The second album from the mostly-American “pre-fab four”, More of The Monkees, hit #1 on the British charts today in 1967. It should have, considering the songwriting talent behind the tunes: Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin,and Boyce and Hart, though Michael Nesmith had one on…the first written by any of the band. Only four albums reached that mark that year: The Monkees first and second albums for a combined 9 weeks, the soundtrack to The Sound of Music for 17 weeks, and The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for an astonishing 25 weeks.
Two days after for all intents and purposes destroying Seattle’s Green Lake Aqua Theater, Led Zeppelin did something The Beatles and The Rolling Stones hadn’t today in 1969, becoming the first world-widely famous British band to play in Hawaii at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium. The review in the Honolulu Advertiser the next day was glowing: “The showmanship exceeded any rock performance here to date. I wondered before the concert if Led Zeppelin could sound as good as their Atlantic album…they sounded better”. They got not quite 4 days in the warm Hawaiian sun before resuming their relentless North American tour in Detroit, heading back to England, and they’d be back in the Seattle area on July 27th at the Seattle Pop Festival at Gold Creek Park in Woodinville, a full month before Woodstock, and with other bands that didn’t play in upstate New York including The Chicago Transit Authority and The Doors, who according to most critics Zeppelin completely upstaged.
A week after the release of the album of the same name, The Beatles Let It Be movie premiered in New York City tonight in 1970. Originally planned as a TV Special, it featured the band rehearsing for the album originally intended to be called Get Back at a London soundstage, and their famous rooftop concert at the Apple Corps Ltd. building, which would be their last public performance ever. Paul McCartney had wanted them to “return to their roots” and do another tour, but the band were fighting like cats and dogs and having none of it, and though very little of the bickering makes it into the film there is a rather uncomfortable exchange between Paul and George Harrison, where George expresses his frustration with Paul’s domineering style, saying “I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it”. There were British premiers of the film a week later, but none of The Beatles showed up for any of them, and the band would later get an Oscar for “Best Original Film Score”, which they had Seattle jazz great and later Michael Jackson producer Quincy Jones accept for them.
Stevie Wonder turned 21 today in 1971, and in addition to being able to drink legally he was now legally able to receive all the money he’d earned since signing with Tamla-Motown Records at age 11, but in typical record-business style he only got 1 of the 30 million dollars he’d brought in.
36 year old Bruce Springsteen was in the South Portland suburb of Lake Oswego today in 1985, getting married for the first time to his 25 year old model-girlfriend Julianne Phillips in her hometown. They had little in common, an 11 year age difference, Bruce was touring non-stop, and they would divorce 3 years later with Bruce later saying that most of the songs on his Tunnel of Love album were about his unhappiness in the relationship, and it was on that tour he started a relationship with his backup singer Patti Scialfa, to whom he is still married. Julianne went on to a moderately successful acting career, playing the female lead opposite Chevy Chase in Fletch Lives! and in the TV drama Sisters.
Michael Jackson wasn’t about to settle for the Stevie Wonder treatment from Motown Records when he sued them today in 2003, claiming he hadn’t been paid any royalties for recordings with The Jackson 5 in the 60’s and 70’s, and that his songs had been used in TV commercials without his permission. Motown settle out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.
Queen guitarist Brian May was under a 24-hour protection watch provided by Scotland Yard today in 2007 when a letter was found left by a schizophrenic man who blamed May for his mental illness and announcing his intention to kill him, claiming the he was the real Brian May. The man was never heard from again.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Ritchie Valenz would be 76 if he hadn’t died at 17 along with Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson in a plane crash “the day the music died”.
J. Geils Band harmonica, saxophone, and trumpet player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz is 72.
J. Geils Band bass player Danny “Dr. Funk” Klein is 71.
Mott the Hoople bass player Pete “Overend” Watts is 70.
Early Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan is 67.
Stevie Wonder, who’s been recording for the Motown label since age 11, is 67.