The Beatles were doing a photo shoot today in 1964, just days away from heading down under to Australia and New Zealand for the first time, when Ringo noticed his throat hurt badly enough he should see a doctor. Turns out he had tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin met immediately to discus cancelation vs. stand-in drummer, and Martin suggested studio musician Jimmy Nicol, who he’d just recorded with crooner Tommy Quickly and mentioned he’d played on a budget Beatles-covers album called Teenager’s Choice. Nicol later remembered “I was having a bit of a lie-down after lunch when the phone rang”. He would be given the requisite mop-top haircut, put on Ringo’s suit (the pants were too short), and play his first show with them, a warm-up gig in Copenhagen just 27 hours later.
The Doors released their song Light My Fire as a single today in 1967. It would go straight to #1, and land them a spot on CBS’s Ed Sullivan Show, where the show’s producers would ask Jim Morrison to change the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” to “…”get much better” as many of the show’s conservative sponsors were uncomfortable with the supposed drug reference. Jim happily agreed, but when the show went live, he put a little emphasis on the original lyric as he glared into the camera. Sullivan was furious, and swore the band would never play his show again. When told this by a producer, Jim replied “Hey man…we just did the Ed Sullivan show”.
The Kinks frontman and songwriter Ray Davies flew from New York back to London today in 1970 to record one word. Their huge new hit Lola contained the words “Coca Cola”, and the government-owned British Broadcasting Corporation would not allow what the movie industry now calls “product placement”, so he changed it to “Cherry Cola”.
The Rolling Stones were just North of us in Vancouver B.C. tonight in 1972, starting their 7th North American tour at the Pacific Coliseum. They 32-date tour would make them a then world record $4 million, a mark the band has since eclipsed many times over. Their take for the two shows at last year’s sold-out “Desert Trip” weekends in Rocktober, a reported $7 million for each show.
Derek and The Dominoes and session drummer Jim Gordon, who’d played with George Harrison, John Lennon , Eric Clapton, Harry Nilsson, The Beach Boys, and many others, killed his mother today in 1983, beating her with a hammer and stabbing her repeatedly. It wasn’t until his trial a year later that he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, but the judge would not allow an insanity plea, and Jim was sentenced to 16-years-to-life, and at 71 is still incarcerated in a psychiatric prison in California.
Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, Brian Wilson, and for the love of god Ozzy Osbourne all performed for her majesty Queen Elizabeth II outside at Buckingham Palace for her Jubilee tonight in 2002. The Queen was not amused, and may not have payed attention.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
“Beat Poet” and political activist Alan Ginsburg would be 91, he died at age 70, but not before influencing songwriters from Bob Dylan (Ginsberg helped write the cue cards he flips through in the Subterranean Homesick Blues video, and can be seen standing in the background) to Kurt Cobain.
Mott The Hoople frontman and solo artist Ian Hunter is 78.
Soul singer, multi-instrumentalist, and Rock Hall inductee Curtis Mayfield would be 76, he died from diabetes at age 57.
Spokane-born drummer Michael Clarke of The Byrds (David Crosby found him playing bongos on the beach in California) and The Flying Burrito Brothers would be 71. He died of alcohol-related liver failure at age 47.
The Stooges original bass player Dave Alexander would be 70 had he not become another member of the “27 Club” after dying of pancreatitis from heavy drinking.
T Rex drummer Mickey Finn would be 69 had he not died 10 years earlier of alcohol related liver failure.
Rock’s first famous female bass player Suzi Quatro is 67, a fine performer mostly remembered as Leather Tuscadero from Happy Days.
Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player Billy Powell would be 66, he died of a heart attack at 56.
Today’s Birthday’s takeaway…Lay off the sauce!