Brian Epstein was at work at his Liverpool record store today in 1961, when two shapely young girls came in and asked for The Beatles new German single My Bonnie they’d recorded in Hamburg. He’d been asked the same thing two days earlier, and finally decided to investigate. He found a German single of My Bonnie by Norwich crooner Tony Sheridan, backed by The Beat Brothers. Turns out the Fab Four changed their name on the label because “Beatles” to Germans sounds quite a lot like “Piedels”, a German slang word for the male genitalia. Epstein would sign them to a management contract in early December of that year. Tony Sheridan died in Hamburg, where he was much more popular than he ever got in Britain, in 2013 at age 72.
Rolling Stones guitar player and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones was in court in London today in 1967. He plead guilty to possession of cannabis and allowing his premises to be used for the smoking of said contraband, but not guilty to possession of cocaine and methedrine (a pharmaceutical variant of methamphetamine). The court accepted the not guilty part of his plea, but nevertheless sentenced him to 9 months in London’s notorious Wormwood Scrubs prison. He was released on bail and filed a successful appeal later. Keith Richards would serve one day at Wormwood Scubs the next year, part of a largely deferred sentence for the same charge.
Marc Bolan’s psychedelic folk band Tyrannosaurus Rex recorded a session for the BBC music program Top Gear today in 1967, the first band to do so that didn’t already have a recording contract. Host John Peel would go on to be the BBC’s longest-serving music DJ, until his death in 2004. The BBC would revive Top Gear as the name of an automotive show in ’77 and again in 2002 (it’s was the most popular “motoring” show in the world until “presenter” Jeremy Clarkson was fired for abusing a producer earlier last year), and Bolan’s band would evolve into T-Rex, one of England’s most beloved “glam” rock bands.
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band went to #1 in England today in 1971 with their Imagine album, largely on the success of the title track. It also contained a song seemingly a direct attack on his old bandmate Paul McCartney, How Do You Sleep? The two were feuding since The Beatles breakup, and John had felt, perhaps rightly, that Paul’s songs Too Many People, Dear Boy, and 3 Legs from his Ram album were directed at him (George and Ringo apparently felt the same way), but John’s song was more blatant, with lines like “The only thing you done was Yesterday, and since you’re gone you’re Just Another Day“.
Nirvana played in a dorm room at The Evergreen State College in Olympia tonight in 1988, two years after KZOK DJ Scott Vanderpool had graduated. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had been coming out from Aberdeen with The Melvins to attend shows at an all-ages venue he’d helped start as a place for his own band to play, The Fabulous Tropicana, though he didn’t know until years later when Novoselic said “Oh my god, you were in the Young Pioneers?” Later that year Nirvana played their first show in Seattle, opening for Vanderpool’s band Chemistry Set at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square.
Guns-N-Roses frontman Axl Rose was released on $10,000 bail this morning in 1990 after being taken to jail for hitting a neighbor, who’d complained to police about loud music coming from his place, over the head with a bottle.
All four original members of Black Sabbath reunited to play CBS’s Late Night With David Letterman tonight in 1998. Drummer Bill Ward was on and off their reunion tour due to health problems, but would be back with them when they played Seattle’s Key Arena in January of that year.
Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil had attacked a soundman at Dallas’ famous Gilley’s nightclub during a show the previous evening, first asking him for more volume on his monitor, but then punching him in the head as he adjusted the knob, leaving him unconscious. A warrant was issued for his arrest this morning in 2004 on assault charges.
Forbes magazine reported today in 2007 that Elvis Presley had regained his crown as the highest-earning dead celebrity, having made $49 million that year. Second on the list was John Lennon, followed by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz, George Harrison, and Kurt Cobain, who had topped the list the year before.
Linda Stein was found beaten to death in her Manhattan apartment today in 2007. She’d been the wife of Sire Records president Seymour Stein, had co-managed The Ramones, and later became New York’s “Realtor to the Stars”, counting Billy Joel, Sting, and Sir Elton John as clients and personal friends. By early November, her former personal assistant Natavia Lowery was arrested for her bludgeoning, with prosecutors saying she’d attacked Linda after she blew marijuana smoke in her face, used a racial slur, and “just kept yelling at her”. Lowery had admitted as much in a videotaped confession, but during the trial in December, Lowery’s family disrupted the proceedings to accuse Stein’s daughter Mandy of the crime. At one point Lowery’s mother yelled at Mandy “You know you did it!”, but the jury was unconvinced, and sentenced Natavia to 25 years-to-life in prison, plus an additional 3 years for the theft of $30,000.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick (born Grace Barnett Wing) is 77, and still disgusted by and very critical of her bands de-evolution into Jefferson Starship and later Starship. She’d gone to college with Trishia Nixon, and in 1969 had been invited to a tea party at The White House for alumni. She invited political activist Abbie Hoffman to be her “date”, but the pair’s plan to spike Richard Nixon’s tea with 600 milligrams of LSD was thwarted when the Secret Service found her and Hoffman on the FBI’s “blacklist”.
The Temptations baritone Otis “Big Daddy” Williams is 75.
Welch drummer Chris Slade, who worked with Tom Jones, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Uriah Heep, Denny Laine, Gary Numan, The Firm, AC/DC, and Asia, is 70.
The Eagles bass player Timothy Bruce Schmit is 69.