Police in Liverpool were called to the Cavern Club today in 1966, to haul off over 100 music fans who had barricaded themselves inside to protest the club’s impending closure over their £10,000 debt. It was the first of many protests to save the music venue that opened in 1957, and saw a who’s who of British Rock (including The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Who, Elton John, Queen, and of course The band that made the place famous) until 1973, when the last band to grace the stage was the Dutch group Focus. The protest that followed that closure was less successful, and the Cavern was filled in as part of the Merseyrail commuter train project, but in 1984 a wealthy English Premier League Soccer player with corporate backers rebuilt it on about 50% of the original site, using bricks from the original club. It’s now one of England’s most important musical and historical sites, hosting some 40 live bands a week (some tributes, but mostly original), and music fans from all over the world. Paul McCartney last played there in 1999, and it now regularly hosts “secret shows” that are warm-ups for touring bands like Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys.
Fleetwood Mac founding guitarist Peter Green told England’s New Musical Express that he planned to give all his money away today in 1970. He’d been doing large amounts of LSD, would ditch the band’s European tour in March to hang out at a commune in Munich, and finally quit after one last show in May. He was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic and sent to a mental hospital where he was given electroconvulsive therapy, but it didn’t instill any love of money. In 1977 he was arrested for threatening his accountant with a shotgun because he wouldn’t stop sending him checks. #38 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 Greatest guitar-slinger list returned to performing in 1979, but has repeatedly rebuffed the Gibson guitar company’s efforts to make a Peter Green model Les Paul.
Led Zeppelin played a show in Copenhagen tonight in 1970 under the name The Nobs. They were being sued by Eva Von Zeppelin who was disgusted at their use of the name of her Grandfather, the rigid airship pioneer. “Nob”, of course is British slang for another sort of sometimes-rigid…um, long thing. The case was eventually dismissed.
George Harrison crashed his “motor” as the Brits like to call their cars today in 1972. He and wife Patti were injured, and she was knocked unconscious for several days.
Ray Charles was playing a show tonight in 1977, when he was attacked by an audience member who tried to strangle him with a rope. He got much better treatment here in Seattle, when he started out playing jazz clubs with Quincy Jones in the 50’s.
The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show’s long standing record of being the most-watched event in television history was eclipsed tonight in 1983 when more than 105 million viewers tuned in for the final episode of M*A*S*H.
Uriah Heep singer David Byron was killed by his epilepsy today in 1985 at age 38.
Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson was at Buckingham Palace today in 2008, being made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Tull fan Prince Charles.
Canadian-born Neil Young made a surprise appearance at the closing ceremonies of Vancouver’s Winter Olympics tonight in 2010, playing his song Long May You Run at the B.C. Place as the Olympic Flame was extinguished.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rolling Stones founding guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones would be 71. He became one of the first members of what Kurt Cobain’s Mom would later call “that stupid club” when he was found at the bottom of his swimming pool at age 27 after a night of “misadventure” by his Swedish girlfriend. Brian had a unique ability to pick up any instrument laying around the studio and be able to play it fairly well in a half-hour or so, and used harmonica, piano, keyboards, sitar, recorder, appalachian dulcimer, theremin, saxophone, bagpipes, oboe, clarinet, koto, trumpet, marimba, xylophone, cello, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, accordion, glockenspiel, harp, tambura, tabla drums, French horn, trombone, ukulele, kazoo, auto-harp, vibraphone, tuba, and his voice on Stones recordings . Bassist Bill Wyman later said, “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs. … Very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it — highly intelligent — and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away.”
Guitarist and singer Donnie Iris (Dominic Ierace) is 70. He had hits in the 60’s with The Jaggerz (The Rapper), in the 70’s with Wild Cherry (Play That Funky Music White Boy), and 80’s as a solo artist (Ah Leah).
Tommy James and the Shondells keyboard player Ronnie Rosman is 68.
B-52’s singer Cindy Wilson is 56, and somewhere in the great hereafter still making John Lennon wonder why people liked hearing her and bandmate Kate Pierson make screeching noises and not Yoko Ono.