The Rolling Stones were playing the Royal Albert Hall in London tonight in 1966 at the start of a 12 date tour, their biggest yet, with opening acts Long John Baldry, Ike and Tina Turner, and The Yardbirds, who at this point sported Jeff Beck on lead guitar and Jimmy Page on bass. In the audience was Italian film director Michaelangelo Antonioni, who was working on a crime drama set in “Swingin’ London” to be called Blow Up, and John Entwhistle and Keith Moon of The Who, who had had already turned him down: He was fascinated by Pete Townsend’s guitar-smashing schtick, and wanted it in his film. He’d settled on a band called The In Crowd, which featured future Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who recalled “We went on the set and started preparing for that guitar-smashing scene in the club. They even went as far as making a bunch of Gibson ES175 replicas…and then (after the Stones show) we got dropped for The Yardbirds, who were a bigger name. That’s why you see Jeff Beck smashing my guitar rather than his”.
Memphis band The Box Tops started a 4-week run at #1 on the U.S. charts with The Letter today in 1967. They wouldn’t have another major hit, and broke up in 1970, but then 17 year old lead singer Alex Chilton would start one of those bands with a relatively small but cultish audience who all went out and started their own bands, Memphis’ Big Star, who’s only national hit came when Out In The Street, as covered by Cheap Trick was used as the theme song to That 70’s Show, but the band would be the focus of numerous reissues, tribute concerts (often featuring original members along with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the great but not grungy enough for the grunge era Bellingham/Seattle band The Posies), and a documentary from 2012, two years after Chilton died of a heart attack, called Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road studios today in 1968 recording a song John Lennon had written after producer George Martin showed him an American gun magazine. John had taken the title, Happiness Is A Warm Gun right off the cover, and discussed America’s fascination with firearms that day with an American visitor to the studio that day, Jim Morrison of The Doors.
The Rolling Stones played a show at the Olympia theater in Paris tonight in 1970, and at an after-show party Mick Jagger met exotic Nicaraguan actress and model Bianca Perez-Mora Macias who would become his first wife in May while she was four months pregnant with daughter Jade. She would file for divorce in 1978, citing Mick’s adultery with Texas-born model Jerry Hall, but would later say “My marriage ended on my wedding day”.
Reggae star Bob Marley collapsed on stage at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh tonight in 1980. He’d been diagnosed with cancer three years earlier, but had ignored his doctor’s advice to have the melanoma-stricken toe amputated and continued to tour, and after collapsing while jogging in New York’s central park ignored pleas to cancel the current tour, and tonight’s show would end up being his last. The cancer would finally kill him in May.
Neil Young was named Artist of the Year at the 5th annual Americana Honors and Awards ceremony in Nashville tonight in 2006 for his 28th studio album Living With War, an old-school collection of protest songs focusing on the presidential administration of George W. Bush released earlier that year that would win Grammy and Juno awards and sell over a million copies despite being actively ignored in the so-called liberal media.
The heart of Hollywood Boulevard was shut down by police today in 2013 so that 10,000 folks could enjoy a 15 song set from Sir Paul McCartney from the marque of the El Capitan Theater, immediately following the taping of that night’s ABC late show (hosted by a former KZOK disc jockey!) Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Ray Charles would be 87 if he hadn’t died at 73. He had moved to Seattle in 1947 from his native Florida, picked as it was the farthest place away from that hell-hole on the map, and met and played jazz clubs with future uber-producer Quincy Jones before becoming a household name.
Toni Basil is 74. Before having a worldwide hit with the “new wave” song Mickey in 1982, she started as a dancer and choreographer for ABC’s teen dance show Shindig!, the 1964 concert movie The T.A.M.I. Show, which helped launch the careers of The Rolling Stones and James Brown, The Monkees ’68 movie Head, and directed and choreographed videos for The Talking Heads among others.
Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen is 68.