“Little” Stevie Wonder had his first hit today in 1963 when his song Fingertips hit the top spot, featuring a young Marvin Gaye on drums, but Stevie was even younger, only 13 at the time.
The Beatles were still down under today in 1964, having bid farewell to temp-drummer Jimmy Nicol and reunited with Ringo, they played tonight in Wellington, New Zealand. The local constabulary, unimpressed by the British long hairs, assigned only two policemen to deal with 5000+ Beatle freaks.
A new band formed by Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, cleverly called The Jeff Beck Group, made it’s American debut at the Fillmore East in New York City tonight in 1968. The band featured Rod Stewart on vocal, Ronnie Wood on bass, Jeff Beck on lead guitar (duh). They were already on their 5th drummer, Mickey Waller, and ready to break up, but their tour manager, future Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, convinced them to stay together for this tour of the States.
Led Zeppelin played their only show in Iceland tonight in 1970, and one of their signature tunes came out of it. Robert Plant said, “We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be cancelled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. “Immigrant Song” was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.” They would debut the song live just six days later at the Bath festival in England.
Dennis “Leppo” Lobban was sentenced to death by hanging today in 1988 for the murder of Peter Tosh, a former member of Bob Marley’s Wailers and a solo artist. Tosh had just come back to Jamaica from a concert tour when Leppo, who Tosh had previously helped find a job, and two other gunmen showed up at his house and demanded money. When Tosh said he had none in the house, they tortured and eventually shot him, and shot and killed several of Tosh’s friends who had stopped by to welcome him home. Leppo’s sentence was commuted, and he remains in prison to this day.
It was today in 2002 that David “The Edge” Evans of U2 married his longtime girlfriend Morleigh Steinberg, who he met when she was a belly dancer working on the band’s Zoo TV Tour in 1993. They have two kids.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Country star Kris Kristofferson is 81, a former Rhodes scholar, U.S. Army Captain, and helicopter pilot. When his tour of duty in Germany ended just prior to America’s escalation of the Vietnam war, he started a career in music. He took a job as janitor at Columbia Studios in Nashville and flew helicopters for an oil company, once landing unannounced at Johnny Cash’s house to drop off some demo tapes. His biggest hit, Me and Bobby McGee, went to number one as sung by his girlfriend Janis Joplin after she died.
Peter Asher is 73, half of the British vocal group Peter and Gordon, and older brother of 60’s supermodel Jane Asher who happened to be the longtime girlfriend of one Paul McCartney, which may have something to do with their biggest hit being a Paul McCartney song, World Without Love.
Howard Kaylan is 70, lead singer with The Turtles and “Eddie” of Flo and Eddie who gained fame with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Howard now lives among us here in the Seattle area, and three years ago released a fascinating autobiography called Shell Shocked: My Life with The Turtles, Flo and Eddie, Frank Zappa, Etc.
Todd Rundgren is 69, multi-instrumentalist who started out in the psychedelic garage band The Nazz, fronted Utopia, went on to produce records for artists like Badfinger, Meat Loaf, Grand Funk Railroad, The New York Dolls, Hall and Oates, The Tubes, Cheap Trick, XTC, and The Psychedelic Furs, then came out of semi-retirement to stand in for the late Ben Orr in The New Cars.
Alan Osmond is 68, leader and rhythm guitarist of The Osmonds, who rocked surprisingly hard when they started writing their own music.