22 year old Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis secretly married Myra Gale Brown today in 1957, which would come back to bite him in the ass a year later, when on his first tour of England a reporter at Heathrow airport managed to dig out some scandalous facts: Myra was his second cousin, was only 13 years old, and Jerry was already married to Jane Mitcham. The tour was cancelled after only 3 shows, and he went home to being blacklisted on American radio, and snubbed by Dick Clark, but Alan Freed remained a loyal Killer fan until he would go down in the Payola scandal three years later.
Radio station KEX in Portland fired disc jockey Al Priddy today in 1957 for playing Elvis Presley’s version of White Christmas, saying “It’s not in the spirit we associate with Christmas”. We have to wonder what they’d make of this:
Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones was in court in London today in 1967, where he was given 3 years of probation an a £1000 fine for possession of cannabis. Three psychiatrists called to testify agreed that “He is a very frightened young man with suicidal tendencies”.
They didn’t know it at the time, but The Doors played what would be their last show ever with frontman Jim Morrison at the Warehouse in New Orleans tonight in 1970.
Scottish keyboard player Ian Stewart was having trouble breathing today in 1985 and went to his doctor’s office, where he died of a heart attack in the waiting room at age 47. Ian was the first to answer Brian Jones‘ “advert” seeking musicians to form a band that would become The Rolling Stones. He was the one who booked all their early gigs, managed the band, and bought a van for them to tour England in, but was removed from the on-stage lineup of the band by manager Andrew Oldham in 1963 for looking too old, though he continued as their road manager and played on every one of their records until his death. In his autobiography Life, Keith Richards said, “Ian Stewart. I’m still working for him. To me the Rolling Stones is his band. Without his knowledge and organization … we’d be nowhere”. He also played keyboards with other artists, most notably Led Zeppelin’s Boogie With Stu.
A 7 inch single by Liverpool’s Quarry Men skiffle group (at the time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison) was named “The rarest record of all time” today in 1998. The 1957 recording of Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be The Day backed with Paul’s In Spite of All the Danger was pressed into only 50 copies, and each were now worth $20,500.
Love frontman Arthur Lee was released from prison today in 2001 having served 6 of the 12 years he’d been sentenced to for possessing a firearm and allegedly firing it into the air during a dispute with a neighbor. The unusually harsh punishment came under California’s conservative-initiated tough-on-crime “Three Strikes” law, as he had previously been busted for assault and drug possession. Unfortunately during his incarceration bandmates Bryan Maclean and Ken Forssi died, ending any hopes of the original band reuniting, and Lee himself died of leukemia 5 years later, but not before a big benefit show in New York to raise funds for his treatment that included performances by Ian Hunter and Robert Plant, who did Led Zeppelin and Love songs.
Mick Jagger was Knighted by Prince Charles today in 2003 for his services to music. His 92 year old father and two of his daughters accompanied him to Buckingham Palace, but the rest of The Rolling Stones were appalled, with Keith Richards saying he didn’t want to share the stage with “someone wearing a coronet and sporting the old ermine. It’s not what the Stones is about, is it?”, and Charlie Watts added, “Anybody else would be lynched: 18 wives and 20 children and he’s knighted, fantastic!”. But Mick later retorted of Keith, “I think he would probably like to get the same honour himself. It’s like being given an ice cream—one gets one and they all want one.”
Guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, bandleader, talent scout, and the man credited with the first-ever rock and roll record (Rocket 88 in 1951), Ike Turner died of heart and respiratory problems brought on by cocaine toxicity at age 76 today in 2007.
A concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden tonight in 2012 raised over $30 million for victims of Hurricane Sandy with performances including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd joined by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, and Sir Paul McCartney, who did a few songs with the reunited surviving members of Nirvana.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Frank “the Chairman of the Board” Sinatra would be 101 if he hadn’t died in 1998. He was the first of many teen-idol musical performers, and while he was an early hater of rock and roll who dismissed The Beatles, later called George Harrison’s Something “the most beautiful love song ever written”, and the record label he started, Reprise, would be home to rock and roll dirtbags like Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, and Seattle bands Heart and Mudhoney to name but a few.
Allman Brothers Band guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dickey Betts is 73.
Dave Clark Five singer and keyboard player Mike Smith would be 73, he died in 2008.
MC5 singer Rob Tyner would be 72, he died in 1991.
Blues Magoos singer and keyboard player Ralph Scala is 68.