The Beatles played a show at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens (then home to the U.S. Open), New York tonight in 1964. Journalist Al Aronowitz, who’d written about both and knew how much they admired each other, arranged for Bob Dylan to meet them at their suite at the Delmonico Hotel afterward. The meeting would have huge musical and cultural significance, and not just because Bob and Al pulled out some “jazz cigarettes” and introduced them to cannabis. Within a few weeks John Lennon would be openly imitating Dylan’s guitar strumming, nasal vocal style, and introspective lyrical prose. Dylan in turn, would turn to a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar within a year. Both at the time had their own fan bases: Dylan the politically idealistic bohemian college folkies, The Beatles high-school aged teenyboppers more into fashion and pop culture. The lines between these groups would blur as the sixties progressed. And of course The Beatles would write plenty of weed-inspired songs, the first being Paul McCartney’s Got to Get You Into My Life, which unbeknownst to fans at the time was almost a thank-you note to Bob.
Another drug-influenced song was at #3 on the U.S. charts today in 1965. The Beach Boys California Girls is purely a young man wanting to get laid on the surface, but the song had come to Brian Wilson after his first experience with LSD.
The Beatles played their second-to-last concert appearance ever today in 1966 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, having played the Seattle Center Coliseum two days earlier, they would do one more the next day at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, then not play live again until their last on the roof of the Apple Corps headquarters in London. The crowd of 45,000 clamored to meet them as they tried to make their escape in a bank armored car (fans had caved in the roof of their limousine in Seattle), but when the driver found a Dodger stadium gate locked, they spent two hours in the armored oven baking in the L.A. sun while someone found the keys.
A security guard at the International Hotel in Las Vegas got an anonymous phone call telling him that Elvis Presley would be shot during his last evening performance there tonight in 1970, demanding $50,000 for the identity of the potential killer. Later in the day they found a dinner-show menu in Elvis’ mail at the hotel, where the face on his printed likeness had been completely destroyed, and a gun drawn pointed at his heart. His bodyguards in the “Memphis Mafia” were on high alert, but he played the shows anyway, and would continue to pop pills and pound peanut-butter-banana-and-bacon sandwiches until his death 7 years later.
British producer Guy Stevens overdosed on a prescription medication he was taking to combat his alcoholism today in 1981 at age 38. He’d brought Chuck Berry to England for the first time serving as the president of the Chuck Berry Appreciation Society, alter became the record producer who named Procul Harum and Mott The Hoople, who he made records for along with Free and The Clash who left a musical tribute to him off their Sandinista! album.
Issac Hayes, who co-wrote Sam and Dave’s hit Soul Man, sent a letter to the presidential campaign of Bob Dole today in 1996, explaining his disagreement with the Republican platform and threatening legal action if they didn’t stop using his song, changing the chorus to “Dole man”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
British drummer Clem Cattini is 76. He first found success with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates who had a hit with Shakin’ all Over, then started The Tornadoes who had a massive #1 on both sides of the Atlantic with Telstar in ’62, and went on to be a prolific studio musician, playing on some 44 English #1 hits by the likes of Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, The Kinks, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits, Marianne Faithful, The Bee Gees, and Joe Cocker. He’d played with John Paul Jones on Donvan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man, and was on Jimmy Page’s short list of drummers for Led Zeppelin before they settled on John Bonham.
Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison would be 71. He died of cancer at 53.
Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine is 65. Depending on who you ask, he quit/was fired from the band in 1990 just after recording Chicago 19, almost exactly 20 years after the band’s start, leaving the three members of the horn section and keyboardist Robert Lamm as the only original members. He moved to Los Angeles and stared a band, The California Transit Authority, that is far more like the old Chicago than Chicago are these days.
Tenacious D guitarist, actor, and comedian Jack Black is 44.