Sun Records released Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis today in 1957. It would be a huge hit, getting to #2 here in the States, and #1 in England, where Jerry would be a huge influence on up and coming British rockers until he arrived there in May of the following year and a reporter interviewing him at Heathrow Airport discovered that his new third wife was his 13 year old first cousin once removed. The public outrage would see his tour cancelled after only three shows, and follow him home when Dick Clark cancelled his appearance on American Bandstand, and he went from playing $10,000 a night concerts to $250 a night shows in bars.
The U.S. Army’s 32nd Tank Regiment were on manuevers in Germany near the Czechoslovakian border today in 1958, an unremarkable bit of Cold War trivia, except that one of the tank’s crew members happened to be the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.
The Rolling Stones played a show in Cleveland Ohio tonight in 1964 when an overenthusiastic 17 year old fan fell from a balcony and was seriously injured. Cleveland’s mayor issued a statement banning all future rock and roll shows, saying “Such groups as The Rolling Stones do not add to the community’s culture or entertainment”. They would be back in June of ’66.
The Beatles wrapped production of their BBC TV special Magical Mystery Tour with a sequence shot at Ringo’s country house in Surrey today in 1967. The BBC had bought rights to show it twice, and would the day after Christmas in black and white, and then again in early January in color on BBC 2, but most Brits didn’t yet own color TV’s.
James Taylor and Carly Simon were married by a judge in Carly’s Manhattan apartment today in 1972. They announced the marriage to fans at Jame’s show at Radio City Music Hall that night. They would have two children before divorcing 11 years later.
Elton John played a show at London’s Empire Pool in Wembley tonight in 1977, and at the end announced to the audience he was retiring from performing. His retirement would last almost two years.
A free concert honoring music promoter Bill Graham, who’d been killed in a helicopter crash the week before, took place at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park today in 1991 with Crosby Stills Nash and Young, The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, and Journey.
Leon Theremin died at home in Moscow at age 97 today in 1993. His namesake instrument, played by moving one’s hands in front of two antennas, was made famous in The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations and Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. After inventing the electronic instrument in 1928, Leon would go on to design listening devices for the KGB.
Metallica settled out of court today in 1997 with a fan suing them, claiming he’d lost his sense of smell after being dropped while “crowd surfing” at one of their shows 4 years earlier.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Nick Simper is 71. He started out as the bass player for two of rock’s early theatrical acts that would inspire later efforts by Alice Cooper and others, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. The latter, with their one guitar, bass drums, and lead singer line up would inspire The Who to stop letting Roger Daltrey play guitar, and they would cover The Pirates hit Shakin’ All Over. Simper was nearly killed in a car crash that took the life of singer Kidd, and shortly after he joined the original lineup of Deep Purple, though he and singer Rod Evans were fired and replaced with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover from the band Episode Six. He played with a long series of mostly unsuccessful bands, including backing up Mick Jagger’s girlfriend Marsha Hunt.
Stuart Goddard is 62, better known by his stage name Adam Ant.