Fender Sells Out, Lynott Checks Out, Moonie Runs Over His Chauffeur: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

Elvis Presley went to the Memphis Recording Service for the second time today in 1954, again paying his own money to record two songs, Casual Love Affair and I’ll Never Stand In Your Way…but this time studio owner Sam Phillips asked the future King to leave his phone number.

Leo Fender sold the musical instrument company he’d started in 1946 to the Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) today in 1965 for $13 million, two million more than they’d paid for the New York Yankees the year before. Some thought CBS’s resources would be a boon to the company, but cost-cutting management instead led to a notable decline in the quality of the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, Precision and Jazz basses, and Fender amplifiers, and instruments made “Pre-CBS” are highly prized by musicians. Leo himself noted the decline, and would start making his own instruments again in the early 70’s under the Music Man name (now owned by Ernie Ball), and again in the late 70’s with G&L. Fender employees would buy the company from CBS in the mid 80’s, and begin building high quality (though considerably more expensive) guitars in it’s “Custom Shop”. Leo himself died in 1991.

The Doors released their self-titled debut album today in 1967.

The Who’s drummer Keith Moon was drinking at the Red Lion Pub in Hertfordshire tonight in 1970 when some also-drunken pub patrons became annoyed with his antics and chased him out. He retreated to his Bentley motorcar, which they also began to attack, and Moon got behind the wheel to escape. Unfortunately Keith had never got a license and didn’t know how to drive well, and accidentally ran over his chauffeur, bodyguard, and friend Neil Boland, killing him. The subsequent investigation ruled the death an accident, but Keith was haunted by it for the rest of his life.

Thin Lizzy bassist and frontman Phil Lynott died today in 1986 after being in a drug overdose caused coma for 8 days. He was just 36.

Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb bought the former 35 year home of Johnny Cash just outside of Nashville today in 2006, intending to renovate it as a songwriting retreat and to the memory of Cash and his wife June Carter, but unfortunately the renovation got out of hand a little over a year later and the place burned to the ground.

Stealer’s Wheel and solo singer and multi-instrumentalist Gerry Rafferty died of alcohol related liver failure today in 2001 at age 63.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Guitarist John McLaughlin is 75, most famous for his work with the jazz-rock fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra, but John also played with Miles Davis, Alexis Corner, and The Graham Bond Organization, once gave guitar lessons to Jimmy Page, and a few years ago was called “The best guitarist alive” by Jeff Beck.

Guitarist Bernard Sumner of the influential British post-punk bands Joy Division and New Order is 61.

R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe is 57.

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