It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical…

1954, the first practical transistor radio made in any significant numbers, the pocket-sized Regency TR-1, is mass-marketed at $49.95 …

1955, Carl Perkins records "Blue Suede Shoes" at Sun Studios in Memphis …

1957, Elvis drops in at the mansion of Tennessee governor Frank Clement 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 rendition of "Just Walking in the Rain" … lead Prisonaire singer Johnny Bragg and Elvis know each other from Sun Studios sessions … the party doesn’t break up until the wee hours …

1960, U.S. patent #2,960,900 is granted to Fender for the "off-set waist" design of its Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars … Gibson’s introduction of the Firebird with it’s asymmetrical "reverse" body shape led to a dispute between the two guitar makers … avoiding a court battle, Gibson redesigned the Firebird in 1965 with a "non-reverse" body style …

1961, blues shouter Howlin’ Wolf arrives in London as part of a lineup of American blues musicians who take Britain, and later, the continent by storm … a series of annual American Folk Blues Festivals follow leading to a generation of Brits such as Clapton, Page, Watts, and Richards becoming blues devotees who during the mid-’60s introduce white America to its own roots-music heritage …

1965, Bob Dylan marries Sara Lowndes but holds off telling just about everybody until February 1966 … Mr. and Mrs. Dylan move to Woodstock, New York … the Blonde On Blonde song "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is one of many songs Mr. D would write about Sara—the title obliquely refers to her name … in 1977, Sara Dylan files for divorce and custody of their five children …

1966, The Monkees’ eponymous first album is the number one LP in the U.S … after 12 weeks at the top it is replaced by More of The Monkees

1967, The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s single "Incense and Peppermints," from the album of the same name, reaches #1 on the Billboard Hot 100

1968, Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience reaches #1 on the U.S. album charts … the gatefold double album features "Crosstown Traffic," "Voodoo Child," and the JHE’s only U.S. hit single, their dramatic re-working of Bob Dylan’s "All Along The Watchtower" …

… The Monkees film Head opens in six cities … Frank Zappa makes a cameo appearance … the script was co-written by Jack Nicholson, who also compiled the movie soundtrack album … one song "As We Go Along" has guitar work supplied by Neil Young, Ry Cooder, Carole King (co-writer), and Danny Kortchmar, who avoid stepping on each others parts … The Beatles, better known as The White Album, is released in the UK … the 30 tracks on the double LP span styles and genres including country, blues, folkish strummery, whimsical singalong ditties, flat-out rockers, and just plain weirdness … producer George Martin recommended picking the best tunes for a single LP … what songs would you have thrown out and included? …

1971, following the death of The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, the surviving members tell Rolling Stone that the band will continue … it officially disbands two years later after releasing two lackluster albums with keyboardist Ray Manzarek supplying the vocals … Isaac Hayes’ "Theme From Shaft" tops the single charts …

1973, 70 minutes into The Who concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Keith Moon collapses behind the drums … Pete Townshend asks if there’s anyone in the audience who not only can play drums but, as he puts it "I meant somebody good" … 19-year Scot Halpin is recruited from the throng by promoter Bill Graham to fill in … despite not having played drums for a year, Halpin manages to keep up with The Who for three songs to close the concert …

1975, reviewers with advance copies of Patti Smith’s debut album Horses give it rave reviews …

1976, a Jerry Lee Lewis two-fer this week: … first, he’s busted for drunk driving after plunging his Rolls Royce into a ditch at 9 a.m… . the next day he’s arrested again for showing up at Graceland and demanding to see Elvis while brandishing a loaded derringer … The Band bids adieu to its fans at San Francisco’s Winterland with a star-studded show that includes their former boss Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, and many more … Martin Scorsese is on hand to film the proceedings resulting in the movie, The Last Waltz, widely regarded as one of the best rock movies ever … in 2002, the film is reissued on DVD with remixed 5.1 sound and lots of additional performances not seen in the theatrical release … one of the extras is an extended jam with Morrison, Clapton, Wood, et al, during which the motors in Scorsese’s cinema cameras melted down as they were not designed to handle the continuous shooting … hence the final part of the jam is an audio-only affair …

