Many of us are familiar with the phrase “Desert Island Discs“, which we take to mean the small amount of music we would take with us were we to be marooned on a desert island. The phrase is rooted in a BBC radio programme that started today in 1942: Desert Island Discs, was conceived by it’s host Roy Plomley, and still runs today (now on it’s 4th host, as Plomley died in 1985). Each week a celebrity guest “castaway” would select 8 pieces of music (which were played on the show), one book (discussed and/or excerpted on the show), and one luxury item to take with them, which had to be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or communicating with the world outside. The celebrity guests, from all over the English speaking world, were actors, authors, artists, athletes, politicians, and musicians, but none from rock and roll until Paul McCartney came on in 1982. His songs were mostly old American records he’d listened to in the early Beatle days, and Beautiful Boy from John Lennon’s last record Double Fantasy, his book was a coffee table of his wife Linda’s photographs, and his luxury item was a guitar.

Bob Dylan had long wanted to meet his idol, folk singer Woodie Guthrie, and today in 1961 the dream came true. Guthrie was on weekend release from a hospital where he was being treated for Huntington’s disease, which among other things can leave sufferers unable to speak. Dylan told him he loved his songs so much ” I was a Woodie Guthrie jukebox”. Woodie handed Bob a card, which read “I ain’t dead yet.”

The Beatles were in Paris France today in 1964, recording in German. It would be their only studio recording session outside England, and at the urging of EMI’s West German division, they were overdubbing the vocals to I Want To Hold Your Hand (Komm, Gib Mir Diene Hand) and She Loves You (Sie Leibt Dich) in the language they really hadn’t learned all that much of in all that time they’d spent in Hamburg.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who shared a bill at the Saville theater in London tonight in 1967, paying tribute to the Beatles late manager Brian Epstein. The show would have a profound effect on a 20 year old budding guitarist in the audience: Brian May would go on to start Queen.

For the second night in a row, Doors frontman Jim Morrison was arrested in Las Vegas tonight in 1968. This time, after a set at the Pussy Cat-A-Go-Go, Jim taunted an uptight security guard in the parking lot, pretending to smoke a joint. Police were summoned to the resulting punch-up, and Jim was charged with public drunkenness, vagrancy, and failure to produce sufficient identification.

16 year old Brenda Spencer killed two people and wounded nine others today in 1979 when she opened fire on the elementary school across the street from  her house in San Diego with the .22 rifle her father had given her for Christmas. When asked why she did it, her reply “I don’t like Mondays” would become the only hit for Bob Geldoff’s Boomtown Rats.

One of the most prolific songwriters of the Chess Records Chicago blues scene, Willie Dixon, died of heart failure at age 76 today in 1992. Songs he wrote in the 50’s were covered by, and shaped the sound of performers like The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix,  Cream, Aerosmith, Foghat, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, and many many more.

Sly Stone filed a lawsuit against his former manager Jerry Goldstein today in 2010, seeking $50 million in stolen royalties over the course of 20 years. Goldstein filed a counter-suit, claiming slander over Sly’s rant on stage at the Coachella festival. The case has still not been settled, and some reports describe Sly as homeless, living in a camper in Los Angeles.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

The Rolling Stones first manager, who conceived their “bad boy” image, introduced them to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and convinced Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that they could write their own songs, Andrew Loog Oldham is 68.

Uriah Heep’s lead singer David Byron would be 66, he died at age 38 of alcohol related organ failure.

The Ramones drummer and last surviving member of the original lineup, Tommy Ramone (Thomas Erdelyi), is 61.

Queensryche’s bass player Eddie Jackson is 51.


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