Elvis Presley got an invitation in the mail today in 1962, to appear at the Royal Variety Performance in London, to be attended by members of the Royal Family. Naturally the invite was intercepted by his manager Colonel Tom Parker, who graciously declined, citing The King’s movie commitments. In reality, Elvis wasn’t making any movies at the time, but Parker was a Dutch immigrant living in the United States illegally, and he feared if he left the country he wouldn’t be allowed back in. Though Presley had many fans in England (The Beatles and Led Zeppelin famously went out of their way to meet him in America), he never did play in the U.K., and the only time he set foot on British soil was when he was coming back from Germany after his stint in the Army.
James Marshall Hendrix arrived in England today in 1966, brought by former Animals bass player (now talent scout and manager) Chas Chandler, who “discovered” him playing in New York at the suggestion of one of Keith Richards’ girlfriends. Hendrix had only the clothes on his back, having sold all his other meager possessions to pay his hotel bill in New York. One of the first things he did on arrival was change the spelling of his first name from “Jimmie” to “Jimi”.
A new psychedelic band heavily-weaned on Beatles records comprised of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason debuted as Traffic tonight in 1967 at the Saville theater in London.
The Beatles were working on Magical Mystery Tour today in 1967, having ditched the Bedford VAL Panorama bus for a former WWII airbase hanger, which they set up as a sound stage to film the finale ballroom scene in which John, Paul, George, and Ringo, dressed in white tuxedos, vamped down a staircase to Your Mother Should Know, while some 160 dancers directed by choreographer Peggy Spencer. Magical Mystery Tour was a major letdown for the BBC audience that tuned in to see it the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) of that year, and the American TV networks they’d hoped would pick it up balked after the outpouring of dislike at home in England, but Michael Palin of the Monty Python comedy troupe later said they’d seriously considered the one-hour production as an “opener” for the first theatrical release of their 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The film was digitally remastered, restored, and rereleased last year.
AC/DC released their 11th studio album The Razor’s Edge today in 1990. It was the only album to feature drummer Chris Slade, and would eventually go to #2 on the U.S. album charts.
Geffen Records released Nirvana’s Nevermind album today in 1991. The song Smells Like Teen Spirit had been out since September 10th, and was already taking over radio and MTV, spelling death for the big-hair-and-spandex butt-rock of the 80’s. Most critical reviews were positive, but Rolling Stone magazine was lukewarm at best, giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It went on to sell some 30 million copies worldwide.
Then 15 year old Barry Loukaitis was convicted in a Seattle courtroom today in 1997 of killing his algebra teacher and two fellow students (critically wounding a third) at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake the previous February. Barry pleaded not guilty on grounds of insanity, but prosecutors argued he’d carefully planned his attack, inspired by Pearl Jam’s video for their song Jeremy, in which a troubled teen commits suicide in front of his teacher and class. Loukaitis was sentenced as an adult to two consecutive life sentences, with an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center. The Washington Court of Appeals denied his request for a new trial in 1999.
The 50th anniversary of Fender’s iconic Stratocaster electric guitar was celebrated in London tonight in 2004 at the Wembley Arena with Leo Fender’s original serial number 0001 guitar being passed around by Joe Walsh, David Gilmore, Brian May, Ronnie Wood, Mike Rutherford, and many more. The show was released as a concert film a year later as The Strat Pack: Live In Concert.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Tacoma band The Ventures drummer Mel Taylor would be 80. He died of lung cancer in 1996.
Linda Eastman McCartney would be 72. The New York-born photographer met Paul at a Georgie Fame concert at the Bag ‘O Nails club in London in 1967 after she’d been sent to capture the swingin’ Carnaby Street scene by Rolling Stone magazine, who’d liked the shots of The Rolling Stones she took when she happened to be at a party with them (her previous photographs had been of horses). Her shot of Eric Clapton was the first on a Rolling Stone cover taken by a woman, and when she and Paul appeared in ’74, she became the only person ever to have both taken and appeared in a Rolling Stone cover shot. Paul and Linda had four children, and Paul taught her to play keyboards and sing and brought her into his new band Wings. She died of breast cancer in 1998.
Gerry and the Pacemakers frontman Gerry Marsden (MBE) is 71. Hard to believe, but the Liverpool band was once as popular as The Beatles at home, played the same clubs in Hamburg, were the second act taken on by manager Brian Epstein, and were also recorded by producer George Martin, who had offered the song How Do You Do It? to them for their first single after The Beatles recorded but decided against releasing it.