Rockabilly star Johnny Horton was trying to quit drinking, and was making the 220 mile drive back home to Shreveport, LA tonight in 1960 when his car was hit by a drunk driver in a pickup. Horton was killed, his manager suffered head injuries, and a producer riding with them lost a leg, while the 19 year old in the pickup was unscathed.

Jimmy Page laid down an organ part for a band he was producing today in 1965, Les Fleur De Lys’ Moondreams. Working in house as head producer for Immediate Records, Page nowadays notes that this record is extremely rare, but he doesn’t know if it was because it didn’t sell well, only that he never got a shilling in royalty payments.

The Monkees had their first number one hit today in 1966 with Last Train To Clarksville. Written by the songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and B0bby Hart, the vocal tracks they recorded were overdubbed by Mickey Dolenz, and it wasn’t for some time that producer Don Kirshner admitted that the band hadn’t played any of the instruments. By the 1970’s Mickey had learned to play drums, and he and Davy Jones toured with Boyce and Hart, becoming among other things the first American rock band to play in Thailand.

Not yet a disco king, Bee Gee Robin Gibb was on a train in Southeast London when it crashed today in 1967, killing 49 and injuring 78. Gibb was lucky, being treated for shock and released.

Elvis Presley kicked off a 15 date comeback tour tonight in 1971 at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Minneapolis. Arena announcer Al Dvorin was asked to dispel the crowd at the end of the show as they were all waiting for an encore The King wasn’t going to do, and he uttered a phrase that has been echoed thousands of times since: “Elvis has left the building!”

The manager of the Virgin Records store in Nottingham, England was arrested today in 1977 for displaying a large poster advertising the Sex Pistols album, Never Mind The Bollocks. Record stores had been warned they faced fines and arrest under a 1898 indecent advertising act.

Billy Joel went to number one today in 1983 with a song he’d started writing about his supermodel girlfriend Elle Macpherson, but then changed to be about his supermodel wife Christie Brinkley.

The Clash’s drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon was arrested today in 1983 for walking his dog while drunk on London’s Fulham Road. Why he got his dog drunk, we’ll never know.

Guitarist Link Wray, largely credited with inventing the “power chord” and one of the first to use electric-tube distortion as an effect and cited as a major influence by Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, died at 76 today in 2005. His 1958 top-20 instrumental single Rumble was banned by several American radio stations on the ground that it promoted juvenile delinquency despite having no lyrics.

Rolling Stone Keith Richards’ autobiography Life was at #1 on the New York Times nonfiction best seller list today in 2010.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Ike Turner, who’s 1951 single Rocket 88 is considered by many to be the first-ever rock and roll song, would be 81. He died at 76 in 2007 of a cocaine-aided heart attack.

Paul Simon’s singing partner Art Garfunkel is 71.

Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, good friends with and a huge influence on Keith Richards among others, would be 66. He OD’d at 26 at Joshua Tree National Monument in the California desert where a couple of friends unsuccessfully tried to cremate him.

Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone is 65.

Canadian guitarist-singer-songwriter Bryan Adams is 53.


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