Chuck Berry was arrested today in 1959 for taking an underage girl across state lines. He didn’t know it at the time, but 14 year old Janice Norine was a professional, working as a prostitute. The judge sentenced him to 5 years in prison, but after he made some racist comments about the defendant, the lawyers managed to get the whole case dismissed.
As featured in the radio “bumper” ads on The Who Sell Out, “Pirate Radio” station Radio London began transmitting from a surplus American WWII minesweeper U.S.S. Density (renamed MV Galaxy) in the English Channel today in 1964. The BBC had a limited number of channels and none of them devoted much programming time to rock and roll, but unlike predecessors Radio Caroline and Radio Atlanta, “The Big L” was started by an American from Texas who saw opportunity in the fact that at home consumers had many stations to choose from, but in England there were only two.
Burned out on their grueling touring schedule, The Beach Boys bass player and principal songwriter Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown on a flight from L.A. to Houston and decided to not-entirely quit the band today in 1964, reducing his role to songwriting and producing. He was replaced for live shows by a singing guitarist from L.A.’s famed studio backing group The Wrecking Crew who would later become quite famous on his own, Glen Campbell.
Britain’s ITV Network broadcast it’s last-ever episode of the popular teen dance programme Ready! Steady Go! tonight in 1966. It had become immensely popular after The Beatles appeared in ’64, and while the band had mocked host Cathy McGowan in their movie A Hard Day’s Night with the character “Susan” (“She’s that posh bird who gets everything wrong”, as George Harrison said), it had done quite well until the British Musician’s Union had managed to get a ban on “miming” to records (what we now call “lip-synching”), and rather than have bands play live ITV simply ended the show with tonight’s line up of Mick Jagger, The Who, The Spencer Davis Group, and Donovan.
British folkie singer-songwriter Steven Georgieou, who’d been performing under the stage name Cat Stevens, legally changed his name to Yusef Islam today in 1977 after becoming a Muslim. Two years later he would auction all his guitars off for charity and quit making music altogether for many years to devote his time toward educational and philanthropic pursuits, and while he’d always been a peace advocate in song and deed, the name was enough to land him on the Bush administration’s “no fly list” after the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Yusef has recently returned to performing live, and KZOK morning host Danny Bonaduce flew down to San Francisco to see him a couple of years ago.
Raymond Belknap and James Vance of Sparks, Nevada spent several hours of today in 1985 drinking beer, smoking pot, and listening to their favorite band Judas Priest, when supposedly incited by the phrase “Do It” in the song Better By You, Better Than Me from their Stained Class album, retired to the playground of a nearby church with a shotgun, with which Belknap killed himself instantly, while Vance was less accurate and blew off a fair amount of his face, suffering injuries that would kill him tow years later. Their parents blamed the band, and filed a lawsuit that was eventually thrown out of court.
Ex-Beatle George Harrison’s house on the Hawaiian Island of Maui got an uninvited guest today in 1999 in the form of fan Cristin Keleher, who broke in, cooked herself a frozen pizza, drank beer from the fridge, and did her laundry while calling her Mom at home in New Jersey. She was arrested and charged with breaking and entering and theft, though George was not home at the time.
Black Sabbath bass player and songwriter Geezer Butler offered a £5000 reward today in 2005 for any information leading to the safe return of Toga, a 3 month old penguin that had been stolen from the zoo on The Isle of Wight.
Forbes magazine reported today in 2007 that The Police’s reunion tour had made more money than any other performer that year. Their $132 million from the 54 date North American tour was nearly double that of the next one on the list, country star Kenny Chesney.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen is 76.
Iron Butterfly drummer Ron Bushy, who’s solo on Inna Gadda Davida sold thousands of drum kits, is 71.
Spooky Tooth, Stealer’s Wheel, and Mott The Hoople guitarist Luther Grosvenor, who used the stage name Ariel Bender in Mott, is 70.
King Crimson and David Bowie guitarist Adrian Belew is 67.
Edward Louis Severson III is 52, better known by his stage name as the lead singer of Seattle’s Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, and is no doubt quite pleased to have just been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but is also much happier that his beloved Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series