RCA Records introduced a new format today in 1949, the 7-inch, 45 revolution-per-minute single. It was a death sentence for the 10-inch 78 RPM format, which sounded worse and made jukeboxes far more cumbersome. Columbia Records 12-inch 33 1/3 “Long playing” album format had come out the year before, but hadn’t caught on yet. Some older baby-boomers have bought the same songs in both these formats, as well as 8-track tape cartridges, cassettes, digital compact discs, and digital downloads from the interwebs, and the record industry thanks you for these purchases. Interestingly, the trend in jukeboxes found in bars, restaurants, and nightclubs is away from the compact disc, which gives customers a choice of songs from entire albums, and toward digital on-line systems that somehow only have the one hit song from any given album available for play, while the others are available for purchase at an inflated rate. Old jukeboxes are highly sought by collectors, and can go for tens of thousands of dollars.
The “British Invasion” began in earnest today in 1964, when I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles went to #1 on the U.S. charts, the first time a British act nabbed the top spot since The Tornadoes Telstar in ’62. The song would stay at #1 for an astonishing 7 weeks.
The Pink Floyd turned professional today in 1967, signing a contract with EMI records. They spent the day at a studio in Chelsea adding parts to Syd Barrett’s Arnold Layne and Roger Waters’ Candy and a Currant Bun (changed from Let’s Roll Another One so as not to attract the attention of the police, who were spending most of their time following the activities of The Rolling Stones at the time).
In another part of London, the Beatles were at Abbey Road studios today in 1967, starting in on a new song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It wasn’t until this song was done that Paul McCartney had the idea of making it the central theme of an album.
Chuck Berry was at #1 in Britain today in 1972 with a live recording of a song he’d been playing for 20 years. My Ding-A-Ling was inteneded as a comedy song rife with penis innuendo, which prompted a pinched-cheek conservative self-appointed moral policeman in the form of one Mary Whitehouse to start an unsuccessful campaign to have it banned. Playing on the live version were Scotsmen Robbie McIntosh and Onnie McIntyre, who would go on to start The Average White Band.
A collection of Sir Elton Hercules John’s photographs were withdrawn from the Atlanta museum displaying them today in 2001. Some of the photos were of naked men, which parents of school classes visiting the museum found objectionable. We don’t find them objectional, but we don’t want to look at them either, and instead offer photographs of Elton John.
CBS Television was profusely apologizing today in 2004 for the MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime show featuring Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, in which Justin had torn away part of Janet’s top during a dance routine, exposing her breast. Though her nipple was covered by a “pasty”, they claimed “wardrobe malfunction”, and issued apologies as well. Nonetheless, with conservatives in charge of the executive branch of government, the Federal Communications Commission launched a new campaign against “indecency” that trickled down to radio stations that played songs with bad words in them. Not that we would ever do that. Was it a “wardrobe malfunction”, or bloody well on purpose? You be the judge:
NASA announced today in 2008, on the 40th anniversary of it’s recording, that John Lennon’s song Across the Universe would be the first song beamed directly into space transmitted on an array of dishes directly at the North Star, Polaris, some 430 light years from Earth. In a message to NASA, Sir Paul McCartney said the project was an amazing feat: “Well done, NASA, give my love to the aliens.”
Rock And Roll Birthdays
The older but last of the two Everly Brothers, Don, is 80 today.
Ray “Eye Patch” Sawyer, singer of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, is 80.
Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black would be 79 if he’d made it past 70.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers lead guitarist Mike Campbell is 66.