The Famous Flames were at a radio station in Macon, Georgia today in 1955, recording a demo of their song Please Please Please with new lead singer James Brown. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selected it’s first inductees in 1986, James Brown made the list, but the rest of the band did not, an oversight that was corrected last year when the rock hall finally somehow realized that The Famous Flames, along with The Crickets (Buddy Holly), The Blue Caps (Gene Vincent), The Comets (Bill Haley), The Miracles (Smokey Robinson), and Thee Midnighters (Hank Ballard) were bands whose singers had gone on to fame and fortune in part thanks to the efforts of these other musicians.
Elvis Presley bought a brand new Harley Davidson FLH today in 1956, and spent the day riding it around Memphis with actress Natalie Wood on the back.
Jimmy Page played one of his first gigs as a studio musician where he was allowed to make up his own guitar riffs today in 1963, on Kathy Kirby’s Secret Love. He later wrote that she was gorgeous and inspired his playing, but complained that she lived with an orchestra leader who was 40 years older than her.
A Rolling Stones concert in Rochester, NY tonight in 1965 went badly when 3500 fans stormed the stage just 7 minutes into the show. After three attempts to restore order, the Police pulled the plug on the show, with the Stones having played almost all of 6 songs.
The Doors started a month-long engagement at the Ondine Discotheque in New York City tonight in 1966. They played all of it, Jim Morrison apparently having learned his lesson after being fired from a previous residency at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood after a profanity-heavy version of their song The End.
George Harrison became the first of The Beatles to release a solo album today in 1968, Wonderwall Music on The Beatles Apple label. The musical score to a film called Wonderwall, the music was almost entirely instrumental, with contributions from Eric Clapton (credited as Eddie Clayton), Ringo Starr (credited as Richie Snare), the recently deceased studio guitar great Big Jim Sullivan, and though he was not credited, Peter Tork of The Monkees played a banjo he’d borrowed from Paul McCartney.
Fairport Convention guitarist Iain Matthew’s new band Matthew’s Southern Comfort went to #1 in England today in 1970 with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock, a song she had written about the festival she was supposed to play but bailed on to appear on The Tonight Show. She based the lyrics on TV news reports on the event watched from her hotel room, and later stories told by her then-boyfriend Graham Nash, who had an even bigger hit with the song with Crosby, stills, and Nash.
U2 took advantage of the newfangled interwebs today in 1996, setting up a video-streaming link from their Dublin warehouse/recording studio so fans could watch them make their Pop album.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Former US Army Green Beret combat medic Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler would be 72. He wrote his hit song The Ballad Of The Green Berets with the encouragement of writer Robin Moore, who’s book The Green Berets was later made into the John Wayne movie of the same name. While in a hospital recovering from a feces-smeared punji stick infection suffered in Vietnam, he saw Senator Robert Kennedy dedicate the new JFK Center for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg, and promised that if he recovered he would donate all proceeds from the song. He recovered fully and kept his promise, but was shot in a taxi in Guatemala City in the mid 80’s, with conflicting reports stating his death was the result of suicide, an accident while showing off to a girlfriend, or an assassination that was revenge for training and arming Nicaraguan Contras.
Blind Faith and Traffic bass player Ric Grech would be 66. He died of alcohol-related kidney and liver failure at 43.
America co-founding guitarist and singer Dan Peek would be 62. He died two years ago at home, with no cause of death ever being released.
Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen is 49. After he lost his left arm when he crashed his Corvette in 1984, the band stuck with him and his specially-designed electronic drum kit, earning Def Leppard the respect and admiration of drummers worldwide.