Some might trace the birth of rock and roll to this moment, Elvis Presley performed in public for the very first time today in 1945, singing Old Shep in a talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Dairy Show. The 10-year-old future “King of rock and Roll” was all of 10 years old, and came in second place.
American folk legend Woodie Guthrie died of Huntington’s disease today in 1967 at 55. Born and raised in Oklahoma, he lived through and wrote songs about the “dust bowl”, the Great Depression, and the lives and struggles of average Americans. Songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and Joe Strummer consider him a major influence. His Roll On, Columbia, Roll On, with lyrics about the Grand Coulee Dam, is the official folk song of the State of Washington, which despite the efforts of former Almost Live! host Ross Shafer, still does not have an official rock and roll song.
The Beatles had skipped Abbey Road in favor of the more technologically advanced Trident Studios in London today in 1968 to record a new George Harrison number called Savoy Truffle. George’s lyrics were inspired by his friend Eric Clapton’s insatiable love of chocolate, especially the Scottish chocolatier MacKintosh’s “Good News” bar.
30 Aerosmith fans at a concert at the Fort Wayne Indiana Coliseum tonight in 1978 were arrested and jailed for possession of the dreaded gateway drug “Marijuana”. None of them went on to harder drugs, but Aerosmith had, and took it upon themselves to bail all 30 out of the pokey on their own dime.
Texas governor Ann Richards by official proclamation made October 3rd Stevie Ray Vaughan Day today in 1991. It would have been his 37th birthday had he not been killed in a helicopter crash the year before. The day is marked every year with a motorcycle ride and benefit concert in Austin that raises funds for scholarships and a drug-and-alcohol treatment program.
Irish singer Sinéad O’Conner was just finishing an a-cappella cover of Bob Marley’s War on NBC’s Saturday Night Live tonight in 1992, when seemingly out of nowhere she produced an 8′ x 10″ glossy photograph of Pope John Paul II, and proceeded to tear it to bits in protest of a large number of Catholic Priest’s ongoing sexual abuse of young boys, saying “Fight the real enemy!” The studio audience was stunned, and producer Lorne Michaels ordered the applause sign to stay dark. NBC received some 4400 phone calls from angry Catholics, and on the next week’s show, Catholic-raised actor Joe Pesci produced the photo, which had been taped back together, and then proceeded to tear up a photo of O’Conner to loud applause. Contrary to urban myth, NBC was not fined by the Federal Communications Commission, as she did not use profanity, but asked years later if she would change anything about that appearance, she replied, “Oh hell no.”
The Cars singing bass player Ben Orr died of cancer at home in Atlanta today in 2000 at age 53.
John Lennon’s murderer Mark David Chapman was eligible for parole for the first time today in 2000, having served 20 years. Yoko Ono had sent a letter to the parole board asking his application be denied, which it was. Chapman, according to rules, is allowed to apply every two years since, which he has, being denied each time. In 2012, when the board wrote, “Despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime.” In 2014 Mark noted that he still got letters in prison from Lennon fans, saying “I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory”. The board mostly just repeated itself about “respect for the law” when Chapman was denied for a 9th time this last August.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rockabilly guitarist Eddie Cochran would be 78. He was killed in a car crash on his first and only British tour at age 21.
The man who popularized “The Twist” in the 60’s, Chubby Checker (real name Ernest Evans) is 75.
Los Bravos guitarist Antonio Martinez would be 71. He died in a motorcycle accident at 45. The band’s 1966 hit Black is Black was the first in the U.S. and Britain by a group from Spain.
Fleetwood Mac singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham is 69.
Texas blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughn would be 62. He was killed in a helicopter crash in 1990.
Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee is 54.