Minnesota-born rockabilly star Eddie Cochran’s only tour of England ended in tragedy today in 1960. He was having a profound effect on Brit kids, who would go on to start their own bands (The Beatles, The Who, and Led Zeppelin to name a few), and cover his songs (Summertime Blues, 20 Flight Rock, and C’mon Everybody to name a few). He was riding in a Ford Consul taxi with his fiancé, songwriter Sharon Sheely and fellow rockabilly star Gene Vincent when the car blew a tire while traveling at a high speed in Wiltshire, lost control, and crashed into a lamp post. Eddie tried to shield Sharon with his own body before being thrown from the car and killed instantly. Sharon and Gene survived, but Gene Vincent suffered injuries that would effect him for the rest of his life. The driver was convicted of dangerous driving, sentenced to six months in prison, and lost his driving license until 1969.
Paul McCartney went shopping for furniture in London today in 1965, wearing a large overcoat, cloth hat, fake glasses and mustache…a stunt that would be repeated repeatedly in later years by his later pal Michael Jackson. It’s hard being one of the most recognizable people in the world.
Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana was in San Francisco today in 1970, starting work on his second album Abraxas, with the classic “Woodstock Lineup” of his band. Keyboard player and singer Greg Rolie and second-guitarist Neal Schon would go on to start sappy 80’s chick-rock band Journey, while the drummer who had wowed everyone at Woodstock, Michael Shrieve, would eventually move to Seattle where he plays jazz every Monday night at Töst in Fremont. Carlos announced in February his is reuniting the Woodstock lineup of Santana this summer.
The Beatles had four singles in the British charts today in 1971, separately of course, as they had broken up officially the year before. Paul McCartney with Another Day, John Lennon’s Power To The People, George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, and a song George had written for Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy.
Keith Richards’ girlfriend (who had been Brian Jones‘ girlfriend earlier) Anita Pallenberg gave birth to their second child today in 1972. They named their daughter Dandelion, after Keith’s song from The Rolling Stones psychedelic period, but she later chose to go by her middle name, Angela.
Pink Floyd’s landmark album Dark Side of the Moon was certified “Gold” (Having sold 1 Million copies) in America today in 1973. It would stay on the U.S. album charts for 10 years, and be the best-selling record of all time until it was knocked from that spot by Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
42 year old Felix Pappalardi was shot dead by his jealous wife Gail today in 1983. He was the singing bass player in New York pioneering hard rock band Mountain, and had produced the Cream albums Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire (Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce later called him “the 4th member of Cream), and the first album from The Youngbloods. Gail spent 4 years in prison after being convicted of “negligent homicide”.
36 year old Carlton Barrett, drummer and songwriter for Bob Marley’s Wailers, was shot to death outside his Kingston Jamaica home today in 1987. His wife Albertine, her taxi-driver lover, and another man were arrested for murdering him, but somehow managed to get the charge reduced to “conspiracy” and spent only one year in prison.
Nirvana played the song that would single-handedly eradicate 80’s buttrock from American radio airwaves, Smells Like Teen Spirit, for the first time tonight in 1991 at Pioneer Square nightclub The OK Hotel. The next year the club would be a primary location for Cameron Crowe’s Seattle-scene lovefest movie Singles. It closed in 2001 after the brick building was severely damaged in the Nisqually earthquake, and the building was rebuilt and converted to luxury condominiums.
Linda Eastman McCartney died after a long battle with breast cancer today in 1998 at the Tuscon Arizona mansion she shared with husband Paul. Contrary to urban myth, Linda was not related to Eastman-Kodak camera magnate George Eastman, but she was a photographer who fell into a career taking shots of rock stars after being asked to capture The Rolling Stones on a yacht in New York. When she was sent to get pictures of the Swingin’ London scene by Rolling Stone magazine in 1967, she met Paul at a Georgie Fame concert at the Bag ‘O Nails nightclub. They were married in 1969, he made her a member of his band Wings, and she was given the title “Lady McCartney” when Paul was knighted the year before she died.
Two of three hot-ticket items at the Icons of 20th Century Music Auction in Dallas Texas today in 2004 were bought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to be enshrined in his Experience Music Project museum at Seattle Center: The 1966 Rickenbacker 12-String Roger McGuinn had played in The Byrds ($99,000), and the Mosrite guitar played by Kurt Cobain in Nirvana ($100,000). Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s songwriting piano sold to another anonymous buyer for $140,000.
58 year old Danny Federici, the keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, died of cancer today in 2008. He’d worked with Bruce for over 40 years, staring with his band Steel Mill.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Promoter, producer, and songwriter Don Kirshner would be 79. Before he died in 2011 he was responsible for launching the careers of Neil Diamond, Carole King, The Monkees, Kansas, cartoon band The Archies, and bringing hundreds of rock’s top acts to American TV screens with Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.
British rocker Billy Fury would be 73. Never as big in America as he was at home, he’s most famous for his starring role in the film That’ll Be The Day, with cast members David Essex and Ringo Starr.
Bass player Roy Estrada is 69. A founding member of Little Feat, he also played with Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band and Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention.
Keyboard player Jan Hammer is 64. He’s played with The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Tommy Bolin, and Santana to name a few.
Pete Shelley, guitarist and frontman of influential British punk band The Buzzcocks, is 57.
West Seattle based session drummer Matt Chamberlain is 46. He’s played on tours and records with an astonishing number of artists, including Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby, Sean Lennon, and believe it or not, William Shatner.