The Mannish Boys released their debut single today in 1965. The British band, named for the same Muddy Waters song as their wholly unrelated Los Angeles counterparts, featured an 18 year old David Bowie (then still known as Davie Jones) on lead vocals, and the song I Pity The Fool had nothing to do with Chicago native Laurence “Mr. T” Tureaud, who was only 13 at the time.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler started a 5-Week run at #1 on the charts with his Ballad of the Green Berets. A combat medic with the famed outfit, he suffered a severe injury when he was stabbed with a feces-covered punji stick while on patrol in Vietnam. He’d been encouraged to write the song by The Green Berets author Robin Moore, who’s book was made into the John Wayne movie of the same name. While recuperating from his wound and the resulting infection at Walter Reed military hospital, he saw Senator Bobby Kennedy dedicate the new JFK Center For Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg on TV, and promised himself he would donate the proceeds from his song if he survived. He did.
The Beatles manager Brian Epstein had leased the Seville Theater in London two years earlier to put on plays and, naturally, rock shows. The Sunday night shows every week gained quite a reputation, and tonight’s in 1967 with The Pink Floyd and Jeff Beck, who had just quit The Yardbirds, was no exception.
Led Zeppelin started a 12-date “Thank You” tour for their British fans tonight in 1971, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They played mostly the same small nightclubs they had on their first tour in 1968, and charged the same dirt-cheap admission prices. These were the first live performances of songs from their forthcoming 4th album, including Stairway To Heaven, Black Dog, and Rock and Roll.
Former Animals and Jimi Hendrix Experience manager Michael Jeffery was killed today in 1973 in a mid-air collision over France while he was headed to a London court date. He’d been accused of siphoning off much of Hendrix’s income into offshore bank accounts, and some believe he may have murdered Jimi after taking out a life insurance policy. The allegations have never been proved, but former roadie James “Tappy” Wright claimed in his book that Jeffery told him that he had put the sleeping pills Jimi’s mouth and poured red wine into his windpipe while he was passed out.
Swedish actress, supermodel, and the former Mrs. Peter Sellers Britt Ekland was introduced to Rod Stewart by actress Joan Collins at a Hollywood party tonight in 1975. She gave up her career to carry on a high profile relationship with him while they lived together for 2 years. In 1984 she married Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, who was almost 20 years younger. They divorced in ’92, but she is close friends with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, and remains a fixture in the L.A. rock and roll party scene.
Comedic actor John Belushi was found dead of a heroin and cocaine overdose in his hotel room at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood this morning in 1982. He got his start with Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, and went on to National Lampoon’s Lemmings (A Woodstock parody where he first developed his Joe Cocker impression) and Radio Hour (which in the late 70’s aired here in Seattle on KZOK) before going on to Saturday Night Live and movies including Animal House and The Blues Brothers. Belushi was a pretty good drummer, who often sat in with punk bands like The Dead Boys and Fear. His tombstone reads “I May Be Gone, But Rock And Roll Lives On”.
Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick was arrested…again….today in 1994, for pointing an unloaded shotgun at a police officer who she claimed had come on her property with no explanation. She was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and three months of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for assault with a deadly weapon. Grace was no stranger to brushes with the law, the most famous being an attempt to spike President Richard Nixon’s tea with 600 micrograms of LSD when she was invited to the White House by his daughter Tricia, a classmate from Finch college. Grace was nabbed at the door by the Secret Service, as Nixon had the F.B.I. watching her already.
Viv Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band was killed in a fire at his London flat tonight in 1995 at age 51. His song Death Cab For Cutie, which the band played in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, was used as a band-name by a group from Bellingham who have become quite successful in recent years.
The first episode of The Osbournes, featuring former Black Sabbath singer Ozzy, his manager-wife Sharon, and two of their children swearing at each other, aired on MTV tonight in 2002. Ozzy and Sharon have another daughter, Aimee, who refused to participate in the show and publicly criticized her parents for their antics. Ozzy later said in a BBC interview that “he was stoned during the entire filming”, and can no longer watch them. Canadian viewers were treated to un-bleeped broadcasts.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Dire Straits keyboard player Alan Clark is 61.