This Week in Music History

Indestructible Keef … Zappa Immortalized … May Commanded

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Historic Events that Rocked Music—The Week of November 30, 2015

Keith Richards Frank Zappa Brian May

1929: EMI Group purchases a nine-bedroom house in St. John’s Wood, London for £16,500 to build new recording studios...the address for what will be officially called EMI Studios is 3 Abbey Road…

 

EMI picked up what would become Abbey Road Studios for a song during the Depression. Countless sessions including, of course, The Beatles’ Abbey Road would be cut there.

1932: Richard Wayne Penniman is born in Macon, Georgia…two decades later he will make a huge rock 'n' roll splash as Little Richard, a mightily pompadoured, sexually ambiguous piano player belting out a series of hits that gets teens shaking tail feathers from coast to coast…he will influence countless rockers, notably among them Paul McCartney who will incorporate Penniman’s wild vocals including that trademark "whooo" into his own work…over the years Little Richard will bounce between the sacred and the profane, sometimes forsaking rock 'n' roll for the ministry before falling back on the Devil’s music…

1956: An impromptu jam results when Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins converge on Sun Records Studios in Memphis…studio time originally booked for Perkins to record with his brothers turns into a party when the others show up…captured on tape, they jam on country, gospel, and rockabilly songs...due to contractual snags, the tapes remain unreleased until 1981 when Charly Records in England puts out an LP with session highlights credited to The Million Dollar Quartet—a name coined by a Memphis newsman who covered the original jam…

1957: The Ed Sullivan Show hosts the national TV debuts of two giants on one night: Sam Cooke and Buddy Holly…

1960: Paul McCartney and early Beatles drummer Pete Best are arrested for inexplicably burning a condom (some accounts refer to a rag or tapestry) they’ve pinned to a wall in their makeshift lodgings in Munich’s Bambi movie theater…there’s little damage apart from a scorch mark, but the boys are booted out of Germany the next day…

1961: The Beatles agree to have Brian Epstein manage them after the record store manager commits to getting them better-paying, more prestigious gigs beyond Liverpool…he promises the lads they’ll never have to play for less than £15 again, except for ongoing Cavern Club lunchtime shows, for which he’ll get their fee doubled to £10…

1963: The cheery single, “Dominique ” by The Singing Nun is at the top of the pop chart…laughably, it’ll grab a Grammy for the year’s best gospel song…

1964: The Rolling Stones nail their second UK No. 1 single with “Little Red Rooster”…their mid-tour cover of the Howlin’ Wolf classic was cut at Chess Records in Chicago—home to some of the biggest blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and R&B artists of the day…

1965: The infamous blue flame strikes Keith Richards down on a stage in Sacramento, California when his guitar touches an ungrounded mic...the indestructible Stone is on his feet and performing again within seven minutes…this same week The Byrds find themselves ruling the pop chart with “Turn! Turn! Turn!”…the song, penned by Pete Seeger, incorporates verses from Ecclesiastes…

1966: After being convicted for pot and heroin possession, Ray Charles receives a five-year suspended sentence and is ordered to pay a $10,000 fine…

1967: Otis Redding cuts his biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay…the talented soul singer won’t be around to enjoy his success as he will die in a plane crash just three days later…Redding had planned to record his vocals again to replace the whistling that gives the released version much of its character…

 

Tragically, Otis Redding would not be around to enjoy his biggest hit—”Sittin on the Dock of the Bay.”

1968: Elvis’ “comeback” TV special—titled simply Elvis airs on NBC…manager Colonel Tom Parker wants Elvis to do the usual cornball Christmas special, but Elvis, who can see his musical legacy slipping away, wants fans to know he can still rock…he delivers big time…leather suited and sweating up a storm on a tiny stage in front of adoring fans, Elvis shows everyone he’s still the…well, you know…this same week Graham Nash quits the Hollies...three days later he announces the formation of Crosby, Stills and Nash…and finally, this week in London, a release party is thrown to celebrate The Rolling Stones’ new LP, Beggars Banquet…the high point of the party is a massive food fight in which many custard pies are flung…

 

Behind-the-scenes clips from his “comeback” special reveal a re-energized Elvis.

