Creedence Clearwater Revival were at their peak today in 1969. Their album Green River was at number one on the U.S. album charts, and the song Bad Moon Rising from it was at #2 in the U.S. and #1, Top of the Pops, in Britain.
Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, former member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died today in 1973 in room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, outside of Joshua Tree National Park in the California desert. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack, but that was later found to have been brought on by an overdose of alcohol and morphine. Gram had fallen in love with Joshua Tree after returning to the U.S. from living in France at a 19th-century mansion with his friend Keith Richards (where The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street), and had asked to be cremated there. His stepfather had arranged for a funeral in New Orleans, but his manager and a former Byrds roadie stole his body from the Los Angeles International Airport and took it out to Joshua Tree where they attempted to burn it on “Cap Rock” by pouring gasoline into the coffin. The two managed to evade police responding to the resulting fireball, but were arrested two days later. Fans still create memorials to Gram there, but the National Park Service periodically removes them.
No Nukes: The Muse Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future started a 5 night run at Madison Square Garden in New York tonight in 1979. An album and concert film that came from the shows included Crosby Stills and Nash (Graham Nash was one of the main organizers), The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jackson Browne, and marked the first live recording of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Simon and Garfunkel reunited for a free show in New York’s Central Park today in 1981. Attended by over a half-million people, the show was released on album and filmed for an HBO special later released on VHS and Beta.
Seattle’s Pearl Jam released their second album Vs. today in 1993. It set a record for Most Copies Of An Album Sold In It’s First Week, a record they held for five years despite the fact that they made no videos to promote it on MTV.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Beatles manager Brian Epstein would be 82 today. He died of an overdose of alcohol and barbituates in 1967 at age 32, and the Beatles managerial troubles began. When they were awarded MBE’s by The Queen in 1965, the band felt Brian should have got one too, with George Harrison saying the letters stood for Mr. Brian Epstein.
“Mama” Cass Elliott of The Mamas and the Papas would be 75. She died at Harry Nilsson’s London flat at 32, not contrary to urban legend of choking on a sandwich, but of a heart attack brought on by a fasting diet from which she had rapidly lost 80 pounds. Keith Moon of The Who would die in the same apartment at the same age four years later.
Status Quo drummer John Coghlan is 70.
The lead guitarist for The Runaways, Lita Ford, is 58.