Chuck Berry released Maybellene today in 1955, his first single and his first hit on Chicago’s Chess Records. The song is loosely based on a “traditional” (meaning no one knows who wrote it) fiddle tune called Ida Red. Label owner Leonard Chess had shown little interest in Chuck’s blues songs, but instantly recognized commercial value in a “hillbilly song sung by a black man”. He didn’t like the song’s name, and when he spotted a mascara case sitting in the studio, said “hell let’s just call the damn thing Maybelline”, and was clever enough to alter the spelling to avoid lawsuits from the cosmetics company.
Kelvin High School student Neil Young and his band The Squires were at a recording studio in Winnipeg Manitoba today in 1963 recording their first single, a surf instrumental called The Sultan.
The Kinks were the featured performers on ABC TV’s Where The Action Is this afternoon in 1965. Created by Dick Clark as a spin-off of the immensely popular American Bandstand, the show lasted for two years, would boost the careers of British and American bands from James Brown to The Who, and especially the “house band” Paul Revere and the Raiders.
At the urging of The Beatles roadie-assistant-tour manager Mal Evans, their Apple Corps label signed Welch band The Iveys today in 1968. The band would submit a number of original songs for release, but all were rejected until Paul McCartney decided they’d sound good doing his song Come And Get It, which he’d written for the soundtrack to the Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr movie The Magic Christian. Apple also didn’t like the band’s name, and on the eve of the single’s released changed it to Badfinger, a name taken from John Lennon’s working title for the song With A Little Help From My Friends, which he’d written on piano after injuring his finger, so he’d called it Badfinger Boogie.
The City Of Los Angeles honored the godfather of soul today in 1969, declaring it James Brown Day, but when Mayor Sam Yorty was late for the ceremony, an irritated James left and went home.
Led Zeppelin were playing the first of two nights at the Oakland Coliseum tonight in 1977 when drummer John Bonham saw a member of promoter Bill Graham’s staff hit Zeppelin manager Peter Grant’s 11 year old son when he tried to take a sign down. Bonham went over and kicked the man, then told Grant, who got a couple of crew members and while tour manager Richard Cole watched the door, beat the man who had hit his son savagely, as well as another Bill Graham employee. Zeppelin refused to play the second night until Graham signed a statement absolving the band from any responsibility for the beating, but Graham reported the incident to police anyway, and after the show Grant, Cole, Bonham, and a crew-member were all charged with assault, for which they received suspended sentences and fines. Graham filed a lawsuit against Zeppelin, and was on San Francisco area radio stations the next day saying he would never book Led Zeppelin again, but the band had just learned of the death of Robert Plant’s son Karac from a stomach infection, and cancelled the rest of the tour. They would never play in the United States again.
Seattle-born Grateful Dead keyboard player Keith Godchaux was killed in a car crash in Marin County California today in 1979 at age 32.
Ringo Starr began a solo tour today in 1989, the first he had done since the Beatles last in ’66. His first backing All-Starr Band included Joe Walsh on guitar, Billy Preston on keyboards, and the E-Street Band’s Clarence Clemmons on saxophone.
Paul McCartney announced his engagement today in 2001, two years after the death of his first wife Linda, to 33 year old British model and actress Heather Mills. They would produce daughter Beatrice the next year, but split in 2006, and divorce in 2008, costing Paul £24.3 million.
A young Lakewood New Jersey policewoman patrolling the area around First Energy Park before a big concert tonight in 2009 had got as radio report of a man acting suspiciously and found one. She asked his name, but did not recognize it when he replied “Bob Dylan“, and when he couldn’t produce any identification, put him in the back of her cruiser. He talked her into taking him to his hotel instead of the police station, and members of his crew were able to vouch for him.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Actor and one-hit-wonder rock singer David Essex (OBE) is 66.
Vancouver BC born guitarist Blair Thornton, who replaced Tim Bachman in Bachman Turner Overdrive after their first album, is 63.