The Beatles made their first nationwide British TV appearance today in 1963 on ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars. They “mimed” (what we now call “lip synching”) to the single that was also released today, Please Please Me. A few years later the British Musician’s Union were successful in getting a ban on miming through Parliament, rightfully noting that fake music sucks.
Portland Oregon band The Kingsmen hit #1 today in 1964 with Louie Louie. It was written by Los Angeles soul singer Richard Berry in 1955, who recorded it with his backing band The Pharaohs, then took it on a tour of roadhouses that included several stops in the Pacific Northwest. One who saw him do it bought the obscure single, Tacoma’s Rockin’ Robin Roberts, who worked up his own version, which became a regional hit. The Kingsmen found it on jukebox in Seaside Oregon. The Sonics, also from Tacoma, and Boise’s Paul Revere and The Raiders recorded it too (along with some 1600 artists since), and it was this Pacific Northwest connection that led then Almost Live! host Ross Shafer to start a campaign to have it made the Washington State Song in 1985. The publicity stunt failed here at home, but did lead to it being played after Take Me Out to the Ballgame after every Mariners game since, and Tacoma’s LouieFest (2003-2012), and also an inspired Ohio State legislator being successful in having The McCoy’s Hang On Sloopy given the honor there. But it was The Kingmen’s version that caused trouble a year later when complaints came in to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department about possible obscenities in the lyrics. A 4-month investigation by J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. concluded that the lyrics were totally undecipherable the way Jack Ely sang them, and contained no meaning whatsoever. Interestingly F.B.I. agents had interviewed Ely, who said he’d sung nothing nasty, but failed to contact the writer Richard Berry, or bother to look at the lyrics he’d filed with the U.S. Copyright Office.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience were at De Lane Lea studios in London today in 1967, recording their second single Purple Haze. It was Jimi’s first original hit (Hey Joe had been recorded by several other bands) with lyrics often interpreted by fans as an LSD experience, though Jimi never confirmed or denied it, giving many different answers in interviews as to the meaning, from dreams to science fiction imaginary, though when he’d play it live he would sometimes change the words to “S’cuse me, while I kiss this guy” while motioning toward drummer Mitch Mitchell.
The Rolling Stones announced today in 1973 they were cancelling their planned tour of Japan, despite setting records for advance ticket sales, as Japanese Customs were not going to allow their lead singer Mick Jagger into the country due to prior drug arrests. They would be allowed to play there some years later.
A little rock and roll band from Aberdeen Washington were the musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live tonight in 1992. Nirvana did their big hit Smells Like Teen Spirit and Territorial Pissings, and while they were taping in New York, someone from DGC records came in to drop the news their album Nevermind had just knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top spot on the album charts.
Glam-rock singer Gary Glitter ( real name Paul Gadd) was released from a British prison today in 2000 after serving half of his 4-month sentence after being caught possessing child pornography on a laptop he’d taken for repairs. He’d also been charged and acquitted of having sex with a 14 year old girl, and when told he’d have to register as a sex offender, left England on his sailing yacht for a trip that would last most of the decade, see him denied entry to some 16 countries before settling in Southeast Asia where he would get in even more trouble with underage girls in Cambodia and Vietnam, where he managed to avoid a death sentence by paying two girls families, but he was deported back to England, placed on the Offender’s Register, and then put back in prison in 2015 when other victims from the 70’s and 80’s came forward. Once one of England’s most beloved stars, Gadd is now the most-hated, but has maintained his innocence and filed appeals at every turn.
The Who guitarist Pete Townshend issued his own child-porn denial statement today in 2003 after his credit card had been found among those used on a website being investigated in “Operation Ore” for having a “click here for child porn” tab, and though the investigators later determined it was “just a regular porn site”, and Pete had admitted to seeing the tab and investigating himself in outrage, he had to spend the next 5 years on probationary status on the same Sex Offenders register list.
It was this morning in 2016 that David Bowie fans worldwide learned of the singer’s death the previous night from the cancer he’d not told the public he had, though the Blackstar album he’d released two days earlier on his 69th birthday is now in hindsight quite obviously a farewell message, and indeed that morning his producer Tony Visconti released a statement: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Hammond Organ inventor Laurens Hammond would be 122 if he’d made it past 78.
Blues guitarist Slim Harpo would be 93 if he’d made it past 46.
Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band saxophonist Clarence “The Big Man” Clemmons would be 75 if he’d made it past 69.
Tony Kaye is 71. The first keyboard player for Yes will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band this spring, as well his replacement Rick Wakeman, who has said he won’t attend “because they blew it and didn’t induct us while Chris Squire was still alive”.
Rockpile, Dire Straits, and session drummer Terry Williams is 68.