The Quarry Men were at home in Liverpool today in 1959, auditioning for the Carol Levis Show, when they decided to change their name to Johnny and the Moondogs. The Johnny in question would be band leader Johnny Lennon. He and his bandmates Paul McCartney and George Harrison would play only three or four shows under this name with whatever drummers they could get (or without one), before bringing John’s art-school friend Stu Sutcliffe into the band who suggested another name change as a tribute to Buddy Holly’s Crickets: The Beat-als.
Having changed the spelling of their band name, The Beatles arrived at London’s Heathrow airport today in 1963 from a tour of Sweden to throngs of screaming fans. An American TV host who happened to be there, Ed Sullivan, was struck by their popularity, and decided to look into booking them on his show.
An R&B singer who’d honed his chops in Seattle in the 50’s, Ray Charles, was arrested at Boston’s Logan airport for possession of heroin today in 1964. It was his third arrest, he’d been nailed in ’58 and ’61 as well, but managed to avoid prison by agreeing to rehabilitate at a clinic in Los Angeles, but spent all of ’66 on parole.
The Who played for the first and only time tonight in 1965 at the home of The Beatles, Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was released from London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison after serving one day of his sentence for cannabis possession today in 1967. Seven Stones fans protesting his incarceration outside the prison were arrested for obstructing police.
Iggy Pop and his band The Stooges played their first live show tonight in 1967 at a Halloween party in their native Detroit. The band would continue together until 1974, and were not commercially successful during that time, but their influence and popularity would snowball from the time Iggy met David Bowie in 1971, and they’d become a household name by the time they reunited for a tour (including a sold-out Memorial Stadium Bumbershoot performance) in 2003.
Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas married Easy Rider actor Dennis Hopper today in 1970. The marriage lasted all of 8 days.
Led Zeppelin threw a massive media party tonight in 1974 to launch their own record label, Swan Song, in south suburban London at the Chislehurst Caves. A chalk and flint mine from 1250 ’til the 1830’s, the man-dug “caves” had been used to grow mushrooms, served as an air-raid shelter during WWII, and been host to rock shows by Pink Floyd, Status Quo, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix in the 60’s. Guests enjoyed drinks served by nuns in suspenders, a naked woman in a coffin covered in jelly, and naked male wrestlers going at it in recesses of the caves. Labelmates Bad Company, Maggie Bell, and The Pretty Things celebrated the release of the Pretty Things new album Silk Torpedo.
Roger Waters was in court today in 1986, attempting to stop David Gilmore and Nick Mason from recording and touring under the name Pink Floyd.
The very first MTV “Unplugged” session was recorded today in 1989 with British band Squeeze.
Billy Idol was wrapping up his Charmed Life tour at the Paramount Theater in Seattle tonight in 1990, when he thought it might be fun to pull a prank on opening band Faith No More: He dumped some 600 dead fish in their dressing room. They responded by walking on stage naked during Billy’s set.
Lead guitarist Slash announced that he was no longer a member of Guns-N-Roses today in 1996, and that he and singer W. Axl Rose had been civil toward each other maybe twice since 1994.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Argent singer and guitarist Russ Ballard is 66.
U2’s drummer and the man who started the band by placing a “drummer seeks musicians to form band” ad on a school bulletin board, Larry Mullen Jr. is 50.
Motörhead’s drummer Mikkey Dee is 48.