Elvis Presley started a 20-week run at #1 on the U.S. album charts with the soundtrack to his latest movie Blue Hawaii today in 1961. The romantic comedy (With Joan Blackman as the female lead…Mary Tyler Moore later admitted that “Elvis had slept with all the leading ladies of his films except one…what was I thinking?) was the first of three films The King would make in the Islands, filmed largely at the Coco Palms Resort on the Island of Kauai, a tourist destination ever since even though it was destroyed and abandoned after hurricane Iniki in 1992. The film took it’s title from a song sung by Tacoma’s Bing Crosby in the 1937 film Waikiki Wedding. The cocktail of the same name made of Rum, Pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix, and Blue Curacao liqueur was invented in ’57 by Harry Yee, head bartender at Waikiki’s Hilton Hawaiian Village, and if you ever find yourself in Paradise thinking about ordering one, you should be aware that your waitress will approach the bartender with something along the lines of, “I’ve got another Tidy Bowl on table number three”.
The Marvelettes were at #1 today in 1961 on the U.S. singles chart with Please Mr. Postman. Session musicians on the song were Motown’s legendary Funk Brothers, who at the time included a 22 year old Marvin Gaye on drums. The Beatles started covering it almost immediately in their live sets at The Cavern Club, but had quit playing it by the time their recorded version was included on With The Beatles. It would be a hit again later for The Carpenters.
Responding to separate reports of a shooting and a kidnapping, Los Angeles police showed up at the Hacienda Motel today in 1964 to find soul singer Sam Cooke in his room, clad only in a sport coat and shoes, but no shirt, pants, or underwear, dead of a gunshot wound to the chest. Motel manager Bertha Franklin admitted shooting him in self-defense after he’d burst into her office that way, demanding to know the whereabouts of the woman he’d checked in with, but there were many unanswered questions although no foul play was ever proved.
Filming began today in 1968 for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, a concept singer Mick Jagger came up with as a way to move beyond traditional recordings and concert performances. Intended to be aired on the BBC, it was shot in a London sound-stage done up to look like the interior of a circus big-top, with guest appearances from Jethro Tull (their only filmed performance with short-time guitarist Tony Iommi, later of Black Sabbath), The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful (Jagger’s girlfriend at the time), a one-off band called The Dirty Mac (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards on bass, and Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums), and The Stones themselves, who after having gone on very late decided their performance was decidedly lackluster, especially after that of The Who, and kept it from being seen by the public until 1996.
KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley was electrocuted on stage in Florida tonight in 1973 after touching a stage light while holding his ungrounded guitar. He was carried from the stage, but recovered and returned 10 minutes later to finish the show.
Singer Toni Basil had her one hit today in 1982 when Mickey topped the charts. Before that she’d been somewhat famous as a dancer who choreographed the Shindig! music show for ABC TV, The T.A.M.I. Show, The Monkees movie Head (in which she appears), the Once In A Lifetime video for the Talking Heads, David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour, and many other films and TV shows.
The Jam played their last show ever tonight in 1982 in Brighton England, the scene some 20 years earlier of huge “punch-ups” between snappily dressed scooter-riding “Mods” and leather-clad motorcycle-riding “Rockers“. The band were hugely popular in England (you can still walk into almost any pub in the U.K. and find their greatest hits on the jukebox), started a late-70’s revival of the Mod culture the borrowed from The Who and The Kinks, but never caught on in America. Leader and guitarist Paul Weller went on to start a more Motown-influenced band (The original Mods loved Motown) called The Style Council, and has since become fast friends with both Pete Townsend and Ray Davies.
A Black Crowes gig in Tuscon Arizona tonight in 1998 turned ugly when singer Chris Robinson was hit in the head and knocked out by a bottle thrown from the crowd, and a security guard who tried to throw the thrower out was stabbed. All recovered.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton would be 87 if she hadn’t died in 1984. Elvis Presley had his first major hit with a cover of her rendition of Leiber and Stoller’s Hound Dog, and Janis Joplin would have another one with her cover of Ball And Chain.
Bread singer and bass player David Gates is 73.
Mötley Crüe bass player Nikki Sixx (Frank Carlton Serifino Ferrano Jr.) is 55.
Darryl “The Munch” Jones, bass player for The Rolling Stones since the departure of Bill Wyman, is 53, and has still not been made a full member of the band.