This Day In Classic Rock [Videos] 8/12

Liverpool promoter Allan Williams auditioned Pete Best to join the house band gig in Hamburg he had arranged for The Silver Beatles today in 1960, at the Jacaranda nightclub he owned. Paul McCartney had been out looking for a drummer and spotted Best playing with The Black Jets at the Casbah Coffee Club (which Pete's mom owned), and kept a mental note that he was a steady player who could keep "four (beats on the bass drum) on the floor", and it didn't hurt that he had a reputation with his female fans as "mean, moody, and magnificent". Luckily The Black Jets broke up, and Paul sold Pete on Hamburg with the promise of £15 a week. 19 year old Best had passed his school exams, unlike Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney, and had the chance to go to a teacher-training college, but thought screw it and left to join the band that had just before they left dumped "Silver" in Germany the next day. Williams later admitted the audition was totally unnecessary, and in any case they hadn't found any other drummer willing to go, but he didn't tell Pete in case he asked for more money.

The Beatles first movie A Hard Day's Night began it's U.S. national engagement tonight in 1964 in some 500 theaters, to rave reviews, with Pete Best nowhere in sight.

The band Jimmy Page assembled to play out the rest of The Yardbirds contract and become the greatest band in rock history next to The Beatles, played together for the first time today in 1968. John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and John Bonham joined Pagey at a studio in London's West End as they worked out stunningly heavy versions of three Yardbirds standards: Howlin' Wolf's Smokestack Lightning; Jake Holmes' Dazed and Confused (which Page and Plant changed enough that Holmes' 2010 lawsuit was "dismissed with prejudice", meaning they'd settled out of court); and the 1951 Tiny Bradshaw jump blues song Train Kept A-Rollin' that had been rockified by Johnny Burnette and his Rockabilly trio in '56. "As soon as I heard John Bonham play", Jones recalled, "I knew this was going to be great ... We locked together as a team immediately". They would play 5 shows as The New Yardbirds, but when Chris Dreja threatened legal action if they used the name beyond that, Page took a quip Keith Moon or John Entwhistle had made at a party about how a "supergroup" with him and Jeff Beck would "go over like a Lead Balloon", changed "balloon" to "Zeppelin", and at the suggestion of manager Peter Grant, dropped the "a" so that people wouldn't mispronounce it "Leed".

Alice Cooper's Schools Out went to #1 in England today in 1972. It would get to #3 in Canada, and #7 in the U.S. where we were buying albums by now, and the one this came from by the same name went to #2, and made the Phoenix band who'd previously been considered a novelty act a household name. Singer Vince "Alice Cooper" Furnier said later "What's the greatest three minutes of your life? There's two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, when you're just getting ready to open the presents. The greed factor is right there. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you're sitting there and it's like a slow fuse burning. I said, 'If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it's going to be so big."

Henry Padovani, from the French Mediterranean isle of Corsica and lead guitarist for The Police, was sacked by the band tonight in 1977, after an aborted recording session with producer John Cale (formerly of the Velvet Underground). Andy Summers, Gordon "Sting" Sumner, and Stewart Copeland would find some success as a trio, but Henry went on a two month holiday back home, then came back to London and joined Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, who at the time were much more successful than The Police.

Rock fans in Soviet Russia enjoyed a Western-Style rock and roll show the way we do for the first time today in 1989 at the two day Moscow Music Peace Festival held at the Lenin Stadium. Fans who were previously forced to sit politely were allowed to stand, dance, rock out, and put their girlfriends on their shoulders for a bill that included Russian rock bands mixed in with western artists Motley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and The Scorpions.

.38 Special were playing an outdoor gig in Mancos California today in 2000 when a gust of wind caught the canopy over the stage and brought down 10 tons of P.A. and lighting gear, completely flattening guitar amps and the drum set, but miraculously no one was hurt.

The 2012 London Olympic Games closed tonight with a pageant and ceremony that included Britain's biggest musical stars including The Spice Girls, George Michael, The Who, Madness, Ray Davies of The Kinks, Liam Gallagher of Oasis, Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen, and Monty Python's Eric Idle. Unfortunately the interwebs won't lets us show you any of the good stuff.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler is 69.

Seattle's most famous rapper (sorry, Macklemore) Anthony "Sir Mix-A-Lot" Ray is 55.

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