America’s “pre-fab four” The Monkees went to #1 in The Beatles home country when the Neil Diamond written I’m A Believer went to the Top of the Pops today in 1967.
The Beatles themselves were preoccupied at Abbey Road Studios, having their first go at A Day In The Life today in 1967. One of the finest examples of collaboration between the greatest songwriting team in rock history, it starts with verses from John Lennon referring to recent death of their friend, 21 year old Swingin’ London scenesters Tara Browne. The son of an heiress to the Guinness fortune and a member of the House of Lords was taking his model girlfriend Suki Potier for a ride in his Lotus Elán when he “cracked the ton” (100+ m.p.h.) on a Kensington neighborhood street and didn’t notice that the light had changed and crashed into the back of a parked truck. Suki lived, and later said Tara had deliberately swerved the car to save her, sacrificing himself. Paul McCartney followed with a sequence in which a middle-class commuter drifts into a psychedelic dream while going through his boring normal morning. Producer George Martin worked his magic, and the band managed four takes today, but it wouldn’t be finished until February 2nd. Rolling Stone magazine has it at #28 on their greatest song of all time list, and #1 on a separate list of Beatles songs, but KZOK had it at #1 in the 2016 Top 1002.
The Beatles had an unusual audience for their White Album today in 1971 when tracks were played in a Los Angeles courtroom at the Tate/La Bianca murder trials of the Manson family. People had been reading deeper meaning into Beatles lyrics for some time, to the point where an amused John Lennon would sometimes write nonsense lyrics to confuse them, but Paul McCartney was horrified to learn that Charles Manson had taken his song about a British amusement park ride, Helter Skelter, and turned it into an apocalyptic race-war that he somehow needed to instigate by the random killing of a pregnant movie star and other people chosen at random.
John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon was in Los Angeles today in 1978, having been abandoned by the rest of The Sex Pistols after their breakup following a disastrous show in San Francisco 5 days before. He managed to get himself to New York where he phoned Virgin Records head Richard Branson, who agreed to fly him back to London, if he would first stop in Jamaica, where Branson would try to get Akron Ohio band Devo to let him be their lead singer. Devo declined.
Pink Floyd had their third #1 album in the U.S. today in 1980 when The Wall topped the charts. I t would stay there for 15 weeks, and go on to sell over 23 million copies in America alone.
Doc McGhee, manager of both Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, was in court today in 1988, pleading guilty to smuggling some 40,000 pounds of low-grade marijuana into the U.S. from Columbia via Forrest Gump style shrimp boat. He was sentenced to a 5 year suspended prison term, fined $15,000, and ordered to use his influence to start an anti-drug foundation.
Sun Records rockabilly singer and guitarist Carl Perkins, a huge influence on The Beatles among others, died of throat cancer today in 1998. He was 65.
Hugely influential soul singer Wilson Pickett passed away in 2006 of a heart attack at 64.
Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler made his debut tonight in 2011 as the replacement for acerbic Brit Simon Cowell on the singing-as-competition TV show American Idol.
Rock and roll Birthdays
Australia’s first rock and roll star Johnny O’Keefe would be 82 if he hadn’t passed at 43.
The younger of the two Everly Brothers, Phil Everly would be 78. He died in 2014.
One of the more famous members of the “27 Club”, Texas singer Janis Joplin, would be 74.
Rod Evans, the first lead singer with Deep Purple, is 70.
British singer Robert Palmer would be 68, he was taken by heart attack at 54.
Lee Martin “Dewey” Bunnell, singer, guitarist and songwriter with the British folk-rock band America, is 65.