It was today in 1967 that John Lennon and Paul McCartney stopped by the Olympic Studios in London and sang background vocals on the Rolling Stones song "We Love You". The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in appreciation of their fans who stood by them during their witch hunt drug trial that year that saw each of them spend exactly one night in prison.
While John and Paul were singing with the Stones, at the BBC offices in London The Beatles were selected to represent England in the first-ever worldwide satellite TV broadcast today in 1967. The band agreed to perform live in a studio and write a new song for the occasion. Because the broadcast would reach many countries that don't speak English, they were asked to "keep it simple". John wrote All You Need Is Love for the show that would be broadcast June 25th.
Meanwhile across London in Chelsea, The Pink Floyd were recording See Emily Play today in 1967, which Syd Barrett wrote about an early Floyd fan Emily Young, who hung around London rock clubs with her school friend Angelica Huston. Emily is today one of Britain's most renowned sculptors. During the session Pink Floyd were visited by one of their own school friends who had just come back from Paris where he was playing with his own band: David Gilmore.
It was today in 1974 that Ray Stevens started a 3 week run at number one on the charts with The Streak, an ode to the fad of running naked, often at public events, that had started the previous year. At one point a Seattle area top-40 AM station promoted a streaking race across the East Channel bridge from Mercer Island to Bellevue. Though it was a short-lived craze in the early 70's, the earliest known incident of "streaking" was in 1799, when a man in London was arrested for running naked through town to win a bet of 10 Guineas (about $1100 in today's currency).
It was today in 1980 that the lead singer of the highly influential British band Joy Division, Ian Curtis, hung himself in his kitchen on the eve of their debut North American tour.
Having more to do with rock than roll, Mt. St. Helens in Southwest Washington blew up today in 1980, sending some 3,900,000 cubic yards of volcanic rock and ash into the atmosphere and in a pyroclastic flow down the river paths to the Columbia called a Lahar (great name for a metal band), destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 185 miles of highway, and killed 57 people.
It was today in 2011 that John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds sold at auction for $237,132. Many people thought the title was an expansion of the acronym L.S.D., but John said they came from a drawing his son Julian had made of a classmate, Lucy Vodden, who died of Lupus in 2009. The sheet also included the opening lyrics of She's Leaving Home.
It was one year ago today that Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell apparently took his own life in his hotel room at the MGM Grand hotel in Detroit after his band's show there the night before. Chris had been diagnosed with depression, and while a coroner's examination showed no foul play and nothing but prescribed doses of prescription medications, anyone who's endured the onslaught of pharmaceutical advertising during the evening TV news knows that an astonishing number of them come with the warning "may cause suicidal thoughts or actions", and wonder why they're allowed to be sold. Chris's death hit your This Day In Classic Rock scribe particularly hard. I'd known him since running sound for one of Soundgarden's first shows in the early 80's at the U-District's Rainbow Tavern, later sharing bills with my own band at dives like The Ditto and Central Taverns. He was a funny delightful man who always seemed a little more together than the other local rockers I knew who hit it big.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Bluesman and rock and roll pioneer Big Joe Turner would be 107 today. He died at 74, long after his songs Shake Rattle and Roll and Sweet Sixteen had become standards.
Finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year for his work with Yes, keyboard player Rick Wakeman is 69. His dad had played piano in a British Army dance band, and started him in at 7, his oldest son Oliver would take over for him in Yes '08-'11. Intending to become a concert pianist, Rick discovered the Devil's Music and quit the Royal College of Music to become a session musician, most notably on Bowie's Space Oddity, but also for the likes of T Rex, Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, Al Stewart, and Elton John who used Wakeman's organ to embellish his piano (uh-huh-huh). He's also found time to release some 90 solo albums, host a radio show for the BBC, and star in their Grumpy Old Men comedy talk show on telly. At the induction his Yes bandmates agreed to legally allow Yes (Steve Howe, Alan White, and Geoff Downes) to tour in the U.S. simultaneously with Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman.
Guess Who bass player Bill Wallace is 69.