London coffeehouse folk singer and scenester Marianne Faithfull was in a studio today in 1964 recording the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards song As Tears Go By, with studio musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. She’d been discovered by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and would have several more hits, get married to John Dunbar the next year and have a son with him before leaving him for Jagger.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1966 recording the Paul McCartney song that would inspire the feature-length psychedelic cartoon they wanted nothing to do with, Yellow Submarine. George Harrison was out with food poisoning, and producer George Martin missed this one as well, but with EMI engineer Geoff Emerick they finished the basic tracks in 5 takes, then had some fun with it, with John Lennon blowing bubbles into a bucket of water, shouting “Full speed ahead Mister Captain!”. When Martin returned to work he loved it, and set about adding other sound effects. He brought in a bigger tub for more water sounds, chains, a ship’s bell, a tap dancing mat, whistles, theatrical wind and thunder simulators, and a cash register that was left in the studio and eventually used on Pink Floyd’s Money.
Influential early R&B and Rock and Roll singer Little Willie John, who’s songs were covered by artists as diverse as Peggy Lee, Fleetwood Mac, and The Cramps, died of a pneumonia related heart attack at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla at age 30 today in 1968. Known for a love booze and a short temper, he’d been sent there after being convicted of manslaughter for a knife-fight after a show in Seattle. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in ’96.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono checked in to most of a floor at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal today in 1969, to stage a second act of the Bed-In for Peace they’d turned their March honeymoon into in Amsterdam. John had wanted to do it in New York City, but the Nixon administration was using his ’68 pot bust in London to keep him out of the country. John had complained about the lack of media attention in Amsterdam and their failure to get the joke, and this time invited tons of journalists and celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Alan Ginsberg, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory, DJ Murray the K, and Tommy Smothers, who joined in on acoustic guitar as they all happily sang John’s Give Peace A Chance. He’d brought in 4 nice microphones and a 4-track tape machine, and he released it as his first solo single whilst still a Beatle on Apple under the name The Plastic Ono Band. It would hit #2 in England, #14 in the U.S., and in November it would be sung by a half-million Vietnam War protesters in Washington D.C., led by Pete Seeger.
Mott The Hoople fan David Bowie reached the band’s main man Ian Hunter today in 1972 to tell him they shouldn’t break up as he had heard they were about to from bass player Pete Overend Watts, they just needed a hit. He offered him Suffragette City from his yet unreleased Ziggy Stardust album, which Hunter didn’t think much of, so he wrote All the Young Dudes for him pretty much on the spot. It would hit #3 in Britain, and hover in the 30’s of the Top 40 in the U.S. and Canada, keeping the band together until 1980.
The Edgar Winter Group joined the relatively short list of instrumentals (no singing, as in “songs”) to hit #1 today in 1973 with Frankenstein, so named because it was quite long when they recorded it, then they shortened it by editing and re-editing sections out by cutting the recording tape with razor blades and piecing it back with scotch tape. When they did it live, Edgar would strap a keyboard around his neck like a guitar and stomp around the stage, which synthesizer manufacturers noticed immediately and sold tons of even more guitar-like keyboards in the 80’s.
Danny Bonduce’s TV big brother David Cassidy was playing London today in 1974 when some 1000 hysterical fans had to be treated by first aid workers, and one poor girl died of heart failure 4 days later.
The Rolling Stones played the first of two nights at the Paradiso in Amsterdam tonight in 1995, the two shows that Keith Richards feels are the best the Stones have ever done. The venue was started by squatting hippies in 1967 in a former 19th century church who eventually got approval to turn it into a music hall and cultural center, it became one of the first places in that Dutch city where the use and sale of “soft drugs” was tolerated. Artists like David Bowie, Frank Zappa, The Sex Pistols, The Jam, Joy Division all the way to Seattle’s Nirvana have played there, and though Amsterdam banned public smoking some years ago, they still maintain a “Hash Room”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Band’s singing drummer Levon Helm would be 77 if he hadn’t passed in 2012.
Mott the Hoople keyboard player Verden Allen is 73.
The Guess Who and later BTO drummer Garry Peterson is 72.
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era lead guitarist Mick Ronson, who also played later with Mott the Hoople and had a long collaboration with it’s leader Ian Hunter before becoming a record producer ( While living in Vancouver BC in the 80’s made an album for Seattle band The Visible Targets) would be 71 if he hadn’t passed at age 46. He’s #41 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 guitarists of all time list.
Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks is 69.