The Beatles were back at EMI’s Abbey Road studios for a third attempt at their first single Love Me Do today in 1962. The first had come in June when producer George Martin had “seen something in them” but was unhappy with the timekeeping of drummer Pete Best. They’d replaced Pete with Ringo Starr, played some shows, and had at it again on September 4th with Ringo, but Martin wanted a third take with a proper session drummer who was familiar with the ways of the recording studio, and Ringo was relegated to tambourine while Andy White played the drum kit. This is the version released on their debut album and the American version of the single, on which the tambourine can be heard, but Brits got the Ringo version as their single. No one heard the Pete Best version until the The Beatles Anthology 1 was released in 1995. The song itself is one of their earliest compositions, Paul McCartney wrote the lyrics down in a school notebook when he was 16 under the headline “Another Lennon-McCartney Original”.
The London Evening News announced tonight in 1964 that the winner of their Mick Jagger Look-Alike Contest was one Laurie Yarham, who not only looked like Mick but had all his moves down and knew everything about him, but his title was stripped when the 16 year old Eltham college boy turned out to be Mick’s younger brother Chris Jagger, also a musician who later released two largely ignored albums in the early 70’s.
It was the first day of shooting for The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour today in 1967. They’d started without a script, just a rough idea that they’d get on a bus and “strange things would begin to happen”. As they drove around the West English countryside their bus was followed by an ever-larger crowd of curious fans.Though it was filmed in color, it would be shown on the BBC the day after Christmas in black-and-white, as few in England had color televisions in those days. Critics hated it. The lackluster response would keep American TV companies from picking it up, and it wasn’t shown here until 1974 when New Line Cinema picked up the rights and showed it in a limited engagement in theaters around the country. It was restored and re-released on DVD in 2012.
British music magazine New Musical Express writer Keith Allston interviewed Jimi Hendrix in London today in 1970. He talked of a new musical direction, including planned collaborations with Miles Davis and Paul McCartney, but Jimi had no idea the interview would be his last: He died 7 days later at age 27.
David Bowie was in Hollywood today in 1977, videotaping an appearance on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas in which he sang a duet with Crosby on The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, which would become a holiday staple on KZOK to this day.
Former Genesis singer Peter Gabriel cleaned up at the MTV Video Music Awards today in 1987, winning some 9 little spaceman statues for his then very high-tech Sledgehammer video. Gabriel would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Genesis in 2010 and then again as a solo artist in 2014.
Bob Marley and the Wailers member and later Reggae solo artist Peter Tosh was shot dead in a home-invasion robbery in Kingston Jamaica today in 1987.
70’s counterculture icon Tommy Chong, one half of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong was sentenced to a $20,000 fine and nine months in Federal Prison for selling bongs and glass pot pipes over the interwebs today in 2003 as part of the Bush administration’s “war on drugs” Operation Pipe Dreams, which involved some 2000 DEA agents and cost taxpayers $12 million.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is 73.
Singer Jack Ely would be 72 if he hadn’t passed back in April. He was playing a show at a club in Seaside Oregon in 1962 when he noticed that between live acts, the kids were going crazy for a song on the jukebox, Tacoma’s Rockin’ Robin Roberts cover of Richard Berry’s Louie Louie, and convinced his Portland-based band The Kingsmen to record it. It would become the definitive version of the song, sparking an F.B.I. investigation into it’s supposedly lewd lyrics (they weren’t), and in 1985 Almost Live! host Ross Shafer led an unsuccessful attempt to make it the Official State Song of Washington, as it had been played live all over the state and covered by Roberts, The Fabulous Wailers, The Sonics, and Paul Revere and The Raiders. Though the conservative at the time legislature gave the effort the thumbs-down, The Ely-sung Kingsmen version is still played after Take Me Out To The Ball Game at every Mariners home game 7th inning stretch to this day.
Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw is 63.
British band The Verve singer-songwriter Richard Ashcroft is 45. The band’s best-known song Bittersweet Symphony sampled it’s main riff from The Rolling Stones first manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s orchestral remake of The Last Time, which though they had sought and received permission from the Stones organization, later led to a court battle when later-era Stones manager Allen Klein, who by this point owned the rights to all pre-1970 Jagger/Richards songs, successfully sought 100% of it’s royalties, leading Ashcroft to quip “It’s the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”, to which Keith said “If The Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money”. The song has become a staple of sports broadcasts all over the world, and as the “entrance theme” at Seattle Seahawks games for over a decade.