Elvis Presley was in Seattle today in 1962, starting filming on It Happened At The World’s Fair at the Century 21 Exposition on the grounds of what we now know as Seattle Center. The film was largely the result of successful lobbying of MGM executives by then-governor Albert Rosellini.
The Beatles were at the end of their short break from their U.S. tour at a house manager Brian Epstein had rented for them in the Hollywood hills today in 1965, when they headed to a studio where The Byrds were recording to hang out and smoke pot, then headed to an arranged meeting at Elvis Presley’s Bel-Air mansion. Elvis was lounging in the TV room, playing bass, their meeting was somewhat awkward, and John Lennon was heard later to say “Where’s Elvis? It was like meeting Englebert Humperdinck.”, but at the time made a point of telling “Memphis Mafia” member Jerry Schilling to make sure that Elvis knew “if it hadn’t been for him, The Beatles would be nothing”.
The Beach Boys song God Only Knows was at #2 on the British charts today in 1966. Brian Wilson’s unconventional instrumentation would be particularly inspirational to The Beatles, who had given up playing live and were about to start experimenting in the recording studio, and his use of French Horns was particularly inspirational to The Who’s John Entwhistle, who’d been playing one since age 11.
The Beatles manager Brian Epstein was found dead in his bedroom today in 1967 of an overdose of Barbiturate sleeping pills combined with alcohol. Epstein had been such an enthusiast of Amphetamines that he needed the downers to sleep, but it’s never clearly been determined if his death was an accident or a suicide. A planned Jimi Hendrix concert at the Epstein-owned Saville Theater that night was cancelled, and The Beatles were in Bangor, Wales with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who told them that “being within the realm of the physical world, his death was unimportant”, but they were devastated. “If anyone was a fifth Beatle, it was Brian”, Paul McCartney would say later, and he encouraged the others to take on his wife’s brother John Eastman as manager, while the other three wanted The Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein to handle their affairs. John Lennon later said Epstein’s death was the beginning of the end for the band, saying “I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music. I thought ‘We’ve f***ing had it now”.
Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed early this morning in 1990 when the helicopter he was riding in crashed into a ski hill outside of East Troy Wisconsin. He and his band Double Trouble had played a show the night before where they were joined for an encore by guitarists Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Eric Clapton, and the entourage had hired four choppers to fly them to Chicago, and Vaughan, the pilot, and three members of Eric Clapton’s crew were killed instantly.
Seattle’s Pearl Jam released their debut album 10 today in 1991. The name came from the playing number of bass player Jeff Ament’s favorite basketball player Mookie Blaylock of the New Jersey Nets, which they had used for a few early shows here in town before adopting Pearl Jam. It would be their most successful album by far, going on to sell over 13 million copies and make them international superstars.
Neil Young was the headliner at England’s prestigious Reading Festival tonight in 1995, but instead of playing with his usual backing band Crazy Horse, he chose a Seattle band he’d met recently, Pearl Jam.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson is 61. He was born in the ski town of Fernie, British Columbia to Serbian immigrant parents as Aleksander Zivonovich, which made his stage-name, as Zivonovich translates from Serbian to “Son of Life”.
The Sex Pistols bass player Glen Matlock is 58. After recording almost all the band’s recorded output, he was booted from the band in favor of the image of barely-a-bass-player Sid Vicious, though Matlock himself says he was fired for “liking The Beatles“. He would rejoin for later reunion tours, and also serve as bass player for a reunion of The Faces in place of the late Ronnie Lane.