Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rock & Roll Trivia

As a special treat for the holidays, I am reprinting a very popular series I call Rock & Roll Trivia. Interesting tidbits about our music and our musicians, this will be posted every day until Christmas. Enjoy:

Lesley Gore was given the first chance to record "A Groovy Kind of Love", but her then-producer Shelby Singleton did not want her to record a song with the word "groovy" in it. The Mindbenders seized the opportunity and took the song to #2 on the Billboard charts.

Gladys Knight's "Pips" were named after her manager / cousin James "Pip" Patten. Later on, Gladys said it stood for "Perfection In Performance."

Several meanings for The Rolling Stones' hit "Brown Sugar" have been suggested over the years, including Mick Jagger's alleged affair with a black woman, African slaves being raped by their white masters and the perils of being addicted to Brown Heroin. It has even been rumored that Jagger wrote the song as "Black Pussy" before commercializing it to "Brown Sugar".

With less than ten minutes of studio time left, The Marcels recorded a doo-wop version of a song called "Blue Moon", written in 1934 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The result was a US number one hit in April, 1961.

The yardstick for every aspiring young drummer in the sixties was an instrumental called "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris. The record has sold millions and has become a classic rock standard, yet was put together as a b-side filler in about 15 minutes and recorded in just two takes.

Elvis Presley's former home, Graceland is the second most-visited house in America after the White House.

The original title of KISS' 1976 hit "Beth" was "Beck", a nickname given to songwriter Stan Penridge's girlfriend Becky. Penridge was the guitar player in a band that Peter Criss was in before he joined KISS. Additional lyrics were added by Criss and producer Bob Ezrin and resulted in a #7 Billboard hit.

William Ashton, who used the stage name Billy J. Kramer and scored hits with "Bad To Me" and "Little Children" during the British Invasion, took the last part of his name at random from a telephone directory. At the suggestion of John Lennon, Billy added a middle initial to give his name more appeal and used "J" in memory of John's mother, Julia and for his newly born son, Julian.

When The Guess Who performed at the White House in 1970, First Lady Pat Nixon, undoubtedly breifed as to the scathing anti-US sentiment of the band's hit "American Woman", asked that the band delete the song from their show.

Franki Valli's 1975 number one hit "My Eyes Adored You" was originally titled "Blue Eyes In Georgia", but was altered by Valli when he recorded it.

After "Good Lovin'" became Billboard's number one song in April, 1966, organist Felix Cavaliere admitted, "We weren't too pleased with our performance. It was a shock to us when it went to the top of the charts."

On the Mamas and Papas 1966 album "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears", the group's name was spelled with an apostrophe before the "s" - The Mama's and Papa's. Subsequent albums opted for grammatical correctness and the apostrophes were dropped.

According to songwriter Burt Bacharach, his first choice of artist to record "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" was Ray Stevens. Fortunately for BJ Thomas, Stevens didn't like the song and passed on the opportunity.

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were a popular English duo during the British Invasion and scored two US Top Ten hits in 1964 with "Yesterday's Gone" and "A Summer Song". After the pair had gone their seperate ways, Stuart served as the musical director for the US television show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

The Beach Boys concert contract states that any sell-outs must be reported to all industry related newspapers and magazines.

The break up of Simon and Garfunkel came about when Art refused to record Paul's song "Cuba Si, Nixon No" for their 1969 "Bridge Over Troubled Water" LP.

"Bye Bye Love" was turned down by Elvis Presley and thirty other artists before The Everly Brothers recorded it. Their version rose to #2 in the US and stayed on the charts for 22 weeks.

The Flamingos 1959 smash, "I Only Have Eyes For You" was first performed by actor Dick Powell in the 1934 movie, Dames.

Gramophone was a U.S. brand name that referred to a specific brand of sound reproducing machine in the late 1800s. The name fell out of use around 1901, though it has survived in its nickname form, Grammy, as the title of the Grammy Awards. The Grammy trophy itself is a small rendering of a gramophone.

The inclusion of "Louie Louie" in the John Belushi movie National Lampoon's Animal House, is in fact, historically incorrect. The film is set in 1962, one year prior to the Kingsmen's release.

When Little Richard (Penniman) was a teenager, he ran away from home and joined a medicine show. By the time he was 15, he was adopted by Ann and Johnny Johnson, a white family from Macon, Georgia.

On the recording session for Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", future Blood, Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper played organ and The Electric Flag's Mike Bloomfield played guitar.