1977, The Sex Pistols are in British court coming to the defense of a shopkeeper who displayed their debut album Never Mind The Bollocks in his front window … prosecutors say the word "bollocks" is offensive and violates the Indecent Advertising Act … historians testify the word "bollocks" goes back 1,000 years and was used to describe a ball and is also included in present-day English place names … after 20 minutes of deliberation the charges are dropped …

1979, Chuck Berry is released from the slammer following a four-month stretch on tax evasion charges … new wave group Pearl Harbor & The Explosions from San Francisco release their debut 45 "Drivin’" … it sells well locally and picks up college radio airplay … enough to lead to a record deal with Warner Brothers …

1980, Don Henley of The Eagles is arrested after paramedics are called to treat a nude 16-year-old girl suffering from the effects of illicit drugs at his Los Angeles home … he is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of an array of drugs … the new single from The Police is "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" …

1981, Human League’s new single is "Don’t You Want Me Baby" …

1983, Michael Jackson’s 14-minute "Thriller" video premieres in Los Angeles …

1984, Bono, Boy George, Sting, George Michael, and other British pop artists record the single "Do They Know It’s Christmas?" to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia …

1985, pre-bad Bobby Brown announces he is leaving New Edition to begin a solo career …

1988, Bon Jovi’s "Bad Medicine" starts a two-week run at number one …

1994, after extensive alcohol and drug abuse as well as hepatitis C, David Crosby gets a healthy new liver via transplant …

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 emigration …

1997, ex-Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten appears on Judge Judy when a drummer sues him for $5,000 in lost wages and claims Rotten hit him … Johnny maintains the guy quit days before the tour was to begin … Judy rules for Johnny … Garth Brooks’ much-delayed seventh album, Sevens, is finally released … a day after its release, the album sets a record by placing 12 of its 14 tracks in the Hot Country 100 Singles and Tracks chart, eclipsing the former record of eight tracks also set by Brooks with his album Fresh Horses … the Zombies’ original lineup including Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, Chris White, Paul Atkinson, and Hugh Grundy reunite to play a gig at London’s Jazz Café …

1999, country star Patty Loveless rides a train across Appalachia distributing 15 tons of Christmas gifts to poor families in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia …

2004, U2 surprises New York City with a 45-minute concert at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge before a crowd of 3,000 who were alerted to the concert via fan websites …

2006, Eddie Van Halen fires original bass player Michael Anthony replacing him with Eddie’s 15-year-old son Wolfgang … talking up his progeny’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." … the Eagles of Death Metal are summarily fired onstage by Axl Rose after playing the first of 15 planned opening sets on the Guns n’ Roses North American tour … following the Eagles set, Rose asks the crowd, "How’d you like the Pigeons of Sh*t Metal? Don’t worry, that’s the last show they’re playing with us." … responding to the firing, Eagles leader Jesse Hughes reflects, "When [Axl] goes off his meds, [he’s] not Paxil Rose anymore." … Guitar Center sells out its entire allotment of 185 reproductions of Eric Clapton’s mid-’60s Strat affectionately known as "Blackie" in seven hours … the original axe that Clapton pieced together from several Stratocasters was bought by Guitar Center at auction and was torn down by Fender lutheirs in the process of creating the specially aged replicas … The Doors—minus Jim Morrison of course—reunite for a one-off show at Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go … it’s been four decades since the band has played the legendary club … Slash and Perry Farrell are on hand to flesh out the lineup …

