It happened this week…

This is the week that was in matters musical . . .

1935, Richard Wayne Penniman is born in Macon, Georgia . . . two decades later he will make a huge splash in the rock ‘n’ roll realm where he will be better known 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 go on to influence countless rockers, notably among them Paul McCartney, with a wild vocal style that includes his trademark “wooo” . . . over the coming years he will oscillate 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 all descend on Sun Records Studios in Memphis . . . the studio had been originally booked for Perkins who planned to cut some tracks with his brothers . . . when the other luminaries drop by a party atmosphere prevails and the event turns into a day-long music jamboree, much of which is captured on tape as the participants have a rollicking good time with country, gospel, and rockabilly tunes . . . due to contractual issues the tapes remain in the can until 1981 when Charly Records in England puts out an LP with session highlights, crediting it to The Million Dollar Quartet-a name coined by a Memphis newsman who covered the original get-together . . . though Cash is pictured on the cover, he is not audible on any of the tracks . . . word has it Mrs. Cash showed up during the session and insisted Johnny go shopping with her . . .

1958, The Crests’ “16 Candles” is released . . . the doo-wop group is notable for being among the first integrated pop groups with two black and two white members

1963, the #1 singles chart hit this week is “Dominique,” a lilting ditty eulogizing the founder of the Dominican order, written and performed by Sister Luc-Gabrielle who records under the moniker The Singing Nun . . . in 1966 she will leave the order and in 1985 dies in a suicide pact with her partner Annie Pescher . . .

1965, the infamous blue flame strikes Keith Richards down on a stage in Sacramento when he grabs an ungrounded mic . . . the indestructible Stone is on his feet and performing again inside of 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 the Book of Ecclesiastes . . .

1966, Ray Charles is convicted of possessing smack and pot, given a five-year suspended sentence, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine . . . this very same week in 1997, Brother Ray’s tour manager, Carl Edward Hunter, is busted by cops in Nagoya, Japan, for possession of the icky sticky stuff . . .

1967, pop singer Jimmie F. Rodgers cracks up his car and is found with a fractured skull . . . he will survive but his career is over . . .

1968, Graham Nash quits the Hollies . . . three days later he announces the formation of Crosby, Stills and Nash . . .

1969, this week marks the infamous Altamont Speedway concert with the Rolling Stones; Jefferson Airplane; Santana; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young on the playbill . . . violence erupts and four people are killed, at least two in deliberate bloody assaults . . . on that same day AT&T backs out as a sponsor of a Simon and Garfunkel TV special when it learns that the duo plans to air clips of Robert Kennedy’s funeral and Vietnam war footage . . .

1970, a gold record goes to Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Steve Stills for Supersession, an album they put together out of an extended studio jam session . . .

1970, the documentary film Gimme Shelter, chronicling the 1969 Stones tour and the Altamont debacle, is released on the occasion of the fateful concert’s anniversary . . .

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 everywhere laying it down endlessly . . .

1972, Carly Simon releases “You’re So Vain,” a song which sets the whole country to 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 . . . when asked if she’s “gone with” Beatty, she says, “Hasn’t everybody?” . . . “I felt I was one among thousands at that point-it hadn’t reached, you know, the populations of small countries” . . . in 2003 Carly Simon volunteers to tell the highest bidder at a charity auction who the song is actually about, but only if the winner will keep it confidential . . . NBC exec Dick Ebersol wins with a $50,000 bid and he’s not talking . . .

1973, the Who and friends trash a Montreal 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” . . .

1976, during a British 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 finally touching down in Kent . . .

1976, Bob Marley and the Wailers are rehearsing at Marley’s house in Kingston, Jamaica, when seven gunmen appear and shower the house with a hail of gunfire . . . Marley, wife Rita, and manager Don Taylor are all hit but miraculously nobody is seriously injured . . . the band plays a gig two nights later . . .

1976, the Sex Pistols’ Glenn Matlock uses the “F” word during an English TV interview and the resulting uproar proves that the Brits can be every bit as priggish and sanctimonious as the Yanks . . . most of the Pistols’ upcoming gigs are canceled and by the next month they can’t book a date anywhere in the U.K . . . .

