All of The Beatles “got back” to Liverpool from Hamburg today in 1960 when John Lennon arrived. George Harrison had been deported from Germany for being underage when he was reported to authorities by a nightclub owner after playing a show at a rival nightclub, and Paul McCartney and Pete Best had been deported shortly after when they were reported by the same nightclub owner after setting fire to a tapestry in their room in retaliation for having George deported. Bass player Stu Sutcliffe had stayed with his German photographer girlfriend Astrid Kircherr (they would be engaged, but he would die there of an aneurism a year later), so for tonight’s “welcome back” show at Pete Best’s Mom’s Casbah Coffee Club, they asked the bass player of Pete’s old band The Blackjacks, Chas Newby, to join in, which he did for all of four shows, but when John Lennon asked him to make the trip back to Hamburg with them, he turned them down to continue his studies, eventually becoming a math teacher at a high school in Worcestershire, and Paul famously moved over to bass.
Bob Dylan arrived in Britain for the first time today in 1962. He’d play a show at the Troubadour Club in London the next night. The Beatles were up in Liverpool, and didn’t meet Dylan until their first trip to New York two years later, when Bob famously turned them on to the dangers of Cannabis.
Carroll James, a disc jockey at WWDC in our nation’s capitol, became the first in America to play a Beatles record on the radio today in 1963 when he spun a British import of I Want To Hold Your Hand he’d got from his girlfriend, a flight attendant for British Overseas Airways Corporation (The BOAC mentioned in Back in the USSR). The song was instantly popular on the station which normally played staid and milquetoast artists like Andy Williams and Bobby Vinton, but Capitol Records hadn’t released the song in the U.S. yet, and at first considered suing James, but instead decided to speed up the release.
The Who held a Christmas party at London’s Marquee Club tonight in 1968. Members of their fan club got in for 15 shillings, while the general public paid £1. Opening were the new “progressive rock” band that had opened for Cream’s farewell shows at the Royal Albert Hall a few weeks earlier, Yes.
David Bowie released his 4th album Hunky Dory today in 1971, his first with the line-up of backing musicians that would become The Spiders From Mars, with Mick Ronson on lead guitar. Ronson would go on to work with Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople, and though he should have been long ago, has never been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
A Mr. David Ackroyd purchased the 1 millionth copy of Wings Mull of Kintyre today in 1977, and at Paul McCatney’s insistence became the first record buyer ever presented with a gold-record award to hang on his wall.
Amid the growing controversy surrounding scheduled guests The Sex Pistols, and several members criminal records in England keeping them from getting visas, NBC’s Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne “Dr. Evil” Michaels scratched them in favor of fellow British rocker Elvis Costello for tonight’s show in 1977. Elvis had agreed to play his minor English hit Less Than Zero from his upcoming U.S. debut My Aim Is True, but when the show went live, after playing a few bars turned to his backup band The Attractions shouting “Stop! Stop! There’s no reason to do this here!”, and launched them into his song Radio Radio, a protest of the increasing commercialization of the broadcast industry that got him banned from the show for 10 years.
The Carpenters singing drummer Karen Carpenter played what would be her last show with the band tonight in 1982 in Sherman Oaks California. She was suffering from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa that would kill her in February at age 32.
Don Van Vliet, better known by his stage name Captain Beefheart, died after a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis today in 2010 at age 69. Far more influential than commercially successful, he later became closely connected with the drummer of his high-school band The Blackouts, Frank Zappa.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Temptations singer and solo artist Eddie Kendricks would be 77 if he hadn’t died of lung cancer at age 52.
Blues harmonica player and singer Paul Butterfield would be 74 if he hadn’t overdosed on heroin at 44. It was with very little rehearsal that his Paul Butterfield Blues Band backed up Bob Dylan when he “went electric” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and later Freddy Mercury’s replacement in Queen, singer Paul Rodgers is 67. He married a former Miss Canada, became a Canadian citizen in 2011, and now lives just North of us in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, B.C.
Bob Marley and the Wailers drummer Carly Barrett would be 66 if he hadn’t been murdered at home in Kingston Jamaica in 1987, a crime for which his wife and her taxi-driver lover were convicted…and released a year later on a legal technicality.
R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills is 58.
The Replacements lead guitarist Bob Stinson would be 57 if he hadn’t died of alcohol related organ failure at 35. The influential band was nominated, and snubbed, by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but his younger brother Tommy played bass in Guns-N-Roses from 1998 until the recent return of Seattle’s Duff McKagen, a longtime Replacements fan.