Elvis Presley recorded the Leiber/Stoller song Jailhouse Rock today in 1957. The title song as it was performed in the movie featured Mike Stoller (Jerry Leiber was the lyricist of the pair) on piano, but The King’s recording would be his first to debut at #1 on the British charts.
The BBC ran the first episode of The Cilla Black Show tonight in 1968, making the former Liverpool Cavern Club coat-check girl the first woman performer to have her own TV show. She’d got up and sang occasionally at The Cavern, impressing many including The Beatles, and John Lennon had gone so far as to talk Brian Epstein into giving her an audition, which hadn’t gone well because The Beatles backed her up and played the song she was doing in their key, not hers, but by tonight she was a star, and the song the show opened with, Step Inside Love, was written for her by Paul McCartney.
The Allman Brothers Band road manager Twiggs Lyndon was arrested early this morning in 1970 and charged with murder after stabbing a night club owner in an argument over the door receipts. At his trial Lyndon’s lawyers argued that he’d been temporarily insane, and that touring with The Allman Brothers Band would drive anyone insane. The jury agreed, and he was acquitted.
The Who’s drummer Keith Moon was in an unusually responsible mood tonight in 1976, when he paid 9 New York City cab drivers to block both ends of the street his hotel was on, so he could throw the contents of his room out the window without fear of arrest or hurting anyone.
Led Zeppelin set a new world concert attendance record tonight in 1977 when 76,229 people showed up to see them at the Pontiac Silverdome, breaking the previous record of 75,962 set by The Who two years earlier at the same venue, then the home to the Detroit Lions and the largest stadium in the NFL until the Washington Native American Offenders opened FedEx Field in 1997. The Lions moved to Ford Field in Detroit in 2002, which holds some 65,000 for football games, closer to the size of Seattle’s Kingdome, where Zeppelin played in July of that year in a much better documented show.
The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey made his acting debut tonight in 1980 portraying 60’s armed robber and Scotland Yard’s Public Enemy #1 turned journalist after escaping from prison multiple times John McVicar. Roger would have his first solo hit with the Russ Ballard written song Free Me from the soundtrack to McVicar.
Influential rock journalist Lester Bangs, who’d written extensively for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines died today in 1982 at age 33 of a heart attack brought on by an overdose of Darvon, Valium, and NyQuil. Bangs had an acerbic style, and would purposely open interviews with the most insulting question he could think of, a good example of his work being his review of the first Black Sabbath album, which he described as “Cream cliches that sound like the musicians learned them out of a book, grinding on and on with dogged persistence. Vocals are sparse, most of the album being filled with plodding bass lines over which the lead guitar dribbles wooden Claptonisms from the master’s tiredest Cream days. They even have discordant jams with bass and guitar reeling like velocitized speedfreaks all over each other’s musical perimeters yet never quite finding synch—just like Cream! But worse.” He was portrayed by the recently deceased actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, mentoring a young Cameron Crowe in the latter’s semi-autobiographical 2000 movie Almost Famous.
Blues guitarist Muddy Waters (real name McKinley Morganfield) died of a heart attack in his sleep tonight in 1983 at age 70. Muddy had been relatively unknown at home in America in his heyday when black artists rarely made it to mainstream radio, but in England musicians were paying very close attention, and turned his music into something entirely different with bands like Cream, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, who named themselves after one of his songs.
A band from Aberdeen calling themselves Nirvana left Seattle’s Sub Pop record label for David Geffen’s DGC today in 1991, for $290,000, which seemed like a mind-boggling amount of money to them at the time, but their first record for the label, Nevermind, would sell millions of copies and change rock music forever . On hearing the news, the British prog-rock band Nirvana, who’d been avoiding fame since the late 60’s, sued Geffen over the use of the name, a settled out-of-court for a reported $100,000, though they would reform and had planned an album of Kurt Cobain covers called Nirvana plays Nirvana that they wisely cancelled when the singer killed himself.
Lawyers for The Dave Matthews Band agreed to pay an additional $200,000 today in 2005 as penalty for an incident the year before when the driver of their then-empty tour bus, Stefan Wohl, had stopped on a Chicago bridge and emptied the sewage holding tank into the Chicago River, and unfortunately onto a boatload of some 100 architecture-student tourists below. Wohl had been fined $10,000 personally, and the band had already donated $100,000 to two groups that protect the river.
Two families in La Quinta California decided to share four lifetime tickets to the nearby Coachella Festival offered as a reward when they recovered the giant inflatable pig that had landed on their property today in 2008 after breaking free during Roger Waters’ performance there. It wasn’t the first time a pig had got free. The original inflatable pig strung up between the smokestacks of London’s Battersea Power Station for the photo shoot for Pink Floyd’s Animals album cover in 1977 had broken loose of it’s moorings and drifted directly into the flight path for Heathrow Airport.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rockabilly singer and guitarist Johnny Horton would be 92 if he’d made it past 35 when he was killed by a drunk driver. Horton is largely responsible for the short-lived late 50’s trend of working historical events into song, and had hits with The Battle of New Orleans, North to Alaska (written for the John Wayne movie that starts, of course, in Seattle), and Sink the Bismarck.
Wayne Kramer is 69.The guitarist with the influential Detroit band The MC5 spent a couple of years in Federal prison after being caught selling cocaine to an undercover agent in the 70’s, spent most the 80’s and 90’s working as a carpenter, mentoring punk rock musicians (including Seattle’s Mudhoney), and appearing in documentaries about the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where the MC5 played a blistering set in protest of the Vietnam War. Most recently he’s worked as the brilliant musical director for Will Ferrell on his movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the HBO comedy series Eastbound And Down, and with an organization called Jail Guitar Doors that provides musical instruments to prison inmates named for The Clash’s song that starts with the line “Let me tell you ’bout Wayne, and his deals with cocaine…”
Merrill Osmond, bass player for The Osmonds and the 5th of the 9 Osmond kids, is 64.