1969: The infamous Altamont Speedway free concert is held near San Francisco with The Rolling Stones headlining...drawing about 300,000, a stunningly unwise decision to have the Hells Angels provide security, sketchy last-minute planning and bad acid are involved in several deaths and a scary vibe…Altamont, as chronicled in the documentary, Gimme Shelter, released exactly a year later, is now considered the death-knell of the hippie peace-love-and-dope era…

1970: A gold record goes to Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills for Super Session, an album they put together out of extended studio jams…

1971: The Montreux Casino in Geneva, Switzerland, catches fire during a show by the Mothers of Invention, inspiring Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" …the proto-metal band watches the fire from their hotel across Lake Geneva, hence the song's title…its crunching four-note riff, harmonized in parallel fourths by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, becomes one of the most cherished figures in all of rock riffdom with garage rockers worldwide laying it down endlessly…

1972: Carly Simon releases "You're So Vain," a song which has the whole country wondering exactly who is so insufferably vain…candidates for the post include recent Carly conquests Mick Jagger (who sang on the record), Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, and Warren Beatty……in 2003 Simon promises to tell the highest bidder at a charity auction who the song is really about, but only if the winner keeps it confidential…NBC exec Dick Ebersol wins with a $50,000 bid and he's not talking…

1973: The Who and friends trash a hotel suite to the tune of $6,000 in damages and spend a night in the pokey for their troubles...John Entwistle later writes a song about the occasion, "Cell Block Number Seven"…

1975: Paul Simon enjoys his first solo trip to the top of the album chart with his Still Crazy After All These Years

1976: The Sex Pistols appear on British TV’s Today show…goaded by the host, Bill Grundy, the Pistols get seriously potty-mouthed helping to cement their bad-boy reputations while destroying the host’s career…the interview continues to get lots of YouTube clicks to this day…also this week, during a London photo shoot for the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals, a 40-foot helium-filled pig breaks loose from its moorings and floats up to an estimated 18,000 feet before descending in Kent where it crashes into a barn scaring some cows…meanwhile in Kingston Jamaica, Bob Marley and the Wailers are rehearsing at Marley's house when seven gunmen appear and shower the house with a hail of gunfire...Marley, wife Rita and manager Don Taylor are all miraculously only slightly injured...the band plays a gig two nights later…

1978: Ian Dury—the hot new British new wave star—releases "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick," which will sell two million copies worldwide and hit number one in the UK without ever charting in the U.S.…

1979: Eleven fans are trampled to death at a Who show in Cincinnati when the crowd surges forward to claim unreserved seats…meanwhile in London, U2 plays to a “crowd” of nine at The Hope and Anchor pub…mis-advertised as “The U2’s,” the band pulls the plug after The Edge snaps a string…

1980: After management tells Prince he can’t perform in spandex pants without underwear, The Purple One retaliates by opening the first night of his Dirty Mind tour in Buffalo, New York wearing bikini briefs, high-heeled boots, leggings and a voluminous trench coat…

1983: Neil Young is sued by his label, Geffen Records…according to the company, his latest music is “not commercial in nature and musically uncharacteristic of his previous albums”…this comes on the heels of Young’s poorly received Trans—Young’s dalliance with electronic music—and Everybody’s Rockin’—a foray into rockabilly…Young countersues arguing his contract grants him total artistic freedom…the case is ultimately settled with Geffen apologizing…

1993: Revered rock weirdo, musical wizard and spokesman for lyric freedom, Frank Zappa, meets his demise from pancreatic cancer at 53…also this week, over the protests of his bandmates, Axl Rose includes a cover of “Look At Your Game, Girl” written by Charles Manson on the new GNR album The Spaghetti Incident?...the song, which does not appear on the LP’s tracklist, follows the last listed track and concludes with Axl saying “thanks Chas”…

1997: Sax blowhard Kenny G., who is already the world’s best-selling instrumentalist, sets a new record by blowing a single note (E-flat) for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at a New York record store…he uses a technique called circular breathing to pull off the stunt…

1999: Jay-Z is arrested for stabbing record exec Lance Rivera at a New York club…Hova suspects Rivera of being behind bootlegs of his album Vol. 3…Life and Times of S Carter…he will plead guilty and receive three year’s probation…reflecting on the incident in his 2010 book, Decoded, Jay-Z writes, “There was no reason to put my life on the line, and the lives of everyone who depends on me, because of a momentary loss of control…I vowed to never allow myself to be in a situation like that again”…

2002: Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher gets his front teeth kicked out in a struggle with cops at his Munich hotel…

