It was the first full day of the British Invasion today in 1964, with The Beatles having arrived in New York yesterday afternoon. John, Paul, and Ringo went for a midday stroll in Central Park, naturally arranged by Brian Epstein with a pack of press photographers following, and naturally the some 500 girls hanging outside their hotel followed them screaming the whole way. This may have had something to do with George’s “sore throat”, but he stayed back at the hotel. John must have liked the place, he would later move to the Dakota Apartments across the street from the park’s South east corner. Later in the day they would do a radio interview with The Ronettes, who they had met at a party on their first tour of England a month earlier, after which John supposedly “hooked up” with lead singer Veronica Bennett, and George did the same with her sister Estelle. John had wanted them to stay and fly to America with them, but producer Phil Spector insisted they come home immediately after the last show. The Rolling Stones opened for The Ronettes there, and Keith Richards later wrote, “The first time I ever went to heaven was when I awoke with Ronnie (later Spector) Bennett asleep with a smile on her face. We were kids. It doesn’t get any better than that.” Two years later the Ronettes were on the decline in popularity, and Spector arranged to have them open the last American Beatles tour, though in a fit of jealousy made Ronnie stay home with him while her spot on the tour was taken by her cousin Elaine.
The third incarnation of The Band of Joy made it’s debut tonight in 1967 at the Marquee Club in London. Popular with the Mods, the band sported Kevyn Gammond on guitar, Paul Lockley on bass, John Bonham on drums, and a vocalist who would revive the name in 2010 for a post-Zeppelin reunion semi-solo tour, Robert Plant.
Upstate New York dairy farmer Max Yasgur died of a heart attack at the age of 53 today in 1973, four years after renting his farm near Woodstock to be used for the most iconic rock festival of the 60’s. He is the subject of a very good 2009 historical comedy-drama, Taking Woodstock, and is played by SCTV alum Eugene Levy.
For the second time in his career, Bob Dylan had a number one album in the U.S. today in 1975. Blood On The Tracks was his 15th studio album, and included the hits Tangled Up In Blue and Shelter From The Storm. Bob had sought the opinions of other performers in pre-production for the album, flying to Florida to run the songs past Neil Young, and jamming on them with him and Crazy Horse. He also previewed the songs to David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills, and Nash later recalled that they’d been unimpressed. Stills had said, “He’s a good songwriter, but he’s no musician.”
David Bowie divorced his American cover-girl wife Angela Barnett today in 1980. She was 19 when she met him in London in 1969, and they had one son together, who David took custody of in the divorce settlement. Angie took £300,000. At birth David called his son “Zowie Bowie“, but by 18 he changed his name to his father’s real surname, and Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones is a successful British film director, winning awards for his science fiction movies Moon (2009) and Source Code (2010).
Athens Georgia band R.E.M. had their first recording session today in 1981 at a studio outside of Atlanta, where they cut their first big hit, Radio Free Europe. They would play that song on the David Letterman show and become one of the highest-paid American rock bands in history. Lead guitarist Peter Buck would marry Stephanie Dorgan the owner of Seattle’s Crocodile Cafe in the 90’s, and live in a Denny-Blaine mansion near Kurt Cobain, with singer Michael Stipe purchasing a Lake Union houseboat for his frequent visits, and after drummer Bill Berry retired after suffering an aneurysm, the band picked up Seattle players for live shows: Drummers Bill Rieflin (The Blackouts, Ministry, The Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails) and Barrett Martin (Skin Yard, The Screaming Trees), guitarist Scott McCaughey (The Young Fresh Fellows), and multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow (The Posies) on keys. When Buck and Dorgan divorced…around the same time as McCaughey, the two moved to Portland and continue to work together, returned to Letterman in this band with Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate) that does nothing but songs about baseball.
Singer and songwriter Del Shannon had been suffering from depression, and shot himself today in 1990 at the age of 55. Tom Petty had been a huge fan of his 1961 hit Runaway (as mentioned in Tom’s Runnin’ Down A Dream), and had been working with him and Jeff Lynne on some songs at the time, and Del was rumored to have gottten the nod as the replacement in the Travelling Wilburys for Roy Orbison, who had died recently. The Wilburys did a cover of Runaway to honor him.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Grass Roots lead guitarist Creed Bratton is 74. Booted from the band after a disastrous show at the Fillmore West in 1969, he became an actor, appearing in films Mask and Heart Like A Wheel, and is a cast member of NBC’s American version of the British hit The Office, as a fictional version of himself.
Canned Heat’s drummer since 1967 Adolfo de la Parra is 71, Before replacing their origianl drummer he played in some of his native Mexico’s biggest rock bands, including Los Sparks, Los Sinners, and Los Hooligans.
Motley Crüe singer Vince Neil is 56.