Mona Best opened the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool tonight in 1959. She’d bought the large house after pawning all her family jewelry and winning a bet on a race horse, and decided to turn the coal cellar into a members-only nightclub for her sons Pete and Rory after seeing a TV report on the 2i’s Coffee Bar in London where a couple of semi-famous singers had been “discovered”. She’d planned on the spot being a place where friends could meet and listen to rock and roll music (the Cavern Club was still jazz-only at the time), buy snacks, soft drinks, and coffee from an espresso machine, and had booked the Les Stewart Quartet to play the opening night, but they broke up. The Quartet’s guitarist George Harrison mentioned that he’d been playing with another band, The Quarrymen, that would love to play, and Mona agreed, but said she needed to finish painting the basement first. So George, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ken Brown grabbed brushes and got to work, and then played the debut show to some 300 club members. The Quarrymen would become The Beatles, Mona’s son Pete would become their drummer, and Mona would briefly manage the band while carrying on a cougaresque affair with their roadie Neil Aspinall, but despite the club’s membership growing to over 1000 Liverpool teenagers and making money, Mona closed it in 1962 after Ringo Starr replaced her son. She died in 1988, and in 2006 the house was granted English Heritage “Blue Plaque” status and is now a tourist attraction, with the original paint job, including a silhouette of John Lennon painted by his future first wife Cynthia, intact to this day.
By now the biggest band in the world, The Beatles played their last show for a paying audience at Candlestick Park in San Francisco today in 1966. Knowing what the audience didn’t, they brought their own cameras on stage to take pictures of the historic event in front of a sold out crowd of 25,000. Interestingly, on their ’66 tour they played exactly no songs from their latest album Revolver.
Three people were arrested at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis Tennessee today in 1977 for attempting to steal the body of Elvis Presley, who’d died on August 16th. As a result his body and that of his mother Gladys were moved behind the fence of Graceland.
Def Leppard had their first #1 hit album when Hysteria topped the British album charts today in 1987. It would take almost another full year to hit that spot in the U.S.
77 year old Fats Domino was airlifted from his lower 9th ward home in New Orleans by a Coast Guard helicopter as Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city today in 2005, killing nearly 200 people. The mayor and Federal officials had ordered an evacuation, but many couldn’t afford to leave, and Fats had decided to stay because his wife was in poor health. The lower 9th ward was the hardest hit, and many feared Domino had been killed: Someone had painted “RIP Fats…You Will Be Missed” on his house, but no one knew he’d been rescued until September 1st.
The nutter who loved John Lennon so much he shot him to death outside his New York apartment building in front of his wife, Mark David Chapman was denied parole for the 9th time today in 2016. Sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the 1980 murder, he first became eligible for parole in 2000, and has been denied every two years since, with the Parole board saying releasing him would undermine respect for the law, but Yoko Ono has also expressed concern for Chapman, saying if he were released he would likely be killed by angry Lennon fans. Each time the New York Parole Board receives hundreds of letters demanding he never be set free, but this time apparently got 5 letters in favor of release, and while the writers are not identified, one claims to be the pastor of a church in Florida who claims Chapman has “Found Jesus”.
See related article here.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Chris Copping, a former member of Robin Trower’s old band The Paramounts who at his invitation replaced Matthew Fisher in Procul Harum on organ, is 72.
Blue Öyster Cult’s early 80’s drummer Rick Downey is 64.
The “King of Pop”, the most successful performer of all time, and the one time owner of most of The Beatles recorded catalog Michael Jackson would be 59 if he hadn’t died in 2009.