The Beatles started a two-week run at the Star Club in Hamburg tonight in 1962. It was their 5th trip to Germany, doing three hours a night for 13 straight days on what would be their last “residency” there. About 30 songs (only two of them Lennon/McCartney numbers) were recorded by the stage manager on a cheap Grundig home reel-to-reel deck with a single microphone at the request of the leader of The Dominoes (the other band playing that night) Ted “Kingsize” Taylor, who later said “John Lennon said I could record them if I bought the beer”. He’d offered them to Brian Epstein in the mid 60’s, who thought the sound quality was so poor, and there was too much bawdy, drunken, and profane stage banter between songs, which he had made the band stop doing long ago, and he only offered £20. Taylor found some investors who spent $100,000 on audio processing and remastering, and parts were released as The Beatles: Live at The Star Club in Hamburg Germany; 1962 in 1977. One reviewer wrote, “The results were very low-fidelity, and despite The Beatles’ enormous success, it took Taylor fifteen years to find someone greedy and shameless enough to release them as a record”, but another said “They have a certain historical interest. The show seems like a riot but the sound itself is terrible – like one hell of a great party going on next door.” Researcher Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success that it was the opportunity to play so much and so often to a live audience in Germany, long shows night after night, that made the band truly great, and that the unbelievable success that would come was far from “overnight”.
21 year old Tara Browne was driving his Lotus Elan tonight in 1966 at an estimated 106 mph in London’s Kensington neighborhood when he didn’t notice a red light and crashed into a parked large truck, or “Lorry”. He died of his injuries the next day, though his passenger and girlfriend, model Suki Potier was not injured, and later said he’d swerved the car intentionally to save her. Browne was a “Swingin’ London” mod scenester, the son of House of Lords member Dominick Browne, the 4th Baron of Oranmore and Browne, and Oonaugh Guinness, heiress to the Guinness beer fortune. He was also good friends with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, and when John Lennon read of the accident, he wrote the lines from A Day In the Life, ” He blew his mind out in a car/ He didn’t notice that the lights had changed/A crowd of people stood and stared/They’d seen his face before/ Nobody was really sure/ If he was from the House of Lords.
Jerry Lee Lewis divorced Myra Gale Brown today in 1970. She was his third wife and first cousin-once-removed, he’d married her when he was 22 and she was just 13, and publicity from this that came out on his first tour of England in 1958 had almost ruined his career, though the long road back was aided by a live album he recorded with The Nashville Teens as a backing band: Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany is considered by many critics “some of the purest, hardest rock and roll ever committed to record”.
Bob Dylan reported to the set of the movie he was writing the soundtrack to, Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, today in 1972. The western starred James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Jason Robards, Slim Pickens, Rita Coolidge, and in a small role as “Alias”, the acting debut of Bob Dylan.
Keith Richards married 27 year old New York cover-girl model Patti Hansen today in 1983. It was his 40th birthday and his first marriage, though he’d had two kids in a long relationship with Anita Pallenberg, who’d left Brian Jones for him in 1967.
Items on the auction block at Christie’s in New York today in 2004 included a Gibson SG guitar played by both George Harrison on Revolver and John Lennon on the White Album ( $570,000), a letter written by Kurt Cobain ($20,000 ), and a school notebook that once belonged to Britney Spears ($1000…why?).
In a VH1 poll Fairytale of New York was voted the Best Christmas Song of All Time today in 2005. The 1987 song by Irish folk-revivalists The Pogues was a duet between their gruff-voiced singer Shane McGowan and British singer Kirsty MacColl, who was killed in a boating accident in Cozumel Mexico today in 2000.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Animals bass player Chas Chandler, later the man who brought Jimi Hendrix to England, hooked him up with a band he managed and produced the first two albums for, and later took on the same role with Slade, would be 78. He died of an aneurism at 57.
Big Brother and the Holding Company and Kozmic Blues Band guitarist and songwriter Sam Andrew is 75.
The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is 73.
Saxophone player for Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd and god knows who else, and Keith Richards’ best friend since The Stones first visit to Texas in 1964, born an ocean and half a continent away, Bobby Keys would be 73 if he hadn’t died in 2014.
The Cars lead guitarist Elliot Easton is 63.