Rockabilly guitarist Carl Perkins was at #1 on the British charts today in 1956 with Blue Suede Shoes, a song that would have a profound influence on the next generation of rockers (The Beatles recorded a version of the “B-Side”, Honey Don’t). The song came to Carl from a story Johnny Cash had told him about meeting a black Air Force enlisted man in Europe, who’d referred to his regulation footwear as “Blue Suede Shoes”, and later when he’d been playing a dance, overheard the male half of a young couple say “Uh Oh, Don’t step on my suedes”. Americans would become familiar with the song when Elvis Presley recorded it 6 months later (he performed it 3 times on national television), and Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran would cover it as well.
Elvis Presley was at #1 on the British charts for the 14th time today in 1963 with (You’re The) Devil in Disguise. The song had been debuted to Limey music fans on the BBC music show Juke Box Jury, with guest judge John Lennon declaring it a “miss”, saying Elvis was “like Bing Crosby now”.
The Beatles second feature-length film Help! premiered in London tonight in 1965. The band again tapped director Richard Lester, who John Lennon had been impressed with after seeing his short The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers from the BBC radio hit The Goon Show. While Lester’s A Hard Days Night had focused on the Beatles themselves, Help! was inspired by the Marx Brothers Duck Soup, the massively popular James Bond films, and the bizarre comedy of The Goon Show. Lester would have hits again the 80’s with the Christopher Reeve Superman series. The Beatles themselves would later admit the whole film was made in “A haze of marijuana smoke”.
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker made their live debut as Cream today in 1966, at the Twisted Wheel nightclub in Manchester, England.
Bob Dylan was riding his Triumph Tiger motorcycle to the local dealer near his home in Woodstock New York for repairs today in 1966 when the back wheel locked and he lost control. He said he was thrown over the handlebars, but no ambulance was called, he never went to a hospital, and while Bob later said he’d suffered broken neck vertebra, many speculated that he’d used the crash as an excuse to unwind for a lengthy period out of the spotlight while he “recuperated”.
The Grateful Dead played their first-ever show outside the U.S. tonight in 1966.…barely…at the “Trips Festival” in Vancouver B.C.
Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons quit The Byrds today in 1968 on the eve of a tour of South Africa, as he was taking a stand against apartheid and refused to play to segregated audiences.
British shock-rocker Screaming Lord Sutch was publicizing some upcoming London shows today in 1972 when he jumped off a double-decker bus with four naked women near the Prime Minister’s residence at #10 Downing Street. He was arrested immediately.
Led Zeppelin played the last of three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York tonight in 1973. After the show someone made off with $203,000, the receipts for the last two shows, from the safe at the Drake Hotel. Manager Peter Grant had always insisted on being paid in cash. Tour manager Richard Cole was the one who discovered the theft, and to his surprise was arrested by NY police who suspected him, but after questioning released him.
Cass Elliot, singer from The Mamas and The Papas, died today in 1974 at age 32, at the London Flat on loan from American singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson where The Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die at the same age four years later. While investigating police did find the partially eaten sandwich that fueled so many urban myths, Cass died of a heart attack, probably brought on by extreme weight loss: She’d lost 80 pounds by crash-dieting.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rush’s singing bass player Geddy Lee is 64. Born Gary Lee Weinrib, he took his stage name using his middle name, and the “Geddy” his friends had picked up from his Polish-born Mother’s thickly-accented pronunciation of “Gary”.
E-Street Band singer, rhythm guitarist, and Mrs. Bruce Springsteen Patti Scialfa is also 64.