John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best had another meeting with Brian Epstein today in 1961 to further discuss his proposal to manage them. Brian wanted 25% of their gross earnings in exchange for better organized and more prestigious gigs, an expansion beyond the Liverpool area, and a promise that they would never again play for less than £15 (except for their lunchtime shows at the Cavern Club, for which their fee would double to £10). John on behalf of the group and himself as their leader, accepts.
The film Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey premiered in London tonight in 1964. Written by the creator of the BBC soap opera Coronation Street, it stared Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, and all the other artists putting Liverpool on the map…except the one actually doing it…The Beatles, who were busy.
The Beatles recorded Christmas and New Years greeting station identification spots for Radio Caroline and Wonderful Radio London today in 1966. The BBC didn’t devote much time to rock music back then. Both stations were “pirates” that broadcasted from ships in the English Channel.
The Rolling Stones 7th British and 9th American studio album Beggars Banquet was available in record stores worldwide today in 1968. They’d been criticized for selling out and copying The Beatles with their previous psychedelic pop album Their Satanic Majesties Request, and “returned to their roots”. As songwriters Jagger/Richards had started the high point of their career, a decade+ of brilliance over the next 8 releases. Brian Jones as usual played a variety of instruments, but was becoming increasingly erratic and wasted, to the point where they would send him into a booth and not record his playing.
One year after The Rolling Stones released Beggars Banquet they were wrapping up their now legendary first American tour since 1966 today in 1969, with a free show designed to mitigate the charges of greed coming at them (they were charging a whopping $3-8) in the press. They chose San Francisco California, ground zero of the hippie movement, and as documented in Joel Selvin’s excellent book last August Altamont: The Rolling Stones, The Hell’s Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day, staged a disaster halfway to I-5 in the central part of the state in Tracy, at a usually deserted mostly amateur motorsports racetrack, who’s previous biggest event had been The 24 Hours of LeMons (the cars couldn’t cost more than $500: “Lemons”). The Altamont Speedway was literally a last minute choice. Originally planned for Golden Gate Park by The Stones dysfunctional management and that of The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, who’d done free shows there before, they scared city government into yanking their permit, then moved the show to the Sears Point Raceway north of the bay, a racetrack much better equipped to handle large crowds. But a dispute with the track’s owner led to the already set up sound and stage equipment being trucked and helicoptered out to Tracy the day before the show. Added to the colossal disorganization were massive amounts of alcohol and poor quality LSD laced with Amphetamines were The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, hired as security for free beer. The Dead and Airplane had used the San Francisco chapter in similar fashion at previous shows, but this being way out of city limits opened the invitation to all chapters of the famed 1%’er organization (“99% of the people you meet on motorcycles are really nice!”). What could go wrong? Plenty. Numerous fights between fans, band members, and bikers, massive property damage to surrounding farms and ranches, 3 accidental deaths, and the stabbing murder by the Hell’s Angels of one Meredith Hunter, who had apparently become angry and whipped out the handgun he’d brought. Santana, The Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and The Stones all managed to play at least a short set, but after Airplane singer Marty Balin was administered a knock out punch by an Angel, The Grateful Dead commandeered a helicopter and got the hell out.
Led Zeppelin scored their first Top 40 single on the American charts today in 1969 with Whole Lotta Love, which went to #4. They would have 5 more back in the day when Top 40 radio stations in America would play hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin, interestingly the band’s manager would never allow them to release a single in England, where people actually bought 7″ singles.
Keith Richards was hanging out in the south of France at the house at Nellcoté near Nice where the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street today in 1972, enjoying a morning cup of coffee with the newspaper when he was surprised to learn that a warrant for the arrest of himself and girlfriend Anita Pallenberg had been issued in London for possession of drugs.
The Reverend Charles Boykin of Tallahasee Florida staged a mass burning of Rolling Stones and Elton John records today in 1975, incensed that a local survey said that 984 of 1000 unwed mothers in Tallahassee had had sex while listening to sinful rock and roll music.
Roy Orbison had just finished doing a video with the Traveling Wilburys and came home to have dinner with his Mom tonight in 1988 when he died of a heart attack at age 52. Roy had endured a great deal of personal tragedy in his life, Roy and his first wife, pretty woman Claudette, were avid bikers and she died in a motorcycle crash in ’66, and his two oldest sons died in a house fire in ’68.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rick Buckler, drummer for mod revivalists The Jam, is 62. The band is still immensely popular at home in England, though they broke up in 1982.
R.E.M.‘s guitarist and one-time Seattle resident Peter Buck is 61, and mostly no longer drinking on airplanes.