The Animals went to #1 on the U.S. charts today in 1964 with their cover of an American folk song, The House of the Rising Sun. It’s considered a “traditional” song, meaning no one really knows who wrote it, and no one has to be paid royalties, but the earliest known recording of it goes back to 1934. Eric Burdon claimed to have heard it first being sung by a British folkie in a Newcastle pub, despite Bob Dylan having included it on his 1961 debut album. In any case, The Animals version was a huge hit, and Dylan quit playing it live afterward, tired of fans asking him why he was doing an Animals song, but their version almost didn’t get on the radio. MGM records blatantly lied on the printed label, putting the time at 2 minutes and 58 seconds and not the actual length of 4:29, as American stations wouldn’t play a song longer than three minutes for quite a few more years.
The Beatles had just returned to England after nearly four years of constant touring and sworn it off forever when John Lennon arrived in Spain today in 1966 to start filming his role as Private Gripweed in the movie How I Won The War, directed by Richard Lester, who’d directed A Hard Day’s Night and Help!.
The Doors played in England for the first time today in 1968, doing Hello I Love You on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops at the start of their first tour there.
Janis Joplin was in an L.A. recording studio today in 1970 doing a song written by her old boyfriend Kris Kristofferson, Me And Bobby McGee. Her version would go on to be her only #1 hit after she died on October 4th, the second-ever posthumous chart topper after Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding.
Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington had just bought a brand new Ford Torino when he got loaded and crashed it into an oak tree in his native Jacksonville Florida today in 1976. The band was set to start a tour in just a few days and had to postpone it while he recovered from his injuries, so they fined him $5000 and Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins wrote That Smell, which includes the lyrics “Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, Oak tree, you’re in my way”.
Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks went to #1 on the U.S. album charts today in 1981 with her solo album Bella Donna. She wrote all the songs on it save one, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, which was written by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and sung as a duet with Petty.
Ian Astbury, lead singer for The Cult, spent the night in jail in Vancouver B.C. tonight in 1987, arrested for assault after staff at the band’s show claimed to have been beaten up by him.
Aerosmith had their first #1 hit after 28 years together today in 1998 with I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. It was included on the soundtrack to the movie Armageddon, but unlike most Aerosmith songs was not written by the former “toxic twins” Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, but instead Diane Warren, who also wrote sappy soft-rock hits for the likes of Celine Dion, Cher, N’Sync, Meat Loaf, Chicago, and the 80’s version of Seattle’s own Heart.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Scottish folkie singer songwriter Al Stewart is 71.
The Ink Spots, Wilson Pickett, Electric Flag, and Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies drummer Buddy Miles would be 70 if he’d made it past 60.
Freddy Mercury (real name Farrokh Bulsara) would be 70 if he hadn’t died at age 45, one day after publicly announcing he was HIV positive.