David Bowie was at Trident Studios in London today in 1969, recording Space Oddity, under the direction of producer Gus Dudgeon, who had been Bowie's second choice, but The Beatles producer George Martin had been unimpressed and turned him down. Backing musicians were the Trident Studios house band, which included Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman on Mellotron, and though the song was largely inspired by Stanley Kubrick's film of the year before, 2001 A Space Odyssey, it would be rush-released to coincide with the launch of Apollo 11 on July 20th. Interestingly, the BBC refused to play it until Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins had safely returned to Earth. Bowie would revisit the fictional Major Tom character in his songs Ashes to Ashes and Hallo Spaceboy, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield would perform a cover of it on the International Space Station in 2013, making the first rock video ever made in space.
Today in 1969 was the first of a three-day festival in Newport California featuring Ike and Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, The Byrds, The Rascals, Steppenwolf, Love, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Eric Burdon, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who were paid a then-world-record-for-a-single-performance $125,000. Tickets for all three days ran a whopping $9.
Neil Diamond, Little Richard, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night, and Cheech and Chong all performed on the 20th anniversary show of Dick Clark's American Bandstand tonight in 1973.
Paul McCartney made his 3000th live concert appearance tonight in 2004 in St. Peterburg, Russia. He had played 2,535 shows with The Quarrymen and The Beatles, 140 with Wings, and 325 solo shows, but tonight's was an outdoor gig with rain threatening, so promoters hired three jets to spray dry ice into the clouds to keep it from doing so during the show.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Session guitarist Danny Cedrone would be 100. He died three days before his 34th birthday after falling down a flight of stairs, just ten days after he had recorded one of rock's earliest and most recognizable guitar solos ever, on Bill Haley and His Comets Rock Around the Clock in 1954.
British producer Mickie Most (real name Michael Hayes) would be 84 if he'd made it past 64. He had an incredible string of hits working with The Animals, Herman's Hermits, The Arrows (who's frontman Alan Merrill, who wrote I Love Rock and Roll, later a hit for Joan Jett, passed in May from Covid-19) , Donovan, and The Jeff Beck Group.
The Beach Boys bass player, singer, and principal songwriter Brian Wilson is 78.
Original Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony (real name Michael Anthony Sobelewski) is 66, now doing time with fellow ex VH member Sammy Hagar in The Circle.