American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald earned the distinction of being the first of many artists to have a hit with a cover of a Beatles song when her rendition of Can’t Buy Me Love entered the charts today in 1964.
The Beatles 12th and final studio album Let It Be was at #1 in Britain today in 1970, where it would stay for three weeks. Interestingly, in America the #1 album also starting a three-week run was Paul McCartney’s debut solo album, McCartney, on which (save for some backing vocals by wife Linda) he’d played everything. The Beatles had already broken up and the other three, concerned that McCartney would hurt sales of Let It Be, picked as a spokesman the one who also had a solo album ready to go. Paul later said, “They eventually sent Ringo round to my house at Cavendish [Avenue] with a message: ‘We want you to put your release date back, it’s for the good of the group’, and all of this sort of s***. He was giving me the party line; they just made him come round, so I did something I’d never done before or since: I told him to get out. I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking. I was getting pummeled about the head, in my mind anyway.”
Meanwhile British Hippies were twirling their tie-dye to the first-ever performance outside of America of San Francisco jam-band The Grateful Dead at The Hollywood Rock Music Festival outside of Stoke-on-Trent, southeast of Liverpool today in 1970.
The Jefferson Airplane were planning a free concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park today in 1973, but the city council wanted none of it, and shut it down with a ban on electronic instruments. With the help of Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin the incident would be immortalized in the oft-hated Jefferson Starship song We Built This City.
George Harrison announced the launch of his Dark Horse record label today in 1974.
Tom Petty began a long legal battle with his record label today in 1979, and initially had to file for bankruptcy as they claimed he owed them $575,000.
The Doobie Brothers reunited for a charity concert to benefit Vietnam veterans today in 1987 at the Hollywood Bowl. Response was enthusiastic from all: The 2000 Vietnam veterans who got in for free, the fans, who raised $350,000 for veteran’s causes, and the 12 former Doobie Brothers who showed up to play.
New York based photographer Michael Lavine shot the “band photos” for Nirvana’s Nevermind album at a studio in Los Angeles today in 1991. He’d got the gig through his friendship with Sub Pop Records founder Bruce Pavitt, who he met while he was roomates with KZOK’s Scott Vanderpool at The Evergreen State College. The cover shot of the baby under water was conceived by Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl after seeing a documentary on water births, taken by Kirk Weddle of then 5-month old Spencer Elden, who is now 26. As Nevermind began to change music history, Lavine found himself in demand, and soon had the likes of David Bowie and Debbie Harry knocking on his door.
King Carl Gustav XVI of Sweden presented the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, along with John Bonham’s relatives with that country’s highest musical honor, The Polar Music Prize, today in 2006. The award had been started in 1989 by Abba’s manager, and already given to Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and uber-producer Quincy Jones.
The Rolling Stones were at #1 in England today in 2011 for the first time in 16 years with a re-mastered and re-released version of their 1972 album Exile on Main Street.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Synthesizer inventor Dr. Robert Moog would be 83, he died in 2005 of brain cancer.
Parliament/Funkadelic drummer Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood would be 73, he died of stomach cancer in ’79.
Electric Light Orchestra keyboard and French Horn player Bill Hunt is 70.