The Godfather of Soul James Brown recorded album #24 on the Rolling Stone magazine Top 500 of all time list, Live at the Apollo tonight in 1962.
On the first full day of their first-ever tour outside of Britain, The Beatles spent most of the day recording for a radio special, The Beatles Popgrupp fran Liverpool pa besok i Stockholm (The Beatles pop group from Liverpool visiting Stockholm) today in 1963. They played seven songs, and were “well chuffed” that they could actually hear themselves as the audience was actually listening and not screaming until after the song for once, as you will hear below.
Pink Floyd got to #1 on the British album charts for the first time today in 1970 with their 5th effort, Atom Heart Mother. Recorded at Abbey Road, it was one of the first albums to be mixed for Quadrophonic sound as well as stereo, and featured a cover shot of the first cow Hipgnosis photographer Storm Thorgerson found as he drove from London into the English countryside, inspired by Andy Warhol’s famous “cow wallpaper” piece. The band had requested “something plain”, and they got it. It had no label or words indicating who had made the record, pictures of band members, or any indication of what it might be. Thorgerson later said, “I think the cow represents, in terms of the Pink Floyd, part of their humor, which I think is often underestimated or just unwritten about.” The band, as it turns out, didn’t think much of it, with Roger Waters saying in a later interview, “If somebody said to me now – right – here’s a million pounds, go out and play Atom Heart Mother, I’d say you must be f***ing joking.”, and David Gilmore added the album was “…a load of rubbish. We were at a real down point … I think we were scraping the barrel a bit at that period”.
John Lennon began legal action against the U.S. government today in 1973, accusing the F.B.I. of tapping his telephone, which later documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showed they had, as the Nixon administration, at the urging of Republican senator Strom Thurmond, were trying to have him deported as an “undesirable alien” for his anti-Vietnam war stance and association with “known radicals”. The legal battle would continue until 1976, when John was finally granted a “green card”, and the following year was invited with Yoko to the inaugural ball for President Jimmy Carter.
Keith Richards was in court in London again today in 1973, where he plead guilty to possession of cannabis, heroin, mandrax tablets (known as Quaaludes in the U.S.), and a revolver (which Kieth referred to as his “shooter”). He was fined £205 (£3,260, or $5,284 in today’s money).
The Guinness Book of World Records organization presented Paul McCartney with a white gold plated with Rhodium medallion today in 1979, for being the most successful composer of all time. Rhodium is one of the rarest precious metals on earth, part of the platinum group, and the small amount of it in automotive catalytic converters accounts for 80% of it’s use, and it’s why the converters are so expensive and are often stolen.
American record producer and engineer Tom Dowd died of emphysema today in 2002 at age 77. He’d studied physics at Columbia University, and also been in the school’s band, and when he was drafted during WWII, was set to work on the Manhattan project to build the first atomic bomb, but as his work was top secret, he couldn’t use it on his resume after the war, and gave up on physics to pursue his love of music. He got a job at a classical music recording studio, and then Atlantic Records, where he encouraged Jerry Wexler to install one of Ampex’s new multi-track recorders. He ended up producing some of the greatest albums of all time, including records by Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Wishbone Ash, New Model Army, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, The Eagles, Kenny Loggins, James Gang, Dusty Springfield, Eddie Harris, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a “non-perfomer” in 2012.
Queen became the first Western musical act to receive approval from the government of Iran today in 2004. Singer Freddy Mercury (real name Farrokh Bulsara) had grown up in a Persian part of India, and Queen were immensely popular there already, but they knew little about his sexual proclivities, as homosexuality is still very much illegal there.
Forbes magazine reported today in 2006 that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain had overtaken Elvis Presley and John Lennon as the top-earning dead rock star of that year, making some $50 million.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Former Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman is 81. He quit the band after the ’89-’90 Steel Wheels tour, but they didn’t formally announce his departure until 1994, when he was replaced by Darryl Jones, who has never been made an “official” member of the band. He and former guitarist Mick Taylor were invited to play with The Stones at a few of their brief 50th anniversary tour shows in 2012, but only on a couple of songs. Bill felt he was treated rudely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and later said he wasn’t interested in playing with them again.
Shocking Blue guitarist Robbie van Leewen is 73. He wrote the band’s biggest hit Venus, as well as the song Nirvana would later cover as their first single, Love Buzz.
Steppenwolf drummer and singer Jerry Edmonton would be 71. He was killed in a car crash in 1993.
Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin is 69. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 58, and could only play on the encore songs of Mott’s 2009 5-show 40th anniversary reunion tour.