R&B singer Johnny Ace was playing a show in Houston Texas tonight in 1954, opening for Big Mama Thornton (the original performer of Hound Dog, later a hit for Elvis Presley), and was playing with the .22 caliber revolver he would often use to shoot at road signs while they were on tour. He’d been drinking, and as Thornton’s bass player Curtis Tillman later recalled, “I said ‘be careful with that thing’, and he said ‘It’s okay! Gun’s not loaded, see?’, and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and…bang! A sad, sad thing”. Johnny was killed instantly. Even sadder, the tragedy would be duplicated by Chicago’s guitarist Terry Kath in January of ’78.
For the third Christmas in a row, The Beatles had the #1 album on the U.S. charts today in 1965 with Rubber Soul, as they had the year before with Beatles For Sale, and the year before that with With The Beatles. They would miss the next two years but be back on top in ’68 with The White Album and again in ’69 with Abbey Road.
The Doobie Brothers frontman Tom Johnston got an unpleasant Christmas present today in 1973 when he was arrested for possession of the dreaded Marijuana in Visalia California. Luckily he didn’t have to spend the holiday in jail, and was released on bail, but his court date was set for January 10th, the same day the band’s new album What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits was scheduled to be released.
Getting a break on rates because of the holiday, Aberdeen band Nirvana was at Reciprocal Recording, a tiny triangle-shaped building on Leary Way in Ballard (the building is still there) today in 1988 starting in on their first album, Bleach. Producing and engineering the album was Skin Yard guitarist Jack Endino, who charged them a whopping $606.17 for the 30 hours of studio time, which the band got by adding a member who had the cash, Poulsbo guitarist Jason Everman, who was subsequently booted form the band, went on to briefly join Soundgarden, then sign up for several tours of duty with the U.S. Army’s Green Berets after getting kicked out of that band. Bleach would go on to sell almost 2 million copies in the U.S. alone after the next album Nevermind changed rock and roll forever, and make Sub Pop Records heads Bruce Pavitt and Jon Poneman quite rich.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Hawkwind and Motörhead bass player singer and songwriter Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister would be 71, he passed just after Christmas last year.
Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman is 70.
Happy Christmas Eve!