This Week in Music History

Crosby Relivered … Spector Suspected … Sahm Sails On

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Historic Events that Rocked Music—The Week of November 16, 2015

David Crosby Phil Spector Doug Sahm

1955: Bo Diddley makes his first—and final—appearance on TV’s The Ed Sullivan Show…after the host hears Bo riffing on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s hit “Sixteen Tons” backstage, Sullivan tells the Chess Records star he wants him to play it on the show…Bo agrees, but when he sees a notice backstage reading, “Bo Diddley—Sixteen Tons” he assumes he’s supposed to play his eponymous hit “Bo Diddley” followed by Sullivan’s request…the host throws a hissy fit and bans Bo from future shows when he performs the two-fer…but the die is cast—Diddley’s performance, considered by many the first rock ‘n’ roll to hit national TV, will get teens dancing to that infectious shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits-beat…also this week, RCA Records buys Elvis’s contract from Sun Records for $35,000—not a bad deal in retrospect…

 

After Bo Diddley got his signals crossed with the notoriously touchy Ed Sullivan, he never worked the show again.

1957: Elvis drops in at Tennessee governor Frank Clement’s mansion, and after a little coaxing starts vocalizing along with fellow guests, the Prisonaires, a quartet of Tennessee State Prison inmates who recently enjoyed an R&B chart hit with their “Just Walking in the Rain”...lead Prisonaires singer Johnny Bragg and Elvis know each other from Sun Studios sessions...the party doesn’t wind up till the wee hours…

1960: Fender receives U.S. patent #2,960,900 for the “offset waist” design of its Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars...Gibson’s 1963 introduction of the Firebird with its asymmetrical reverse body shape touches off a dispute between the two guitar makers...avoiding a court battle, Gibson will redesign the Firebird in 1965 with a non-reverse body style…

1965: Bob Dylan marries Sara Lownds…the Blonde On Blonde song “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” is one of many songs he will write about her—the title punningly refers to Sara’s maiden name…in 1977 Sara Dylan files for divorce and custody of their five children…

1966: The queens of Detroit, The Supremes, perform at the Royal Variety Show in London while Queen Elizabeth looks on...their elegant beaded gowns will become a prime attraction at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 30 years later…

 

Known for their slick choreography and sleek gowns, The Supremes went all out for Her Royal Majesty.

1967: Following a show at England’s Sheffield City Hall featuring The Jimi Hendrix Experience, a stunned reviewer for the Sheffield Star writes, “Like an electrified golliwog, Jimi Hendrix threw himself into a live-wire act that featured his intricate guitar interpretation. Quite an Experience”…apparently in 1967, using the term “golliwog,” referring to a black-faced ragdoll, doesn’t carry the racist punch it does today…

1972: Danny Whitten, guitarist for Crazy Horse, Neil Young's backup band, dies of a heroin overdose…Whitten provided a perfect foil for Young, trading licks during extended guitar jams on long-form rock ballads like "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand"...Whitten's OD will loom large in Young's dark album Tonight's The Night, especially in the song "Needle and the Damage Done"…

 

The spectre of guitarist Danny Whitten’s overdose death inspired Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.”

1973: After ingesting large quantities of brandy and animal tranquilizers before hitting the stage, Who drummer Keith Moon collapses onstage at San Francisco’s Cow Palace…Pete Townshend asks the crowd, "Can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good”…Who fan 19-year-old Scot Halpin answers the call, and after being given a shot of brandy to calm his nerves, acquits himself quite nicely on the remaining three songs of the set…

1974: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is released by Genesis…the double-LP concept album will be the band’s last to include Peter Gabriel who goes on to a big solo career…

1976: Kevin Godley and Lol Creme of 10cc put the band on hold to work on the “Gizmo,” an early attempt at creating a guitar synth…the temperamental device, later also known as the Gizmotron, attaches to a guitar’s bridge and is is difficult to use, requiring a lot of chops…Jimmy Page will famously use it on Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door

1979: Chuck Berry is released from prison following a four-month stay on tax evasion charges…

1983: Badfinger musician and songwriter Tom Evans hangs himself from a willow tree in his garden…according to family he was depressed by legal wrangling over Badfinger business matters and haunted by the suicide of bandmate Pete Ham…