2007, 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 RHCP’s 1999 album—was a misuse of the band’s intellectual property … Nirvana’s celebrated MTV Unplugged show from November, 1993 is released on DVD … Nirvana: Unplugged In New York includes rehearsal footage and two songs that weren’t broadcast … My Morning Jacket leader Jim James reveals that the songs he has written for the band’s forthcoming 2008 album release were mightily influenced by listening to Sam Cooke—both the singer’s pop songs as well as his earlier gospel work with the Soul Stirrers … "hearing the gospel he did before blew my f***ing mind. No guitars, no bullsh*t" … Bob Dylan, Jack White, Lucinda Willliams, and Alan Jackson are reported to be working on renditions of 35 songs written by country pioneer Hank Williams but never recorded before … the project began years earlier when Acuff-Rose, Williams’ music publisher approached Dylan with a briefcase containing the songs … Dylan then moved into the role of project coordinator engaging the artists and arranging the recording sessions … the music, originally said to be due out "in a year or two" on Egyptian Records, Dylan’s Columbia label, as of today is still not released … wildfires in Malibu torch Flea’s $4.8 million mansion … the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist had rented out the home to producer Butch Walker who lost everything including a collection of vintage studio gear in the blaze … Axl Rose’s home avoids a similar fate when the G N’ R frontman wields a hose to wet down his roof … apparently the Chinese Democracy tapes were not damaged, and if they were, what’s another delay? …

2008, still bearing a grudge against Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker says in a Rhythm magazine interview that there will be no more Cream reunions … Baker says the bassist played too loudly at concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2005 … 13 years after they began writing and recording their follow-up to 1991’s Use Your Illusion I and II, Gun N’ Roses finally release the long-anticipated Chinese Democracy with 14 tracks, all written by Axl Rose with various co-composers … according to a New York Time article, the production costs exceed $13 million … China dismisses the album as a “venomous attack” on the nation and bans sale of the album … and after all the rumor, hype, and expense, the album sells well below expectations … meanwhile, Atlantic Records becomes the first major record label to report that its digital sales have finally outsold the sale of its physical CDs …

… and that was the week that was in matters musical.

Arrivals:

November 19: bandleader Tommy Dorsey (1905), gospel singer J.D. Sumner (1914), Funk Brothers pianist Joe Hunter (1927), singer Ray Collins of The Mothers of Invention (1937), Hank Medress of The Tokens (1938), Pete Moore of The Miracles (1939), Blood, Sweat & Tears piano and sax man Fred Lipsius (1943), Paul Revere & The Raiders drummer Joe Correro, Jr. (1946), drummer Matt Sorum of Guns N’ Roses (1960), Travis McNabb of Better Than Ezra (1969), Justin Chancellor, bass player for Peach and Tool (1971), Tamika Scott of Xscape (1975)

November 20: Dick Smothers (1939), Tony Butala of The Lettermen (1940), Norman Greenbaum, writer-performer of "Spirit in the Sky" (1942), Duane Allman (1946), Joe Walsh (1947), drummer George Grantham of Poco (1947), guitarist Steve Ferguson of NRBQ (1949), Jim Brown of UB40 (1957), Todd Nance of Widespread Panic (1962), Mike “D” Diamond of The Beastie Boys (1965), Sen Dog of Cypress Hill (1965), songwriter Kevin Gilbert (1966), Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (1970)

November 21: tenor sax giant Coleman Hawkins (1904), R&B producer-manager Buck Ram (1907), blues and jazz pianist Lloyd Glenn (1909), vocalist-saxophonist “Big” John Greer (1923), Malcolm John Rebennack AKA Dr. John (1941), Lonnie Jordan of War (1948), Steve Ferguson of NRBQ (1949), Livingston Taylor (1950), Peter Koppes of The Church (1955), Stacy Guess of Squirrel Nut Zippers (1964), singer-songwriter Björk (1965), Blur’s Alex James (1968), Pretty Lou of Lost Boyz (1974), Kelsi Osborn of SHeDAISY (1984)

November 22: composer-conductor Benjamin Britten (1913), Rod Price of Foghat (1940), composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael (1940), Elvis imitator Terry Stafford (1941), drummer Steve Wahrer of The Trashmen, one-hit-wonders with "Surfin’ Bird" (1941), Jamie Troy of The Classics (1942), drummer Floyd Sneed of Three Dog Night (1943), reggae musician Aston “Family Man” Barrett (1946), “Little” Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band (1950), bassist Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads (1950), Craig Hundley, pianist-composer and inventor of the Blaster Beam instrument used in Star Trek soundtracks (1954), Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers (1958), James Morrison aka Jim Bob, singer with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (1960), Rasa Don of Arrested Development (1968)

