RCA Records began to recoup it’s investment today in 1955, releasing it’s first single from Elvis Presley Mystery Train b/w I Forgot To Remember To Forget. It was the 11th from the future King of Rock and Roll, who put his first 10 out on Sam Phillips‘ Memphis Sun Records label. The rest of Sam’s roster of artists wasn’t doing so well, and he needed cash and so accepted RCA’s offer of only $35,000, a paltry sum considering he would go on to sell over 600 million records, and remains to this day the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music.
Brian Epstein asked The Beatles to come to his office at his NEMS record store in Liverpool today in 1961 to propose managing the band. He’d been watching their every performance at the Cavern Club for three weeks, and had already introduced himself, though as regular NEMS customers they already knew who he was. John Lennon, George Harrison, and Pete Best were late to the appointment as they’d been out drinking. Paul McCartney wasn’t with them, and George offered the excuse that Paul was taking a bath: “He’ll be late, but he’ll be very clean“. After several more meetings, they signed a contract with him in January, but McCartney, Harrison, and Best (who’s mother Mona had been managing them) had to have their parents consent as they were still under 21.
The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was knocked unconscious on stage at Sacramento’s Memorial Hall today in 1965 when his electric guitar made contact with an ungrounded microphone. Still popular today, most vintage “tube” amplifiers have a polarity-reversal switch allowing the user to ensure the circuit is running the same way as the P.A. system, but you will still frequently see players touch the end of their axe to a microphone to make sure they’re not going to get jolted.
Meanwhile back in England, The Beatles were starting what would be their last tour of the United Kingdom at the Odeon Theater in Glasgow Scotland tonight in 1965. Opening acts were Beryl Marsden, The Koobas, and The Moody Blues, from whom Paul McCartney would steal guitarist Denny Laine for his new band Wings 6 years later.
Ray Charles was in court today in 1966, being given a 5 year suspended sentence and probation for possession of heroin and pot.
Against the wishes of their TV show’s producers, The Monkees made their live debut tonight in 1966 at the International Arena in Honolulu. For the most part they stuck with the instruments they played on TV, but Peter Tork was actually a much better guitarist than Michael Nesmith, and they switched for more complicated parts, and Davy Jones was a better drummer than Mickey Dolenz, and would take over the kit on songs where Mickey sang lead.
The Rolling Stones were at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama today in 1969, recording a song based on a guitar riff by Keith Richards with lyrics Mick Jagger had written while in Australia filming Ned Kelley about his then-secret girlfriend Marsha Hunt, the mother of his first child. Brown Sugar was debuted at the infamous Altamont free concert, and would go to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
A 40 foot helium pig being used for the second day of photo-shooting for the cover of Pink Floyd’s 10th album Animals broke free of it’s tethers between the smokestacks of the Battersea Power Station in London today in 1976. As things had gone smoothly the first day, the marksman hired to shoot it down just in case hadn’t been called back for the second day, and the pig drifted into the airspace of Heathrow Airport, who’s air traffic controllers had to issue an alert to pilots to be on the lookout for a giant flying pig. “Algie“, as it was affectionately called, eventually crashed into a farmers field in Kent.
12 years after their bands had shared a bill in Glasgow, Paul McCartney and Denny Laine started a 7 week run at #1 in England today in 1977 with a song they had co-written to express their love for Scotland. Mull of Kintyre from Wings would be the first single to sell over 2 million copies.
The Philadelphia Fury lost their North American Soccer League game to the Washington Diplomats 3-Nil today in 1978, which wouldn’t make it into This Day In Classic Rock except that The Fury were owned by rabid soccer fans Peter Frampton, Paul Simon, and Rick Wakeman.
11 people were trampled to death and 26 more were injured at The Who’s show at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium tonight in 1979, which marked the beginning of the end of the practice of first-come-first-served “festival” seating. Up until this point, if you wanted to be in front, you got there early, and fans would often camp overnight, but later promoters found they could charge more for the more desirable reserved seats, aside from it being safer. The accident occurred in a mad rush when just a few gates were opened during the band’s sound check, and The Who were not told of the tragedy until after the show. They were horrified, and when a similar tragedy occurred at a show by Seattle’s Pearl Jam at the Danish Roskilde Festival in 2000, Pete Townsend called singer Eddie Vedder to offer condolences.
The families of 20 year old James Vance and 18 year old Raymond Belknap of Sparks, Nevada filed suit against British metal band Judas Priest today in 1986, claiming that the inclusion of the subliminal phrase “Do It” in their recording of the Spooky Tooth song Better By You, Better Than Me led their sons to kill themselves. The suit finally went to trial in Nevada in the summer of 1990, and was dismissed.
A young British man who’d bought a used laptop computer for £300 discovered that it had been stolen from U2 singer Bono Vox, and returned it to him today in 1999. It contained recordings and lyrics from their upcoming album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Bono bought the man a new laptop.
The Beach Boys main man Brian Wilson and Diana Ross were in the nation’s capitol tonight in 2007, receiving America’s highest award for contributions to our culture, The Kennedy Center Honors from President George W. Bush, who surprisingly was not responsible for selecting the band who performed his songs while he looked bored in the balcony, Hootie and the Blowfish.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Welsh-born Velvet Underground guitarist and multi-instrumentalist John Cale (OBE) is 74.
Geordie lead guitarist Vic Malcolm is 70. The band was moderately successful at home in England, but singer Brian Johnson was much more so when he was tapped as Bon Scott’s replacement in AC/DC.
Black Sabbath singer John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne is 68.
Jefferson Starship singer Mickey Thomas is 66.
Molly Hatchett guitarist Duane Roland would be 63. He died in 2006 of “natural causes”.