1987: Adopting the guise of a country-rock band called The Dalton Brothers, U2 opens for themselves at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum...the band developed the collective alter ego during the third leg of the Joshua Tree tour...the Daltons consist of Betty Dalton (Adam Clayton), Luke Dalton (Edge), Alton Dalton (Bono), and Duke Dalton (Larry Mullen, Jr.)...wearing wigs, sunglasses and C&W-style threads, they play just a few songs and go unrecognized by most fans…

1990: Following revelations they had lip-synced their way to fame, the faux pop duo Milli Vanilli is stripped of their Grammy... "singer" Fabrice Morvan unrepentantly claims, "We can sing as good as any other pop star in the Top Ten"...also this week, David Crosby cracks up his Harley, suffering a broken shoulder, leg and ankle…

1992: Jimmy Merchant and Herman Santiago, two former members of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers are awarded nearly $4 million in overdue royalties on their doo-wop classic “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”…this same week Whitney Houston’s single “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton and featured on The Bodyguard soundtrack, begins a record-setting 14-week run at No. 1 on the pop chart…

1993: Nirvana tapes an MTV Unplugged session in one take...the show is aired, warts and all, a month later…

1994: David Crosby gets a glistening, fresh liver…

1995: The Ghost of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen's 13th album, is released...the title refers to a character in John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, about the 1930s Dust Bowl migration…

1997: Rapper Coolio and his appropriately named backup band 40 Thevz are arrested in Boeblingen, Germany on charges of assaulting a boutique clerk and ripping off $2,000 in clothing...also this week, ex-Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten appears on Judge Judy when a drummer sues him for $5,000 in lost wages, also claiming Rotten hit him…Johnny maintains the guy quit days before the tour was to begin...Judy rules for Johnny…

1998: Discount chain Kmart launches its MusicFavorites.com website offering 100,000 songs for download...despite its early entry into the business, the site soon is eclipsed by competitors…

1999: Doug Sahm, who led the The Sir Douglas Quintet in the 1960s and was fluent in many American musical forms including Texas blues, Tex-Mex, rock, cajun, and Western swing, dies in Taos, NM at 58…late in his career the singer and guitarist was a member of the critically acclaimed Tex-Mex supergroup The Texas Tornados…also this week, pop singer Jewel pulls the plug on her planned Anchorage New Year's Eve show citing concerns over possible Y2K problems...word has it, however, that the cancellation is due to weak ticket sales...only 1,000 of 8,000 seats have been sold…and finally this same week, country star Patty Loveless rides a train across Appalachia distributing 15 tons of Christmas gifts to poor families in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia…

 

Doug Sahm was at home playing in a half dozen genres, and as this clip demonstrates, he wasn’t a half-bad fiddler either.

2001: Stones frontman Mick Jagger’s solo LP gets an underwhelming reception…Goddess in the Doorway moves a paltry 954 copies on its day of release…

2003: Producer and gun nut Phil Spector is charged with the murder of Hollywood starlet Lana Clarkson…this same week country singer-songwriter Don Gibson dies of natural causes…the author of many memorable ballads, his “I Can’t Stop Loving You” got him to #8 on the country chart in 1958, but it was Ray Charles’ soulful reading in 1961 that reached #1…the song has been covered hundreds of times by everybody from Frank Sinatra to Roy Orbison…

2004: The New York Post reports former Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth is training to become an emergency medical technician...the story recounts how Roth, while riding with an ambulance crew saved the life of a Bronx heart-attack victim using a defibrillator…according to his trainer, Linda Reissman, “You would never know you were dealing with a rock ‘n’ roll guy. His commitment is really touching. He wants to help people”…

2005: A show by former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown is halted after 20 minutes when the dance floor of the Carling Academy in Newcastle, UK begins to sag alarmingly…it’s later found the floor joists had become unsprung…

2006: Peter Gabriel is named The Man of Peace for 2006 by a foundation headed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...former winners include Bob Geldof and Cat Stevens…this same week Eddie Van Halen fires original Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony replacing him with Eddie’s 15-year-old son Wolfgang...talking up junior’s skills, Van Halen says, “This kid is f***ing dangerous. If I excel at the speed of sound, he excels at the speed of light.”…

