Bob Dylan started his first-ever “electric” tour with a full rock and roll band backing him tonight in 1966 at the Convention Center in Louisville Kentucky. He’d already whipped out a Fender Stratocaster a few times, most famously at the Newport Folk Festival where he’d been booed by folk purists while being backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, but for this tour he was using the Canadian backing musicians for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, who at the start called themselves The Hawks or Levon and The Hawks, but they would soon be known as The Band. And Bob would continue to be sporadically heckled by angry folkies. The tour produced several live recordings and an obscure documentary made by D.A. Pennebaker called Eat The Document. The tour would end prematurely in July when on a break at home in Woodstock NY, Bob crashed his Triumph motorcycle, and he wouldn’t do another big tour again until 1974.
The Monkees debut album started a 6-week run at #1 on the British charts today in 1967, surprising more than a few people as the band had been concocted as a TV show loosely based on The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night, but also surprisingly The Beatles quite enjoyed the show, and at a party where they finally met, John Lennon told them he thought they were “the greatest comedic talents since the Marx Brothers“.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road Studios today in 1968 recording a John Lennon song they planned to release as a single while they were away on their upcoming trip to India to hang with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. John considered the lyrics to Across The Universe, inspired by the Maharishi and John’s wife Cynthia, who had been “going on and on about something” (words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup), to be the best he’d ever written. John and Paul decided the song needed some vocal harmonies higher than they could sing, and recruited two “Apple Scruffs” (Beatles fans who would hang outside the studio…George Harrison would later write a song about them), Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, which left them “well-chuffed” indeed. The girls made it onto the version on their Let It Be album, but not the version that was released first, the World Wildlife Foundation benefit compilation No One’s Gonna Change Our World put together by comedian Spike Milligan.
The Carpenters singing drummer Karen Carpenter died of a heart attack today in 1983 at age 32, triggered by the anorexia nervosa eating disorder. Her death led to increased public awareness of eating disorders in general. Despite being an accomplished jazz-trained player and getting accolades for her drum skills, she was rarely used on the band’s albums in favor of studio musicians.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble started their 114-date Couldn’t Stand the Weather tour tonight in 1984 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee. It was their first big one as headliners, as the biggest thing they’d done previously was 29 dates opening for The Moody Blues, which many thought was career suicide as the acts were so different, their agent was ahead of the curve in realizing fans distaste for disco and big-hair-and-spandex “butt rock” and radio stations moving toward what we now call the “classic rock” format.
The widow Cobain Courtney Love was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport today in 2003 and charged with endangering an aircraft in trans-Atlantic flight after throwing a rock star hissy-fit at flight attendants after her personal nurse, who had an economy class ticket, was asked to leave the first class cabin.
Lead singer for influential rockabilly and garage-rock revivalists The Cramps, Lux Interior (real name Erick Purkhiser) died of heart failure at age 62 today in 2009.
Robert Plant put the final nails in the coffin of Led Zeppelin fans hopes for a reunion tour today in 2009 in an interview on a British radio station, saying he felt the band was “incomplete” without drummer John Bonham, despite the fact that Bonham’s son Jason had done a stand-up job at their reunion at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert two years earlier. That show was released as the concert film Celebration Day, which will likely be the last we see of the Mighty Zep.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Influential rockabilly guitarist Paul Burlison of the Johnny Burnette Rock and Roll Trio would be 88 if he hadn’t died of colon cancer in 2003.
The Animals original drummer John Steel is 76.
The identical twin singers of The Shangri-La’s, Marge and Mary Ann Ganser, would be 70. Mary Ann didn’t make it past 22 because of barbiturates, and Marge died of breast cancer at 48.
Singer Vince Furnier is 70, best known by the stage name he adopted from his band Alice Cooper, who supposedly took their name from a session with an Ouija board. Alice the man dumped Alice the band after their Muscle of Love album in 1973.
Kansas drummer Phil Ehart is 66.
Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley is 65.