The Beatles were in Hamburg today in 1960 when they ditched their drummer Pete Best to head into a recording studio with the rhythm section of fellow Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, bass player Lu Walters and drummer Ritchie Starkey. They recorded a cover of George Gershwin’s Summertime direct to 78-rpm record, which marked the first time they recorded with Starkey, who would later adopt the stage name Ringo Starr and replace Best permanently two years later. They made a total of 4 copies of today’s session, none of which survive.
Based on his previous work with Little Richard’s band, The Isley Brothers, and Curtis Knight and The Squires, New York music entrepreneur Ed Chalpin signed guitarist Jimi Hendrix to a three year recording contract today in 1965 that gave Jimi exactly $1 and a 1% royalty on his recordings. Hendrix would start his own band, Jimmie James and the Blue Flames, but the crappy contract would come back to bite him two years later when he hit it big in England.
Tonight in 1966 was the launch party for the influential British “hippie” newspaper The International Times at London’s Roundhouse, an 1847 railroad turntable building that would host major countercultural events through the 60’s that still stands, protected on Britain’s National Register of Historic Places. Tonight’s line up, which started it’s life as a music venue, included a Caribbean Steel Drum band, Yoko Ono, The Soft Machine, former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine, The Move, and The Pink Floyd, who were paid a whopping £15. Flyers encouraged attendees to “Bring your own poison, bring flowers and gas filled balloons”.
The New Yardbirds, who’d been assembled by guitarist Jimmy Page to fulfill the contract obligations he’d inherited as the last-standing member of that storied band, played for the first time tonight in 1968 under their new name Led Zeppelin at Surrey University in England.
Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones was already in Los Angeles when a French court ruled today in 1973 that he be given a one-year suspended prison sentence and be barred from entering France for two years after having been caught at Nellcôte, a 16-room 1898 mansion on the Côte d’Azur where they’d started recording Exile on Main Street in the basement, with the deadly gateway drug marijuana, though vast quantities of much harder drugs had been used freely there. Keith and the band had fled to finish the album in California.
Paul and Linda McCartney were the guest voices on Fox’s prime-time cartoon comedy created by Evergreen State College grad Matt Groening, The Simpsons, tonight in 1995 in an episode called Lisa The Vegetarian. Linda had got her husband to stop “eating anything with a face” in 1975, and the two agreed to the appearance on the stipulation that Lisa’s decision would be a permanent character change. Producers of the show were keen to have him on, John Lennon had died before it started, but Ringo Starr and George Harrison had already made appearances. Paul was particularly amused by the writer’s idea of back-masking one of his songs, and recorded over Maybe I’m Amazed played backwards a recipe for “a really rippin’ (vegetarian) Lentil Soup”, and “Oh, and by the way….I’m alive.”
Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and wife Pamela Anderson were out for the evening club-hopping in Hollywood tonight in 1996 when a paparazzi started taking pictures. Tommy beat the man senseless, for which he was arrested and charged with assault, and would serve 4 months in jail.
56 year old Welsh guitarist Dave Edmunds was on tour in the U.S. today in 2000 when he took time out for triple bypass heart surgery at L.A.’s Cedar Sinai Hospital. He’s still with us at age 71.
Dave Clark Five singer Mike Smith fell off a ladder at home in Spain today in 2003, It left him paralyzed from the waist down, and he would die of pneumonia in 2008, just two weeks before the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jon Bon Jovi’s lawyers were in court today in 2008 petitioning for a legal cease-and-desist order to prevent the presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin from using his song Who Says You Can’t Go Home? at rallies today in 2008. Jackson Browne, The Foo Fighters, and Seattle’s Heart had already filed the same legal action, but Jon took it a step further, inviting fans to his home in New Jersey for a $30,000-a-plate fundraising dinner and show for the campaign of Barack Obama.
U2 frontman Bono Vox issued a public apology today in 2014 after the band’s new album Songs of Innocence was automatically downloaded to the iTunes libraries of Apple customers worldwide, with no apparent way to delete it. He called the stunt “A drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
One-hit-wonder Barry McGuire is 81.
Seattle-born singing drummer Don Stevenson of The Frantics and Moby Grape is 74.