According to historical documents, Buddy Holly’s first electric guitar was a gold-top Gibson Les Paul, but they are quite heavy, and in 1955 he borrowed $600 from his brother and bought the first of the guitars he became famous for playing, the then-new-and-futuristic Fender Stratocaster. He was already on his 4th today in 1958, when like the three before, it was stolen, this time out of the back of The Crickets station wagon while they were stopped for lunch before a show in St. Louis. By now Buddy’s popularity was selling quite a few Strats for Fender, who happily supplied him with new ones for free, but none of the 4 stolen guitars were ever recovered, and it’s quite unlikely that their current owners know who they once belonged to or how valuable they would be.
The Beatles were out in front of the Scala Theater in London today in 1964 filming scenes for their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night. The screenplay was written by Alun Owen, who was chosen because the band liked his play No Trams To Lime Street, and because he seemed to catch on to their sense of humor and Liverpudlian dialect. Alun had hung with them observing for quite a while, and while the movie was scripted, Paul McCartney later noted that Owen had been quite careful “to put words in our mouths he might have heard us speak”, though today’s filming was mostly scenes of running away from girls. When the day’s filming of the movie (still called “Beatlemania” at the time) was finished, John Lennon heard his drummer Ringo Starr say “Well, that was a hard day’s night”, and immediately began writing the song that would become the film’s title track.
It was an interesting show tonight in 1967 in Blackpool England with some very different acts, but it was cheap. Depending on where you wanted to sit, 5 or 10 schillings got you in to see the psychedelic Jimi Hendrix Experience, a pop band from Los Angeles The Walker Brothers, hippie-folkie singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, and the Sinatra meets Elvis crooner Englebert Humperdinck.
Billy Joel was reported to be in good condition at a hospital in Long Island New York today in 1982 after breaking his wrist crashing his Harley Davidson into a car. The switchboard at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center was flooded with phone calls from so many well-wishing fans, Billy issued a press release through his fan club asking them to stop because “they were tying up the lines for people who were really sick”, but Joel would stay at the hospital having surgeries and enduring physical therapy for a little over a month.
The remainder of the ashes of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia were scattered in a small ceremony at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco today in 1996. Jerry had died of a heart attack at a rehab clinic back in August, just 8 days after his 53rd birthday, and according to his wishes, the other half of his ashes had been scattered by his wife Deborah Koons and bandmate Bob Weir a week earlier in the Ganges River, at the Holy city of Rishikesh, India. Today’s ceremony was not attended by Jerry’s ex-wife Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, who Koons made a point of not telling.
The Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone (real name Jeffery Ross Hyman) died after a long battle with lymphoma today in 2001. Two years later a portion of E. 2nd street in Manhattan where he and Dee Dee Ramone had lived and very near the CBGB nightclub where they’d got their start was renamed “Joey Ramone Place“. The signs were eventually moved up to 20 feet, and drummer Marky Ramone said he thought Joey would be quite pleased that the signs to his street had become the most-often stolen in New York, but that “now you’d have to be an NBA player to see them”.
Tacoma’s The Wailers singing keyboard player Kent Morrill died of cancer at age 70 today in 2011.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Welsh guitarist, singer,songwriter, and producer Dave Edmunds is 73. He had a huge hit with a 1970 cover of Smiley Lewis‘ I Hear You Knockin’, then in the mid 70’s teamed up with Nick Lowe to form the band Rockpile, who despite having a very meat-and-potatoes traditional rock and roll sound, were largely relegated to “New Wave” radio in the U.S.
Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien is 49. Interesting considering the British band’s name, American rock radio has labeled them as an “alternative” act, when their 1997 album OK Computer was about the closest anyone had gotten since 1973 to the lush sonic landscape Pink Floyd created with Dark Side of the Moon.