Minnesota-born rockabilly guitarist Eddie Cochran had his first hit in England today in 1958 when Summertime Blues entered the charts. Not just a rock and roll pioneer, Eddie was also an early experimenter with recording techniques like overdubbing and the use of multi-track tape decks. He would be a huge influence on British rock. Paul McCartney said later that John Lennon let him in The Quarrymen because he knew all the words to Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock, The Who’s cover of Summertime Blues recorded live at Leeds University would be a hit for them, and Blue Cheer’s version of the song was even heavier. His songs were also covered by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, Rush, The Beach Boys, UFO, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Stray Cats, and The Sex Pistols. Sadly, Cochran was killed in a car crash that seriously injured fellow rockabilly star Gene Vincent in England on their first tour there two years later.
The Beatles played the first of the only two shows they ever did in Ireland tonight in 1963 at the Adelphi Cinema in Dublin. They were being shadowed by screenwriter Alun Owen, who was busy scribbling notes on their hectic “a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room” lifestyle as he assembled a script for their upcoming movie, which was not yet titled A Hard Day’s Night.
Reg Dwight (not yet known as Elton John) and a lyricist he had found by placing an ad in New Musical Express, Bernie Taupin, signed a publishing contract with Dick James Music today in 1967, the start of a long and very lucrative relationship. As both of them were under 21 years of age, their signatures had to be witnessed by their parents.
Life magazine featured a cover with Paul McCartney, wife Linda, and their two children taken on their farm in Scotland today in 1969, with the headline “The Case of the ‘Missing’ Beatle: Paul Is Still With Us”. In the interview Paul dispelled rumors of his death in a 1967 car crash, and supposed subsequent replacement by a look-alike who was somehow able to sing, play, and write songs like him. He said, “Perhaps the rumour started because I haven’t been much in the press lately. I have done enough press for a lifetime, and I don’t have anything to say these days. I am happy to be with my family and I will work when I work. I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off. Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days.”
The Rolling Stones began their 6th tour of the North American continent tonight in 1969 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Opening acts on the tour were Ike and Tina Turner, and two guitarists they’d idolized since learning to play, Chuck Berry and B.B. King. It was their first tour with Mick Taylor as Brian Jones replacement, and would end in tragedy at the Altamont Speedway outside San Francisco.
Ted Nugent won a national Squirrel-shooting contest today in 1974, picking one off at 150 yards. Ted shot some 27 other assorted animals during the three day event.
A film loosely based on the life and career of Janis Joplin, The Rose, opened in North America tonight in 1979. It would make it’s leading lady Bette Midler a star, and earn her an academy award nomination for best actress in her debut role.
Bruce Springsteen was at #1 on the U.S. album charts today in 1987 with his 8th studio record Tunnel of Love. He’d made it at his home studio in New Jersey, using members of the E-Street Band sparingly, playing most of the instruments himself, even using a drum machine on some songs in place of Max Weinberg. The album’s title track and many of the other songs were based on his crumbling marriage to Julianne Phillips, and on the supporting tour he was in a blossoming relationship with backup singer Patti Scialfa, who he finally married in 1991.
Guitarist Frank Zappa was diagnosed with the prostate cancer that would kill him two years later today in 1991.
Guns-N-Roses newly-sober rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit the band today in 1991, citing the toxic personality of singer Axl Rose and the difficulty of hanging with rarely-sober bandmates Slash, Duff McKagen, and Matt Sorum. He was replaced by Gilby Clarke, who would last until the band more or less disintegrated in another 3 years.
The “New” Guns-N-Roses were scheduled to play Vancouver B.C. tonight in 2002, but the only original member left, singer Axl Rose (notoriously late for shows) outdid himself when he missed his flight from Los Angeles, and promoters cancelled the show, causing a small riot in which 12 fans were arrested.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Singer and guitarist Johnny Rivers is 74, and looks better than most of us will if we even reach that age.
Folksinger Joni Mitchell is 73. While living in Ontario at age 8, she contracted the polio virus in the same Canadian epidemic that got Neil Young when he was 5. In 1969 she wrote the song Woodstock in New York hotel room, based on TV News reports and telephone descriptions of the festival by her then-boyfriend Graham Nash. She’d been invited to play the landmark festival, but at the insistence of her manager,blew it off in order to appear on The Dick Cavett Show.
Portland Oregon raised guitarist Tommy Thayer is 56. He replaced KISS lead player Ace Frehley when he was kicked out of the band in 1982, and then again 20 years later.