Today’s 1965 editions of both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran ads today seeking “Folk-and-roll musicians-singers for acting roles in new TV series”. Some 400 young men showed up for the auditions, from those 14 were invited back for screen tests, but only one of those who’d seen the ad was chosen for the final four who would become The Monkees: Michael Nesmith impressed producers with his droll sense of humor and his characteristic wool hat he used to keep his hair out of his eyes while riding his motorcycle. Englishman Davy Jones had already been selected as the “lead singer” based on his performance in the Broadway production of Oliver, Mickey Dolenz was the son of screen actor George Dolenz, and multi-instrumentalist Peter Tork was picked up on the recommendation of one of the rejected men who’d answered the ad, future Buffalo Springfield and CSN member Stephen Stills. Other rejected hopefuls had included Charles Manson, mega-hit songwriter Paul Williams, and future Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton.
The Beatles played their new single Hey Jude on the BBC’s Frost On Sunday today in 1968 in front of a hand-picked audience. It had come out at the end of August, the first release from their own Apple record label, would hit the #1 spot on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and at 7 minutes and 11 seconds set record-records for the longest single played on the radio.
Led Zeppelin played their third-ever live show tonight in 1968 in Denmark with opening acts The Ladybirds, a topless go-go dancing act, and a band called The Beatnicks, who have no connection to the Australian Beatnix you see here doing one of Zeppelin’s later hits.
Wings lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch quit the band today in 1977 to join a re-formed Small Faces. He’d left the Pete Townsend-assembled band Thunderclap Newman to join Wings, but quit the Small Faces after a couple of months and would die of a heroin overdose two years later.
Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain played a show in Hollywood tonight in 1993 with his bride Courtney Love doing a song he claimed she’d helped him write, Pennyroyal Tea.
29 years after Jimmy Page formed the band, Led Zeppelin released their first single in England today in 1997. Their manager Peter Grant had never allowed them to release single songs at home when they were an active band, instead wanting their fans to buy whole albums, which forever changed the way Britons bought music, but today’s re-release of their first North American single from 1969, Whole Lotta Love, was timed to promote the reissue of the entire Zeppelin catalog.
Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson took a full-time job as a co-pilot with Astreus Airlines today in 2002. Not too long afterward he was alarmed when a long-haired German tourist in an Iron Maiden t-shirt was a passenger on his plane, and he thought he’d be “outed” in front of his new co-workers, but the fan didn’t recognize him in short hair and pilot’s “costume”.
Rod Stewart was ordered to pay the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas $2 million today in 2005 as restitution for cancelling a show there in 2000. Rod’s voice had temporarily stopped working after an operation to remove a cancerous tumor on his thyroid gland, but the court noted that he had done some 150 shows since then.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Electric Light Orchestra bass player Kelly Groucutt would be 71 if he’d made it past 63.
Grateful Dead keyboard player Ron “Pigpen” McKernan would be 71 if he hadn’t joined what Kurt Cobain’s Mom would later call “that stupid club” of rockers dead at age 27.
The Cars bass player and singer Ben Orr would be 69 if he hadn’t died of cancer at 53.