January 24 in Classic Rock: John And Yoko Porn

For the first time ever, a single debuted on the British charts today in 1958 at the #1 spot, and it was a rock and roll song, Leiber and Stoller’s Jailhouse Rock, as sung by Elvis Presley for his movie of the same name. Some who’d played on it were surprised that the obvious prison-homoerotic line “Number 47 said to Number 3/You’re the cutest jailbird/I ever did see/Sure would be delighted with your company…” made it past the censors.

The Quarrymen played at Liverpool’s Cavern Club for the only time tonight in 1958. Three of them would play there again three years later under their new name, The Beatles.

Liverpool record store owner Brian Epstein had seen The Beatles at The Cavern Club, and signed on as their manager today in 1962. The band agreed to pay him 25% of their earnings at a time when 10% was considered normal.

The New Jersey State Attorney General’s office issued a warning today in 1969 to all record stores and distributors that if they were caught selling copies of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono Two Virgins album, they would be charged with distributing pornography, even though the fully frontal (and fully back-all on the back) nude shots of John and Yoko weren’t exactly flattering or erotic.

Fully three weeks before The Who recorded their legendary live album there, Led Zeppelin were at Leeds University tonight in 1970 to play a show in the school’s “refectory” (or cafeteria). Backstage they met with artist Richard Drew (then calling himself Zacron) to discuss his ideas for the cover of their third album. Jimmy Page had met him because he’d gone to Kingston College of The Arts with some of his former Yardbirds bandmates.

Workers at EMI’s record pressing plant in England had gone on strike rather than package The Sex Pistols God Save The Queen two years earlier, and today in 1978 stopped work again, refusing to package the latest single from The Buzzcocks. They were fine with the “A-Side”, What Do I Get (recently used in car adverts), but were offended by the “B-Side”, a song called Oh Sh**.

The Clash released their first single in the U.S. today in 1979, a cover of a song written 20 years earlier by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly’s Crickets made popular by The Bobby Fuller Four in 1966, I Fought The Law.

The Beach Boys bass player and principal songwriter Brian Wilson divorced his wife of 15 years, Marilyn Rovell Wilson, today in 1979. He was 20 and she just 14 when they started dating, Brian had produced her band The Honeys, and the marriage produced two daughters: Carnie and Wendy Wilson, who later joined with Chynna Phillips, daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas to form Wilson-Phillips.

A massive billboard was erected on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood today in 1980 that seemed to be nothing but a huge wall, but with each consecutive day that followed, a brick was removed, eventually revealing a promotional announcement for Pink Floyd’s new album The Wall.

Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler was in the hospital today in 1981 after crashing his motorcycle. He and guitarist Joe Perry had become known as the “Toxic Twins” for their legendary intake of heroin and stimulants, but Joe had left the band to form The Joe Perry Project, and Steven had often been seen roaming the streets of New York looking for dealers.

Seattle’s Nirvana played Australia for the first time tonight in 1992 at the Phoenician Club in Sydney, with Australian bands Tumbleweed and The Meanies opening. Unlike Nirvana, both of those bands are still active.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

70’s novelty hitmaker Ray Stevens is 78.

Aaron Neville of New Orleans’ The Neville Brothers is 76.

Singer-songwriter  Neil Diamond, who’s career started in New York’s legendary Brill Building writing hits for The Monkees, is 76.

Warren Zevon would be 70 if he hadn’t died of lung cancer at 56.

Actor, comedian, and Blues Brothers lead vocalist John Belushi would be 68 if he hadn’t OD’d at 33.

Jools Holland, keyboard playing founder of Squeeze and later a British TV host, is 62.

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