By Scott Vanderpool

The Beatles were at EMI Studios in London today in 1964, re-recording Can’t Buy Me Love, on George Harrison’s 21st birthday. They’d already recorded the track at a studio in Paris, but it just didn’t sound right without George Martin twiddling the knobs. They also got the B-side done, You Can’t Do That, and one more song, I Should Have Known Better.

A year later The Beatles were in the Bahamas, which was standing in for India in their second film 8 Arms To Hold You, which would be changed to Help! just before its release. John Lennon later said they felt like extras in their own movie. “With A Hard Days Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, (director) Dick Lester didn’t tell us what it was all about”. Ringo Starr later added, “A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun. …if you look at pictures of us, you can see a lot of red-eyed shots”.

The Rolling Stones played their brand new single, The Last Time, on Britain’s Ready Steady Go! TV program tonight in 1965.

Pink Floyd played a show at the Ricky Tick club in West London tonight in 1967, while in North London, the Yardbirds played at a re-created Ricky Tick club on a soundstage at MGM’s studios for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blowup. Jeff Beck was having trouble with his guitar amp, and ended up smashing his guitar in frustration, which was kept in the movie.

The Beatles were back at EMI’s studios in London, (soon to be known as “Abbey Road” because of the album they were working on) today in 1969, for George Harrison’s 26th birthday, recording what would become his biggest hit as a Beatle. His ex-wife Patti Boyd would later say he had written the Something for her, but George said he had lifted the first line, “Something in the way she moves” from an unrelated song by Apple artist James Taylor,  had been thinking of Ray Charles when he came up with the melody, and while developing the rest of the lyrics sang “Attracts me like a Cauliflower” as a placeholder-lyric. It would go on to become the second-most covered Beatles song behind Paul’s Yesterday, even covered by it’s inspiration, Ray Charles. Frank Sinatra, who just a few years earlier had publicly called the Beatles degenerates, called it “The greatest love song of the last 50 years”.

Led Zeppelin played a show in Göteborg, Sweden tonight in 1970. When Jimmy Page went into the instrumental White Summer, a fan in the audience decided to accompany him on harmonica. When he finished, Page went over and spat on the man.

Led Zeppelin played for the first time in New Zealand tonight in 1972, at the Western Springs Stadium in Auckland, in front of over 25,000 fans, the largest concert to date in that island country. A special train was chartered to bring fans in from Wellington. The newspaper the next morning said the show could be heard clearly up to 5 miles away.

Polydor Records signed what would become one of England’s most popular bands to a contract today in 1977. Though they were identified with the burgeoning “punk” scene, The Jam had been playing since 1972 as “mod revivalists”, wearing the same snappy suits favored by The Who and The Small Faces 10 years earlier, listening to the same American R&B records Pete Townsend and Steve Marriott had in their earlier days, playing Rickenbacker guitars through Vox amplifiers as Pete had, and even buying vintage Vespa and Lambretta scooters like the ones featured in The Who’s movie version of Quadrophenia. Britain’s second “mod” movement would be even bigger than the first. Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton, and Rick Buckler were paid all of £6000 ($10,200), and though they would never catch on in America, The Jam’s greatest hits can still be found in any pub in England, Scotland, or Wales.

The Rolling Stones topped a Forbes magazine list of America’s biggest musical moneymakers today in 2004, having made some $212 million in ticket, CD, DVD, and merchandise on their “40 Licks” tour. The three million fans who attended had spent an average of $11 on merchandise alone. Bruce Springsteen was in 2nd place, and The Eagles came in third even though they did not tour that year, making a huge pile of money with their Very Best of The Eagles CD and a Live From Melbourne DVD.

President Barack Obama honored his musical hero, Stevie Wonder, with America’s highest musical honor, the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Award, at a ceremony at the White House today in 2009. Obama said Stevie had been “the Soundtrack to his Youth”, and that his wife Michelle wouldn’t have married him if he hadn’t been a Stevie Wonder fan.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Guitarist #11 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 of All time list, the lead player for the most successful group in musical history, George Harrison, would be 70. He died of lung cancer in 2001. He first auditioned to join The Quarry Men when he was just 14, but leader John Lennon felt he was too young. Paul McCartney arranged a second meeting a year later, when George played the lead to the instrumental Raunchy while they were upstairs on a Liverpool double-decker bus. John was suitably impressed, and he was in. George would have the first solo hits after the Beatles broke up, and once took out a second mortgage on his house in order to finance the Monty Python film Life of Brian.


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