On This Day – Lennon Gets a Green Card

On this day in 1976 John Lennon got his green card that would allow him to settle in the USA after a long drawn out court battle.

The background to this story lies in Lennon’s left wing activism and the US government’s paranoia.

Lennon supported various left wing causes;  He was anti Vietnam War, pro John Sinclair.  When asked about the Bloody Sunday massacre he said that given the choice between the British Army and the IRA he would side with the IRA.  It should be noted, however, that Ono specifically denied that Lennon gave financial aid to the IRA when a former member of M15 suggested it.

Lennon’s anti war activities were the direct cause of the deportation order being issued against him.  Richard Nixon felt that Lennon’s reported intention to appear at an anti war concert that would coincide with the Republican’s national congress would work against him and his re-election.  A deportation order was issued shortly after.

Those were strange times, a rock star could threaten US democracy?  Given what Nixon went on to do if only Lennon did have that much power.

The original ‘reason’ for the deportation order was Lennon’s conviction on a misdemeanor ‘charge of possessing a small amount of dope in 1968.  Eventually, after 3 and a half years of litigation the deportation order was thrown out when the court said ” … the courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds.”

The battle continued until after Nixon was forced to resign.  He was succeeded by Gerald Ford.  Ford could not see the point of the deportation attempts and they were finally dropped in 1975.  In 1976 the green card was issued.

 

 

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On This Day – Reverend Richard Perriman Speaks Out!

Classic Rock Music

Classic Rock Music

On this day in 1979 the Reverend Richard Perriman spoke out about the evils of rock ‘n’ roll. He told his congregation that redemption is possible. He said “If God can save an old homosexual like me he can save anyone.” The Reverend Richard Perriman is better known as Little Richard.

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On This Day – Bad Bad Leroy Brown Hits Number 1!

On this day in 1973 Jim Croce reached number 1 in the Billboard charts with Bad Bad Leroy Brown, 2 months later he died in a plane crash blamed on pilot error. 

Born into an Italian family in South Philadelphia in 1943 he showed an interest in music from when he was 5 learning to play the accordi0n.  Music was a hobby rather than a career choice for Croce for a long time.  When he did start to take music seriously he had already met and fallen in love with his future wife, Ingrid.  Their wedding present from her parents was $500.  the only stipulation was that it was to be used to make an album.  Their hope was that the album would fail to sell and he would give give up music nd get a real job.  (It reminds me of “Get A Haircut” by George Thorogood – an ace song you must listen to if you don’t know it already).

Sadly for the in-laws, all 500  copies sold.  The album was “Facets”.  Life as a performer was not easy, though.  In ’68 they moved to New York having been encouraged to by their producer, Tommy West.  Eventually they sold all their possessions (except one guitar) to pay the rent and eventually had to move back to  Pennsylvania.  There Jim worked at many manual jobs including construction jibs and driving trucks.  Soul destroying work but it did give him great material for later songs such as “Working at the Car Wash Blues”.  He kept writing songs and did not lose his determination to be a performer. 

Success, when it came was not an over night recognition by us the public to Croce’s talent.  It was a slow awakening.  One important step on the road came in 1970 when Croce met Maury Muehleisen.  Muehleisen was a singer songwriter and initially Croce backed him on stage.  Over time the roles reversed and Muehleisen began to play the wonderful twiddly bits on Croce’s songs so evident in the following albums.

Croce secured a 3 record deal that would produce “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, “Life and Times”, and “I Got a Name”.  All went gold in the US. “I Got a Name” was released as a single on 20th September 1973 and it was on that day that Croce, Muehleisen, and 4 others died in a light plane crash.  They were leaving after a concert at Natchitoches on their way to their next concert in Texas.  The crash was blamed on pilot error, he flew into the only tree for hundreds of yards.  The album “I Got a Name” was released posthumously in December 1973. 

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On This Day – Rolling Stones Riot!

