Elvis Presley had been back in the States from his stint with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Division for almost a full year today in 1961 when he had his 7th #1 single in Britain, where he’d never performed or even visited, only setting foot on Scottish soil when his plane refueled on the trip home from his stint in Germany as a cold-warrior. Wooden Heart had been featured in Elvis’s movie G.I.Blues,but wouldn’t be released as a single at home until ’64 when it was the “B” side to Blue Christmas, but the Brits loved it so much it stayed at #1 for 6 weeks. It had been more or less copied from a German folk song, Muss i’ denn zum Städtele hinaus, by German big bandleader Bert Kaempfert, who later that year would hire an unknown band from Liverpool called The Beatles to back crooner Tony Sheridan in the recording studio at home in Hamburg.
The first solo effort by any of The Beatles was released today in 1964: John Lennon’s first book of poetry, short stories, and drawings called In His Own Write. As disjointed and bizarre as it was, it would be transformed into a play four years later by Victor Spinetti.
The Beatles were given three of England’s equivalent to a Grammy today in 1967. They got Igor Novello Awards for Yellow Submarine, Michelle, and Yesterday, though no one in the band thought much of the prize and didn’t bother to attend the ceremony at the Playhouse Theater in London, so the songs were performed by Joe Loss and his Orchestra, with the lead vocal on Michelle handled by Ross McManus, who’s son Declan would go on to considerable fame under the stage name Elvis Costello.
The film made from George Harrison and Ravi Shakar’s two Concerts for Bangladesh premiered in New York City tonight in 1972, with most of the performers on hand, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Badfinger, Billy Preston, and Leon Russell. Shakar had hoped to raise $25,000 for refugees in the former Indian province of Bangladesh, which had been devastated by a cyclone and civil war. The Madison Square Garden shows in August had brought in 10 times that amount, and the film and album soundtrack would add over $12 million to the money sent to UNICEF.
Piano man Billy Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley on a boat moored alongside the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor today in 1985. The two would have a daughter in December, but divorce in 1994 though they remain on friendly terms, and Christie was on hand to give the 55 year old Billy her blessing 10 years later when he married 23 year old Katie Lee.
Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty was at #1 on the U.S. album charts today in 1985 with his 3rd solo album Centerfield. The album’s title track is one of the great baseball songs of all time, John said he was inspired to write it growing up in the San Francisco bay area, where major league baseball wouldn’t exist until the New York Giants moved there in 1958, so most baseball fans there focused on New York Yankees centerfielder Joe DiMaggio, who’d grown up in Martinez, California, just northeast of Fogerty’s native Berkeley.
Neil Aspinall died of lung cancer at age 66 today in 2008 at a hospital in New York. He’d been childhood friends with Paul McCartney and George Harrison (with whom he smoked his first cigarettes), and their first drummer Pete Best, in fact Neil lived with Pete and carried on an affair with his mother Mona, who’d started the Casbah Coffee Club (the two produced a son before ending their fairly weird relationship when Best was sacked by Brian Epstein). As the band started to take off talked him into buying a used Commer van to drive the band to gigs in, and he would parlay his job as The Beatles road manager into becoming the head of Apple Corps Ltd., where he famously instigated a lawsuit against Apple Computer in 1978, settled out of court in ’81 for a whopping £41,000 (a little over $64,000) with the promise from the fledgling tech company that if they could continue to use their name and similar logo, they would never enter the record business, which of course they did later anyway with iTunes.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jimmy Miller would be 75 if he hadn’t passed in 1994. He started his musical career as a drummer, but moved to record producer, making albums for The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, Motörhead, The Plasmatics, and Primal Scream, but he’s most famous for producing some of The Rolling Stones best records, including Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, and Goat’s Head Soup.
The Cars guitarist, singer, and songwriter Ric Ocasek is 68.
Influential British band Blur frontman and multi-instrumentalist Damon Albarn is 49.