Jimi Hendrix was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army today in 1962. After being caught for a second time riding in a stolen car by Seattle police, he was given a choice between military service and jail time, and chose the former. After 8 weeks of basic training at Fort Ord he was assigned to the famed 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagle” paratroop division (see HBO’s Band of Brothers), but was by most accounts an unenthusiastic soldier. His platoon sergeant had filed a report that read, ” He has no interest whatsoever in the army. It is my opinion that Private Hendrix will never come up to the standards required of a solider. I feel that the military service will benefit if he is discharged as soon as possible”. While he failed to qualify as a marksman, he did receive his “screaming eagle patch”, but Jimi wanted out. In his biography Room Full of Mirrors, former Rocket editor Charles R. Cross asserts that Jimi even tried feigning homosexuality, ala Max Klinger in M*A*S*H to get thrown out, and though Jimi always told people he’d been discharged after breaking his ankle in a jump, Cross dug up the discharge document showing that Capt. Gilbert Batchman had granted it on basis of “unsuitability”. But it wasn’t a total loss. As soon as his training was completed, Jimi wrote home to his father Al asking him to send his beloved Sears Silvertone Danelectro guitar ASAP, and it was while playing at an Army club that fellow soldier Billy Cox heard him, borrowed a bass, and the two started a lifelong friendship that led to the two starting a band in Clarksville Tennessee after the Army, and Billy joining Jimi’s Band of Gypsies after he became famous.
Paul McCartney was at Abbey Road today in 1969, recording the shortest-ever Beatles song, Her Majesty (a longer version exists…hear it below). Ringo Starr and George Harrison joined him in 15 takes of the Golden Slumbers medley. John Lennon was not with them, still in a hospital in Scotland after a car crash there the day before.
Thunderclap Newman went to #1 in England today in 1969 with Something In The Air, written by John “Speedy” Keen, who worked as a chauffeur for The Who. He’d written a song for them, Armenia, City In The Sky, featured on The Who Sell Out, and Pete Townsend had assembled a band around him, with Andy “Thunderclap” Newman on piano, 15 year old guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (later of Wings), and Townsend himself played bass under the pseudonym Bijou Drains, and produced and recorded the album at his home studio. Keen had written the song for the soundtrack to the Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr movie The Magic Christian, and originally called it Revolution, but changed the title after The Beatles released a song by the same name. Nonetheless, it knocked their Ballad of John and Yoko from the top spot, but would be their only hit.
Queen played at Surrey College in England tonight in 1971. Farokh Bulsara was now calling himself Freddie Mercury, and he, Brian May, and Roger Taylor were playing their first show with new bass player John Deacon, who stayed with them til the end.
The Grateful Dead were playing at the San Diego Sports Arena tonight in 1980 when police tried to bust some audience members for drugs, Mickey Hart and Bob Weir told them to lay off from the stage, and were themselves arrested on charges of inciting a riot.
Guns-N-Roses mild mannered frontman was arrested for inciting a riot of his own at a show in suburban St. Louis tonight in 1991. Axl Rose had spotted a fan with a camera near the front at the Riverfront Arena, and leaped on him from the stage. Some 50 people were injured in the melee, and 15 fans were arrested as well.
Yoko Ono was in Liverpool today in 2001 for a ceremony that renamed the city’s Speke airport John Lennon International. She and government officials unveiled a sign that included one of John’s self portraits with words from his song Imagine “Above Us Only Sky”.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
The Temptations original lead singer Paul Williams would be 78. His death at age 34 was ruled a suicide by self-inflicted gunshot, but the Williams family had enough evidence to suspect he was murdered.
Texas-born model and actress Jerry Hall is 61, and most famous for being the second Mrs. Mick Jagger, with whom she had 4 kids.