By Scott Vanderpool

“The Day The Music Died” almost happened three years earlier when a plane carrying Elvis Presley from Amarillo Texas to Nashville Tennessee developed engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing today in 1956. Elvis never much cottoned to flying after that, though he continued to do so, even naming one of his aircraft after his daughter, Lisa Marie.

Bob Dylan played his very first show for New York’s beatnik folkie hipsters tonight in 1961, opening for bluesman John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City.

The Beatles had a record 14 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 today in 1964, ranging from Can’t Buy Me Love at #1, to Love Me Do, which had sunk to #81.

What a show at the Wembley Empire  Pool in London tonight in 1965! It was the New Musical Express (The Rolling Stone magazine of England) Poll Winners Concert, with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, Them, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits, Tom Jones, The Seekers, Freddie and the Dreamers, and the former Cavern Club cloakroom attendant-turned-singing teen heartthrob Cilla Black.

The Buffalo Springfield played their debut show tonight in 1966 at the Troubadour nightclub in Hollywood. The band would last only two years, but their blend of rock, folk, and country was at the vanguard of the “American response” (even though three of them were Canadian) to the British Invasion, and launch the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Jim Messina.

Paul McCartney was flying back to England from Los Angeles today in 1967, having visited The Beach Boys in the studio while they were recording what would be their aborted Smile album. He wrote Magical Mystery Tour on the plane, and jotted down some ideas for the film that would go along with it.

Fleetwood Mac’s leader and lead guitarist Peter Green told the rest of the band he was quitting today in 1970. Green had been taking large quantities of LSD, had grown his hair, was sporting a long beard and had taken to wearing robes, and after a show in Munich Germany, had been invited to a party at the Highfisch Kommune. The roadie he went with came back to the band’s hotel later to inform them that Peter wouldn’t leave. Mick Fleetwood went to the commune to fetch him. He said, “I had conversations with Peter Green around that time and he was obsessive about us not making money, wanting us to give it all away. And I’d say, ‘Well you can do it, I don’t wanna do that, and that doesn’t make me a bad person”. Green agreed to finish the European tour, and would play his last show with them on May 20th.

The Beach Boys were at the low point of their career today in 1973, when they sold only 3000 tickets to their show at the 16,000 seat Omni Coliseum in Atlanta Georgia. Also on the bill were Mother’s Finest and an up-and-coming rocker by the name of Bruce Springsteen.

Alice Cooper headlined what to that point was the largest rock concert in Australian history tonight in 1977 when 40,000 people came to see him in Sydney. After the show police showed up at his hotel to place him under house arrest until he posted a bond for $59,632, the amount an Australian promoter claimed to have advanced him for a 1975 tour that never happened. After Alice pointed out that the promoter hadn’t begun to hold up of his end of the bargain either, the two settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Eddie Van Halen married the star of TV’s One Day At A Time, Valerie Bertinelli, today in 1981. The two had met 8 months earlier, when her brother had taken her to see Van Halen in Shreveport Louisiana. They divorced in 2007, but their son Wolfgang replaced Michael Anthony as Van Halen’s bass player the year before.

Seattle’s Pearl Jam played NBC’s Saturday Night Live tonight in 1992.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

BBC radio disc-jockey and the former host of The Old Grey Whistle Test TV  show (One of the best sources on YouTube for live performances by some of the biggest rockers of the 60’s and 70’s)  “Whispering” Bob Harris is 67.

Jamaican-born singer Neville Staple of British ska-rock “Two Tone” band The Specials, who’s reunion tour hit Seattle last week, is 58.


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