RCA Records paid a then-ridiculous sum to Sam Phillips at Memphis’ Sun Records for the contract of one Elvis Aaron Presley today in 1955. Rock’s first really big record deal set RCA back a whopping $35,000. They made their money back, and then some.
The Beatles played the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg Germany tonight in 1960 without their lead guitarist. George Harrison had been deported for being underage (he was 17), and he couldn’t legally remain on the premises after midnight. The band was doing three sets a night. Rumor has it the club’s owners told authorities about George’s underage situation in retaliation for the Beatles playing another nightclub in breach of their exclusive contract. Paul McCartney and Pete Best would retaliate for the retaliation, setting fire to a condom pinned to a tapestry in the room they were renting, owned by the club owners, who had them deported as well.
John Lennon asked that a tape recorder be brought to the hospital where is girlfriend Yoko Ono was about to miscarry their first child today in 1968. He recorded the baby’s heartbeat before it died, and it later appeared as Baby’s Heartbeat on the John/Yoko album Unfinished Music #2: Life With The Lions.
The Partridge Family song I Think I Love You, featured in the show’s first episode, started a three week run at number one on the U.S. Singles charts today in 1970. Written by Tony Romeo who had written several hits for The Cowsills (the family band that had inspired the TV show), the lead vocal was sung by teen heartthrob David Cassidy, and his TV Mom Shirley Jones joined the professional background singers. All the instruments were played by the famed Wrecking Crew of Hollywood Studio Musicians, but…Danny Bonaduce was allowed to mime on TV to the singing and bass line, and at the show’s conclusion was allowed to keep the red Fender Jaguar bass he’d held. It would be worth a small fortune, but Danny admits not long after High School he traded it for a bag of weed.
While we were teenybopping to I Think I Love You, Jimi Hendrix was at number one on the British singles charts today in 1970, with Voodoo Child (Slight Return), despite the fact that he had been dead for two months.
Elton John started a 13 show UK Tour today in 1971, to promote his new album Madman Across the Water. The cover art was an embroidered Levis jacket, done over two weeks by Janis Larkin, the wife of art director David. She gave the jacket to Elton after the photo shoot.
Singer Marty Balin was conned into reuniting with his old band, now called the Jefferson Starship, on stage at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco tonight in 1974. They decided, temporarily, that they didn’t hate each other so much after all, and recorded the multi-million selling Red Octopus album not long after.
The British Punk band Chelsea opened for The Stranglers at London’s Nashville Club tonight in 1976. It was the last gig for Chelsea singer Billy Idol, who quit to start Generation X, who he would in turn quit in a few years to become a solo artist.
The Eagles singing drummer Don Henley was arrested today in 1980 after a naked 16 year old girl overdosed at his house in Los Angeles. He was fined $2000 and got two years probation, and wrote his solo hit Dirty Laundry about the resulting media coverage.
David Bowie and Queen were at number one on the British Singles charts today in 1980 with a song they’d done together when both acts were working at a recording studio in Germany. Under Pressure would be a hit again later, when it was sampled for Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby.
Billy Idol, by now a successful solo artist, scored a #1 hit in America today in 1987 with a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells song Mony Mony. Interestingly the song it knocked from the top spot was a cover of a Tommy James and the Shondells song, I Think We’re Alone Now, as covered by teen idol Tiffany.
Aerosmith appeared on The Simpsons in animated form tonight in 1991.
Led Zeppelin’s notorious manager Peter Grant died of a heart attack today in 1995 at age 60. A former wrestler turned tour manager for the likes of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry in the 60’s, Grant was famous for securing an unprecedented 90% of concert ticket sales for his band, and intimidating record store owners who sold Zeppelin bootlegs. He and drummer John Bonham famously beat the snot out of a guy they caught with a microphone at a show in Vancouver that turned out to be a British Columbia government official measuring sound levels.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Singer, songwriter, guitarist and Pianist Malcolm John Rebbenack Jr. is 77 today, better known by his stage name Dr. John.
War singer Lonnie Jordan is 69, and currently the only original member of War in War. The other members, having lost rights to the name in court, include Seattle-based harmonica player Lee Oskar, tour as The Lowrider Band.