2004: Marianne Faithfull cancels the remaining 12 dates of a European tour following her onstage collapse in Milan...also this week, singer-songwriter and artist Kevin Coyne dies in Germany at age 60 from complications of lung fibrosis...in 1971 Coyne was offered and declined the job of replacing the deceased Jim Morrison as The Doors’ lead singer citing his aversion to leather pants…

2005: Queen Elizabeth presents Queen guitarist Brian May with a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) award…also this week in an unlikely coupling, Mary J. Blige’s new album Reminisce features the hip-hopper singing a duet with U2’s Bono…

2006: The handwritten lyrics for The Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” fetch $192,000 at auction in New York...Christie’s also gets $168,000 for a former Hendrix Strat while a collection of memorabilia belonging to former Dylan girlfriend Suze Rotolo garners $116,640...in other auction news this week, America’s Oldest Teenager, Dick Clark, puts up a lifetime’s worth of memorabilia for auction... the huge collection includes the mouth harp Dylan blew in The Last Waltz, a beaded white glove worn by Michael Jackson, and the mic Clark used when his American Bandstand TV show launched in 1956…

2007: Ray Charles Plaza in Albany, Georgia, his home town, is opened and features a revolving bronze statue of the late soul man at the piano while his music plays on a permanent speaker system…

2012: Decked out in suits and bowties, surviving Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page are given given Kennedy Center honors for their contributions to American culture and the arts…President Obama gets a laugh when he confesses, "I lost my virginity to the first two minutes of “Stairway to Heaven” and spent the next 11 minutes of it apologizing."…

2013: Spotify reveals that it pays artists on average $.007 per play while also saying it has paid out more than $1 billion since its 2008 launch…

2014: In a one-two punch, long-term Rolling Stones sidemen pass away…keyboardist Ian McLagan and sax player Bobby Keys die a day apart, McLagan after suffering a stroke and Keys from liver disease…

This Week’s Births

November 30: cellist Pablo Casals (1876), slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk (1909), folk-blues guitarist Brownie McGhee (1915), parody singer Alan Sherman (1924), DJ and perpetual teenager Dick Clark (1929), Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary (1937), Memphis soul singer Luther Ingram (1937), Earl “Speedo” Carroll of The Cadillacs (1937), Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues (1941), bassist Leo Lyons of Ten Years After (1943), Rob Grill of The Grassroots (1944), Roger Glover of Deep Purple (1945), drummer Cozy Powell born Colin Flooks of the Jeff Beck Group (1947), Garry Tallent of The E Street Band (1949), British singer Terry Reid (1949), Kenneth K.K. Downing of Judas Priest (1951), guitarist Shuggie Otis (1953), multi-instrumentalist David Sancious (1953), The Little River Band's George McArdle (1954), Brit rocker Billy Idol (1955), June Pointer of The Pointer Sisters (1956), Richard Barbieri of Japan (1957), guitarist John Ashton of The Psychedelic Furs (1957), pop singer Stacey Q (1958), Simon LeBon of Duran Duran (1958), Jalil of Whodini (1963), Paul Wheeler of Icehouse (1965), Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver (1967), British R&B singer Des'ree (1968), Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket (1970), Disturbed bassist John Moyer (1973), country singer Mindy McCready (1975), pop singer Clay Aiken (1978)

December 1: British crooner Matt Monro (1930), R&B singer Lou Rawls (1933), soul singer Billy Paul (1934), drummer Sandy Nelson (1938), Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult (1944), Doors drummer John Densmore (1944), singer Bette Midler (1945), singer Gilbert O’Sullivan (1946), singer Julee Cruise (1956), jazz/fusion/metal guitarist Chris Poland (1957), Japan's Steve Jansen (1959), singer/guitarist Billy Childish (born Steven John Hamper) of Thee Headcoats (1959), 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch (1971), keyboardist Isaiah Randolph "Ikey" Owens (1975), Brad Delson of Linkin Park (1977)

December 2: microgroove LP inventor Dr. Peter Goldmark (1906), Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann (1941), The Association drummer/singer Ted Bluechel Jr. (1942), Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle born Nicholas Dingley (1960), singer-songwriter and producer Joe Henry (1960), Def Leppard's Rick Savage (1960), Belizean musician Andy Palacio (1960), singer Nelly Furtado (1978), Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase (1978), Britney Spears (1981), Aussie bassist Tal Wilkenfeld (1986)

