An 18 year old truck driver named Elvis Presley made his first-ever recording today in 1953 when he paid $3.98 to the Memphis Recording Company, who specialized in “vanity recordings” for private parties rather than attempting world domination like a Geffen, Sun, or even Sub Pop records. He sang two songs (My Happiness and That’s When Your Heartaches Begin) as a gift for his Mom. Naturally the songs resurfaced…37 years later, when they were included on an RCA Records compilation called Elvis-The Great Performances, that would recoup the $3.98 fairly easily.
The Rolling Stones appeared on the American singles chart for the first time today in 1964 when their cover of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away went to #48. When the band played Texas on the Stones first American tour later that year (with trained seals between them and the audience) a saxophone player who’d known Buddy Holly by the name of Bobby Keys was quite incensed that these skinny English guys were doing his song, but after seeing them play it live ended up becoming one of Keith Richard’s closest friends, and played sax on most Rolling Stones records.
Bobby Fuller Four leader Bobby Fuller was found dead in his car today in 1966 in Los Angeles. He was just 22. The coroner said he’d died of gasoline inhalation and asphyxiation, and police called it a suicide, but many believe he was murdered. The bands cover of I Fought The Law (written by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly’s Crickets and recorded by them after Buddy’s death and later a hit for The Clash) had gone to #9 on the charts just 6 months earlier.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road studios today in 1968, recording Cry Baby Cry and the song that would so twistedly inspire Charles Manson, Helter Skelter. One take of the latter song would drone on quite psychedelically for 27 minutes and 11 seconds, making it the longest Beatles recording.
The Beatles were back at Abbey Road today in 1969, with Ringo Starr recording his vocal track on Octopuse’s Garden, a song he’d written lyrics for a year earlier when he’d briefly quit the band, and was hanging out on actor Peter Sellers‘ yacht on the Mediterranean.
Members of Sly and the Family Stone were arrested today in 1972 when police found 2 pounds of marijuana in their touring motor home. Luckily they didn’t check Sly’s violin case, which he carried everywhere and was usually chock full of much harder stuff.
An up and coming Bruce Springsteen played the first of 4 nights at Max’s Kansas City nightclub in New York City tonight in 1973, with opening act Bob Marley and the Wailers, who were on their first American tour. The Reggae sound that so influenced so many British musicians has not often shown up in Bruce’s music.
The U.S. Justice Department ordered New York City resident John Lennon out of the country by September 10th today in 1974. The reason given for the order was his 1968 guilty plea for possession of marijuana in England, but John’s lawyers fought the deportation, and he was granted permanent resident status a year later. After Lennon’s death in 1980, historian Jon Wiener successfully sued under the Freedom of Information Act, and discovered that Lennon had been under FBI surveillance for some time, as his anti-Vietnam War and Peace Activism had landed him on the “enemies list” of conservative senator Strom Thurmond, President Richard Nixon, and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.
Def Leppard played their first live show tonight in 1978 for 150 students at the Westfield School in their hometown of Sheffield England.
German singer, keyboard player, and fashion model Nico (born Christa Päffgen), one of “Andy Warhol’s Superstars” and occasional member of The Velvet Underground, died today in 1988 at age 49 when she suffered a minor heart attack while riding her bicycle in the Spanish resort town of Ibiza. She was incorrectly diagnosed with heat exhaustion, but died of head injuries later that evening.
The man widely credited with the first rock and roll song (Rocket 88 in 1951) Ike Turner was sentenced to one year in prison today in 1988 for his arrest the previous year for possession of 6 grams of crack cocaine after he’d been pulled over for driving erratically.
KISS added yet another piece of merchandise to their ever-growing line today in 2001: The KISS Kasket allowed true fans to express their love of all things Gene and Paul to their very end. Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, a lifelong fan of Ace Frehley, was buried in 0ne after he was shot on stage by a deranged fan in 2004.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jelacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins would be 84. His macabre stage antics were a template for later “shock-rockers” like Screaming Lord Sutch in England and Alice Cooper in the U.S., and his song I Put A Spell On You was a huge hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival. He died at age 70.
The Rolling Stones co-founding keyboard player Ian Stewart would be 75. Keith Richards has said that “Stu” was the band’s leader in the early days, and although manager Andrew Oldham had him booted from the band’s lineup for being too old and ugly and because “6 was too many”, he continued with them as tour manager and played on every Rolling Stones record save Their Satanic Majesties Request until his death in 1985. He also appeared on albums or played with Howlin’ Wolf, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Lane, George Thorogood, and most famously Led Zeppelin, where he plays piano on Rock and Roll and of course Boogie With Stu.
Jazz and Rock organist Brian Auger, who played with Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Burdon is 74.
The Animals “second era” bass player Danny McCulloch is 68.
The Flamin’ Groovies guitarist and harmonica player Tim Lynch is 67.
Golden Earring drummer Cornelis “Cesar” Zuiderwijk is 65.
Former Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, now a member of Bob Dylan’s son Jacob’s band The Wallflowers, is 52.