November 23: Chicago blues producer and bassist Al Smith (1923), Johnny Kidd, of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, who wrote “Shakin’ All Over,” later covered by The Who (1939), "The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)" vocalist Betty Everett (1939), John Hunter, drummer for Memphis psychedelic band The Hombres (1941), Alan Paul of Manhattan Transfer (1949), keyboardist-vocalist Bruce Hornsby (1954)

November 24: ragtime pianist Scott Joplin (1868), Jim Yester, guitarist-vocalist with The Association (1939), pre-Ringo Beatles drummer Pete Best (1941), Booker T. and the MGs and Blues Brothers bassist, Donald “Duck” Dunn (1941), singer-actor-comedian Billy Connolly of The Humblebums with Gerry Rafferty (1942), session pianist Richard Tee, born Richard Ten Ryk (1943), Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band (1943), organist-singer Lee Michaels (1945), Bev Bevan of The Move and ELO (1946), drummer Clem Burke of Blondie, and briefly, The Ramones (1955), Chris Hayes of Huey Lewis & The News (1957), John Squire of Stone Roses (1962), Chad Taylor of Live (1970)

November 25: Eddie Boyd, Chicago blues pianist whose big hit was “Five Long Years” (1914), singer Percy Sledge (1940), Bob "Elusive Butterfly" Lind (1942), country crossover artist Amy Grant (1960), singer Stacy Lattisaw (1966), Rodney Sheppard of Sugar Ray (1967)

Departures:

November 19: The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and Paul Revere & The Raiders producer Terry Melcher (2004), songwriter Bobby Russell (1992), songwriter Carolyn Leigh (1983), Claude Feaster of The Chords (1975)

November 20: washtub bassist and jug player Fritz Richmond (2006), singer-songwriter Chris Whitley (2005), album cover artist Gene Greif (2004), Roland Alphonso of the Skatalites (1998), rock critic and blues producer Robert Palmer (1997), Chess and Vee-Jay Records session drummer Earl Phillips (1990)

November 21: blues guitarist Robert Lockwood Jr. (2006), singer Alvin Cash (1999), Matthew Ashman of Adam & the Ants and Bow Wow Wow (1995), Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (1995)

November 22: Alan Gordon, wrote "Happy Together" and "Celebrate" (2008), rapper MC Breed (2008), jazz impresario Norman Ganz (2001), Michael Hutchence, lead singer of INXS (1997), Epick Soundtracks of The Swell Maps (1997), June Abbit AKA Joe Abbit Sr. of The 5 Royales (1995)

November 23: Anita O’Day, jazz singer with Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton (2006), Michael Stewart, co-founder of We Five and producer of Billy Joel (2002), jazz saxophonist Art Porter (1996), Junior Walker of Junior Walker and the Allstars (1995), Badfinger bassist Tom Evans (1983)

November 24: Michael Lee, drummer for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (2008), Casey Calvert of Hawthorne Heights (2007), Melanie Thornton of La Bouche (2001), songwriter Tommy Boyce (1994), blues guitarist Albert Collins (1993), KISS drummer Eric Carr (1991), Freddie Mercury (1991), Big Joe Turner (1985), Chicago sax player J.T. Brown (1969)

November 25: Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot (2007), Artie Mogull, record exec who signed Bob Dylan to his publishing deal (2004), underappreciated blues guitar player and singer Fenton Robinson (1997), French chanteuse Barbara (1997), British dance-pop artist Wildchild, born Roger McKenzie (1995), lead singer with techno band Mi-Sex, Steve Gilpin (1991), Nick Drake, English singer-songwriter who has achieved posthumous popularity (1974), free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler (1970)

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