Elvis Presley got an invite to the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London today in 1962, to be attended by members of Britain’s Royal Family. Quite an honor, and indicative of the influence The King was having on legions of would-be English rockers, but his manager Col. Tom Parker politely turned it down, citing Elvis’s movie commitments. As it turns out, the real reason was that Col. Tom had immigrated to the U.S. from Holland illegally, and feared if he left the country he wouldn’t be let back in. Though he was huge there, Elvis would never play in England. His only time on British soil was a refueling stop on the way back from Germany when he was discharged from the Army.
Jimi Hendrix arrived in London with his new manager, former Animals bass player Chas Chandler, today in 1966. He had only the clothes he was wearing, having sold all of his possessions to pay his New York hotel bill. Chas apparently knew what he was doing, and would soon hook the greatest guitar player ever to pick up the instrument with a rhythm section: Noel Redding, a guitar player who’d auditioned for the “New Animals” he switched over to bass; and Mitch Mitchell, a drummer who’d recently been fired from Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames. Interestingly Jimi’s last unsuccessful New York band, which featured future Spirit guitarist Randy California, was called Jimmy James and The Blue Flames.
Traffic, featuring former Spencer Davis Group keyboard player Steve Winwood, played live for the first time tonight in 1967 at London’s Saville Theater.
The Beatles were at a former WWII Army air base in Kent today in 1967, filming the ballroom finale scene of Magical Mystery Tour in a hangar, wearing white tuxedos as they sashayed down a staircase to Your Mother Should Know while some 160 members of Peggy Spencer’s dance team twirled around the floor.
John Lennon was at The Record Plant East studio in New York today in 1980 mixing his Double Fantasy album. During a break he did an interview with disc jockey Lisa Robinson from a Buffalo radio station, which would end up being one of the last interviews he would ever do.
The Hollies were back on the charts…at #1…today in 1988 with their 1969 hit He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, which had featured a young studio piano player named Elton John. The resurgence was due to the song being used in a British beer commercial.
The second studio album from Aberdeen’s Nirvana was released today in 1991. Nevermind would sell over 30 million copies, make the band very wealthy, along with producer Butch Vig and Sub Pop Records founders Jon Poneman and Bruce Pavitt, who’d let them go to David Geffen’s DGC label but got a “piece of the action”, and almost single-handedly wiped 80’s hair-metal buttrock from America’s radio airwaves and MTV. The album’s iconic cover, featuring 3-month old Spencer Elden underwater reaching for a dollar bill on a fishhook that was just out of reach, came from Geffen’s art department at the direction of Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl who had seen a documentary on water-birthing. DGC was concerned that some would be offended by the display of Elden’s circumcised penis, and prepared an alternate cover, which was rejected by Cobain, but he agreed to let them put a sticker over the little unit if they insisted on censoring it, that read “If you’re offended by this you must be a closet pedophile”. The cover went out as is. Spencer is now an artist himself at age 25.
15 year old Barry Loukaitis was in a Seattle courtroom today in 1996, being sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole for killing his algebra teacher and two classmates at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake. Barry had claimed temporary insanity, but prosecutors argued he had carefully planned his actions, inspired by the Pearl Jam video for their song Jeremy. Loukaitis is still at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center prison out near Neah Bay, and Pearl Jam would not make videos for their songs for many years.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Mel Taylor, drummer for The Ventures, would be 83 if he hadn’t been killed by cancer in 1996. He’s the older brother of Canned Heat bass player Larry Taylor.
Linda Eastman McCartney would be 75 if she hadn’t been killed by breast cancer at 56. She’d studied equestrian photography at an Arizona art school, then stumbled into switching to rock stars after being the only one with a camera on a yacht on the Hudson river in New York being used for a press conference by The Rolling Stones. Sent to capture “swingin’ London” in 1967, she met Paul McCartney, who married her, taught her how to play keyboards, and included her in his band Wings.
Gerry Marsden, guitarist, singer and bandleader of a Liverpool band once as popular as The Beatles, Gerry and The Pacemakers, is 74.