18 year old Memphis truck driver Elvis Presley stopped in at the Memphis Recording Service today in 1953 and sang two songs, My Happiness and That's When Your Heartache Begins, as a gift for his mother. He didn't know it at the time, but he had started the rock and roll era, and those recordings would sell millions later when they were included in RCA's album Elvis: The Great Performances.
The Rolling Stones appeared on the American charts for the first time today in 1964 with their cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away. The single had been out for a while, and in June on their first American tour had prompted one of Buddy's friends, saxophone player Bobby Keys, to come see them in Texas, more than a little irritated that these skinny English kids had had the nerve to do his dead friend's song, and left as one of Keith Richards closest friends when they'd discovered they were born on the same day, and played on nearly every Rolling Stones record.
Bobby Fuller Four leader Bobby Fuller was found dead in his car today in 1966, parked outside his Hollywood apartment. It was just months after their single I Fought The Law (written by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly's Crickets, later a hit for The Clash) had become a top 10 hit, and while a coroner's report blamed inhalation of gasoline fumes and summer heat, many suspected murder.
The Beatles were at Abbey Road today in 1968 recording Paul McCartney's Helter Skelter. Though the version on the White Album clocks in at 4 minutes and 30 seconds, one take of the song lasted 27 minutes 11 seconds, the longest Beatle recording ever. Paul later said he'd been inspired by an interview in Guitar Player magazine, where he'd read that Pete Townsend had written I Can See for Miles to be "the loudest, dirtiest, rawest song The Who had ever done", and wanted to top it. While Paul was singing the vocal, George Harrison set fire to an ashtray and ran about the studio with it over his head, pretending to be Arthur Brown.
The Beatles were back at Abbey Road today in 1969 when Ringo Starr recorded the vocal to the song he'd written on Peter Seller's yacht in the Mediterranean after he'd quit the band: Octopuses Garden.
The U.S. Department of Justice ordered the deportation of John Lennon today in 1974. He'd been living in New York City for some time, and his public peace activism had already landed him on President Richard Nixon's "enemies list", Republican Senator Strom Thurmond had suggested booting him on the grounds of his 1968 British pot bust, but when rumors of a concert in San Diego timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention surfaced, he was ordered to be out of the country by September 10th. John had his lawyers appeal, and the deportation would be overturned in court a year later, and he was granted permanent resident status by the Gerald Ford administration in '76.
Def Leppard played to a live audience for the first time tonight in 1978, to 150 students at the Wedstfield School in their native Sheffield England.
Fashion model, actress, Andy Warhol posse member, and occasional Velvet Underground singer Nico (Christa Paffgen) was killed today in 1988 when she suffered a minor heart attack while riding a bicycle with her son in Ibiza, Spain, causing her to fall and suffer massive head injuries.
Kiss added another item to their ever-growing selection of merchandise today in 2001, the Kiss Kasket. The coffin, decorated with the faces of the four original members of the band and the words Kiss Forever done in the band's logo type font allowed fans to take their love of the band to the grave. One of the most famous customers was Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was shot and killed on stage in 2004. Dimebag's brother and Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott was taken by a heart attack this last June 22nd, and will also be buried in a Kiss Kasket.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Blues singer and shock-rock prototype Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins would be 89 if he'd made it past 70.
The Rolling Stones founding keyboard player Ian Stewart would be 80. Though he was the band's leader in their early days, manager Andrew Loog Oldham had him kicked out of the band's lineup in 1963 for being "too old", though he continued to play with them and acted as their road manager until his death of a heart attack in 1985.