RCA Victor no doubt had their famous logo-dog “Nipper” displayed somehow at a press event they held today in 1931 to unveil their new 33 1/3 RPM “Long Playing” record. The standard for playing recorded music at home to this point had been Emile Berliner’s 10-inch 78 RPM single invented in the late 1800’s, but the new LP’s wouldn’t catch on for another 30 years, largely due to The Beatles and later Led Zeppelin making the concept of buying whole albums popular, and the fact that RCA Victor’s record players were quite expensive at a whopping $95 (about $1140 in today’s dollars). Interestingly vinyl records have been making a comeback as of late, with well-heeled audiophiles sometimes paying $10,000 and more for a turntable.
The Beatles played Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium tonight in 1964 and were paid a then world record $150,000 for the show, an amount that these days wouldn’t get the likes of The Rolling Stones or U2 off the couch.
The Doors were the featured musical guest on The Ed Sullivan Show tonight in 1967, and producers were concerned that a line from their hit song Light My Fire would offend conservatives: “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher”. They suggested Jim Morrison change the drug reference “Higher” to innocuous word “Better“. The band seemed to agree, but when they went live he sang the lyrics as he’d written them. Sullivan was furious and immediately ordered another 6 scheduled appearances by the band cancelled, and had a producer tell them they’d never do the show again, to which Jim replied, “Hey man, we just did the Sullivan show.”
The student newspaper at Drake University in Iowa published an article in today’s 1969 edition with the title “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?“, which claimed he’d been killed in a car crash in Scotland in 1967 and replaced with a look-alike who was somehow able to play left-handed, sing, and write songs exactly like him, pointing to “clues” such as the “Turn me on dead man” message supposedly heard when Revolution 9 from The White Album was played backwards and “I buried Paul“, supposedly heard in the song Strawberry Fields Forever. The “clues” would compound when their Abbey Road album came out on September 26th with Paul appearing barefoot. In reality Paul and new wife Linda Eastman were at home in Scotland, and would diffuse the rumors with a cover-story pictorial in November’s issue of Life magazine that ran under the headline “The case of the missing Beatle: Paul is still with us“.
Queen rented out the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium in London today in 1978 making a “music video” for their song Bicycle Race. They rented some two-dozen bicycles and hired 65 models to ride them naked around the dog track. When the rental company found out how their bikes had been used, they demanded that Queen buy new seats for them.
Rob Tyner, lead singer for Detroit’s influential MC5, died of a heart attack today in 1991 at age 46. It was Tyner who had yelled the intro to their most famous song, “Kick out the jams, Motherf***ers!”
A 19 year old man was removed from an airplane in Denver today in 1998 for heckling members of Hootie and the Blowfish, who were seated in the plane’s first class section.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The biggest country-and-western singer ever and the biggest country influence ever on rock and roll, Hank Williams, would be 93 if he hadn’t died of chronic alcoholism at age 29 in the back seat of a car he was being driven to a gig in.
Elvis Presley’s bass player Bill Black would be 90 if he hadn’t died of a brain tumor in 1965. He and Elvis’s lead guitarist Scotty Moore were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s newly-created “sidemen” category in 2009.
Steely Dan drummer Jim Hodder would be 69 if he hadn’t drowned in his swimming pool in 1990.
The Tubes lead singer John Waldo “Fee” Waybill is 66.