The Cavern Opens, And Paul Gets Busted…Twice: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

The Cavern Club opened it’s doors on Mathew Street in Liverpool England tonight in 1957. Owner Alan Synter had had a great time in jazz clubs in Paris when he was there, particularly a place called Le Caveau,  began looking for a spot when he got back, and found the perfect spot in a cellar with similar brick arches and tunnels that had been used as an air-raid shelter in WWII. Tonight’s band was the Merseyssippi Jazz Band, and within a few years they were bringing in “Skiffle” acts as well, but when The Quarrymen played there for the first time in 1961, John Lennon was warned that “rock and roll” music was not tolerated. The Beatles would go on to play there 291 more times, and all the heavies of British rock music would play there until it closed in 1973 to make way for a new commuter rail train, with the last act of the club’s first run being the Dutch group Focus. It was revived in the early 80’s with a mountain of cash from Liverpool FC English Premier League soccer star Tommy Smith, who had it rebuilt across the street as close as was possible to the original, using many of the original bricks. Though The Beatles manager Brian Epstein had promised that the band would play there again after show #292 in ’63, but Paul McCartney was the only one who did when he kicked off a 1999 tour with an intimate show at The  New Cavern.

The Beatles played the first two shows of their 18 night run at the Olympia Theater in Paris today in 1964. The French didn’t warm to them as quickly as the English-speaking world. Only 60 people showed up to meet them at the airport on arrival, and while tonight’s show was a who’s who of Paris society dressed in formal evening wear, the newspapers didn’t have much of anything nice to say about them…but John, Paul, George, and Ringo didn’t really give a rat’s ass at that point: I Want To Hold Your Hand had just gone to #1 in the U.S., selling some 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone, and they were going there in February.

Tonight’s show in 1969 at The Fillmore in San Francisco featured a band from the other side of the bay, Creedence Clearwater Revival, blues legend Albert Collins, and a relatively unknown band from England called Fleetwood Mac.

Two days after it’s opening, the Bag One Gallery in London was raided and closed down by police from Scotland Yard today in 1970, as they took into evidence 8 lithographs by John Lennon under the Obscene Publications Act.

Bruce Springsteen by now had his E-Street Band backing him and was on his way to stardom, but tonight’s show at Villanova University in 1973 was attended by all of 25 people, largely because the show had gone unadvertised due to a strike at the school’s newspaper. It was the smallest show the E-Street Band would ever play.

Paul McCartney and Wings landed in Japan today in 1980 for a series of shows, but customs agents were shocked to find almost 8 ounces of pot in Paul’s luggage and arrested him. It was the most high profile bust of a foreigner Japanese officials had ever dealt with, and at first they didn’t know what to do, leaving Paul in a Jail cell for 10 days before deporting him without charge.

Paul was joined by his wife Linda McCartney in being again arrested for pot possession, four years to the day later in 1984, this time in Barbados while they were on holiday. This time they were fined…$200 each…and this time when he got back to England he spoke out: “Cannabis is less harmful than rum punch, whiskey, nicotine, and glue, all of which are perfectly legal. I don’t think I was doing anyone any harm whatsoever. People are smoking pot anyway, and to make them criminals is wrong”.

British keyboard player and the presenter of the BBC 4 music show The Tube Jools Holland was suspended for 6 weeks today in 1987 for a live promo that ran during a children’s show in which he referred to an upcoming band as “Groovy F***ers”.

24 years after The Beatles had their first hit, George Harrison was at #1 on the charts today in 1988 with his Jeff Lynne produced cover of the 1962 James Ray song Got My Mind Set On You.

Tina Turner set a Guinness Book of World Records mark tonight in 1988 when she became the first solo performer to play in front of 182,000 people in Rio De Janeiro Brazil.

Tina’s former husband Ike Turner set his own kind of record today in 1990 when he was busted for possession of cocaine and driving under it’s influence. He spent the next 4 years in the California penal system.

Eric Clapton made his appearance on MTV’s Unplugged show tonight in 1992. Recorded in England in a sound studio before a small audience, the live album that resulted earned 6 Grammys including Record of the Year, the songs Tears In Heaven (about the death of this son Conner) and a reworked version of Layla were huge hits, and the Martin acoustic guitar he played later sold for $791,500 in an auction to raise money for his Caribbean rehab clinic.

Jamaican authorities opened fire on a seaplane they were sure was chock full of cocaine today in 1996. They found out later the plane with no cocaine on it was piloted by it’s owner, singer Jimmy Buffett, who had U2 singer Bono Vox as a passenger. Jimmy managed to land the plane safely, and neither singer was hurt, but Buffett wrote a song about the incident called Jamaica Mistaica.

The British press reported today in 2000 that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger had lost his chance at Knighthood for his bad behaviour over the years, and that Prime Minister Tony Blair had serious doubts about the message it would send to those concerned with “family values”. Mick would be invited to Buckingham Palace three years later to be Knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales, for his “services to music”, though United Press International noted that unlike other Knighted rock stars, Mick had no known record of charitable work or public services, and Charlie Watts added, “Anybody else would be lynched: 18 wives and 20 children and he’s knighted, fantastic!”.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

The Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle, who started the band with Don Wilson in Tacoma in 1958, would be 83 if he’d made it past 75.

The Nashville Teens (from Surrey England, not Tennessee) singer Ray Phillips is 75.

Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show keyboard player Billy Francis would be 75 if he’d made it past 69.

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