On this day in 1964 The Rolling Stones played the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, UK and the show ended in a riot. In Response the council banned The Stones from ever playing there again.

The Stones in 1964 was not the all conquering band that we all came to know and love a few years later. True, that had released 2 singles “Come On” and ” I wanna Be Your Man” but neither made them mega stars. The First, and quite frankly wonderful first album, “The Rolling Stones” had gone to number 1 in the UK. However, they still had a lot to learn. A UK tour in 1963 had seen them learning stage craft touring under Bo Diddley, Little Richard and The Everly Brothers.

Earlier in 1964 The Stones had undertaken their first, and disasterous US tour. Mocked on TV and largely ignored by most of the media Jagger described it as “A disaster”.

So to their second tour of the UK. The bad boy image designed and developed by Andrew Loog Oldham went before them. “Would you let yopur daughter marry a Rolling Stone”, the arrests for pissing in public, all that stuff was going on at about this time.

So, to Blackpool. Blackpool was England’s most popular seaside resort. Popular, populist, and unbelievably tacky. The Empress Ballroom was an old theater that had staged rock and roll before, but the Stones were something else. The girls were screaming lads dancing, everything set for a good night out. Until. Pre-punk spitting started, aimed at Brian Jones, orchestrated by a man at the front by the stage. Keith Richard told him to stop encouraging the crowd to spit. He did not stop. Keith’s answer? Simple stand on one of the mans hands (the man was that close to the stage) and then kick him in the head, a few times. That started the riot. Everything in sight was smashed, chairs,bottles, a piano, chandeliers (yes chandeliers). The damage was total. Reports put the cost of the damage at £4,000, £7,000 even £10,000 a huge amount at that time. Two policemen and more than 30 fans were injured, presumably someone with a very sore head.

The Blackpool Council met and banned The Stones from ever playing there again. They relented in 2008, saying that The Rolling Stones would be welcomed back. So far, Blackpool has not featured in The Stones’ plans.

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On This day – James Brown Sentenced

james brownOn this day 1988 after being found guilty of various crimes including illegal gun possession (illegal gun possession I thought gun possession was mandatory in the States!), resisting arrest, and assault James Brown is sentenced to 6 years. He is also ordered to play a benefit concert for police and abused children. James Brown is not impressed and says that it is just a way of getting a free concert.

A year later he was moved to a medium security cell (from a low security cell) after more than $40,000 in cash and cheques were discovered in his cell. (Perhaps the benefit was not free after all).

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On This Day – Spencer Davis Group Split

Classic rock music

Classic rock music

On this day in 1969 The Spencer Davis Group announced through its management that it was splitting up.

Their first single was ‘Dimples’ a cover of John Lee Hooker’s classic.  Unfortunately for them it was released at about the time of John Lee’s original in the UK and overshadowed by it.

They are best remembered for ‘Gimme Some Loving’ released in November 1965 which became an instant classic, if such a thing is possible – surely being a classic requires the hindsight of time – anyway it has endured.  It is also notable for the maturity of Steve Winwood’s voice, he was 17 at the time!

Were they a seminal band? I don’t think so. Were they a very good band? Of course. ‘Gimme’ remains much loved, and guaranteed to get non dancing men of a certain age up and shaking their over large stuff at parties (works for me)……………

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On This Day – Like A Rolling Stone

On this day in 1965 one of Dylan’s most iconic songs was released as a sing.  Like A Rolling Stone at 6 minutes long was considered too long and too ‘heavy’ to be a single and Columbia resisted releasing it.  It was only released after it had been leaked to a popular night club where influential DJs heard, and loved, it.  It was, and is, Dylan’s most successful single reaching number 2 in the USA and number 4 in the UK.

