18 year old Richard Wayne Penniman, who was already using the stage name “Little Richard“, was at an Atlanta radio station today in 1951 recording for RCA records for the first time. He’s one of the most influential of the early rock and roll pioneers. His songs would be covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, and C.C.R. in America, and he was a huge with The Beatles (who would later borrow his organ player Billy Preston, and Paul McCartney would co-opt his trademark “Wooo”) and The Rolling Stones, both of whom opened for him on British tours. Little Richard’s band in the early 60’s would include a guitarist from Seattle at the time still spelling his name Jimmie Hendrix.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1965 recording Day Tripper in three takes, not including vocal overdubs. The song was finished in one day. John Lennon had come up with the signature guitar riff and most of the lyrics, which Paul McCartney helped him with, later saying it was about drugs, “…a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was committed only in part to the idea” of taking them, or as John put it, “You’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?”
Folk singer Joan Baez was at the front of 123 people arrested today in 1967 for blocking the entrance to the Armed forces Induction Center in Oakland California.
Leonard Chess, founder of Chicago’s Chess Records and recording studio, died of a heart attack at age 52 today in 1969. His label had been home to some of the most influential rock and blues artists of all time, like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson, which led The Rolling Stones to record (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction there in ’65 on what seemed to them like a pilgrimage.
Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up today in 1972, following the lackluster sales and bad reviews of their 7th album Mardi Gras, which John Fogerty had reluctantly let the other members write some songs for. One Rolling Stone magazine reviewer had written it was “The worst album I’ve ever heard from a major rock band”. John Fogerty would go on to a successful solo career, his brother Tom died in 1990, and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and Stu Cook have been touring as Creedence Clearwater Revisited ever since.
Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Walsh, Julian Lennon, and Keith Richards were among artists paying tribute to rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry at the Fox Theater in St. Louis tonight in 1986, two days before his 60th birthday. The concert was filmed and included in the Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll the next year.
Bob Dylan had asked that security be tightened on his tour for his 31st studio record Love and Theft, which had been released the day The World Trade Center came down in New York after being hit by hijacked aircraft. Bob also had a habit of leaving the venue before a show, wandering around and taking pictures. But tonight in 2001, he’d forgotten his backstage pass, and two security guards who had no idea who he was refused him entry to his own concert. They were both fired.
The legendary Greenwich Village nightclub CBGB closed it’s doors forever tonight in 2006 after one last show from Patti Smith, who’d gotten her start there, along with The Ramones, Television, The Talking Heads, The Cramps, Blondie, The B-52’s, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Dead Boys, and The Police to name a few. Proprietor Hilly Kristal had opened the place in 1972, intending it to be a venue for Country, Blue Grass, and Blues, but it became world-famous as the birthplace of American punk rock. The other part of the club’s name “OMFUG” meant “…and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers (a take-off on the word “Gourmand”, according to Kristal “a voracious eater of music”). Gentrification of the Village had priced the club out of the neighborhood, but the name was quite famous by now, and Kristal had plans to open a new location in Las Vegas cut short when he died of lung cancer at age 75 two years later. The nightclub was the subject of a 2013 feature film, CBGB, starring Harry Potter’s Professor Snape ( the late Alan Rickman) as Hilly Kristal, Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop.
Auburn University graduate student Justin Havird had discovered a new species of fish today in 2010, and was struck by it’s pectoral fin’s resemblance to the double-necked Gibson EDS-1275 played live by Jimmy Page. Being a huge Led Zeppelin fan, he decided to name the fish Lepidocephalichthys Zeppelini.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
German singer, model, and actress Christa Päffgen would be 79. Better known as Nico, she moved to New York after appearing in a Frederico Fellini film, where she met Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, with whom she recorded a single with Jimmy Page as producer. He also introduced her to Andy Warhol, who put her in a couple of his arty films, and brought her into The Velvet Underground, who he managed at the time. She died at age 49 in a bicycle accident.
Bachman Turner Overdrive bass player Fred Turner is 74.
Grateful Dead singer and guitarist Bob Weir is 70.
Michael Balzary is 55, and better known by his stage name Flea, the bass player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.