Elvis Presley pulled in to a Memphis gas station to fill up today in 1954, and was immediately surrounded by a small crowd of autograph-seekers. Station manager Ed Hopper was annoyed, and repeatedly began asking the 21 year old star to move on so he could resume selling gasoline, but Elvis didn’t want to offend his fans, and continued signing until Hopper slapped him on the head to get his attention. He got it all right. Elvis turned around and punched him in the face. Another station employee, Aubrey Brown, came to his boss’s aid, and found himself at the business end of The King’s fists as well. Someone called the police, and when they arrived Hopper and Brown were arrested, charged with assault, and fined $25 and $15 respectively.
The Quarry Men played the New Clubmoor Hall in Liverpool tonight in 1957 with a new member. Leader John Lennon was joined by Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Len Garry, and the guitar player who’d recently impressed John by knowing all the words to Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock and knowing how to actually tune a guitar, Paul McCartney. It was the start of a long and relatively successful collaboration between the two.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience played it’s first-ever live show tonight in 1966, opening for French pop star Johnny Hallyday at the Olympia nightclub in Paris.
Sydney Australian band The Bee Gees has their first #1 hit in England today with Massachusetts today in 1967. They’d already become popular at home, but had bigger designs and sent a demo tape to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who by now had also grown his little Liverpool record store into NEMS Enterprises, one of the biggest record store chains in Britain. Epstein passed the tape to Adelaide-born Robert Stigwood, an NEMS subordinate who also happened to be managing Cream. He’d flown the Gibb brothers to London for an audition, then got them signed to a 5 year contract with Polydor and took on managing them as well, which would pay off quite handsomely when he brokered the deal that became Saturday Night Fever.
John and Yoko Lennon were taken to Paddington Green police station today in 1968 and booked for possession of cannabis and obstruction of justice following a raid on their apartment. John plead guilty in court a month later and paid £150. The Nixon administration would later use this in an unsuccessful attempt to have him deported from New York as an “undesirable alien” for his pro-peace songwriting, associating with American “radicals”, and political speechifying.
The Temptations got their second U.S. #1 today in 1969 when Can’t Get Next To You hit the top spot on Billboard’s chart.
The Buggles hit #1 in England today in 1979 with Video Killed The Radio Star. Written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes, and Bruce Woolley in one hour of an afternoon in Downes’ flat, the music video they made for $50,000 to play on Top of The Pops would be the first played on MTV in 1981, and Horn and Downes would go on to play in Yes.
Guns-N-Roses were opening for The Rolling Stones at L.A.’s Memorial Coliseum tonight in 1989 when singer Axl Rose turned to his bandmates between songs to announce to the crowd that this would be the last Guns-N-Roses show ever unless the band members “got their s*** together”. He was referring to their ever-increasing use of heroin, or as he called it in the song, “Mr. Brownstone“.
After a 15 year court battle, the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled today in 2002 that The Ronettes did not get a piece of the money earned by their producer (and frontwoman Ronnie Bennett’s ex-husband) Phil Spector through use of their songs in movies, television, and advertising. Citing the contract they’d signed in 1963, the court also reduced their cut of record sales.
The Scottish former multi-instrumentalist frontman of Ultravox, James “Midge” Ure, was finally at Buckingham Palace in a kilt today in 2005, being made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), by Her Majesty the Queen. He and Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldoff had written a song together called Do They Know It’s Christmas? in 1984, formed the Band Aid supergroup to record it, organized the Live Aid and Live 8 charity concerts, but Geldoff had been given an honorary Knighthood (KBE) by Elizabeth II in 1986, though as an Irishman, he is technically not supposed to be called “Sir” Bob, even though everyone does.
According to a poll of American editors, artists, and graphic designers announced today in 2005, the Top U.S. magazine cover of the last 40 years was the Rolling Stone with Annie Leibovitz’s photograph of a naked John Lennon curled around wife Yoko Ono on the bed in their Dakota apartment, taken on the last day of his life.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
One of rock and roll’s foremost pioneers dating back to the 50’s, Chuck Berry is still with us at 90.
Stealer’s Wheel singer songwriter Joe Egan is 70.