A band made up of mostly brothers from Hawthorne California who named themselves after a popular wool shirt, manly and just warm enough for chilly nights on the L.A. beach made in Pendleton Oregon, had their first ever recording session today in 1961 at Hite Morgan’s recording studio in Los Angeles. The Pendletones would start with a slow ballad cover, Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring, which Morgan was less than impressed with. Though bass player Brian Wilson would later become something of a genius in the studio, it was drummer Dennis Wilson, the only avid surfer in the band that lived just a few miles from SoCal hotspots Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan beaches, who told him they’d written an original song. Surfin’ would be their first hit and establish them as the vanguard of a whole musical movement and one of America’s most popular bands ever, but in December they would learn Candix Records had changed their name to The Beach Boys only when they opened the fist box of singles.
The Beatles were playing Cleveland Ohio tonight in 1964 when a group of fans near the front, foreshadowing the sort of thing that would become common at punk rock shows 20 years later, pushed through police on climbed on stage with the band. The cops were having none of it, and ordered the band off in the middle of a song, but their alert press agent Derek Taylor grabbed the microphone and told the crowd the show would resume once everyone settled down back in their seats, which they promptly did, and the cop’s billy clubs went unbloodied.
The Ford Motor Company became the first major auto manufacturer to offer an 8-Track tape player as an option across their entire vehicle line today in 1965, giving motorists real control over their listening habits for the first time. CBS electronics and Chrysler had come up with the “Highway Hi-Fi” turntable for cars in the 50’s, but they were prone to skipping over every bump in the road and when they compensated by increasing the tension on the tone-arm, it quickly wore out the proprietary records. Reel-To-Reel tapes allowed playback on bumpy roads, but threading the tape in a moving vehicle was impossible, so Southern California entrepreneur Earl “Madman” Muntz had come up with the continuous-loop cartridge, which was perfected by Bill Lear (later of Lear Jet fame). 8-Track tapes would be sold only in auto parts stores at first, and while record labels and stores were quick to meet demand, the format would lose out to the more manageable “Compact Cassette” format within 10 years.
The Beatles were still at work filming their TV Special Magical Mystery Tour today in 1967, with the highlight of today’s sessions being a stop for lunch at a fish-and-chip shoppe in Somerset, where the crew diligently filmed and photographed the band eating.
The Doors soldiered on for a while after his death in 1971, but they’d done it before…forced to go on as a trio at their show in Amsterdam tonight in 1968 after their inebriated singer Jim Morrison had collapsed while dancing to opening act The Jefferson Airplane.
Vice President Spiro Agnew gave a speech tonight in 1970 complaining that American youth were being “brainwashed into a drug culture” by rock and roll music, movies, books, and “underground newspapers”. The most popular here in Seattle at the time was The Helix, edited by now local historian Paul Dorpat, who’s Now and Then feature appears each Sunday in the Seattle Times.
Pink Floyd released their 9th studio album Wish You Were Here today in 1975. Inspired by the mental decline and treatment by the record industry of their founder Syd Barrett, the band had actually got their wish during the recording sessions when Syd showed up at Abbey Road studios for his replacement David Gilmour’s wedding reception, held at the studio’s cantina. Syd had gained a lot of weight, and had shaved all the hair, including eyebrows, off his head, and his former bandmates were horrified when they finally realized who he was.
John Cummings died after a 5 year battle with prostate cancer today in 2004. Better known by his stage name Johnny Ramone, guitarist for the groundbreaking punk band The Ramones, the 55 year old is at #28 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time list.
The Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool became an English Heritage grade II listed building (The blue plaque means it can’t be torn down) today in 2006. Started in the coal cellar of the family home by 34 year old Mona Best in 1959 so her son Pete could play music with his friends in his band The Black Jacks after she’d seen a report on a teen-oriented coffee shop in London on telly. She’d charged kids a half-crown (£.33) each for a membership “to keep out the rough elements”, and booked The Les Stewart Quartet skiffle group (which featured a very young George Harrison) for opening night, but they broke up on the eve of the show, so George suggested some friends he’s soon be playing with, The Quarrymen. Mona agreed but said she hadn’t finished painting, so John Lennon and his girlfriend Cynthia Powell, Paul McCartney, Stu Suttcliffe, George Harrison, and Pete Best all took up brushes and adorned the walls with spiders, dragons, rainbows, stars, and…a beetle. Cynthia painted a silhouette of John. All are there to this day.
Pink Floyd keyboard player Rick Wright died at home from an undisclosed form of cancer today in 2008 at age 65.
Apple Computer released a digital tool today in 2014 that iTunes users could download to remove U2’s 13th studio album Songs of Innocence, which had been automatically loaded for free into their libraries on it’s release just 6 days earlier. Apparently not everyone is a U2 fan, especially a group of musicians who said it was easy for a multi-millionaire band to give away their music, but it set a bad precedent for those who count on every dollar.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
An also-ran band from Liverpool who also played in clubs in Hamburg, The Swinging Blue Jeans guitarist Les Braid would be 80 if he hadn’t passed in 2005. They qualify as one hit wonders.
Ola Brunkert, drummer for Blistering Swedish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band ABBA, would be 71 if he hadn’t been killed falling through a plate glass door at age 61.