A 20 year old Elvis Presley, having recently purchased his first quality guitar, a Martin acoustic, made his first TV appearance today in 1955 when the Shreveport-based Louisiana Hayride went to video. Elvis had already been appearing regularly on the radio show, which was seen as a more risk-taking competitor to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, which Elvis had played to a lukewarm response, but they didn’t ask him back. A week or so later Elvis would audition for CBS’s Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and fail.
The Beatles recorded their third single today in 1963. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had written From Me To You just five days earlier.
The Mannish Boys released their first single I Pity The Fool today in 1965. No one remembers the band, but lead singer Davy Jones would become quite famous after changing his name to David Bowie. The tough-guy actor and former nightclub bouncer who would make the single’s title a popular catch phrase, Mr. T, was still in Chicago and only 13 years old.
Former U.S. Army Green Berets medic Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler started a 5 week run at #1 on the U.S. charts with The Ballad of the Green Berets today in 1966. Barry had written the song after reading Robin Moore’s novel The Green Berets, and it was used in the John Wayne film based on it. While at a hospital Stateside recovering from a punji-stick infection suffered in Vietnam, he heard Senator Bobby Kennedy dedicate the new JFK Center for Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, and decided that if he recovered he would donate all proceeds from his song to the center. He did both.
Led Zeppelin were much bigger than the venues they chose for their “Thank You” British tour which started tonight in 1971 in Belfast. They were purposely playing as many of the places they could from their original 1968 tour, and charging the same prices. Fans were treated to songs from their not-yet-out 4th album, including the first-ever performances of Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, and Going to California.
Having already been married to actor Peter Sellers for four years with one daughter and having a son with record producer Lou Adler, former Bond girl Britt Ekland was introduced to The Faces singer Rod Stewart, three years her junior, at a party in Hollywood tonight in 1975 by actress Joan Collins. She would put her acting career on hold and move in with him, creating a high profile target for paparazzi and celebrity magazines for over two years. In ’84 she married The Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, who was 20 years younger than her, and now at age 74 she’s close friends with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and a regular fixture on the L.A. rock scene.
Actor, comedian, and lead singer of The Blues Brothers, John Belushi was found dead in bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood today in 1982, having overdosed on “speedballs” (a combination of cocaine and heroin) at age 33.
Former Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick was surprised to see a police officer walk onto her Marin County California property today in 1994, and pointed an unloaded shotgun at him. He was not amused, and arrested her for assault with a deadly weapon, for which she was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and three months worth of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
The first episode of The Osbournes aired on MTV tonight in 2002, a “reality show” focusing on the former Black Sabbath singer and his family at home (though the oldest of their three kids Aimee wanted nothing to do with it). The show would run until 2005 and document, among other things, manager/wife Sharon’s battle with cancer, and Ozzy’s near-death in an ATV accident. While the constant use of naughty words was bleeped on MTV in America, it was not censored in Canada, but Ozzy says he prefers the “bleeped” version because it makes the swear words more noticeable, but also says as he was “wasted” during the entire production run, and for that reason has never watched any of it.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Dire Straits keyboard player Alan Clark is 65.
Mark Smith, strangely wonderful frontman for influential Manchester England band The Fall is 60.
Identical twin leaders of one of Scotland’s more popular exports Charlie and Craig Reid of The Proclaimers are 55.
On and off again Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John “Trickfinger” Frusciante is 47.