The Columbia Phonograph Company started selling Thomas Edison’s phonograph cylinders and players today in 1889. Named for it’s hometown the District of Columbia, the company would be the first to sell pre-recorded records instead of blank cylinders, and would eventually evolve into Columbia Records and KZOK’s parent company CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), but the companies would later split. It is now a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.
Buddy Holly was alone in his New York City apartment today in 1959 with an acoustic guitar and reel-to-reel tape recorder, when he laid down what would be his last songs, including Peggy Sue Got Married and Crying, Waiting , Hoping. After his fatal February 3rd plane crash, the standard rock instrumentation established by Holly (two guitars, bass, and drums) were added and the songs were released posthumously.
Tonight’s headliner in 1964 at the Cavern Club in Liverpool was not the Beatles, who at this point had outgrown the place, but a newish blues band from the south-west London suburbs called The Yardbirds, featuring a young guitarist who’d been with them since October: Eric Clapton.
The Rolling Stones played the Manufacturer’s Auditorium in Sydney Australia tonight in 1965, the first night of their first down-under tour, 16 dates with Roy Orbison, Louisiana blue-eyed soul singing trio The Newbeats, and the first band from New Zealand to have a rock and roll hit outside that country, Ray Columbus and The Invaders.
The Beach Boys were in a Los Angeles area recording studio laying down the first song for their landmark Pet Sounds album, Wouldn’t It Be Nice? today in 1966.
Not exactly the first band that comes to mind when one thinks of “the summer of love”, The Monkees played their first live show tonight in 1967 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.
George Harrison re-joined The Beatles today in 1969. Paul McCartney’s plan for what was going to be the Get Back album was a back-to-basics live approach to recording, and the rehearsal sessions at a Twickenham Studios sound stage were being filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, but George quit the band after heated arguments with Paul over his incessant perfectionism, and nearly came to blows with John Lennon over his increasing lack of interest. John suggested replacing him with Eric Clapton as a permanent member, but Paul insisted they wouldn’t be The Beatles without George. George, of course, had brought his friend Clapton in a year earlier to play lead guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps, not so much because he couldn’t play the lead himself, but as a way to get John and Paul to stop fighting. As a condition of his return, George insisted they move the sessions to the Apple studios, and he brought along a keyboard player they’d admired as a member of Little Richard’s band to again ease the tension: Billy Preston. The sessions would end up in Let It Be, their final album.
Fleetwood Mac’s founding guitarist Peter Green was taken to a psychiatric hospital in London today in 1977, after firing a gun in the direction of a delivery boy attempting to give him a royalty check for $30,000. He’d quit the band and renounced rock and roll in 1970 and didn’t want the money. After undergoing treatment for schizophrenia, and working as a hospital orderly and gravedigger, he returned to music in 1979, playing on Mick Fleetwood’s solo album, an uncredited appearance on Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk album, and various solo projects.
Paul McCartney had his 6th number one post Beatles album today in 1977 with Wings Over America, a live album of recordings from their tour of the previous year which included a stop at Seattle’s Kingdome. Parts of that tour, including the Seattle stop, were also later released as the concert film Rockshow on the newfangled Betamax format in 1981.
The 24/7 music video channel MTV had famously premiered in New York the previous August, but we didn’t get it here on the West Coast until today in 1983 when it was picked up by Los Angeles cable distributor Group W.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Influential soul singer Sam Cooke would be 86 today had he not been shot by a hotel manager at age 33.
The Sex Pistols legendary manager Malcolm McClaren would be 71 had he not died of cancer at 64.
Journey’s heyday lead singer Steve Perry is 67. He was listening to Sam Cooke’s Cupid when he was somehow inspired to start singing sappy chick-rock at age 12.
Guns-N-Roses original drummer Steven Adler (real name Michael Coletti) is 51. He was booted from the band in ’90 over heroin use (like the others didn’t?), but inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the band’s original lineup in 2012.