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Though it was none of their birthdays, The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1968, recording 20 takes of Birthday for The White Album. The song was largely made up on the spot, though they may have got some inspiration when they ducked out of the studio and went to Paul McCartney’s place to watch the 1956 Jane Mansfield rock and roll movie The Girl Can’t Help It.

Jimi Hendrix died at 27 early this morning in 1970 at girlfriend Monika Danneman’s flat at the Samarkand Hotel in Notting Hill, London. He’d been at a party the night before and supposedly taken 9 of her prescribed sleeping pills, a particularly strong Belgian brand, which kept him from waking up when he vomited mostly red wine. But controversy and conspiracy theories have proliferated since then. Danneman said that Jimi was breathing but unresponsive when put in an Ambulance, and that she rode with him to the hospital, but the ambulance crew later said she wasn’t even there, and they, the police, and two doctors who attended him made no mention of wine. Eric Burdon was on the BBC later that day calling it a suicide, based on lyrics found in the flat, but former Animals roadie James “Tappy” Wright claimed in his 2009 book that Hendrix’s manager Mike Jeffery admitted to him that he’d had him killed because he wanted to end his management contract. There are other theories as well:

The Who’s fifth studio album Who’s Next? went to number one in England today in 1971, the only one of theirs to do so. A photograph of the band having emptied their bladders on a large concrete piling (an homage to the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey) sticking out of a slag heap at the Easington Colliery (the photographer later said that several of the band were unable to produce, and the urine-stains were actually rainwater) was chosen over other designs including photos of obese naked women and a shot of drummer Keith Moon in a wig dressed in black lingerie and holding a whip (that photo was later used by Decca in promotions for the album).

Pink Floyd became the first rock act to play at Switzerland’s Classical Music Festival at Montreaux today in 1971.

KISS appeared in public without their trademark makeup for the first time today in 1983 in an MTV interview promoting their new album Lick It Up.

David Bowie won best video at the first-ever MTV Awards tonight in 1984 for China Girl, a song he and Iggy Pop had written together in Berlin for 1977’s Iggy album The Idiot.

Jimmy Page was in an English recording studio today in 1984, working with a singer he’d once considered for Led Zeppelin, Paul Rogers, as The Firm.

Julian Lennon made the winning bid of almost $40,000 at Sotheby’s today in 1996 for Paul McCartney’s recording notes for a song he found out 20 years later was about him. Paul had supposedly written Hey Jude (originally Hey Jules) on the way to visit him and his mother Cynthia shortly after John divorced her for Yoko Ono. Julian has said that when he was a kid he was closer to Paul than to his father.

The 18th Farm Aid concert took place at the one-year-old White River Amphitheater on Muckleshoot land near Auburn today in 2004, with Farm Aid founders Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson joined by Dave Matthews, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Guitarist and songwriter Kerry Livgren of Kansas is 63.

The Ramones bass player Dee Dee Ramone (Doug Colvin) would be 61. He died of a heroin overdose at age 50, and is buried near bandmate guitarist Johnny Ramone at a cemetery in Hollywood.

 

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