By Scott Vanderpool

The Rolling Stones were playing the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool England tonight in 1964 when Keith Richards put his pointy-toed Italian boot squarely in the face of a drunken man who was in front of the audience spitting on the band. This sparked a riot that injured some 30 fans, 2 policemen, and did £4000 damage to the Empress Ballroom.

All four Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein signed a petition, published in today’s 1967 edition of The Times of London, calling for the legalization of cannabis. They’d been introduced to “marijuana” (a mexican word for the plant first used in the 30’s in the American “reefer madness” hysteria campaigns initiated by newspaper publisher William Hearst) by Bob Dylan on their first U.S. tour, and their friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been arrested for it recently. Paul McCartney would later admit to being a regular user, that the song Got To Get You Into My Life was written shortly after being introduced to it by Dylan, and be arrested several times for possession. Earlier this year he again officially endorsed decriminalization in Britain, saying “People are smoking pot anyway, and to make them criminals is wrong”.

Later that evening, all four Beatles attended a lecture by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on transcendental meditation tonight in 1967 at the London Hilton Hotel.  They were enthusiastic, so he invited them to accompany him to another lecture in Wales. Eventually they followed him home to India, but became disillusioned when he started hitting on their wives.

Portland band Paul Revere and the Raiders were at #1 on the U.S. charts today in 1971 with Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian). The song, written by John Loudermilk, had first been recorded by Marvin Rainwater in 1959 with the title Pale Faced Indian, and again in 1968 by Don Fardon, whose version went to #20 in the U.S. and #3 in England.

Bobby Ramirez, the drummer with Edgar Winter’s White Trash, was killed in a Chicago bar fight tonight in 1972 that had started when he was mocked for having long hair.

The Robert Stigwood directed film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band premiered tonight in 1978. The film was widely panned by critics, barely broke even at the box office, and effectively killed the careers of the hottest musical stars of the day, Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees, for several years.

Comedic actor Peter Sellers died of a heart attack today in 1980. He’d become close friends with The Beatles and especially drummer Ringo Starr. Ringo wrote the lyrics to Octopus’s Garden on Sellers yacht during the two weeks he’d quit the Beatles, Sellers had begun his career as a drummer, and the two starred together in the film The Magic Christian.

Robert Plant surprised fans at a charity fundraiser in Monmouth Wales, not far from the Bron-Yr-Aur stone cottage where he and Jimmy Page had written most of Led Zeppelin III,  tonight in 2011 when he joined three local musicians for a set of Zeppelin and songs from his solo catalog. The event, which cost £3, raised funds to fight Dementia, which had taken the life of  former Zeppelin producer Pat Moran.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Heinz Burt, singing bass player for The Tornadoes, who had their only major hit in 1962 with Telstar, would be 71. He died of a stroke in 2000.

Jim Armstrong, guitarist with Van Morrison’s Them, is 69.

Extreme singer Gary Cherone, briefly tapped to be the 3rd lead singer of Van Halen during their least-popular period,  is 52.


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