Elvis Presley was in Nashville today in 1960 recording for the first time since getting out of the Army. He’d recorded three singles before he left for Germany where he’d served as an “ordinary soldier” (who donated his pay to charity, lived in an off-base mansion, bought TV’s and new uniforms for his outfit, and learned of the benefits of amphetamines) that were released periodically to keep public interest up. He was in the studio with his backing band of guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black, who’d quit just before he left, for the last time, and the song they did, Stuck On You, would go straight to number one, but the King’s days on top were numbered with the musical storm brewing on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Beatles “mimed” (what we now call “lip-synching”) to three of their songs on the BBC’s Ready Steady Go! tonight in 1964. There were representatives of the U.S. magazine Billboard on hand to present them with an award for having the top three singles on the American charts simultaneously.
In the U.S. we often talk of the “British Invasion”, but at the time in England they were crazy for American “Soul” music less heard on white American radio stations, so it was no surprise that the “package tour” that started in London tonight in 1965 with Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, and The Temptations was completely sold out, and chock-full of Brits who had already started or would soon start bands of their own.
Eric Clapton was in Los Angeles today in 1968 hanging out with Buffalo Springfield members Neil Young, Richie Furray, and Jim Messina when they were arrested for “being in a place where it was suspected that marijuana was being used”. Clapton would be found innocent, while the rest of them were levied small fines, but Canadian bass player Bruce Palmer had been deported for two prior pot busts, and Messina, who’d been engineering and producing their albums (he’d just finished what would be their last) had taken over on bass. The band was already falling apart, but this pot bust was the final straw, and they broke up soon after.
John Lennon married Yoko Ono in a small ceremony at the British Consulate Office in Gibraltar today in 1969. They would spend their honeymoon campaigning for peace with their famous “Bed-In” in Amsterdam, and plan a second in the U.S., but were denied entry by the Nixon administration, who unbeknownst to John had placed him on their “enemies list” for opposition to the Vietnam war, and they held their North American “Bed-In” in Montreal, all of which made it into John’s song The Ballad of John and Yoko in April.
David Bowie married American cover girl Mary Angela Barnett at the Bromley Register Office in London today in 1970. She would go by Angela Bowie even after their divorce 10 years later, and they had one son, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones (Bowie’s real last name), who was called Zowie Bowie as a child, but since becoming a film director as an adult goes by Duncan Jones. The Rolling Stones 1973 hit Angie was long rumored to have come out of an affair between her and Mick Jagger, which Mick denied, pointing out that Keith Richards has a daughter named Angela, and he wrote most of the song, including the title.
Janis Joplin started a 2-week run at #1 on the American charts today in 1971 with her cover of her boyfriend Kris Kristofferson’s song Me and Bobby McGee.
British band Slade, who would inspire legions of 80’s buttrock bands to spell incorrectly, were at #1 on the U.K. charts with Cum On Feel the Noize today in 1973. It was the first time a single had entered the chart at #1 since The Beatles Get Back in ’69.
T Rex played their last show ever tonight in 1977 in Portsmouth England. They’d been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, even with “punk” rockers, probably because the opening band for the British tour that ended with tonight’s show were the up-and-comers The Damned, but frontman Marc Bolan would die in a car crash in September.
28 year old Joseph Riviera showed up at the New York offices of Asylum Records today in 1980, and pulled out a gun and demanded to see either The Eagles or Jackson Browne. He’d planned to talk them into financing his trucking company, apparently at gunpoint, but when informed they weren’t there, gave himself up to police.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts started a 7-week run at #1 on the U.S. charts today in 1982 with a cover of I Love Rock and Roll, originally a “B-side” from 70’s British band The Arrows.
Eric Clapton was in New York today in 1991, and had taken his 4-year old son Conor to the circus the night before, but Conor lived with his mother, Italian actress Lory Del Santo, and the two were visiting a friend when Conor fell from the 53rd floor window of the apartment they were in. If “The Blues” comes from a place of pain, then the song Eric wrote after the event, Tears In Heaven, is the bluesiest blues song of all time.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Influential Reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry is 81.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Asia, and as of 2016 the last surviving member of Emerson Lake and Palmer, drummer Carl Palmer is 67.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie Vaughan is 66. Though he has occasionally appeared with them since, he quit that band in 1989 to make the Family Style album with his younger brother Stevie Ray, who sadly died in a helicopter crash shortly before it’s release.
James McDonnell is 56, better known as early 80’s rockabilly revival band The Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom. He got married at age 23 to then 42 year old actress and 70’s Bond girl Britt Ekland, who’d previous partners included the great actor Peter Sellers and Rod Stewart. They had a son, but divorced in ’92.