Elvis Presley and his backing band of guitarist Scotty Moore and upright bassist Bill Black played Nashville’s Grand Old Opry tonight in 1954. The appearance was timed to promote Elvis’ second Sun Records single Good Rockin’ Tonight, but audience response was lackluster at best, and Opry manager Jim Denny famously told Elvis he shouldn’t quit his truck driving day job. Elvis was among the first inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Moore and Black would be inducted as “sidemen” when that category was created in 2000.
The Beatles were back at EMI studios in London today with producer George Martin today in 1962. They’d been there back in June because Martin saw something in them, but wasn’t happy with the sessions and their drummer Pete Best in particular. They’d replaced Best with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes drummer Ringo Starr in mid August, but when they did Love Me Do with him today, Martin would re-record the song again a week later with session drummer Andy White. It would be the White version of the song released as a single in the U.S., while Britons got the Ringo version.
The Who stopped at the Battersea Dog’s Home in London today in 1965 to get themselves a guard dog to prevent their equipment from being stolen. While inside, their van containing some £5000 worth of musical instruments was stolen. The van, minus equipment was later recovered. This may have been a bit of Karmic revenge: Pete Townsend had smashed his Rickenbacker after breaking it’s headstock on a low ceiling at a nightclub a little over a year earlier, and the response had been so overwhelming he’d made it a regular part of his act, and had stolen several more guitars from music stores to keep up with demand.
The Beatles made short promotional films, later to be called “music videos”, for two of their songs at Twickenham Film Studios in London today in 1968. The British Musician’s Union had managed to get Parliament to pass strict laws against “Miming” (what we now call “lip-syncing”), so for the Revolution film they sang live over the prerecorded instrumental track, while on Hey Jude they were accompanied by a 36 piece orchestra and some 300 friends, fans, and extras in singing the long “na-na-na” bits.
Easy Rider premiered in London tonight in 1969, having opened in the U.S. in July. Written by actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper with help from screenwriter Terry Southern and directed by Hopper, it also got Jack Nicholson an Oscar nomination for supporting actor and was his first major film success. The soundtrack with Steppenwolf, The Byrds, The Band, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience would be a huge hit there as well as here.
After the departure of Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson after Yes’s dismal Tormato album, they were back tonight in 1980 with Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White being joined by former Buggles members Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn for the first of three sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Gregg Allman had just got his driver’s license back after a 5-year suspension when he was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving in Florida tonight in 1986.
The first of many Fender Stratocasters burned on stage by Jimi Hendrix at a show in London in 1967, sold at auction in London today in 2008 for £280,000 to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a rabid Hendrix fan and a pretty decent guitar player himself. It’s now on display at his Experience Music Project museum at Seattle Center along with several other Strats torched by Jimi. Allen doesn’t appear to be that much of a Beatles fan though: He passed on the management contract signed by all four members and Brian Epstein that went at that auction for £240,000.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist Gary Duncan is 71.
The Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers is 66.
Kim Thayil, lead guitarist with Soundgarden, is 57. A true Seattle 12, he got to celebrate his 54th birthday playing the Seahawks season opener with Green Bay on national television.