J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit was published today in 1937. It would inspire Tolkien’s own Lord of the Rings trilogy and in turn four very successful movies of the 21st Century, as well as a fair amount of Led Zeppelin songs: Misty Mountain Hop, The Battle of Evermore, No Quarter, and Ramble On.
Deep Purple had their first hit today in 1968 with Hush. It went to number 4 in the U.S.
The four wax Beatles at Madame Tussaud’s museum in London featured on the Sgt. Pepper’s album cover got their 5th wardrobe and hair change today in 1968. The originals, which don’t look as much like them as later renditions, are apparently now in Dubai.
The British TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test premiered on the BBC tonight in 1971. The show was one of the first to focus on “serious” rock music rather than the latest pop hits, and ran until 1987. Many of KZOK’s roster of Classic rock artists appeared on the show, and the performances have gotten a second life on YouTube.
A Jamaican immigrant to England, Carl Douglas, officially hit “one hit wonder” status today in 1974. He’d written Kung Fu Fighting to cash in on the burgeoning popularity of “Chop-Socky” martial arts films coming from Hong Kong and Taiwan, it’s biggest star ( and Seattle resident) Bruce Lee who’d died the year before, and at the time one of the biggest shows on American TeeVee was Kung Fu. The song hit #1 in all English-speaking countries and most of Europe as well.
Bob Marley collapsed while jogging in New York’s Central Park today in 1980. He was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with cancer. He played his last-ever concert two nights later in Philadelphia, but fought the disease until May.
Bad Company and King Crimson bass player Raymond “Boz” Burrell was killed by a heart attack at age 60 today in 2006.
A performance contract revealing that the Beatles refused to play in front of a segregated audience at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1965 sold at auction in L.A. today in 2011 for $23,000.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen would be 83 if he hadn’t passed last November. He’d been inducted into the Canadian songwriter’s Hall of Fame as well as the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Session bassist David Hood is 74. Part of the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, he played on albums and live with Boz Scaggs, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Bob Seger, and Traffic to name but a few.
The Eagles founding lead guitarist Don Felder is 70, born in Gainesville, Florida, where he started his first band with Stephen Stills, got slide guitar lessons from Duane Allman, and in turn taught guitar to Tom Petty. In 2001 Don was fired from The Eagles, he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, and Don Henley and Glenn Frey immediately filed a countersuit to prevent Don from releasing a tell-all memoir. The three eventually settle out of court for an undisclosed sum, but Don expressed regret that he hadn’t yet patched things up with Frey when he died in 2016.
Phillip John “Philthy Animal” Taylor, heyday drummer for Motörhead, would be 63 if he hadn’t passed in 2015 a month before his former rhythm section partner Lemmy Kilmister.