1978, Ian Dury-the hot new British new waver-releases “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick,” which will sell two million copies worldwide and hit #1 in the U.K. without ever charting in the U.S . . . .

1979, 11 fans are trampled to death at a Who show in Cincinnati . . .

1986, Annie Lennox, lead singer for Eurythmics, gets so carried away at a concert in Birmingham, England, that she rips off her bra, which is the only thing covering her breasts . . . this does not cause a national scandal . . . meanwhile in Palm Springs, Jerry Lee Lewis checks into the Betty Ford Clinic to deal with his pain killer addiction . . .

1987, former Go-Go member Belinda Carlisle scores a #1 hit with “Heaven is a Place on Earth” . . . the single is buoyed by a video directed by actress Diane Keaton . . .

1988, operatic pop crooner Roy Orbison dies of a heart attack while visiting his mother in Henderson, Tennessee . . . after huge success as a songwriter and performer in the 1960s, Orbison lost two of his three sons in a house fire and his wife in a motorcycle accident in 1966 . . . in the 1980s his gig with the Traveling Wilburys, a movie deal, and several of his songs charting for other artists had Orbison almost back at the top of his game at the time he died . . .

1993, revered rock weirdo, musical wizard, and spokesman for lyrical freedom Frank Zappa meets his demise from prostate cancer at the age of 53 . . .

1996, Tiny Tim, born Herbert Khaury-who made a career of singing ’20s and ’30s tunes in a decidedly unmasculine warbling falsetto accompanied by his ukulele-dies of a heart condition at a Minneapolis hospital after collapsing while performing his signature song “Tip-Toe Thru’ The Tulips With Me” at a nearby women’s club meeting . . .

1997, while driving home from the San Francisco airport, jazz fusion guitarist Michael Hedges loses control of his car near Boonville, California, and goes over an embankment . . . it is four days later that a road crew discovers his body in the wreckage . . .

2004, Marianne Faithfull cancels the remaining 12 dates of a European tour following her onstage collapse in Milan . . . her health has deteriorated due to exhaustion after working herself to the bone for the previous year . . . America’s oldest teenager, 75-year-old Dick Clark, suffers a mild stroke . . . doctors say he’ll be on his feet soon, but he will not make the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, that he has hosted for 32 consecutive years . . .

2005, in an unlikely coupling, Mary J. Blige’s new album Reminisce features the hip-hopper singing a duet with U2′s Bono . . . the pair had gone public with the U2 song “One” during a New York show by the band in October . . .

And that was the week that was.

Arrivals:
November 30: Pablo Casals (1876), slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk (1909), bluesman Brownie McGhee (1915), Dick Clark (1929), Johnny Horton (1929), Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary (1937), Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues (1941), Lee Greenwood (1942), Leo Lyons of Ten Years After (1943), Rob Grill of Grassroots (1944), Deep Purple’s Roger Glover (1945), Cozy Powell of The Jeff Beck Group (1947), Garry Tallent of The E Street Band (1949), Kenneth K.K. Downing of Judas Priest (1951), Shuggie Otis (1953), The Little River Band’s George McArdale (1954), Billy Idol (1955), June Pointer of The Pointer Sisters (1956), Japan’s Richard Barbieri (1957), John Ashton of the Psychedelic Furs (1957), Stacey Q (1958), Simon LeBon of Duran Duran (1958), Jalil of Whodini (1963), Paul Wheeler of Icehouse (1965), Scott Weiland (1967), Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket (1970), Des’ree (1968), Mindy McCready (1975), Kelly Osbourne (1984)

December 1: crooner Matt Monro (1932), Billy Paul (1934), Lou Rawls (1935), Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult (1944), John Densmore of The Doors (1944), Bette Midler (1945), Gilbert O’Sullivan (1946), Jaco Pastorius (1951), Japan’s Steve Jansen (1959), Brad Delson of Linkin Park (1977)

