46 year old luthier Oroville Gibson founded the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company Ltd. in Kalamazoo Michigan today in 1902. He made and sold instruments of his own designs, and invented the louder “arch top” guitar before he died just after WWI, but in 1959 his company would make the red Les Paul Standard Jimmy Page bought ten years later from Joe Walsh for $1200 and used to make Led Zeppelin the biggest band in the world. Here he plays it at the Kingdome in 1977.
It wasn’t until the 80’s that some Beatles fan noticed that in the cemetery of St. Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool were the mortal remains of one Eleanor Rigby, who died at 44 today in 1939, and happened to have her headstone a few yards away from where Paul McCartney met John Lennon and The Quarrymen in 1957. It’s one of rock’s great coincidences apparently, Paul said he wrote the song using the name Daisy Hawkins, but didn’t like the way it sounded and used “Eleanor” from actress Eleanor Bron, who’d starred in Help!, and “Rigby” from Rigby and Evans, Ltd. liquor store in Bristol.
The Beatles were playing in Liecester tonight in 1964, and Ringo Starr was enjoying their newfound financial success driving himself to the gig in the brand new car he’d bought that day, an horrifically expensive French Facel Vega Facel II, a luxury GT car with a 383 Chrysler V8 favored by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, and Princess Grace of Monaco. When he arrived he showed it off to the others, telling them he hadn’t pegged the speedometer, but topped out at 140 MPH on the M6 Motorway.
Black Sabbath hit #1 on the British album chart with their second album Paranoid today in 1970. Bass player Geezer Butler wrote all the lyrics, and originally called the opening track Walpurgis, which he said was the name of the Satanic version of Christmas, except that the real Satanists were the warmongers waging it in Vietnam, and then changed the song’s name to War Pigs. Ozzy Osbourne later wrote in I Am Ozzy, ” Geezer came up with these heavy duty lyrics about death and destruction. No wonder we never got any chicks at our gigs”. Butler wanted to use War Pigs as the album’s title, but Vertigo Records thought his shorter yet equally uplifting song about depression would be a better single to promote, and were themselves Paranoid about a backlash by conservative Vietnam War supporters, and the album wouldn’t be released in the U.S. until January of ’71, where it would go to #12.
The Rose premiered in Hollywood tonight in 1979. It was the screen debut of singer Bette Midler, starring as a fictional rock and roll singer as much like Janis Joplin as the producers could make her without being sued by Joplin’s family, who didn’t want anything to do with the film.
The ashes of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham were interred at the Rushock Parish Church in Worcestershire today in 1980. Bonzo had drunk himself to death at age 32 two weeks earlier, his headstone is still a pilgrimage site to drummers from all over the world, and the rows of drumsticks they leave have to be periodically thinned out by the vicar.
Seattle’s own Pearl Jam hit #1 on the U.S. album charts today in 2009 with their 9th studio album Backspacer.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Van Halen frontman “Diamond” David Lee Roth is 63.