It was tonight in 1964 that The Beatles played the first-ever rock show at the former Washington State Pavilion from the World’s Fair two years earlier, now called the Seattle Center Coliseum. Some two thousand fans had met them at Boeing Field, and their limousine had been nearly crushed going to and from the Edgewater Inn where they fished from the window of what ever since has been known as “The Beatles Suite“. The next day The Seattle Times ran a feature article under the headline “Truly Frightening” in which a local psychologist lamented the hysteria the Fab Four had whipped the local girls into. They’d be back on their 1966 tour, and Paul McCartney would be back to play the first-ever rock shows in The Kingdome with Wings in 1976 and at Safeco Field in 2013 with his own band and with the surviving members of Nirvana.
The Rolling Stones started a three-week run at #1 on the U.S. album charts today in 1965 with their 4th release in our country, Out Of Our Heads. Mostly made up of soul covers, it included 3 songs credited to Jagger/Richards, and one, The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man, written by “Nanker/Phelge“, a pseudonym used to distribute royalties to the whole band, including keyboard player and tour manager Ian Stewart. The Phelge part of the name came from one of their roommates, Jimmy Phelge, while a “Nanker” is a facial contortion made by pulling down at the corners of the eyes while pushing up the nose with the fingers, particularly favored by Brian Jones.
The Beatles played two shows today in 1966, first at the Cincinnati Reds’ Crosley Field, making up the rained out show from the day before, then flying to St. Louis to play at the Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, where unlike Crosley promoters had erected a heavy tarp over the stage so they could play during yet another torrential rainstorm. Paul McCartney found the setting particularly depressing, and finally agreed with the others that playing live shows wasn’t worth the effort. They would play just 5 more shows, including two in one day at the Seattle Center Coliseum, and then become a studio band exclusively.
The Doors started work on their second album Strange Days today in 1967 at Sunset Sound Recorders studios in Hollywood. Released in late September, it would eventually hit #3 on the U.S. album charts, but it’s producer Paul Rothchild considered it a failure, saying “We all thought it was the best album. Significantly it was also the one with the weakest sales. We were confident it was going to be bigger than anything The Beatles had done, but there was no single. The record died on us”, which of course is not true at all: Strange Days, People Are Strange, When The Music’s Over, and Love Me Two Times are played nearly every day on Classic Rock stations worldwide, and the record would sell over 9 million copies.
The Jefferson Airplane played a show in Akron Ohio tonight in 1972, and when singer Grace Slick referred to the heavy-handed police at the show as “Pigs”, she was maced and a scuffle broke out on stage resulting in the arrest of bass player Jack Casady.
U2 singer Bono Vox married Alison Stewart today in 1982 at a church in Raheny Ireland with bass player Adam Clayton as best man. They’d been together since 1975, Ali took Bono’s real last name Hewson, and unlike a lot of rock star marriages, the two are still married and have produced four kids.
The Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone underwent four hours of brain surgery today in 1983 after having been found unconscious in a New York City street after an apparent fight. He would recover, but die of prostate cancer in 2004 at age 55.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Kenny Rogers is 79. Mostly known as a country singer, he started out in the mid 50’s playing rockabilly, then moved on to psychedelic pop with his band The First Edition.
Joe Strummer (real name John Mellor), guitarist, singer, and songwriter for The Clash would be 65 if he hadn’t died of a heart attack at age 50.