December 3: Nashville DJ William “Hoss” Allen (1922), pop crooner Andy Williams (1927), Capitol Records producer Nik Venet (1936), folksinger Ralph McTell (1944), Ozzy Osbourne (1948), "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow of Commander Cody (1948) Starship singer Mickey Thomas (1949), Molly Hatchet's Duane Roland (1952), bassist Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters (1968), R&B singer Montell Jordan (1968), New Zealand singer-songwriter Daniel Bedingfield (1979)

December 4: film singer Deanna Durbin (1921), jazz drummer Denis Charles (1933), KC blues guitarist Larry Davis (1936), pop singer Freddy Cannon (1939), Bob Mosley of Moby Grape (1942), bassist Chris Hillman of The Byrds (1944), Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (1944), Terry Woods of The Pogues (1947), New Jersey rocker Southside Johnny born John Lyon (1948), Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1951), Bob Griffin of The BoDeans (1959), Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge (1962), rapper and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter (1969), British folksinger Kate Rusby (1973)

December 5: blues master Sonny Boy Williamson II Born Aleck Ford Miller AKA Rice Miller (1899), bari sax man Alvin “Red” Tyler (1925), jazz bassist Art Davis (1934), singer-songwriter J.J. Cale (1938), Eduardo Delgado of ? & The Mysterians (1945), singer-songwriter Jim Messina (1947), Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown (1947), pop singer-songwriter Andy Kim (1952), Great White's Jack Russell (1960), Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls (1965), R&B singer Keri Lynn Hinson (1982)

December 6: Broadway lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896), Hugo Peretti of the Hugo and Luigi pop and R&B production team (1916), jazz pianist and bandleader Dave Brubeck (1920), Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five (1943), Motown writer-producer Willie Hutch (1944), Miroslav Vitous of Weather Report (1947), Joe X. Dube of Looking Glass (1950), brilliant bassist Jaco Pastorius (1951), The Jam's Rick Buckler (1955), Peter Buck of R.E.M. (1956), guitar whiz Randy Rhoads (1956), drummer Dave Lovering of The Pixies (1961), Ben Watt of Everything But the Girl (1962), Flaming Lips drummer Steven Drozd (1969), Ace of Base keyboardist Ulf Ekberg (1970)

This Week’s Deaths

November 30: country singer David Houston (1993), ukulele-playing pop peculiarity Tiny Tim born Herbert Khaury (1996), jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd (1999), multi-instrumentalist and singer Don “Sugarcane” Harris (1999)

December 1: bluegrass guitarist Carter Stanley (1966), trailblazing West Side Chicago blues guitarist Magic Sam born Sam Maghett (1969), Black Sabbath singer Ray Gillen (1993), songwriter Irving Gordon (1996), jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli (1997), Caravan drummer Richard Coughlan (2013)

December 2: blues pianist-singer--songwriter Mercy Dee Walton (1962), folksinger David Blue (1982), New Orleans R&B singer Lee Dorsey (1982), composer Aaron Copland (1990), singer Valorie Jones of The Jones Girls (2001), jazz pianist Mal Waldron (2002), Joe Strummer of The Clash (2002), Shocking Blue singer Mariska Veres (2006), Dave Mound of Mud (2006), folksinger Odetta (2008), songwriter-music publisher Aaron Schroeder (2009), reggae singer Junior Murvin (2013), longtime Stones sax man Bobby Keys (2014)

December 3: composer Hoyt Curtin (2000), Nashville session guitarist Grady Martin (2001), Whisky A Go Go club owner Elmer Valentine (2008) longtime Stones keyboardist Ian McLagan (2014)

December 4: Deep Purple singer Tommy Bolin (1976), Frank Zappa (1993), Wall of Voodoo drummer Joe Nanini (2000), Texas rapper Pimp C, born Chad Butler (2007), percussionist Carlos “Patato” Valdéz, (2007), Liam Clancy of The Clancy Brothers (2009), blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin (2011)

December 5: multi-instrumentalist jazz behemoth Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1977), New Orleans session sax man David Lastie (1987), Doug Hopkins of The Gin Blossoms (1993), sax man Bob Berg (2002), composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (2007), jazz pianist Dave Brubeck (2012)

December 6: big-voiced folk-blues singer Lead Belly born Huddie William Ledbetter (1949), Roy Orbison (1988), Memphis bassist Busta “Cherry” Jones (1995), singer-songwriter Dobie Gray (2011), drummer Ed Cassidy of Spirit (2012), Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton (2012)

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