James Brown and the Famous Flames played at one of the Pacific Northwest’s most legendary music venues tonight in 1961 to a remarkably integrated crowd for the day. The Evergreen Ballroom, located on Highway 99 in what is now Lacey opened in 1931, was a huge place with a 1600 square foot maple dance floor that saw some of the biggest names in music grace it’s stage, big band jazz from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, to country artists like Hank Williams and Buck Owens (who lived in Tacoma for a spell), rock and roll pioneers like Bill Haley and his Comets, Chuck Berry, The Sonics, the Wailers, Ray Charles (who lived in Seattle for a spell), Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Edgar Winter Group to name but a few. It lived through the psychedelic era and on into metal bands like Overlord and Culprit, and even some early hip-hop shows before it burned down in 2000.
The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite ran a feature story tonight in 1963 about the incredible sensation created in England by Liverpool band The Beatles. The taped report had been intended to run in late November, but had been delayed due to intense coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The Beach Boys had their third #1 hit when Good Vibrations topped the charts today in 1966. It was written and produced by bass player Brian Wilson, who’d been pondering something his Mom had told him as a child: That dogs could pick up on “vibrations” from humans. Rolling Stone magazine has it at #6 on their Top 500 Songs of All Time list, and Wilson’s elaborate production would be a huge influence on George Martin and The Beatles.
Soul singer Otis Redding and four members of his backing band The Bar-Kays were killed today in 1967 when the plane they was flying in crashed into an icy lake in Wisconsin.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were playing London’s Rainbow Theater tonight in 1971, when the jealous boyfriend of a girl who fancied Frank got on stage and pushed him off. The band thought he’d been killed when he hit the concrete floor, but he did suffer massive head injuries and a crushed larynx, which lowered his voice by a third when he recovered after canceling the rest of his tour and spending the better part of a year in a wheelchair.
Promoter Hilly Kristal opened the legendary CBGB nightclub at the corner of Bleecker and Bowery in Manhattan tonight in 1973. The name was an acronym for the kinds of music he intended to present there: County, Bluegrass, and Blues, but the place instead became the birthplace of American Punk Rock, launching the careers of The Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, Patti Smith, and The Ramones to name but a few. It closed in a rent dispute in 2006, and Kristal died a year later at age 75. The club’s story was the subject of a film that came out three years ago, starring the late Alan Rickman as Kristal.
Paul McCartney and Wings released the triple live album Wings Over America today in 1976, with recordings of shows from their tour of the previous summer (including a stop at Seattle’s Kingdome, which features prominently in the film version Rockshow), though some vocals were overdubbed because as drummer Joe English later said, “because some people were singing out of tune”, notably Paul’s keyboard playing wife Linda, who’s isolated vocal track was circulated by the tour’s sound engineers.
The body of John Lennon, assassinated two days earlier by the lunatic Mark David Chapman, was cremated today in 1980 at a New York mortuary. The ashes were given to his widow Yoko Ono and taken to their apartment at The Dakota, and are presumably still there.
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were at #1 today in 1983 with their second collaboration Say Say Say (from Paul’s album Pipes of Peace), recorded by Sir George Martin at Abbey Road two years earlier. It was at a dinner during the sessions that Paul gave Michael some fatherly advice about the importance of publishing rights, which Michael later took to heart when he bought the rights to The Beatles early catalog, as Paul later explained to David Letterman.
Rick Danko, bass player for The Band, died of heart failure in his sleep today in 1999 at age 56.
Led Zeppelin played for the first time in 19 years tonight in 2007 in a tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who had died the previous year. Over a million applications were received, though many found their way to celebrities and friends. for tickets to the 20,000 seats available at London’s O2 arena Their late drummer’s son Jason Bonham filled in admirably for Dad, and the concert was filmed and released as Celebration Day, and while everyone hoped a tour would come out of the reunion, Robert Plant seemed uninterested.
The Associated Press ran a story today in 2008 revealing that the U.S.Military was using loud music to “create fear, disorient, and prolong capture-shock” among Islamic Fundamentalist prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. Among songs blasted on loudspeakers 24 hours a day were Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, AC/DC’s Hells Bells, the theme from TV’s Sesame Street, and I Love You from Barney and Friends.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Columbia Records producer and talent scout John Hammond would be 106. He died at 76, but not before launching the careers of Bob Dylan (at one time referred to at Columbia as “Hammond’s Folly”), Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughn to name but a few.
Ace Kefford, bass player and founding member of The Move, is 70.
The Friends of Distinction singer Jessica Cleaves is 68.
The Partridge Family’s fake-singer, keyboard-faker, and the TV older sister of KZOK morning host Danny Bonaduce, the shagadellic Susan Dey is 64.