The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co. Ltd. opened it’s doors today in 1902 by New York born luthier Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo Michigan, who’d had no formal training, but managed to come up with a design so much louder and more durable than anything else on the market, he was awarded patents for his designs. Oroville died in 1918, but his company would be making electric guitars by 1936, and Gibson’s guitar line today includes some of the most iconic models in rock and roll, including The Les Paul (Jimmy Page bought the red one he played through Led Zeppelin’s heyday from Joe Walsh in ’69), The SG (Angus Young of AC/DC, Pete Townsend during the Live At Leeds era, and Eric Clapton in Cream), The Flying V (Albert King, Michael Schenker in UFO, and Jimi Hendrix had one, though he’s most famous for playing Fender’s Stratocaster), and the ES-335 (George Harrison and Alvin Lee of 10 Years After).
Eleanor Rigby died in her sleep of unknown causes at age 44 today in 1939, long before Paul McCartney’s 1966 song of the same name. Paul’s character in the song was originally Miss Daisy Hawkins, but he changed it to the more rhythmically-pleasing one he stuck with, taking Eleanor from the actress Eleanor Bron, who had appeared with them in Help!, and Rigby from a place he’d bought booze: Rigby and Evens Ltd., Wine and Spirit Shippers in Bristol. It wasn’t until the 80’s that someone noticed the tombstone of the real Eleanor at the St. Peter’s Parish Church in Liverpool, just feet away from where John and Paul first met in 1957.
The Quarry Men played the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool today in 1959. Guitarist Ken Brown had a bad cold, which led to a heated argument after the show as Paul McCartney argued that Brown hadn’t played, and didn’t deserve a cut of their pay for the night, which led Brown to quit. The Casbah was owned by Mona Best, mother of Pete, the first drummer the band would use as they changed their name to The Beatles.
The Beatles were doing much better financially tonight in 1964, when Ringo Starr drove himself to their gig in Leicester in his brand new Facel Vega, reportedly hitting speeds of 140mph on the M6 motorway.
Black Sabbath were at #1 on the British charts with their second album Paranoid today in 1970. The band would not hit that spot again until the release of their 19th studio album, strangely called 13, earlier this year.
Aerosmith’s “toxic twins” Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were both injured tonight in 1978 when a “fan” threw a cherry bomb on stage. The band played behind a protective fence for the rest of that tour.
A movie based on Janis Joplin, The Rose, premiered in Los Angeles tonight in 1979. It would be nominated for several Academy Awards, including best actress for Bette Midler, who’d made her screen debut loosely portraying the self-destructive singer.
Wanda Nicholls called police today in 1987, claiming she had been raped and bitten by David Bowie, who denied her claims calling her a publicity seeker. After a short investigation the cops sided with Bowie.
Seattle’s Pearl Jam hit #1 on the U.S. album charts with their 9th studio album Backspacer today in 2009.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Van Halen’s mild-mannered frontman David Lee Roth is 59.