Bob Dylan was in England for the second time in a month tonight in 1963, playing London’s Troubadour Club. The Beatles were off playing somewhere else, though they would have liked to be there. They finally met him on their first trip to America a year later, when he turned them on to the “wacky tobbacky”.
The Rolling Stones were at Regent Sound Studios in London today in 1964, recording their 3rd single, a cover of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away. By June they’d be off to tour America for the first time, and of the few people who came to see them, one was Bobby Keys from Lubbock Texas, who’d played saxophone for Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, and came to see who these skinny weird English guys playing Buddy’s song were. He left mightily impressed, and best friends with Keith Richards for life after they learned they shared a birthday.
Introducing The Beatles, their first American album, was released today in 1964 on the Vee-Jay label, who be forced by the end of the year by Capitol records to stop selling them, but only after moving 1.3 million copies. The cover photograph features John, Paul, and George sporting the “moptop” haircuts that were quite popular with German hipsters in the early 60’s that they’d adopted at the urging of photographer (and their late bass player Stu Suttcliffe’s girlfriend) Astrid Kercherr, but Ringo, like his predecessor Pete Best, were still greasing their hair back 50’s style. Within a year, American fans could buy “Beatle Wigs”.
John Lennon made an appearance on the BBC comedy show Not Only But Also, starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, tonight in 1965.
Blues guitarist Howlin’ Wolf (real name Chester Burnett), a huge influence on British rockers before most white kids in America knew who he was, died of cancer today in 1976 at age 66.
CW McCall was at #1 in the U.S., Canada, and surprisingly at #2 in England today in 1976 with Convoy. The song, chock full of trucker jargon started a CB radio craze, and inspired a 1978 Sam Peckinpah movie (Convoy), and a trucker-drama TV series (Movin’ On). CW McCall in reality was an advertising agent named Bill Fries.
John Lennon’s Imagine started a 4-week run at #1 today in 1981, 10 years after it was recorded, and 1 month after his murder in New York.
Kenny Pickett, lead singer for British psychedelic band The Creation, died of a heart attack today in 1997 at age 54. They were mostly unknown in the U.S., but hugely influential in England with their ’66 single Painter Man, to which Pickett would spray paint a blank canvas during live sets. Their guitarist Eddie Phillips would play his electric guitar with a violin bow, a technique later adopted by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, and he was supposedly asked at one point by Pete Townsend to join The Who as their second guitarist.
Melissa Ethridge announced today in 2000 that the sperm donor for her and partner Julie Cypher’s two children was none other than David Crosby.
The founding guitarist of highly influential American “psychobilly” band The Cramps, Bryan Gregory, died of a heart attack today in 2001 at the way-too-young age of 49.
After a VH1 documentary in which Gene Simmons of KISS boasted of some 4,600 sexual partners and produced photos of many of them, one who was mentioned, 53 year old Georgeann Walsh-Ward of New York, filed a lawsuit against him today in 2005, claiming he’d made her out to be a “sex-addicted nymphomaniac” to a national TV audience. Gene settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.
Claude Nobs, the founder and manager of the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland died today in 2013 at age 76. As mentioned in Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water, “Funky Claude” had indeed “run in and out” of the Montreaux Casino during a fire started by “some stupid with a flare gun” at a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention show there in 1971, saving the lives of numerous young fans who had hidden inside thinking they were safe from the flames.
David Bowie died today in 2016. It was just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th studio album Blackstar, and 18 months after his diagnosis of the liver cancer that killed him, but he hadn’t told anyone so the news came as a shock.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Music journalist, producer, and record executive Jerry Wexler, who was instrumental in signing artists including Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, The Allman Brothers Band, and Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records, would be 101 if he’d made it past age 91.
Canadian rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins is 82. He’s mostly famous for the fact that members of his backing band The Hawks went on to become The Band and Janis Joplin’s Full-Tilt Boogie Band.
Scott McKenzie (real name Phillip Blondheim), who unsuccessfully auditioned for The Monkees but later had a major hit with San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), would be 79 if he hadn’t died two years ago.
Singer/songwriter Jim Croce would be 74 if he hadn’t been killed in a plane crash on his way to a show in 1973.
Jeff Beck Group, Faces, and solo singer Rod Stewart is 72.
Aynsley Dunbar, drummer with Nils Lofgren, Eric Burdon, John Mayall, Frank Zappa, Ian Hunter, Lou Reed, Jefferson Starship, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Whitesnake, Sammy Hagar, Michael Schenker, UFO, Flo & Eddie and Journey, is 71.
Neal Smith, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the drummer with the Alice Cooper Group, is 70. While he was still alive, Neal would often call Keith Moon of The Who to ask him how many drums he was using in his kit, with the goal of always having one more in his own set.
Donald Fagen, founder, singer, keyboard player, and principal songwriter of Steely Dan is 69.
Singer Pat Benatar is 64.
The Scorpions and U.F.O. lead guitarist Michael Schenker is 62.