The Beatles were in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg again today in 1963, for their third appearance on Radio Luxembourg’s Friday Spectacular. The tiny semi-socialist constitutional monarchy with one of the highest standards of living in the world is located between France, Germany, and Belgium, and has a smaller population than the City of Seattle in it’s under 1000 square miles, but it’s radio transmitters are privately owned. The generally less socialist Britain gave total control of the airwaves to the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1922, which could have sold advertising but instead funded itself by requiring licenses to own a receiver, but in the 50’s and early 60’s conservative BBC management had little interest in rock and roll. Radio Luxembourg was eager to fill the void, and devoted a channel to the English language, and used it’s powerful transmitter to send advertising-funded programming directly into England, including a taped program from American DJ Alan Freed in the 50’s where the young Beatles had discovered most of the American R&B songs they were covering. As rock and roll became even more popular in the early 60’s, the BBC’s avoidance of it led to even more “pirate” broadcasting, often from ships in the English Channel.
George Harrison married a model and actress he had met two years earlier on the set of A Hard Day’s Night today in 1966. Though she was almost 20 years old at the time, Pattie Boyd had been cast in the role “Star-Struck Schoolgirl” in the film, and her one line consisted of one word: “Prisoners?” At the time she was semi-engaged to a photographer, and at first declined what she later said were George’s first words to her” “Will you marry me? Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?” Paul McCartney served as best man in the simple ceremony at a registrar’s office. John and Ringo had gone on holiday abroad with their wives to distract the press. Pattie was with George and John and Cynthia Lennon when they first experienced LSD, was the one who turned them all on to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and was the inspiration behind George’s songs Something, I Need You, For You Blue, and Isn’t It A Pity. By 1973 their marriage was failing and she had an affair with Ronnie Wood of The Faces before hooking up with George’s good friend Eric Clapton, who’d had a crush on her for years. She married him in 1979, and inspired some more pretty good songs in Layla, Bell Bottom Blues, and Wonderful Tonight before they divorced in ’88. Pattie’s 3 year younger sister Jenny was also fond of rock stars, having been in a long relationship with Donovan (Jennifer Juniper was written for her), before marrying Mick Fleetwood.
Jimi Hendrix recorded his version of Bob Dylan’s All along The Watchtower today in 1968 at the Olympic Studios in London, with help from his friends Dave Mason of Traffic and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. When he heard it Bob was floored by Jimi’s version, claiming that Hendrix had found things to expand in the song that he hadn’t thought of, and considers it a tribute to Hendrix every time he plays it.
Though it wouldn’t be released until March of the next year, Pink Floyd played Dark Side of the Moon live…successfully… for the first time tonight in 1972 at the Guildhall in Portsmouth England. They’d tried the night before in Brighton, but were plagued by technical difficulties. The final arrangement of one of the best selling rock albums of all time was worked out in these early live performances, evolving as they went along playing it nearly every night, all over Europe. They then headed to Abbey Road studios to record it with producer Alan Parsons starting in late May.
Soul singer Jackie Wilson died today at age 49 in 1984. He’d suffered a massive heart attack on stage at a Dick Clark show at a casino in New Jersey in 1975, and had been in a coma since then. Van Morrison was a huge fan, and wrote his song Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) in ’72.
Billy Idol pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges today in 1992, following a punch-up outside a Hollywood restaurant. He was fined $2700 and ordered to appear in a series of anti-drug commercials.
Jethro Tull’s heyday keyboard player David Palmer, who’d played on all their albums from 1969 to 1980 including Aqualung and Thick as a Brick, became Dee Palmer today in 2003 after his/her successful sex change operation.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Folksinger and guitarist Richie Havens, most famous as the first act on stage at Woodstock, would be 76 if he hadn’t died in 2013.
Singer and songwriter Edwin Starr would be 75 today, he died of a heart attack in 2003.
Run-DMC’s DJ Jam Master Jay (Jason William Mizell) would be 52 today had he not been murdered in 2002. Run-DMC’s Rick Rubin recorded cover of Walk This Way is largely credited with not only putting them into the mainstream, but also reviving the then-nearly-dead career of Aerosmith.