Conscription into the United States military was still a cold-war thing today in 1961, and Elvis Presley wasn’t the only already-famous rock and roller to serve, though Don and Phil Everly, facing being drafted into the Army for a two-year hitch, instead enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, and serve a much shorter time with the 8th Artillery Battalion, though the Everly Brothers did manage a February appearance, in their dress blue uniforms, on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Upscale Knightsbridge London department store Harrod’s closed to the public for several hours today in 1965 so that The Beatles and their significant others could do their Christmas shopping without being pestered by screaming girls.
Having arrived in London in September escorted by his new manager and The Animals former bass player Chas Chandler, who’d helped him assemble a rhythm section, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first ever live show at the uber-hip Bag ‘O Nails nightclub tonight in 1966. In the audience with their jaws on the floor were Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Soft Machine guitarist Kevin Ayers, who later said, “All the stars were there, and I heard some serious comments. You know, S***!, Jesus!, Damn!, and other words worse than that!”
John Lennon rather publicly sent his Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal back to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace today in 1969, in protest of England’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War, support for America’s war in Vietnam, “And for Cold Turkey slipping down the charts”. While many of the old guard of war heroes had returned their own medals in disgust when The Beatles made the list in 1965, returning the medal doesn’t mean much, and MBE status can’t be renounced.
Though The Beatles had done his songs, and The Rolling Stones wouldn’t exist without him, Chuck Berry had his first #1 hit in England today in 1972, and he didn’t write it. It was a cover of Dave Bartholomew’s double-entendre novelty song about a toy gift consisting of silver bells hanging on a string. Chuck’s pick up band for the single My Ding-A-Ling recorded in London were guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh (later to gain fame in The Average White Band), and bass player Nic Potter from the prog-rock band Van der Graaf Generator.
It was Thanksgiving today in 1976, but The Band blew off family dinner to play the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco at what was billed as their last show ever, The Last Waltz. A film crew assembled by director Martin Scorsese was on hand to catch Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson (who wouldn’t play with them when they started touring again in ’83). Also on hand were guest musicians Bob Dylan, Paul Butterfield, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, The Staple Singers, Ronnie Wood, Eric Clapton, and the man they’d started out backing as The Hawks, Canadian rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. Scorsese’s movie version would hit theaters two years later.
The British Press were lined up outside Yes and Buggles multi-instrumentalist producer Trevor Horn’s London studio tonight in 1984 as the then-cream of England’s pop royalty filed in to record Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof and Ultravox frontman Midge Ure’s historic fundraising single Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which would be released 3 days later under the name Band Aid. Joined by Bono, Sting, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Status Quo, Spandau Ballet, The Jam’s Paul Weller, and many more, the song would go to #1 for 5 weeks, sell over 11 million copies, and be England’s best-seller of all time until Elton John’s Princess Diana remake of Candle in The Wind. It would also raise millions of dollars for famine relief in Ethiopia, but the performers at tonight’s session weren’t suffering. Midge Ure later said, “Once Status Quo produced their bag of cocaine and the booze started to flow…I brought six bottle of wine from my flat, they disappeared in a minute…it became a party”. It was the first of many such celebrity fundraisers, the most recent being a remake of the same song by Geldof and Ure under the name Band Aid 30 to raise funds for the current Ebola crisis.