2007: MTV Arabia begins broadcasting across the Middle East with a mix of regional and Western artists as well as cleaned-up versions of shows like Punk’d and Pimp My Ride...this same week, Danny Federici, longtime keyboardist with the E Street Band, leaves Bruce Springsteen’s tour in progress to receive treatment for melanoma...and finally this same week, The Red Hot Chili Peppers file suit against Showtime claiming that the cable network’s use of the name Californication—also the title of the Chili’s 1999 album—was a misuse of the band’s intellectual property…

2008: Still bearing a grudge against his former Cream bandmate, bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker says in a Rhythm magazine interview that there will be no more Cream reunions complaining Bruce played too loudly at reunion concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2005...and finally this week, and we do mean finally, the long-awaited Guns N’ Roses LP, Chinese Democracy is at last released…with sessions dating back to the mid-1990s, costs estimated at $13 million and numerous personnel changes along the way, the album gets decent reviews but sales don’t meet expectations…

2012: Record Collector magazine publishes a list of the world’s rarest records…topping the list is a pre-Beatles acetate of the Quarrymen’s demo of “That’ll Be The Day” with an estimated value of $320,000…

This Week’s Births

November 16: “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy (1873), jazz musician and A&R man Jesse Stone (1901), Atlantic Records producer and co-founder Herb Abramson (1916), Toni Brown of Joy of Cooking (1928), Greenwich Village folkie Bob Gibson (1931), Howlin’ Wolf band guitarist Hubert Sumlin (1931), Nashville producer Felton Jarvis (1934), James Brown band guitarist Troy Seals (1938), Muscle Shoals session musician and songwriter Dan Penn (1941), John Ryanes of The Monotones (1940), Winfred “Blue” Lovett of The Manhattans (1942), George “Smitty” Smith of The Manhattans (1943), singer Patti Santos of It’s a Beautiful Day (1949), guitarist-composer Will Ackerman (1949), bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield of The Stone Roses (1962), jazz singer Diana Krall (1964), Velvet Revolver guitarist David Kushner (1965), Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd (1969), Trevor Penick of O-Town (1979), UK singer-songwriter Rita Ora (1990)

November 17: Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot (1938), necro-rocker Jimmy Cross (1939), Bob Gaudio of The Four Seasons (1942), Gene Clark of The Byrds (1944), Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre (1946), Nazz and Utopia vocalist Robert Antoni (1947), Jim Babjak of The Smithereens (1957), Harry Rushakoff of Concrete Blonde (1959), singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley (1966), Ronald Devoe of Bell, Biv Devoe (1967), Isaac Hanson of Hanson (1980), Sarah Harding of Girls Aloud (1981)

November 18: conductor Eugene Ormandy (1899), Cuban musician Compay Segundo (1907), singer-actress-comedienne Imogene Coca (1908), Midnighters frontman Hank Ballard (1923), The Royaltones guitarist Bob Sanderson (1935), jazz trumpeter Don Cherry (1936), The Tokens frontman Hank Medress (1938), drummer Herman Rarebell of The Scorpions (1949), The Rumour frontman Graham Parker (1950), Whitesnake bassist Rudy Sarzo (1950), English singer John Parr (1954), Charles Williams of KC and the Sunshine Band (1954), Echo and The Bunnymen keyboardist Jake Brockman (1955), Michael Ramos of The BoDeans (1958), country singer-songwriter Laura Lynch (1958), pop singer Kim Wilde (1960), Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett (1962), singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik (1969), hip-hop star Fabolous (1979)

November 19: gospel singer-songwriter J.D. Sumner (1914), Motown pianist Joe Hunter (1927), Motown guitarist Robert White (1936), singer Ray Collins of The Mothers of Invention (1937), English singer-songwriter Geoff Goddard (1937), Pete Moore of The Miracles (1939), Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner (1941), Blood, Sweat & Tear piano and sax man Fred Lipsius (1943), Paul Revere & The Raiders drummer Joe Correro, Jr. (1946), drummer Matt Sorum of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver (1960), Peach and Blur bassist Justin Chancellor (1971), Tamika Scott of Xscape (1975)

