The British Invasion was in full force today in 1964 with The Beatles having hit 14 weeks at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with three different songs in that position: I Want To Hold Your Hand for 7 weeks, She Loves You for 2 weeks, and Can’t Buy Me Love for 5 weeks.
Pre-dating MTV by almost 20 years (they went on the air in August of 1981), Bob Dylan made what for all intents and purposes was the first “music video” today in 1965. The short film for Subterranean Homesick Blues was shot in an alley next to the Savoy Hotel in London, and showed Bob staring at the camera flipping through cue cards with some of the song’s lyrics written on them. Seen talking in the background were Bob’s friends beat poet Alan Ginsberg and Boston folkie Bob Neuwirth (who would later assemble Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, introduce Kris Kristofferson to Janis Joplin, and help her write Mercedes Benz), who along with the “Scottish Bob Dylan” Donovan had written the cards. It was used as the opening sequence for a documentary on Dylan’s tour of England that year.
Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers announced their breakup today in 1967. Let alone making the pace, they hadn’t been able to keep up with hometown heroes The Beatles, and they were well aware that their star was fading.
John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr signed a management contract with The Rolling Stones manager Alan Klein today in 1969, while Paul McCartney was trying to get them to stay, as he did, with the men who’d been managing their financial affairs since the death of Brian Epstein almost two years earlier, lawyers Lee and John Eastman, father and brother of his wife Linda. The video here is of John, who continues to manage Paul’s prodigious amounts of money to this day, not Lee as it’s titled.
The Beatles 12th and final album Let It Be was released today in 1970. Originally titled Get Back, it was completed before the previous Abbey Road album. They’d decided not to work with their longtime producer George Martin, and went with Glyn Johns, but were unhappy with the result and called in American über producer Phil Spector to fix it. John Lennon had already quit the band, but agreed to keep it a secret until after album came out, as they feared it would hurt sales.
British keyboard player Graham Bond killed himself today in 1974 when he threw himself under a train in a London tube station. He was just 36, and had been considered one of the pioneers of England’s early R&B scene, one of the first to use the Hammond organ and rotating Leslie speaker playing in Alexis Corner’s Blues Incorporated, a band from which he took future Cream bass player Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker to form his own Graham Bond Organization.
Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart died of cancer today in 1982 at age 39. He had been one of the great icons of 70’s cocaine-fueled excess in the Disco era, and Casablanca was home to disco artists like Donna Summer and The Village People, but he’d actually started the label with rock bands like T-Rex and KISS.
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters released his first solo album today in 1984. The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking was a concept album about a man’s scattered thoughts whilst having a mid-life crisis on a road trip around Europe and his dreams of sex with a lovely hitch hiker he picks up along the way. He’d come up with the idea at the same time as The Wall, which the rest of Pink Floyd liked better. Guests on the solo album include Eric Clapton and the voice of actor Jack Palance.
Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler was at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne today in 1993, being awarded an honorary doctorate degree in music.
The Rolling Stones officially cancelled their upcoming European tour today in 2006, as their guitarist Keith Richards was still recovering from brain surgery in New Zealand after falling out of a coconut tree in Fiji.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The King of the Delta Blues Robert Johnson would be 102. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at it’s inception in 1986, is #5 on Rolling Stone magazines Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time List, and #2 on that list, Eric Clapton called him “the most important blues singer who ever lived”. His life is not well documented and has a fair amount of mystery around it… He became the first member of what Kurt Cobain’s Mom would later call “that stupid club” of musicians dead at 27 when he was supposedly poisoned by the husband of a woman he’d been hitting on, but legend has it that The Devil, to whom he had pledged his soul at The Cross Roads near Clarksdale Mississippi in exchange for his guitar playing ability (as mentioned in his Cross Road blues) had finally come for it.
Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten would be 70. He died at 29 after a long period of heroin addiction, which led Neil Young to write The Needle and The Damage Done about him.
The Yardbirds founding bass player Paul Samwell-Smith is 69. He was replaced by Jimmy Page when quit the band in 1966, tired of touring and putting up with the heavy drinking of singer Keith Relf, to focus on a career as a record producer and engineer, making hit albums for Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, Carly Simon, and many more.
T-Rex drummer Bill Legend is 69.
The Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz is 62 and currently a disc jockey at WPKN in Bridgeport Connecticut.