 

The song itself was written after a long and exhausting tour of the UK.  It probably started life as a 10 or more page rank referred to as a ‘piece of Vomit’ by Dylan.  It talked about loneliness, loss, and compassion, not the staple of love and romance that were the main themes for hit singles.  Robert Shelton, Dylan biographer, said “A song that seems to hail the dropout life for those who can take it segues into compassion for those who have dropped out of bourgeois surroundings. ‘Rolling Stone’ is about the loss of innocence and the harshness of experience. Myths, props, and old beliefs fall away to reveal a very taxing reality.”

 

Whatever it was really about and how you look at it one this is obvious. It was revolutionary. It took 2 fraught days to record, started in ¾ time. Mike Bloomfield played guitar, Al Kooper sat in on organ, although originally that part was slated to be on piano.  All in all, the song evolved and found itself as the musicians explored it.  The organ sound was brought up in the mix because Dylan liked it and against the best advice of  Tom Wilson, the producer.  Even after the take that became the single was recorded Dylan insisted that the band keep recording.  There were another 11 takes.

 

There has been a lot written about this song.  Many people think that it was the finest thing that Dylan ever recorded.  Certainly it was influential as it has been covered by Hendrix, the Stones, and Green Day amongst many others.  Every local pub band in the land uses it as a got stand by.

 

This song changed popular music. Or perhaps more correctly, it changed the way the men in suits in record companies looked at possible singles.  This song was raucous. It had electric guitar licks and a loud organ on a ‘folk’ record.  It was 6 minutes long.  It was about despair and loss, not about love.  In spite of all the received wisdom, people loved it and bought it.  It changed recorded popular music and elevated Dylan and propelled his career to new heights.

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On This Day – Bobby Fuller, Murdered?

bobby fullerOn This day in 1966 Bobby Fuller was found dead in his car in Hollywood. He had committed suicide according to the police. The cause of death was inhalation of petrol fumes. In order to kill himself he had drenched himself in petrol and stuffed a petrol soaked rag in his mouth. Before that he had broken his finger and beaten himself up. Oh yes, after he had killed himself and his body went into rigor mortis he drove his car back to the car park outside his flat.

In other words the official cause of death is highly suspect.

There are many theories about what really happened. One is that he went to a LSD party, was killed in a fall and the body was arranged to resemble a suicide. Another theory is that Bobby was killed so that some of his business associates could collect on an insurance policy. Then there is a theory that BF had been dating a girl who had been going out with an extremely jealous man with gang connections and that she disappeared shortly after his death.

His family hired a private detective to investigate his death but he quit after being shot at and warned off. I doubt if anyone will ever know the truth.

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On This Day – Hell Hath No Fury.

The Fab Four at their most Fab.......

The Fab Four at their most Fab.......

On this day in 1966, The Philippine police pulled their security of the the Fab Four (those impish mop tops so beloved of my mother….) Their crime? They forgot to go and see Imelda Marcos’ collection of shoes. It would seem that when they arrives in the Philippines they were sent an invitation to a party being given by Imelda (wife of the dictator/president). Whether they never received it or ignored it is unknown. In any event they did not go and so earned the ire of the government. Without the police protection the irrepressible leaders of pop culture beat a hasty retreat in the face of press anger, bomb threats and riots.

For the rest of us who do not have £160 to spend on the Fabs I think that Revolver is their best album…

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On This Day – Stones Bombed!

classic rock music

classic rock music

During he Exile on Main Street tour There was the usual madness, Forged tickets, riots, ticket-less fans trying to get in to venues (2000 in Detroit), drug arrests, the band being unable to book hotel rooms to their standard in Chicago (OK they did decamp to Hugh Hefner’s place, which ain’t too shabby a hang out).

The kicker though was in Montreal on 17th July 1972. A bomb went off under the equipment van. No injuries but the equipment inside the van was badly damaged. The show went on, after a riot by the 3,000 fans who had bought forged tickets. As far as I am aware, no one ever claimed responsibility for planting the bomb.

I think that this was the tour that Keef came up with his famous quotation “Heroin isn’t a problem, policemen are.”

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