Ray Charles had his first recording session for Atlantic today in 1952, not long after leaving Seattle where he had arrived at age 17 in order to get as far away from his native Florida as possible. Here he had begun playing jazz clubs with a 14 year old Quincy Jones.
Rockabilly guitarist Eddie Cochran signed with Liberty records today in 1956, eventually giving them three Top 40 hits: Summertime Blues, C’mon Everybody, and the song that made John Lennon invite Paul McCartney to play with him because he knew all the words…20 Flight Rock.
Led Zeppelin played their second show ever today in 1968 in Denmark, again due to prior contractual obligations as The New Yardbirds. Opening acts included The Beatnicks, and a topless female go-go act called The Ladybirds.
The Beatles appeared on David Frost’s TV show Frost On Sunday today in 1968, playing their new song Hey Jude in front of an audience of invited guests.
Two members of Paul McCartney’s Wings quit today in 1977: Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch left to help reform The Small Faces, and drummer Joe English left to form Sea Level.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, the Grateful Dead’s original keyboard player, would be 67. He joined what Kurt Cobain’s Mom would later call “That Stupid Club” of musicians dead at 27 in 1973.
E.L.O. bass player Kelly Groucutt would be 66. He died three years ago of a heart attack.
The Cars bass player and singer Ben Orr would be 65. He died of cancer at 53.