Today in Rock & Roll History: December 9th

1961: The Beatles played their first gig in the south of England at the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, Hampshire. Billed as a “Liverpool v London Battle of the Bands” featuring The Beatles and the London group Ivor Jay and the Jaywalkers, promoter Sam Leach, who was unaware that Aldershot was 37 miles from London, bungled promoting the event. Only eighteen people turned up and Ivor Jay and the Jaywalkers failed to show. Afterwards the group drank bottles of brown ale, played football on the dance floor, and were otherwise rambunctious. A neighbor called the police, and when the Beatles emerged from the venue, several police vehicles were waiting, and the band was told to leave and never return to the town. They then drove to London and played an impromptu set at the Blue Gardenia Club in Soho early the following morning.

1962: Motown Records released The Supremes’ debut album, Meet the Supremes.

1964: “All Day and All of the Night” by the The Kinks was issued in the US over six weeks after it was originally released in the UK. The song repeated the chart success of their previous hit single, “You Really Got Me,” peaking at on the Billboard Hot 100 at #7.

1966: The Who’s second album, A Quick One, was released in the UK. Decca Records titled the LP “Happy Jack” in the US, where the song of the same name had been a top 40 hit. The album was a departure from the R&B sound of the group’s first album and part of the marketing push was a requirement that each member write two songs, though singer Roger Daltrey only wrote one.

1966: Fresh Cream, the debut album by British rock trio Cream, was released in the UK, the same time as the group’s single “I Feel Free.” The American version of the album was released later in January with a slightly different tracklist. In the UK, the LP peaked at #6 and in the US, it reached #39.

1967: Jim Morrison was arrested onstage during a Doors concert in New Haven, CT. Before the gig, Morrison had gotten into an argument with a policeman, who responded by macing the singer. During the concert, while singing “Backdoor Man,” Morrison told the audience about the incident. The police turned on the house lights and arrested Morrison, causing a mini-riot as the angry and disappointed crowd took to the streets of New Haven, resulting in thirteen additional arrests. Morrison was later charged with inciting a riot, indecency, and public obscenity, all of which were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

1972: The Moody Blues had their first #1 album in the US with their eighth LP, Southern Sojourn. The album spent five weeks at #1 in the States, and peaked at #5 in the UK.

1972: Who guitarist Pete Townshend narrated an orchestral performance of the group’s Tommy rock opera at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The stage production starred Roger Daltrey, Richie Havens, Steve Winwood, Rod Stewart, and actor Peter Sellers and featured the London Symphony Orchestra. Several issues plagued the show, including poor casting, overacting, and Townshend being visibly unwell, all of which contributed to a production that critics felt detracted from the quality of the original album.

1974: Dark Horse, George Harrison’s fifth solo LP and first on his own Dark Horse Records label, was released. The album features an array of guest musicians, including Tom Scott, Billy Preston, Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark, Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, and Ron Wood.

1974: “Some Kind of Wonderful,” the first single from Grand Funk Railroad’s ninth studio album, All the Girls in the World Beware!!!, was released. Originally written by John Ellison and recorded by his group, Soul Brothers Six, Grand Funk Railroad’s version became their third top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

1979: Pink Floyd started the first of five weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart with “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II,” the group’s first song to reach the top of the chart.

1989: Billy Joel topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” the lead single from his eleventh studio LP, Storm Front.

1995: The Beatles compilation album Anthology 1 debuted at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

Birthdays Today

Junior Wells, Chicago blues vocalist and harmonica player who helped pioneer the amplified blues-harp style and recorded with other artists that include Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, the Rolling Stones, and Buddy Guy, was born in West Memphis, AR in 1934.

Sammy Strain, vocalist with the O’Jays and Little Anthony and the Imperials, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1941.

Danny Kalb, guitarist, vocalist, and original member of the Blues Project, was born in Mount Vernon, NY in 1942.

Kenny Vance, singer, songwriter, producer, and founding member of Jay and the Americans, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1943.

Shirley Brickley, member of the Orlons, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1944.

Neil Innes, writer, comedian, musician, collaborator with Monty Python, and member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and The Rutles, was born in Danbury, Essex, England in 1944.

Dennis Dunaway, original Alice Cooper bassist who co-wrote some of the band’s most notable songs, was born in Cottage Grove, Oregon in 1946.

Joan Armatrading, singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born in Basseterre, Saint Kitts in 1950.

Jack Sonni, writer and musician best known as “the other guitarist” in Dire Straits, was born in Indiana, PA in 1954.

Nick Seymour, musician, record producer, bass guitarist, and founding member of Crowded House, was born in Benalla, Victoria, Australia in 1958.

Brian Bell, songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Weezer, was born in Iowa City, IA in 1968.

Jakob Dylan, lead singer and primary songwriter for the Wallflowers, solo artists, and son of Bob Dylan, was born in New York City in 1969.

Tré Cool, drummer for Green Day, was born Frank Edwin Wright III in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1972.