The Rolling Stones released their first single today in 1963. They hadn’t figured out how to write songs yet, and weren’t really interested. Hardly anybody wrote their own songs at that point, though George Martin had taken a chance with The Beatles, and John and Paul would turn Mick and Keith on to writing later, but even then Keith admits they “Beatle-ized” their cover of Chuck Berry’s Come On. “It was a very deliberately commercial pitch. I didn’t think it was the best thing we could have done, but I did know it was something that would make a mark. …it was not something we’d ever played in the clubs. It was nothing to do with what we were doing”, he wrote in Life. The B-side was a cover of Willie Dixon’s I Want To Be Loved. It peaked at #21 on the British charts.
A year later the Stones found themselves playing the San Antonio Texas State Fair today in 1964, where despite the fact that they had to play with a pool of performing seals between them and the audience who booed them loudly enough that they cut their set short, Keith Richards met his BFF, a saxophone player from Bobby Vee’s band he shared his birthday with, Bobby Keys. Bobby had been incensed that a band from England would dare to cover his dead friend Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away, but when he saw The Rolling Stones play it, he thought they did it better than Holly, and the two hit it off for life. Also on the bill at that show was country legend George Jones, and Keith made his guitar player show him how to tune his guitar “Nashville style”, a technique that would figure prominently in Stones hits to come, along with Bobby Keys saxophone.
The Beatles were flying from Amsterdam to a show in Hong Kong today in 1964 when their plane stopped for refueling in Beirut. Hundreds of Lebanese Beatle fans who didn’t seem to mind that Jimmy Nichol was drumming instead of Ringo who was having his tonsils out, rushed onto the tarmac to meet the plane, so the police hosed them down with firefighting foam.
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood debuted their new band Blind Faith with a free concert in London’s Hyde park today in 1969. Eric had tired of Cream and the fighting between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, so he got Ric Grech from prog-jazz-rock band Family to play bass in what some in the press were calling “Super-Cream”, and added Winwood, who’d tired of Traffic. They didn’t have many songs, and fell back on playing Cream and Traffic songs that the audience seemed to prefer. Blind Faith put out one album, went on one world tour, and broke up.
Keith Richards “trashed his motor” tonight in 1969, crashing his beloved Bentley Continental on the way home in Sussex from the Hyde Park show. He escaped injury, but his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg was taken to the hospital with a broken collarbone and the car, “Blue Lena”, was a total loss.
Led Zeppelin played the first of six sold out nights at Madison Square Garden tonight in 1977, the mid point of their 11th and last North American tour. They would come to Seattle’s Kingdome on July 17th, but three shows after that they learned of the death of Robert Plant’s son Karac from a stomach virus, and cancelled the rest of the tour.
David Bowie played a show in front of the Reichstag in West Berlin tonight in 1987, pointing the speakers directly at the Berlin Wall and The East, where thousands stood listening on the other side.
A four hour “homegoing” service for Bo Diddley, who had died 5 days earlier of heart failure at 79, was held at the Showers of Blessings Church in Gainesville Florida today in 2008. Tom Petty, George Thorogood, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard all sent flowers. Afterward there was a concert at the Martin Luther King Center with performances by Bo’s band, family members, and guest singer Eric Burdon.
Joe Walsh was granted a restraining order today in 2010 against his elderly neighbor Nassar Adhoot, who’d attacked his personal assistant with a block of wood shouting “You tell Joe Walsh I’m going to kill him! I’m going to shoot him!” No reason was given for Nassar’s outburst.
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and solo artist Bob Welch was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot by his wife at home in Nashville today in 2012, leaving her a 9-page suicide note and love letter. She said he had major spinal surgery 3 months earlier and was in severe pain, which doctors told him he would not recover from, and he didn’t want her to have to take care of an invalid.
Sir Elton John caught a boatload of crap today in 2015 for comments made on stage at his show in Gloucester, England. He was incensed at the heavy handed tactics being used by security trying to prevent the crowd from surging forward, ranting at one female team member from the stage, “This isn’t China…You put a uniform on and think you’re Hitler…well you’re not”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Sir Thomas John Woodward (OBE) is 77. Better known by his stage name Tom Jones, he’s perhaps the most famous solo singer of the early British Invasion.
Prince Rogers Nelson, guitarist and singer better known by his stage name as that symbol-thingy, “the artist formerly known as…”, or simply Prince, would be 59 if he hadn’t died in 2016. Not so long ago Eric Clapton was asked how it felt to be the best guitar player in the world, he replied “I don’t know, you should ask Prince”.
Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist and occasional tattoo reality show host Dave Navarro is 50.