Patti Smith, who headlined the club’s last show the year before. In constant operation since ’73, the real estate in the Greenwich Village area had become too valuable and the landlords turned the space into a high-end clothing boutique, but it was still placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. In the 2013 feature film about the place, Kristal is portrayed by Alan Rickman.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jerry Allison, drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, is 77.
British artist Roger Dean is 72. He’s done album covers and logos for Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant, Budgie, and most famously…Yes, for whom he also created elaborate stage props.
George Ivan “Van” Morrison (OBE) is 71.
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and solo artist Bob Welch would be 71 if he’d made it past 66.
And The Scorpions guitarist Rudy Schenker is 68...probably older than you thought he was, but so are the Scorpions….Rudy started that band when he was 17 years old….in 1965.