Elvis Presley had already made his first movie, Love Me Tender, for 20th Century Fox, when he signed a 7 year contract with Paramount Pictures today in 1956. He would go on to make 30 more films, including It Happened At The World’s Fair here in Seattle, and carried on affairs with the leading ladies of all of them, save one. Mary Tyler Moore, co-star of his last dramatic effort Change of Habit (she played a nun) in 1969 later said “I could have slept with Elvis…What was I thinking?”
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1966, starting in on their 7th album Revolver. It would mark their departure from writing simple love songs, gain them wide recognition as studio innovators, and forever change the parameters of popular music, especially the song they spent today doing basic tracks for: Tomorrow Never Knows.
Pink Floyd officially announced the departure of their founder, Syd Barrett, today in 1968. The band had added Syd’s old school friend David Gilmour to cover for his increasingly erratic acid-fueled behavior. Syd would sometimes decide he didn’t want to play or sing, and intentionally de-tune his guitar or simply stare off into space. They worked as a five-piece band for a short time, but on the way to a show in rural England Gilmore had asked if they were going to pick him up, and the others had responded “Why bother?”
Carly Simon headlined a show at The Troubadour nightclub on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip tonight in 1971, after which she was introduced to a singer signed to The Beatles Apple label, James Taylor. The two would marry the following year, then divorce 11 years later.
The Rolling Stones announced the formation of their own record company, Rolling Stones Records, today in 1971. It would be distributed to stores by Atlantic with the famous “tongue-and-lips” logo designed by John Pasche, but unlike The Beatles and Led Zeppelin’s vanity labels Apple and Swan Song, the Stones would not put out records by any other artists.
The California Jam (or CalJam 1) took place at the Ontario Motor Speedway outside of Los Angeles today in 1974. A quarter of a million fans showed up to see Rare Earth, Earth Wind and Fire, The Eagles, Seals and Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. It would set then world records for loudest sound system and highest gross at the cash box, but also mark the end of the original 60’s wave of huge rock festivals. The ones that followed ushered in a new era of corporate sponsorship and control. The state of the art “Indianapolis of the West”, opened in the summer of 1970 was the only track ever built to accommodate all four sanctioned racing bodies: USAC (Indy cars), NASCAR (Stock cars), NHRA (Drag racers), and FIA (Formula One grand prix). Your This Day In Classic Rock scribe was lucky enough to attend the first California 500 there in 1970, won by Jim McElreath, who beat big names of the day Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, and Al Unser in the Johnny Lightning Special (he owned one of the Hot Wheels competitors). O.M.S. Just 10 years later California real estate had become too valuable to operate a motor racing facility and it was demolished to become office parks.
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters had his lawyers issue a formal statement today in 1987 stating that as the sole creative force of the band he would contest any use of the Pink Floyd name by anyone including his former bandmates. David Gilmour and Nick Mason were already working on the first Floyd album without Waters, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and they would end up in court. They settled with Gilmour and Mason getting the name (they hired keyboard player Rick Wright as an employee), but Waters getting exclusive rights to The Wall, among other things. Waters would tour America later that year to promote his Radio KAOS (interestingly the radio station at The Evergreen State College in Olympia owns those F.C.C. call letters) solo album, often playing smaller venues in the same cities Floyd were doing the Lapse of Reason tour, and Waters threatened another lawsuit over use of the inflatable pig he’d conceived, but the Gilmour-led band responded by attaching a large set of male genitalia to distinguish it from Roger’s design.
The former lead singer of punk band The Plasmatics, Wendy O. Williams, famous for stage antics that included explosives and chainsaws and performing topless save strategically placed electrical tape, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot today in 1998 at age 48. Several of her fans, including Lemmy Kilmiester of Mötorhead and Gene Simmons of Kiss who’d produced and played bass on her solo album, issued statements mourning her suicide.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Pretty Things bass player John Stax is 73.
Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV is 52, and better known by the stage names he used as leader of influential Boston band The Pixies, Black Francis, and as the solo artist Frank Black.