The High Numbers got a letter in the mail today in 1964 from EMI records, asking for original material to follow up their recent audition, because they’d obviously been impressed. The band wasn’t impressed with EMI however, and released their first album, after changing their name to The Who, on Brunswick in England and Decca in the U.S.
The Beach Boys entered the charts with Good Vibrations today in 1966. Written by Brian Wilson with lyrics from Mike Love, the song was recorded during the sessions for their landmark Pet Sounds album, but was released as a single. They’d spent 6 weeks and over $16,000 on the one song at four different L.A. recording studios, doing dozens of takes, but an engineer would later remark that the last take sounded exactly like the first. The song would go to #1 by December, their 3rd in the U.S., and be the first of their songs to top the British charts.
Paul McCartney had tired of the rumors, and publicly announced through a press release today in 1969 that he was not, in fact, dead. The story that Paul had been killed in a car crash the year before and replaced by a look-alike started in September with a bogus article in the Drake University (Iowa) student newspaper. Many, citing the “clues” in Beatles songs and album artwork, refused to believe it, and in November Paul did an interview and pictorial in Life magazine from his farm in Scotland.
Led Zeppelin II was released today in 1969 on Atlantic records. It had been recorded by Jimmy Page during breaks in a 6 month period of relentless touring Europe and North America. The songs were written on the road, sometimes coming out of improvised jams at the end of Dazed and Confused. Robert Plant said later, “It was crazy really. We were writing the numbers in hotel rooms and then we’d do a rhythm track in London, add the vocal in New York, overdub the harmonica in Vancouver, and then come back to finish mixing at New York”.
Seattle band Mookie Blaylock played their first show at The Off Ramp (The building’s still there, but for how much longer? Now called El Corazon) here in Seattle tonight in 1990. Guitarist Stoney Gossard and bass player Jeff Ament had been together in Green River with singer Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner, who went off to start Mudhoney, while Gossard and Ament started Mother Love Bone with former Malfunkshun singer Andy Wood, who tragically died of a heroin overdose just as that band was releasing it’s first album. They’d hooked up with Shadow lead guitarist Mike McCready and a singer from San Diego named Eddie Vedder, and shortly after this show would change their name from that of Ament’s favorite NBA player (#10 for the New Jersey Nets) to Pearl Jam.
With sales figures and a poll in hand that showed that some 40% of the 13,000,000 copies of Anthology 1 and 2, plus another 6 million of their back catalog going to people not yet born when they officially broke up in 1970, Apple Corps. Ltd announced today in 1996 that “The Beatles were now bigger than The Beatles.”
Former Wham! singer George Michael paid £1.45 million at auction for the piano on which John Lennon had written his song Imagine today in 2000, beating out the other bidders who included Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis and singer Robbie Williams. He said, “I know that when my fingers touch the keys of that Steinway, I will feel truly blessed. And parting with my money has never been much of a problem, just ask my accountant.”
Pearl Jam celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first show together under the name Mookie Blaylock by playing at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas tonight in 2000, where the bass player of one of their favorite bands, The Who, would die two years later.
Portland-based singer,songwriter, and guitarist Elliot Smith, formerly of the band Heatmiser and a promising solo artist, died today in 2003 of two stab wounds to the chest. He’d been living in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, who told police they’d been arguing and she’d locked herself in the bathroom, and when she heard him scream came out to find a knife in him. The cops suspected suicide, but didn’t investigate much, and the official autopsy report left open the possibility of the murder that many suspected.
A homeless man had found what he thought was a Halloween mask in a London tubestation bin tonight in 2008, and was using it as a pillow on the train, when he realized it was in fact a wax-work head from Madame Tussaud’s museum of Paul McCartney that had been left inadvertently on the subway by an auctioneer. He turned in Paul’s head and was rewarded £2000, though maybe he should have just put it on E-Bay, as it sold for £5,500 at auction the next week.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Bobby Fuller Four frontman Robert Gaston “Bobby” Fuller would be 75. He was found dead in his car at age 23 just weeks after their cover of the Sonny Curtis (of Buddy Holly’s Crickets) song I Fought The Law entered the top 10. The official report stated that he’d died of inhalation of fumes from a leaky gas tank, but some suspected murder.
Mountain guitarist and singer Leslie West is 72, and still playing live occasionally despite having his lower right leg amputated in 2011 due to complications of diabetes. West’s Mountain bandmate Felix Pappalardi had produced Cream’s album Disraeli Gears, and when Felix quit the band, West and drummer Corky Laing would join Cream’s bass player Jack Bruce in the short-lived band West, Bruce, and Laing.
The Young Rascals singer and songwriter Eddie Brigati is 72.
Influential punk-rock singer Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church would be 61. He died in 1990 after being hit by a taxi in Paris, after which he’d gone to a hospital emergency room, but left without seeing a doctor after waiting several hours, thinking he was fine. He’d suffered a concussion and died in his sleep. Being a huge fan of The Doors, he’d asked his girlfriend to spread his ashes over the grave of Jim Morrison if anything ever happened to him, which she did. In the 2013 docu-drama about New York’s CBGB nightclub, Stiv was portrayed by The Hangover and National Treasure film star Justin Bartha.