John Lennon’s mother Julia was killed today in 1958 when she was struck by a car driven by a drunk off-duty police officer. John’s father was a Merchant Marine sailor during WWII, and he’d disappeared for long periods, and while Julia would visit him regularly, she’d sent him to live with her older sister Mimi Smith and her husband at an early age. She was walking home from one of these visits when she was hit by Eric Clague, who was later aquitted of killing her. It was Julia that had bought him his first guitar two years earlier, while Mimi had not been so encouraging, telling him “The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living of it”.
David Bowie, who’d joined his first band at age 15, was playing with his 5th band The Buzz tonight in 1966 in Loughton, northeast of London.
The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane were bringing a bit of Hollywood and San Francisco to the more reserved and conservative Orange County tonight in 1967 when they played to 8000 people each at two separate shows at the Anaheim convention center, just down the street from Disneyland, which had not yet instituted a policy of denying entry to people in freakish attire. They did a year later when a political group calling themselves the “Yippies” protested the war in Vietnam with a march down “Main Street U.S.A” chanting “Ho Ho Ho, Ho Chi Minh!” and taking over Tom Sawyer Island.
The Edgar Winter Group, Sly and the Family Stone, Canned Heat, Lindisfarne, and The Kinks played the Great Western Express Festival in London today in 1973. Ray Davies wife since 1964 Rasa Dicpetri had recently walked out on him, taking their two young daughters with her, and Ray announced from the stage that he was sick of the whole thing as was retiring from music. He then walked himself to a local hospital, where he collapsed from an overdose of tranquilizers.
Bob Dylan played his biggest-ever show in England today in 1978 at the Blackbush Aerodrome in Surrey. Over 200,000 people came to see him and special guests Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker, and Eric Clapton.
The Rolling Stones had their 7th American #1 album today in 1978 when Some Girls, the high point of the Ronnie Wood era topped the charts. The original cover was made to look like an “advert” for wigs, with cut outs of the Stones faces interspersed with famous women, but these were recalled when Lucille Ball, Farah Fawcett, Raquel Welch, Liza Minelli (representing her mother Judy Garland), and the estate of the late Marilyn Monroe all threatened lawsuits. The original cover is now considered highly collectible.
Pink Floyd played on a barge floating in one of the canals of Venice, Italy today in 1989 to over 200,000 people, twice the number expected by authorities. The show was also broadcast to 20 countries on TV to an estimated audience of 100 million. Damage to bridges, buildings, and cleanup costs were around $40,000 (over $75,000 today), and two Venice lawyers connected with the show were forced to stand trial.
Aerosmith cancelled their upcoming tour today in 1998 when drummer Joey Kramer’s car caught fire while he was filling up at a gas station. He was taken to a hospital with second-degree burns. The car was totalled, but he could afford a new one.
The results of a poll of British music fans that asked the question “What song makes you most proud to be British” were released today in 2012. Topping the list was Queen’s We Are The Champions, followed by Wonderwall by Oasis, Let It Be by The Beatles, Elton John’s Princess Diana remake of Candle In The Wind, and London Calling by The Clash.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Moby Grape guitarist Peter Lewis is 68.
Singer Linda Ronstadt is 67. The first of her many hits, Different Drum, was written by Michael Nesmith of The Monkees.
Yes’ original guitarist Peter Banks would be 66, he died of a heart attack in March.
Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle is 65. He survived the 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines with several broken ribs, and led the other survivors to a nearby farmhouse, where the startled occupants greeted the bloodied long-hairs with guns, and the farmer’s son shot Pyle in the shoulder…fortunately only with an air-rifle.
The Buggles and Yes singer and multi-instrumentalist Trevor Horn is 64.
Influential New York Dolls and Heartbreakers (not to be confused with Tom Petty’s band) guitarist Johnny Thunders (John Genzale) would be 61. He died at 38, and many who knew him believe he was murdered, but even though he was cleaning himself up at the time the New Orleans police knew he was a long-time heroin user and refused to investigate.