December 2: Pop Staples (1915), Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann (1941), Michael McDonald (1952), Joe Henry (1960), Def Leppard’s Rick Savage (1960), Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle born Nicholas Dingley (1963), Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters (1968), Jay-Z (1970), Nelly Furtado (1978), Britney Spears (1981)

December 3: D.J. William “Hoss” Allen (1922), pop crooner Andy Williams (1930), Ralph McTell (1944), Ozzy Osbourne (1948), “Buffalo” Bruce Barlow of Commander Cody (1948), Mickey Thomas of Starship (1949), Molly Hatchet’s Duane Roland (1952), Steve Forbert (1955), Montell Jordan (1971)

December 4: film singer Deanna Durbin (1922), New Orleans R&B singer Lee Dorsey (1924), jazz drummer Denis Charles (1933), blues guitarist Larry Davis (1936), Freddy Cannon aka Anthony Picariello (1940), Chris Hillman of The Byrds (1942), Bob Mosely of Moby Grape (1942), Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (1944), Southside Johnny (1948), Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1951), Bob Griffin of The BoDeans (1959), Vinnie Dombroskie of Sponge (1962)

December 5: blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson II born Aleck Ford Miller and AKA Rice Miller (1899), New Orleans sax man Alvin “Red” Tyler (1925), Reverend James Cleveland (1931), Little Richard (1935), J.J. Cale born Jean Jacques Cale (1938), Andy Kim (1946), Jim Messina (1947), Great White’s Jack Russell (1960), Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls (1965)

December 6: Broadway lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896), Dave Brubeck (1920), Len Barry of The Dovells (1942), Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five (1943), Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown (1947), Joe X. Dube of Looking Glass (1950), Jam’s Rick Buckler (1955), Peter Buck of R.E.M. (1956), Randy Rhoads (1956), Dave Lovering of The Pixies (1961), Ben Watt of Everything but the Girl (1962), Ace of Base’s Ulf Ekberg (1970)

Departures:
November 30: jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd (1999), Tiny Tim (1996), Doors producer Paul Rothschild (1995), crossover country singer David Houston (1993)

December 1: jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli (1997), Epic Soundtracks (Kevin Godfrey) of Swell Maps (1997), the “Unforgettable” songwriter Irving Gordon (1996), metal singer Ray Gillen (1993), balladeer Harry Ray (1992), Lee Dorsey (1986), Westside Chicago bluesman Magic Sam aka Sam Maghett (1969), bluegrass guitarist Carter Stanley (1966)

December 2: singer-songwriter Kevin Coyne (2004), guitarist-composer Michael Hedges (1997), Aaron Copland (1990), folk singer David Blue (1982)

December 3: jazz pianist Mal Waldron (2002), songwriter Phil Medley (1997)

December 4: MC5 fret man and husband of Patti Smith Fred “Sonic” Smith (1994), Frank Zappa (1993), Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin (1976)

December 5: tenor saxist Bob Berg (2002), Douglas Hopkins of The Gin Blossoms (1993), New Orleans session sax man David Lastie (1987), multi-instrumentalist jazz behemoth Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1977)

December 6: Memphis bass man Busta Jones (1995), Roy Orbison (1988), Leadbelly (1949)

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4 Comments

  1. You write above: December 5: blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson II born Aleck Ford Miller and AKA Rice Miller (1899), New Orleans sax man Alvin “Red” Tyler (1925), Reverend James Cleveland (1931), Little Richard (1935), J.J. Cale born Jean Jacques Cale (1938), Andy Kim (1946), Jim Messina (1947), Great White’s Jack Russell (1960), Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls (1965)

    There is no Jean Jacques Cale. JJ Cale was born in Oklahoma City as John W. Cale. The Jean Jacques nonsense was invented by a reporter from France who got drunk and was ejected from the venue before he got an interview. For the real story of where the JJ came from, see “To Tulsa and Back: JJ Cale Tour 2004.”

    -Rocky Frisco

  2. Do you actively go out searching for this little bit of urban myth on teh interweb?

  3. Life is bleak.

  4. At least it wasn’t Tiny Tim- everybody now “Tip toe through the tulips” – should have stuck that in someone’s head now.

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