Beatles Do Comedy, Obama Honors Zeppelin: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

The Beatles taped an appearance on the the BBC’s Morcambe and Wise show tonight in 1963, which involved not only them playing a few songs, but participating in comedy sketches with hosts Eric Morcambe and Ernie Wise, which having pretty good senses of humor, they did naturally, as the world would see when their own movie A Hard Day’s Night came out a year later.

The Monkees went to #1 on the U.S. album charts with their 4th album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. today in 1967. The “pre-fab-four” were exerting more control over the music, and playing instruments themselves, which their record company had previously forbidden, and Mickey Dolenz had gone out and bought one of the first 20 Mini-Moog synthesizers made, so this album, along with The Doors Strange Days and The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesties Request were the first to feature it, though the albums big hit Pleasant Valley Sunday (written for them by the Carole King/Gerry Goffin songwriting team) didn’t use it.

It was the first day of cover-photography for Pink Floyd’s forthcoming new album Animals today in 1976, with a huge helium-filled pig built by a German company that had previously built Zeppelins, strung up between the smokestacks of London’s iconic Battersea Power Station on the banks of the Thames river. For the first day of shooting the band had hired a trained marksman with high-powered rifle in hand ready to bring the pig down if it escaped, but it didn’t, so he wasn’t brought back the next day when of course it did, flying into the airspace of Heathrow Airport, disrupting travelers until it finally came down in a farmer’s field in Kent, where he was reportedly furious that the pig had scared his cattle.

Rod Stewart had his 5th #1 solo hit today in 1978 with Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, but one person who didn’t was Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor, who took Rod to court saying it was stolen from his own song Taj Mahal. The court sided with Jorge, and Rod agreed to donate all proceeds from the hit to the United Nations Children’s Fund, but…you be the judge.

Folk singer David Blue died of a heart attack while running in New York’s Washington Park today in 1982 at age 42. He’d been a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in the late 70’s, and wrote a song called Outlaw Man, a minor hit for The Eagles, who covered it on their Desperado album.

Dutch psychedelic band Shocking Blue’s lead singer Mariska Veres, who had a huge hit worldwide with Venus and co-wrote the song Nirvana released as their first single Love Buzz, died of cancer at age 59 today in 2006.

The three surviving members of Led Zeppelin were in Washington D.C. tonight in 2012, being honored by President Barack Obama at The Kennedy Center Honors, the closest thing we have to a Knighthood for performing artists. In his speech, the Prez said, “When Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham burst onto the musical scene in the late 1960s, the world never saw it coming.” The president drew laughter from guests when he thanked the former band members for behaving themselves at the White House given their history of “hotel rooms being trashed and mayhem all around”. After getting cool ribbons at the White House, later it was off to the Kennedy Center itself, where they sat appreciatively next to David Letterman in the balcony while a group of musicians led by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, and with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums, did a rendition of Stairway To Heaven that brought a visible tear to the eye of Robert Plant, and which Obama sang along with, obviously knowing all the lyrics.

Saxophone player Bobby Keys died of liver failure at home in Tennessee today in 2014. He’d toured with Buddy Holly, but gained even more fame when he showed up at a Texas State Fair in 1964 to see who these skinny English guys doing one of Buddy’s songs were. He found that he quite liked The Rolling Stones, and when he went backstage to meet them found he and guitar player Keith Richards were born on the same day on opposite sides of the Atlantic, the two remained best friends for life, and Bobby would play sax on almost every Stones tour and album, save for the period when Mick Jagger kicked him out for missing shows and excessive drunkenness.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Manfred Mann guitarist and singer Tom McGuinness is 75.

Def Leppard bass player Rick “Sav” Savage is 57.

Nate Mendel is 48. Originally from Kennewick, he moved to Seattle and hooked up with the too often overlooked Tacoma band Sunny Day Real Estate, and as that band was breaking up was tapped by Dave Grohl to play bass in his new band Foo Fighters.

12/2

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