John Lennon took his Rolls Royce Phantom V to the J.P.Fallon Ltd. coachbuilders in Surrey, England today in 1967, to have it painted. A paint job on one of England’s most prestigious luxury marques is usually a more painstaking process than on an ordinary car, but John had something special in mind: A brightly colored psychedelic design from a Dutch artist. He also had them install a back seat that folded out into a bed, a state-of-the-art stereo system (With 8-track tape player!), an external hailing loudspeaker, a Sony television, a refrigerator, and a mobile radio-telephone (We can now give you the phone number: WEYBRIDGE 46676). Not everyone was amused, one old woman in London was reported to have been outraged, hitting the car with her umbrella shouting “You swine! You swine! How could you do this to a Rolls?” Sometime after his death the car was sold at auction making it the most expensive car in the world. It’s been displayed at various museums around the world, including the Royal British Columbia museum just north of us in Victoria.
The film Woodstock, a documentary of the legendary rock festival of the previous summer, premiered in London tonight in 1970.
David Bowie played the first of three sold-out shows at the Nippon Seinenkan convention center in Tokyo, on his Ziggy Stardust tour tonight in 1973.
The Damned became the first British punk band to play New York’s legendary CBGB nightclub tonight in 1977. Punk rock was effectively banned by American rock radio stations in the late 70’s and into the 80’s in favor of decidedly lighter fare like Journey and R.E.O. Speedwagon, but musicians were listening, and bands like The Damned would have a profound influence on later artists like Seattle’s Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam.
It was today in 1994 when electrician Gary Smith, who was installing a new alarm system at the Denny-Blaine mansion of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, found a body in a room above the garage in a pool of blood near a discharged 10-guage shotgun, with a suicide note apparently from Cobain. He immediately called Seattle rock station KXRX just before 10:00 AM, where then-morning host Marty Riemer took the call, and went on-air with the news. Within a half-hour a TV news crew was in the studio, pestering mid-day host Scott Vanderpool with questions. He had been one of the first disc-jockeys to play Nirvana after they opened for his band Chemistry Set at Pioneer Square’s Central Tavern, and was so annoyed by the reporters “Do you think Nirvana will get a new singer?” that he threw the TV crew out. 20 or so minutes later he was all over CNN, identified in print on the screen as “Steve Zanderpool”, a name he gets jokingly called by some members of Seattle’s music scene to this day. Some believe that Kurt had taken so much heroin he would have been unable to shoot himself, let alone write a suicide note, and conspiracy theories…some credible even… that Cobain was murdered persist to this day, though his ex-bandmates are not among the believers. Drummer Dave Grohl said he somehow always knew Kurt would die at an early age. “Sometimes you just can’t save someone from themselves,” and “in some ways, you kind of prepare yourself emotionally for that to be a reality.”
Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was on holiday today in 1998, exploring some islands near Rio De Janero, Brazil on a boat, when one of the engines caught fire. He and 11 other passengers were taken off by a nearby boat full of journalists just minutes before it exploded.
Though they had tried three years earlier, The Rolling Stones performed for the first time in mainland China tonight in 2006. The Stones had to agree not to perform Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women, and Rough Justice, and Mick agreed to perform Wild Horses as a duet with Chinese singer Cui Jian.
The Sex Pistols notorious former manager Malcolm McClaren died of cancer today in 2010 at age 64. He also managed The New York Dolls and Bow Wow Wow in the early days of “punk rock” and in 1984 released a solo album called Duck Rock, produced by Trevor Horn of The Buggles and Yes, who is sometimes called “The man who invented the 80’s”.
The Who’s manager Bill Curbishley reported that he had been asked by the organizers of the London Olympic Games opening-and-closing pageants if their legendary drummer Keith Moon would be able to perform today in 2012. He said, “I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old. If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him.”
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Yes guitarist Steve Howe is 66.
Guns-N-Roses founding rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin is 51.
Julian Lennon, John’s son with his first wife Cynthia, is 50. Born in Liverpool in the early days of Beatlemania, his existence was kept secret from fans by his godfather, manager Brian Epstein, who felt that female fans wouldn’t buy records if they knew John was married-with-child. Julian was the direct inspiration for Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (a drawing he made in grade school), and the White Album closing lullaby Good Night. Paul McCartney, who Julian has said was more of a father to him than his dad, wrote Hey Jude to console him when his parents were divorcing, a fact Julian did not know until he bought Paul’s hand-written lyrics at auction years later.