This Date In Music History - December 9


Sam Strain - O'Jays (1941)

John Traynor - Jay and the Americans (1943)

Neil Innes - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (1944)

Walter 'Clyde' Orange - Commodores (1946)

Joan Armatrading (1950)

Jack Sonni - Dire Straits (1954)

Donny Osmond (1957)

Nick Seymour - Crowded House (1958)

Kat Bjelland - Babes In Toyland (1963)

Paul H. Landers - Rammstein (1964)

Brian Bell - Weezer (1968)

Jakob Dylan - Wallflowers (1969)

Geoff Barrow - Portishead (1971)

Frank Wright III, 'Tre Cool' - Green Day (1972)

Chris Wolstenholme - Muse (1978)

They Are Missed:

Sonny Til, the lead singer of the '50's Doo Wop group, The Orioles, died of a heart attack in 1981. He was 56.

Darren Robinson, founder member of The Fat Boys died of a heart attack in 1995, weighing 450lb (204kg) at the time of his death. Also known as Buffy, The Human Beat Box, and DJ Doctor Nice.

Born today in 1932, Junior Wells, blues singer, harmonica player. Worked with Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, toured with The Rolling Stones in 1970. He died on January 5, 1998.

Born on this day in 1943, Rick Danko, guitar, vocals, The Band. Died December 10, 1999.

Born today in 1970, Zak Foley, EMF. Died December 31, 2001 (age 31).

Stereolab singer Mary Hanson was killed in a cycling accident after colliding with a tipper truck in East London in 2002.

Mike Botts, drummer for the Soft Rock band Bread, passed away in Burbank, California in 2005, one day after his 61st birthday, having suffered from colon cancer.

In 2006, Fred Marsden, the drummer for the Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers, died of cancer at the age of 66. The group disbanded in 1967. Gerry Marsden reformed the Pacemakers in 1973 but without Fred, who had given up the music business to be a telephone operator and later established The Pacemaker Driving School.


In 1955, Johnny Cash played two shows at Arkansas High School, in Swifton, Elvis Presley opened the show.

The Beatles played at the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot in 1961 to a crowd of just 18 people. The date had not been advertised, owing to the local newspaper's refusal to accept the promoter's cheque. After the show the Beatles became rowdy, getting themselves ordered out of town by the local police.

The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" tops the Cashbox Magazine Best Sellers Chart for the first of a four week run in 1961.

The Four Seasons sang their current hit, "Big Girls Don't Cry" on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1962.

The first Supremes album, 'Meet The Supremes,' was released by Motown Records in 1963. The LP contained their first US Top 40 hit, "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes."

The Beatles album 'A Collection Of Beatles Oldies' was released in the UK in 1966.

The Doors appeared at the New Haven Arena, New Haven, Connecticut in 1967. Before the show a policeman found singer Jim Morrison making out with an 18 year-old girl in a backstage shower and after an argument the policeman sprays mace in Morrison’s face. Once on stage Morrison tells the story of the backstage episode and starts taunting the police who drag him off the stage and arrest him. The crowd riots leaving the venue in disarray and many are arrested. Later over 100 protestors gathered at the police station in demonstration and more arrests were made.

The Supremes' and the Temptations' "TCB (Takin' Care of Business") special aired on NBC-TV in 1968.

Helen Reddy became Australia's first female artist to have a number one record on the US chart when "I Am Woman" reached the top of the Billboard hit parade in 1972. Surprisingly, the song didn't chart at all in the UK. Reddy would achieve two more US number one singles over the next couple of years with, "Delta Dawn" and "Angie Baby".

The Moody Blues hit number one on the US album charts in 1972 with 'Seventh Sojourn.' It will be their last album of new material for more than five years as the group's members split to record and to tour as solo artists.

Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" was released in 1972. It would become his fourth US Top Ten hit and first number one single.

In 1974, George Harrison released his first album on his Dark Horse label, approprietly titled 'Dark Horse.'

In 1978, John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd released their version of Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" under the name The Blues Brothers. Belushi and Ackroyd would reach #14 in the US, while the original had topped out at #2.

In 1980, Yoko Ono issued a statement to the press that read: "There is no funeral for John. John loved and prayed for the human race. Please do the same for him. Love, Yoko and Sean." She also pleaded with chanting and singing mourners outside The Dakota to re-convene in Central Park the following Sunday for ten minutes of silent prayer. Over 225,000 did.

In 1984, Michael Jackson announced that at the end of the current Jackson's tour, he will launch a solo career and no longer perform with his brothers.

According to a poll released in the US in 1988, the music of Neil Diamond was favored as the best background music for sex, Beethoven was the second choice and Luther Vandross was voted third. What, no Barry White? Beethoven?

Michael Jackson played the first of nine sold-out nights on his Bad World Tour at the Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan in 1988.

Billy Joel started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1989 with "We Didn't Start The Fire."

During their 'Use Your Illusion Tour' in 1991, Guns n' Roses played the first of three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.

Saying that he had "seen it all and done it all," bassist Bill Wyman quits the Rolling Stones in 1992, after over 30 years with the group.

In 1992, George Harrison was the recipient of the first Century Award, presented by Tom Petty at the third Billboard Music Awards in Universal City, California.

