They got it in plenty of time for Halloween, but today in 1962 the BBC banned Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers as “too morbid”. The song, which featured The Ventures drummer Mel Taylor, would go to #3 in England eventually, but it would take 11 years. In the late 80’s a group of Seattle musicians, including future Sub Pop über-producer and Skin Yard guitarist Jack Endino on drums, would call themselves The Crypt Kicker 5 after the song, and become not even a little bit famous.
The Rolling Stones played the Studio 51 Jazz Club in London tonight in 1963, doing their usual set of covers, in fact Mick Jagger and Keith Richards hadn’t seriously tried writing their own songs yet, but when John Lennon and Paul McCartney showed up afterward and showed them one of their unfinished songs, they gave them permission to record it. I Wanna Be Your Man would be the Stone’s second single, and from that point on Mick and Keith decided the songwriting thing wasn’t all that difficult, and eventually became quite good at it themselves.
The Kinks were at #1 in England with their 3rd single You Really Got Me today in 1964. It would get to #7 in the U.S. a few weeks later, and establish them as one of the “British Invasion” bands there. It’s also considered one of the cornerstones in the evolution of what would become “hard” rock music, as guitarist Dave Davies took a razor blade to the speaker cones on his Elpico amplifier to create a distorted sound that soon everyone was trying to copy. The guitar lead on the song was long rumored to be played by then-studio musician Jimmy Page, a rumor pushed by Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord, who also claimed to have played on the song for some reason (it was Arthur Greenslade), and while producer Shel Talmy said he did use Page with the Kinks sometimes when Ray Davies didn’t want to play rhythm guitar and sing at the same time, he didn’t play on this track, and both Page and Davies have affirmed this, in fact Ray once said, “Halfway through the song it was time for Dave’s guitar solo. This moment had to be right. So I shouted across the studio to Dave, give him encouragement. But I seemed to spoil his concentration. He looked at me with a dazed expression. ‘F*** off.’ If you doubt me, if you doubt what I’m saying, I challenge you to listen to the original Kinks recording of ‘You Really Got Me.’ Halfway through the song, after the second chorus, before the guitar solo, there’s a drum break. Boo ka, boo boo ka, boo ka, boo boo. And in the background you can hear ‘f*** off.’ You can, you can. When I did the vocal I tried to cover it up by going “Oh no”, but in the background you still hear it ‘f*** off.’ And it’s even clearer on CD, it’s really embarrassing!”
The Byrds were in an L.A. studio today in 1965, recording their second single, a cover of a Pete Seeger folk song (he had taken most of the lyrics directly from The Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes), Turn! Turn! Turn! Unlike their first single, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, the record company allowed them to play their instruments themselves, rather than hiring studio musicians.
The BBC was back in ban mode today in 1973, with bigger fish to fry: The Rolling Stones song Star Star, released as a single from the Goat’s Head Soup album, was originally titled Starf***er. Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun made them change the title, but “Starf***er” remained the chorus of the Chuck Berry style rocker, and it also included references to movie stars John Wayne and Steve McQueen, which Ertegun was sure would get them sued. It didn’t, but the single’s B-Side, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) would get much more airplay.
The New York Dolls broke up today in 1974, after recording just two albums, and not really becoming popular at all outside of their namesake city, and never making it to the radio, but those two records would be passed around by musicians for years, inspire perhaps thousands of punk and glam bands, and lead to their reformation in 2004, minus guitarist Johnny Thunders, drummer Jerry Nolan, and basser Arthur “Killer” Kane, who all died prematurely.
Guns-N-Roses had their only #1 hit with Sweet Child ‘O Mine today in 1988, a fact that still irritates lead guitarist Slash, who still hates it. He’d come up with the riff as a “string-skipping” exercise, intending it to sound like circus music, but rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin came up with a part to go along with it, and while the rest of the band were jamming on it, singer Axl Rose was upstairs in his room, and began writing lyrics for his then-girlfriend Erin Everly, and the whole thing came together in about 5 minutes.
Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was released as a single today in 1991. The song, partially inspired by Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna spray painting “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit” ( a Mennen deodorant aimed at young women) on the wall of his Olympia apartment, would eventually mark the demise of the hairspray and spandex butt-rock of the 80’s, and make the band from Aberdeen one of the most popular in the world.
Paul McCartney made news headlines today in 1999 when he was seen in New York City missing a front tooth. Paul had lost the tooth when he crashed his motorcycle in 1967, and broken the replacement crown while eating.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia Powell is 74. Married from 1962-68 after meeting at art school in Liverpool, John later admitted he’d treated her badly and didn’t know what a misogynist he’d been until he met Yoko. She claimed the turning point in the relationship was when John started doing LSD. Cyn would marry three more times, her latest husband, nightclub owner Noel Charles died earlier this year.
Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton is 71.
Jethro Tull’s 70’s drummer (there have been 8) Barriemore Barlow is 64.
Slade drummer Don Powell is 63.
Aerosmith lead guitarist and songwriter Joe Perry is 63.