Don and Phil Everly began active military service today in 1961. The Everly Brothers had been right behind Elvis Presley near the top of the charts for several years, which they noted the Department of Defense didn’t consider reason enough to get them out of the draft. Elvis had been offered a cushy Army position in the recruiting department, and instead chose to go to Germany and drive tanks “like any other soldier” (who could afford to buy color televisions and tailor-fitted uniforms for his platoon-mates), but the Everlys skipped the two-year hitch in the Army for a shorter but harder stint in the Marine Corps Reserve, where they served in the 8th Artillery Battalion.
Harrod’s, London’s most famous department store, closed to the public today in 1965 so The Beatles could do their Christmas shopping without the store or themselves being molested by screaming fans.
Just having come to London in September, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first show there tonight in 1966 at the Bag ‘O Nails nightclub. Jimi had wowed crowds on a brief tour of France and at the Roundhouse where he’d jammed with Cream, word had spread, and the crowd tonight included Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and Soft Machine guitarist Kevin Ayers, who later said “All the stars were there, and I heard serious comments…you know, ‘Jesus’, ‘Damn!’, ‘S***!’, and other words worse than that”.
Three days after having come out in England, The Beatles new double album of songs mostly written at or inspired by their visit to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s “Ashram” in India, The Beatles (now widely known as The White Album) was released in the U.S. today in 1968, where it would stay on the charts for a remarkable 101 weeks.
John Lennon returned his Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) medal to Queen Elizabeth II he’d gotten with the band three years earlier today in 1969, with a note protesting “The UK’s involvement in the Nigeria Biafra war, [support for] America in Vietnam, and against [his latest single] Cold Turkey slipping in the charts”.
Despite being a huge influence on The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry had his first #1 hit in England today in 1972, with his cover of Dave Bartholomew’s 1952 tongue in cheek double-entendre laden song about his penis, My Ding-A-Ling.
The Band made their final appearance on stage at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco tonight in 1976, with guests including Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, and Eric Clapton. The show was filmed by director-fan Martin Scorsese and released as The Last Waltz two years later.
Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox gathered Britain’s rock royalty at the time at a London recording studio today in 1984 to record Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which they’d written in hopes of raising money for famine in Ethiopia. It would come out on December 3rd, sell well over a million cop[ies in it’s first week alone, and start Geldof and Ure in a second career of philanthropic rock events that would earn Geldof a full Knighthood (KBE) and Ure made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Kevin Dubrow, former lead singer of Quiet Riot, was found dead in his Las Vegas home today in 2007 after failing to show up at Thanksgiving. The official cause was listed as cocaine overdose, he was just 52.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Mark Lanegan, lead singer with Ellensburg’s The Screaming Trees, Mad Season, occasionally The Queens of the Stone Age, and now a relatively successful and even more respected solo artist is 53.