In 1993, country singer Travis Tritt’s video of the Eagles “Take It Easy” has appearances by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. This fuels all sorts of Eagles’ reunion rumors. Still. It doesn’t happen until the following year.

Even though they had disbanded 25 years earlier, The Beatles had the number one album in the US in 1995 when 'Anthology' hit the top for the first of three weeks. It sells 855,000 copies in its first week of release. It would go on to sell over 4 million copies and included rare Beatle recordings in the form of demos, alternate takes, live versions and previously unreleased material.

Also in 1995 - "Free as a Bird," debuted on a six-hour ABC documentary on the Beatles. It was their first new song in 25 years.

The surviving members of The Grateful Dead officially disbanded the group in 1995, following Jerry Garcia's death in August.

In 2000, Sharon Corr of The Corrs called for the legalisation of cannabis, claiming that the drug has medicinal properties. Sharon said, 'Some people with certain conditions can get a brief reprieve from their symptoms through cannabis.' Amen to that....

U2 made their first-ever appearance on the long-running NBC program 'Saturday Night Live' in 2000. The band played "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation."

Usher went to #1 on the US singles chart in 2001 with "U Got It Bad."

In 2002, Paul McCartney sparked another Beatles feud with the release of his live album, 'Back in the US.' Against the wishes of John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, the nineteen Beatles songs included on the two-disc set are credited to "Paul McCartney and John Lennon" rather than the traditional "Lennon / McCartney.' Now that is just disrepectful to Lennon, why would he do that?

Also in 2002, Pat Boone returned to Billboard's Hot 100 after a 40 year absence. His new song, "Under God", was written in response to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco by an agnostic who claimed his daughter's constitutional rights were violated by having to say the words "under God" when her school recites the Pledge of Allegiance. The record briefly rose to number 25, ahead of songs by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Jay-Z. Boone's last Top 40 hit was "Speedy Gonzalez", which made it to number 6 in 1962.

In 2003, Ozzy Osbourne was admitted to Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, Berkshire after being injured in a quad bike accident at his UK home. The 55 year-old singer broke his collarbone, eight ribs and a vertebra in his neck. News of Osbourne's accident reached the House of Commons, where the government sent a goodwill message.

‘A Celebrity Thumbprints’ auction took place on in 2003. Beyonce, Kelly Osbourne, Coldplay, Blue and Westlife were among the stars whose thumbprints went under the hammer.

Owners of The Station in Rhode Island, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and Great White tour manager Dan Biechele were each charged with involuntary manslaughter in 2003. 100 people were killed in a fire at the club the previous February after Biechele lit the pyrotechnics that sparked the blaze.

In 2005, a man charged with stealing more than $300,000 worth of Elvis Presley's jewelry from the Elvis-A-Rama museum appeared in a Las Vegas court. 30 year old Eliab Aguilar was arrested on November 3rd after police said he approached a retired Elvis impersonator and offered to sell him several items including Presley's 1953 class ring from Humes High School worth $32,000, a 41 carat ruby and diamond ring worth $77,000 and a gold-plated Smith & Wesson .38 special.

Also in 2005, Joss Stone, Lemar and Ms. Dynamite backed by the African Children's Choir and 1,200 school children set a new world record for the most children singing simultaneously. The ‘Big Sing’ was held at The Royal Albert Hall, London. The singers led a performance of "Lean On Me" which was broadcast to more than half a million people.

Jay-Z was at #1 on the US album chart in 2006 with his comeback album ‘Kingdom Come.’

An acetate LP of the Velvet Underground’s first recording sold for $155,401 on e-Bay in 2006. The record was purchased by a collector for 75 cents four years earlier. Acetates were generally used as demos since they were cheap and of inferior quality to commercial albums. How the acetate got into 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' sleeve remains a mystery. This demo was rejected by Columbia with the Underground releasing their influential debut on Verve in March of ’67.

The "Red Rocker Chopper," a custom-designed motorcycle boasting artwork inspired by Sammy Hagar, was raffled off online for charity in 2006. Proceeds go to the First Candle organization, which works to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and stillbirth. "It is an honor to help spread awareness about these tragedies in order to save as many babies' lives as possible," says Hagar. Great thinking Mr. Hagar!

In 2008, the US military released a list of songs they use to break down detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba). "Enter Sandman" – Metallica, "Bodies" – Drowning Pool, "Born In The U.S.A." – Bruce Springsteen and a double shot, "Shoot To Thrill"/Hell’s Bell’s" – AC/DC, topped the list which also includes tracks by Nine Inch Nails. "It's difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you've put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture," writes frontman Trent Reznor in an online post. In addition, Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello backs the Reprieve organization's Zero dB initiative protesting the use of music to torture political prisoners. The campaign promotes periods of silence during concerts and festivals to show solidarity for the victims of this psychological torture method. Among those supporting the effort are RATM, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and AC/DC.