The Beatles started their third month-long residency tonight in 1962 playing for sailors and such in Hamburg Germany’s Reeperbahn district, home to strip clubs, whorehouses, plenty of booze, and live music. It was their first with Paul McCartney on bass, as Stu Suttcliffe had decided to go back to art school, but not before getting the famous “mop top” haircut from his German girlfriend Astrid Kercherr, and the others had adopted it as well, save drummer Pete Best, who’s curly hair wouldn’t stay straight enough, and unbeknownst to him would be booted from the band and replaced by Ringo Starr in a month.
Things were looking up for The Beatles today in 1964. Unlike a lot of musicians still living with Mom and Dad, they’d earned a meager living playing nightclubs in England and Germany, paying their dues, but the money started rolling in today when they got a check for $140,000 U.S. from an American company selling “baseball cards” with their likenesses in packs of bubble gum.
Manchester band Herman’s Hermits jumped on the British Invasion bandwagon today in 1965 when Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter went to #1 on the U.S. charts and stayed there for three weeks.
British music magazine New Musical Express put on one of their “poll winner’s concerts” tonight in 1966 at the Wembley Empire Pool in London, and what a lineup: The Spencer Davis Group, The Fortunes, Herman’s Hermits, Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard, The Rolling Stones, The Seekers, The Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, The Walker Brothers, The Who, The Yardbirds, and playing 5 songs taking up all of 15 minutes, The Beatles.
32 year old Elvis Presley married 21 year old Priscilla Beaulieu today in 1967. He’d met her while he was in the Army in Germany when she was just 14 years old, living there with her family (Her father was an Air Force officer) and when he returned to the U.S. she’d lived at Graceland with their blessing. The wedding took place at The Aladdin hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and while a wedding license was only $15 at the time, Elvis spent $3500 on the wedding cake alone. Their marriage would last 5 years.
The Beach Boys lead guitarist Carl Wilson was arrested by the F.B.I. today in 1967 on charges of avoiding the military draft and refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance. Carl officially registered as a conscientious objector. During WWII some 12,000 conscientious objectors had been assigned to various non-military units stateside, but the Vietnam War was so unpopular with those being asked to fight it, that most were sent to prison as a deterrent, but some had money and/or celebrity on their side. Muhammed Ali had famously objected the year before, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong…They never called me nigger.”, and by the end of the month Carl Wilson was free and joined the rest of the band on tour in Ireland.
Bob Dylan taped an episode of The Johnny Cash Show tonight in 1969, which would debut in early June. While Johnny is primarily a country artist, he’d started out with the rockabilly crowd at Sun Records in the late 50’s, and always enjoyed having rock and rollers on his show, which lasted until 1971, including Neil Young, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and Eric Clapton.
Led Zeppelin scored their 5th American #1 album with Presence today in 1976, though unlike previous ones, it would only stay at the top spot for two weeks.
Elton John became the first western pop act to play Israel tonight in 1979. In three weeks he would also become the first western pop act to play in the Soviet Union.
Radio stations in South Africa banned Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall today in 1980, after it had been adopted by black schoolchildren (and their parents) as a protest song against the inferior education they were getting.
Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy today in 1984. The band had been on hiatus, and while Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie had all released solo albums…well, Mick was the drummer, and had somehow managed to blow a mind-boggling amount of money, though he did manage to pick up little extra cash acting.
The Denny-Blaine area former home of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain here in Seattle was listed for sale by his widow Courtney Love today in 1997. Asking price for the 1902 5-bedroom mansion across the street from Lake Washington and Starbucks honcho Howard Shultz’s place was $3 million. It was bought by a software executive who immediately tore down the garage with the room over it where Kurt had killed himself (or been killed depending on who you talk to), but tiny Viretta Park next door remains a pilgrimage site for Nirvana fans worldwide. Thankfully, Courtney moved to Hollywood.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Little Walter would be 87. He didn’t make it past 37, but not before becoming the first blues harmonica player to play into a microphone plugged in to a guitar amplifier, giving it a distorted sound suitable for rock and roll and copied by thousands.
Rita Coolidge is 72. She’s considered a folk and soft-rock singer, but sang with Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, and was married to Kris Kristofferson for 7 years, and her leaving Steven Stills for Graham Nash has been cited as one of the main reasons for the initial breakup of Crosby Stills and Nash.
The Black Crowes original bass player, now playing that role in the current lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Colt is 49.