The Beatles recorded a second appearance on Radio Luxembourg today in 1962. The Grand Duchy’s transmitter located on the French-Belgian border allowed it to blast it’s signal directly into London and play not only the rock and roll music the BBC gave little time to but also advertising from British companies the BBC didn’t allow at all. The boys played both sides of their latest single Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You to a live audience.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience hit #1 in the U.S. today in 1968 with their third and final album Electric Ladyland. He produced this one himself, with help from engineer Eddie Kramer, and the New York sessions were chaotic. Noel Redding later said “There were tons of people in the studio. You couldn’t move. It was a party, not a session. Noel had started a side-band and stopped showing up so Jimi played most of the bass parts himself. Manager/producer Chas Chandler went back to England. But some of folks milling about the party played on the record: Jack Cassady from the Jefferson Airplane, Rolling Stone Brian Jones, Al Kooper, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, and Chris Wood from Traffic, and Jimi’s future Band of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles. The studio time was expensive, and would lead him to start building his own, Electric Lady.
David Essex (OBE) is a singer-songwriter-actor known for many hits in England and one in America: Rock On. He had his first there today in 1974 with this.
John Lennon had the only #1 hit of his solo career today in 1974, when Whatever Gets You Through The Night hit the top spot on both sides of the Atlantic. Joining John on the studio recording on piano and backing vocals was Elton John, who smelled gold and bet a skeptical Lennon that if it hit #1 that he would have to appear with him on stage. With today’s win, Lennon agreed to show up at Elton’s Thanksgiving concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden in what would be Lennon’s last major public performance. After the after-show party he would make up with Yoko Ono and begin a long period of house-husbandry and retirement.
The Beach Boys musical genius Brian Wilson had been doing mountains of drugs and had not done an interview in 8 years when he appeared on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test today in 1976. Footage of that interview is gone, but this later one survives.
By now having dropped Airplane and even Jefferson from their name, Starship started a two-week run at #1 today in 1985 with We Built This City. Written by Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin and studio arrangers Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf (not the J Geils singer), it vented the band’s anger at not being allowed to do an anniversary show at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It was nominated for a Grammy that year, but Grace Slick hated it and would quit, and it has since topped Rolling Stone magazine’s Top Ten Worst Songs of the 80’s, Blender’s 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, and many other “worst” lists.
Drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon had been sacked by The Clash for doing Heroin, and today in 1987 he was in court being sentenced to a year and change in prison for supplying heroin to a man who overdosed and died.
University of Washington and Harvard Law grad, founder of Texas Pacific Group Capital, and swingin’ multi-billionaire David Bonderman rented out the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and threw himself a 60th birthday party tonight in 2002 with musical entertainment from The Rolling Stones, who were paid not quite 7 million dollars for their efforts. It wouldn’t be the last time for Dave to spend lavishly on entertainment.
After years of negotiations between EMI Records and Apple Computer, The Beatles back catalog was made available on iTunes for the first time today in 2010. EO Steve Jobs said “It’s been a long and winding road to get here. We love The Beatles and are honoured and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes.
U2 frontman Bono was the victim of what his doctors called a “high energy bicycle accident” in New York City today in 2014 that required arm and shoulder surgery that repaired him with three metal plates and 18 screws. The band were in town to do a week long residency on the new Jimmy Fallon show.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Mabon Lewis “Teenie” Hodges would be 71 if he hadn’t left us in 2014. He was the lead guitarist in Al Green’s band, and co-wrote many of his songs including Take Me To The River, later also big for The Talking Heads.