November 20: folk musician-comedian Dick Smothers (1939), Tony Butala of The Lettermen (1940), singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum (1942), rock guitar maestro Duane Allman (1946), Ray Stiles of Mud (1946), George Grantham of Poco (1947), rock guitarist Joe Walsh (1946), Steve Ferguson of NRBQ (1949), Jim Brown of UB40 (1957), Todd Nance of Widespread Panic (1962), session bassist Gail Ann Dorsey (1962), Mike “D” Diamond of The Beastie Boys (1965), Senen Reyes AKA Sen Dog of Cypress Hill (1965), songwriter and musician Kevin Gilbert (1966), Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (1970), Davey Havok AKA David Marchand of AFI (1975), Kimberley Walsh of Girls Aloud (1981), Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill (1986)

November 21: tenor sax innovator Coleman Hawkins (1904), manager-composer-producer Buck Ram (1907), blues pianist Lloyd Glenn (1909), blues singer-sax player Big John Greer (1923), New Orleans musician Dr. John born Malcolm John Rebennack (1940), Lonnie Jordan of War (1948), Electric Prunes bassist Mark Tulin (1948), singer Livingston Taylor (1950), Peter Koppes of The Church (1955), Squirrel Nut Zippers trumpeter Stacy Guess (1964), The Sugarcubes frontwoman and actress Bjork Gudmundsdottir (1965), The Sugarcubes keyboardist Margret Ornolfsdottir (1967), bassist Alex James of Blur (1968), Teenage Fanclub drummer Francis MacDonald (1970), Pretty Lou of Lost Boyz (1972), Kelsi Osborn of SHeDAISY (1984)

November 22: composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael (1899), composer and conductor Benjamin Britten (1913), jazz and classical composer-musician Gunther Schuller (1925), Rod Price of Foghat (1940), Elvis sound-alike Terry Stafford (1941), Trashmen drummer Steve Wahrer (1941), Jamie Troy of The Classics (1942), drummer Floyd Sneed of Three Dog Night (1943), reggae bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett (1946), Steve Van Zandt of The E Street Band (1950), bassist Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads (1950), piano prodigy and sound designer Craig Hundley (1954), Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers (1958), singer James Morrison aka Jim Bob of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (1960), Rasa Don of Arrested Development (1968), Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O (1978)

This Week’s Deaths

November 16: music journalist Mike Leadbitter (1974), soul singer O.V. Wright (1980), Tavares drummer Francis A. Donia (1984), vocalist Dino Valenti of Quicksilver Messenger Service (1994), gospel singer J.D. Sumner (1998), Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps guitarist Grady Owen (1999), British pop pianist Russ Conway (2000), Kid Rock sideman Joe C. AKA Joseph Calleja (2000)

November 17: Jethro Tull bassist John Glasscock (1979), co-founder of Modern Records Jules Bihari (1984), music journalist, record producer, and label owner Pete Welding (1995), soul singer Arthur Conley (2002), country singer-songwriter Don Gibson (2003), R&B singer Ruth Brown (2006), Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs (2008), Motown singer Jimmy Ruffin (2014)

November 18: Memphis bluesman Junior Parker (1971), Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten (1972), jazz singer Terri King (1977), jazz pianist and composer Lennie Tristano (1978), Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs drummer Doug Roberts (1981), jazz session drummer Freddie Waits (1989), flamboyant zoot-suited swing bandleader Cab Calloway (1994), Lindisfarne singer and guitarist Alan Hull (1995), Americana maestro Doug Sahm (1999), composer and arranger Michael Kamen (2003), jazz pianist Cy Coleman (2004), singer-songwriter Jim Ford (2007)

November 19: Claude Feaster of The Chords (1975), songwriter Carolyn Leigh (1983), songwriter Bobby Russell (1992), bassist Greg Ridley of Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie (2003), producer Terry Melcher (2004)

November 20: parody singer Alan Sherman (1973), Chess and Vee-Jay Records session drummer Earl Phillips (1990), New York Times rock critic and blues producer Robert Palmer (1997). ska sax man Roland Alphonso (1998), singer-songwriter Chris Whitley (2005), washtub bass and jug player Fritz Richmond (2005)

November 21: British new wave guitarist Matthew Ashman (1995), Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (1995), blues guitarist Robert Lockwood Jr. (2006)

November 22: June Abbit AKA Joe Abbit, Sr of The “5” Royales (1995), Michael Hutchence of INXS (1997), MC Breed (2008), songwriter Alan Gordon (2009). jazz drummer Paul Motian (2011)

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