Having joined the band a week earlier, Charlie Watts made his live debut as The Rolling Stones drummer tonight in 1963 at the Flamingo Jazz Club in London’s Soho borough. They’d played shows before with two other drummers (including Mick Avory who later ended up in The Kinks), but Keith Richards has said repeatedly he considers tonight’s show the start of The Stones as we know them.
Perhaps the French just didn’t get Beatlemania, or maybe they were all Ringo fans, but when John, Paul, and George arrived in Paris today in 1964 without him, they were met at the airport by all of 60 fans. Ringo arrived the next day, having been delayed in Liverpool by heavy fog, and The Beatles played at the Olympia theater, but when they went to the United States in February they were met by thousands.
London singer Davy Jones adopted the stage- name David Bowie today in 1966, to avoid confusion betwixt him and London singer Davey Jones, who starred as “The Artful Dodger” in the Broadway hit Oliver! and was all over the media as he had just landed a role as the token Brit in the American “pre-fab-four” TV show The Monkees. He took to the name Bowie because he liked “that big American bear-killin’ knife”. He didn’t quite make it to 50 years of being David Bowie, dying of the cancer he told almost no one he had a year and two days ago, and the stars look very different today.
Some 25,000 people showed up at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park today in 1967 for The Human Be-In: A Gathering of the Tribes, with live music from The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. It was one of the first major free outdoor music festivals, and a harbinger of things to come later that year in the “Summer of Love”.
Their brief musical career already in flames, The Sex Pistols played their last show tonight in 1978 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The band that had spearheaded the Punk Rock movement at home in England was all but blacklisted from the American airwaves, where disc-jockeys were increasingly not allowed to choose the music played, and owners were decidedly moving to softer and less-threatening artists, exactly what the “punks” were rebelling against. But many American musicians were listening anyway, and by the time a few Seattle bands had spearheaded a new “alternative” rock movement in the mid-90’s, The Pistols would reunite for a tour of stadium-sized venues (including a stop at Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival in ’96).
Paul McCartney went to #1 in England with Pipes of Peace today in 1984, and in doing so became the first and only performer to have had #1 hits with a group (The Beatles), as a duo (with Stevie Wonder on Ebony and Ivory), as a trio (with Wings, which they had become when they recorded Band on the Run), and as a solo artist. This video he made for the song is loosely based on real events at Ypres, France during WWI, in which British and German troops put down their guns on Christmas day to get drunk and play soccer for several hours before their officers ordered them to start shooting each other again or be shot themselves.
Jerry Nolan, drummer for the proto-punk New York Dolls, died of a stroke today in 1992 at age 45. Nolan had joined the band the year after they started, in 1972, after the O.D. death of their original drummer, beating out one Peter Criss in an audition. The band would record just two albums before breaking up, but their gender-bending “glam” schtick would be a huge influence on the band Criss eventually landed in, Kiss, as well as Gary Glitter, David Bowie,The Rolling Stones, T-Rex, The Stooges, The Ramones, The Damned, The Sex Pistols, Guns-N-Roses, Jane’s Addiction, and Seattle’s Mother Love Bone to name but a few.
Linda Gail Lewis, the younger sister of Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis and a singing piano player herself, dropped a legal claim of sex discrimination against Irish singer Van Morrison today in 2003. While playing in Morrison’s band Lewis claimed he had publicly humiliated her on stage and ruined her life by demanding sex, allegations vehemently denied by Van, and her lawyers pointed out that she had no proof that would stand up in court.
A $100,000 8 foot tall bronze statue of The Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone (real name John William Cummings) was unveiled at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles today in 2005. He’d died of prostate cancer the previous September at age 55, and his wife Linda had commissioned the statue just before he passed. The ceremony was attended by the last surviving member of the original Forest Hills High School friends who had started the band, drummer/manager Tommy Ramone (Singer Joey died of lymphoma in 2001, bass player Dee Dee overdosed in 2002, and Tommy himself was taken by cancer this last July), and Linda has presided over an annual benefit for the Johnny Ramone Cancer research fund at the cemetery every year since, regularly attended by fans including Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rose McGowan, Henry Rollins, Johnny Depp, John Waters, Kirk Hammett, Rob Zombie, Chris Cornell, and Eddie Vedder.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page held a press conference today in 2010 to announce not only a solo tour but his performance at the Show of Peace concert in Beijing China the following April. He was surprised at the end of the conference when he was presented with the first-ever Global Peace Award given by the United Nations Pathway to Peace organization.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
New Orleans based singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and record producer Allen Toussaint would be 79 if he hadn’t passed in 2016. He was famous in rock and roll circles for his work with Dr. John, The Meters, John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, The Band, and Paul McCartney. Contrary to urban myth, Allen was not one of those who sought refuge from Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans Superdome, he hid out at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel, where there was considerably less pooping-behind-dumpsters going on.
Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society guitarist Zak Wylde (real name Jeff Weilandt) is 50.
Former Nirvana drummer turned guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and film director Dave Grohl is 47, seemingly popping up everywhere (including performances with Sir Paul McCartney in New York and at Safeco Field four summers ago),has been enjoying success with his own band The Foo Fighters, the band Them Crooked Vultures he formed with Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme, directing Sound City, a documentary film about the legendary Van Nuys California recording studio he first visited when Nirvana made Nevermind, and most recently the HBO mini-series Sonic Highways, an homage to rock and roll that focused on a different American city each episode, which Dave has confirmed will have a second season mostly but not necessarily all in England.