Elvis Presley recorded the Leiber/Stoller song that would become one of his biggest early hits and lend it’s name to his third major motion picture, Jailhouse Rock, today in 1957. In the movie one of the song’s authors, Mike Stoller, plays piano on it.
The Rolling Stones made the first of many appearances on the U.S. singles chart today in 1964 with a cover of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away. On the other side of the pond, their debut album The Rolling Stones started a 12-week run at #1 on the British album charts.
The Who gave the British music press a preview of their new effort, the world’s first “rock opera” about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy named Tommy tonight in 1969 at Ronnie Scott’s in London. Though this was the first time the phrase had been used, Pete Townsend had already stitched several short song ideas together as a longer themed musical piece with A Quick One While He’s Away, a “rock opera” he later jokingly referred to as “Tommy’s Parents”.
Pink Floyd played the Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s hall tonight in 1969, recording the show for their upcoming album Ummagumma.
Massachusetts singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum officially achieved his one-hit-wonder status today in 1970 when Spirit In The Sky went to #1. Though the song seems to have an overtly Christian theme, Norman is Jewish, and said he wrote the song after watching country singers Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sing a gospel song on TV.
Bruce Springsteen was in New York City today in 1972, auditioning at CBS records for the man who had signed Bob Dylan, A&R man John Hammond, who was so excited by Bruce’s performance that he arranged a proper show at the Greenwich Village Gaslight Cafe coffeehouse where Dylan had played so many times, inviting the rest of the CBS office. Bruce passed the audition, but during the performance, Hammond suffered a mild heart attack.
Highly influential Manchester England band Joy Division played their final show tonight in 198o in Birmingham. Singer Ian Curtis would hang himself two weeks later, but the rest of the band would find some success under the name New Order.
The video for R.E.M.’s new song Losing My Religion was banned in Ireland today in 1991. The country is devoutly Catholic and the religious imagery was deemed offensive.
Just days after leaving Seattle’s Sub Pop record label for the more lucrative major-label Geffen, Nirvana began a 16-day session at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys California today in 1991. The studio made more than 100 certified gold and platinum albums while it was open from 1970 to 2011, from artists like Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, all of whom feature prominently in drummer Dave Grohl’s film documentary on his love for the place, which premiered just a few months ago.
Just one year later Nirvana’s overwhelming popularity had completely knocked 80’s “hair metal” or “butt rock” from the American radio airwaves, and that worked out quite nicely for the recently re-formed and largely unknown British progressive rock band Nirvana, who filed a lawsuit against Geffen Records over the use of the name today in 1992, claiming they’d been using it since 1968. Geffen settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, rumored to be in the neighborhood of $100,000.
Cream played together for the first time in 36 years tonight in 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Tickets were being exchanged on E-Bay in excess of £500 ($776), and well-heeled fans flew in from all over the world. Eric Clapton is said to have agreed to the show because of the failing health and bank accounts of bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was released from a hospital in New Zealand today in 2006 after being examined and treated for head injuries suffered when he fell out of a coconut tree while on holiday in Fiji.
14 tourists were on a bus in Liverpool England today in 2009, touring The Beatles old stomping grounds, even stopping at the National Trust owned home where John Lennon grew up. No one noticed that among them was the man who had first turned the band on to pot, Bob Dylan.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Guitarist #45 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 of All time list, Link Wray would be 84 if he’d made it past 76. Link is widely credited with inventing the rock and roll “power chord” in the late 50’s.
Argent drummer Bob Henrit is 69. After Argent’s demise, he replaced The Kinks drummer Mick Avory when he quit in 1984.
Steppenwolf’s keyboard player Goldy McJohn is 68. Born in Toronto Canada, he now lives among us here in Seattle.
Foreigner’s lead singer Lou Gramm is 62, and not to be confused with infamous 19th century Pioneer Square brothel madame Lou Graham.