A long 12-hour work day for The Beatles at Abbey Road today in 1966, not quite finishing two songs: Taxman, George Harrison’s angry rant against the “one for you, nineteen for me” rate they were being taxed by the Labour Party government of Harold Wilson, especially considering the money was being used for things he thought were a drag like war and colonialism and police enforcement of silly drug laws; and And Your Bird Can Sing, which John Lennon described as “another of my throwaways…fancy paper around an empty box”.
British band Roundabout were playing a show in Tastrup Denmark tonight in 1968. In the afternoon 420 session leading up, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had grown weary of the name, and proposed the one of his Grandmother’s favourite song, one of the biggest piano sheet-music hits of 1933 she mentioned every time she asked what he was doing. “Oh you’re playing music…isn’t that nice? Do you play Deep Purple?” They introduced themselves as such for the first time that night.
Today of course is April 20th, or 4/20, celebrated by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide a little more enthusiastically every year since this one in 1971. It was then that a group of “Stoners” (much like those at almost every American High School in the 70’s) started the phrase “Four-Twenty” as a catch-all for all things weed. They hung out at one of the outside walls of San Rafael High, and being stoned and all, decided to start calling themselves The Waldos. It seems that as school administrators began to give The Waldos the stink-eye, they began meeting in front of a statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 PM to wander Marin County searching for a mythical patch of abandoned government-planted weed from a failed research project that was never found, but it was okay they brought their own. Being from an affluent San Franciscan suburb and all, The Waldos were fond of tye-dye and especially The Grateful Dead, and the spread of 420 worldwide was in large part to the rabid counterculture fan base of that band. Urban myths around the number are many. Being the police code for pot-smoking-in-progress came from stoners watching too many Adam 12 reruns, and while if you multiply the numbers in Bob Dylan’s 1966 pot-anthem Rainy Day Women, 12 & 35 they do indeed make a product of 420, this appears to be just cosmic elements aligning in harmony, man…and….um…….woah.
The Mamas and The Papas singer and guitarist John Phillips was arrested for 420 today in 1981, but unfortunately for John, Ronald Reagan was now POTUSA, the Feds were waging War On Drugs, and he would receive a much harsher sentence than his contemporaries busted before: 5 years at hard labor at the Allenwood Prison Camp in Pennsylvania. John’s lawyers brokered a deal that got him out in a month after he agreed to do a nation-wide media tour spreading the Just Say No! message with his movie star daughter Mackenzie.
The Small Faces and Humble Pie frontman Steve Marriott had landed at Heathrow on a flight from the USA, where he’d been working on a new project with his old bandmate Peter Frampton. He’d had a few drinks, gone out to dinner where he’d had a few more, then went home where he tragically lit a cigarette before falling asleep exhausted with booze and jet lag, and it was this morning in 1991 that a passing motorist noticed the house fully engulfed in flames. He was 44.
Wembley Stadium in London hosted 72,000 for The Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert For Aids Awareness tonight in 1992, to mark the death of the Queen frontman the year before by raising money to fight the disease that killed him. On the bill: Elton John, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, David Bowie, Tony Iommi, Annie Lennox, Metallica, Guns-N-Roses, Def Leppard, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, and U2. The show was on live television in 76 countries and was estimated to have been seen by nearly 1 Billion.
Led Zeppelin’s sex-god frontman Robert Plant was at Disney’s Theater of The Stars in Orlando Florida to put his handprints in cement today in 2000.
Former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were in a Seattle courtroom today in 2002 to testify that Courtney Love was “irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent, and unpredictable”, the contract they’d signed with her was invalid because she was stoned when she signed it, and challenged the court to prove she was mentally stable.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Craig Frost, who played keyboards in Grand Funk Railroad and Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, is 69.