Rock music events are fun to read about, although reading about them is not as fun as actually being there in person. Especially the events that are historic in nature or reveal some little known facts about famous bands. Let’s look at four of them in this post. Rock stars, groups and bands have always lived a bit on the edge.
Well maybe more than a “bit”! Some right on the edge and some have exceeded the edge by a lot! You hear about the drunken and drug filled parties, the groupies and the excessive behavior like destroying hotel rooms, instruments and what ever and it seems legends are made of outlandish behavior.
In this post we’ll briefly touch on a few incidents that deserve a mention of some sort. I won’t get through very many in this post as I’m not going to write a book but just chronicle a few incidents. I’m sure I’ll follow it up with more in later posts. This is all stuff I’ve gathered from the web, newspaper archives and a few books compiled into a blog post so you don’t have to jump around from site to site for your self. Hope you enjoy the stories.
The Rolling Stones-It’s Only Rock And Roll
The date was May 1st, 1975 and the place was Lower Manhattan. On a drizzly day in New York, the Rolling Stones had scheduled a press conference to announce their “Tour of The Americas”. Reporters were gathering inside the hotel and as they were waiting on the band there was a commotion going on outside.
Rolling down 5th Ave on a flatbed truck was the Rolling Stones singing “Brown Sugar. The lunch time crowd was stunned as they witnessed the eight minute mini-concert on that rainy day. During the song the Mick Jagger threw out leaflets to the crowd with the tour concert dates and locations.
The idea for this impromptu concert came from drummer Charlie Watts, who had read somewhere that jazz bands used this technique to promote their evening shows by having similar truck tours around the town.
After the song concluded the truck continued a few blocks then turned off 5th avenue. The Stones jumped off the flatbed and into a limo that whisked them away. They never did go in the hotel for the press conference.
During my high school days I was a huge Stones fan and was fortunate to be able to see them in concert twice in my lifetime. You gotta give it to a group who can stay together for 50+ years and still draw a crowd like the Stones are still able to do. My record collection contains numerous Rolling Stones records and frequently I give them a spin.
Below is a YouTube video I found of this impromptu mini concert from that day in 1975.
The Famous Mud Shark/The Infamous Edgewater Inn
The Edgewater Inn in Seattle Washington is the scene of a rather salacious event that happened in 1969 when Led Zeppelin was in town for the Seattle Pop Festival.
The Edgewater Inn (now known as just the Edgewater) was right on Puget Sound from which guests could fish right out of their room window. John Bonham and Led Zeppelin’s road manager, Richard Cole, apparently spent many hours fishing from the room window. I have read that when the band left there were quite a few fish still left in the room.
The story has quite a few versions and we probably will never known the whole truth. The event also included members of the rock group Vanilla Fudge, who supposedly filmed the event, and included a groupie and some fish. I’m not going to go into the details of what supposedly happened but if you really want to read about it in all the details of the various versions can be found via a Google search. The event was immortalized by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention in a song, Mud Shark, from their Fillmore East performance in June 1971.
When I was in the Army stationed in Germany in 1971 I did attend a Frank Zappa and The Mothers concert and they did perform The Mud Shark. Zappa always did put on a good concert and I’m glad I got to see him that one time. When I traveled to Seattle in the early ’70s I drove by the Edgewater Inn. Below is the YouTube audio depicting in song that famous event in US rock history.
Zappa does reference the Edgewater as a motel but actually it was a rather high class hotel. If you go to the Edgewater’s website you can see how nice of a facility it is. The Beatles also stayed there in 1964. It is said that most hotels would not host the Fab Four because they couldn’t protect them from their ever-present hysterical fans, but for some reason the Edgewater did allow them to stay. The hotel constructed a cyclone fence around the hotel to keep the fans at bay. Some fans tried swimming across Elliot Bay in an attempt to reach the band.
Recently the Hotel offered a package where you could stay in the 750-square foot space in the refurbished Room 272 where the Beatles stayed. It has and in-room photo gallery of the group including photos of the group fishing from the window of the room.
December 26th 1968 Led Zeppelin’s 1st American Concert
If you are reading this post on Dec 26, 2017 it has been 49 years ago today that Led Zeppelin performed their first concert in America. The group kicked off their first North American tour at the Denver Auditorium in Colorado as an opening act for the psychedelic hard rock band, Vanilla Fudge.
At that time a ticket to see them play would cost you $5 and the set list included eight covers as a few original tracks from their soon to be released first self-titled album, which eventually made it to number 10 on Billboard 200 in 1969. “The night of the concert, I get on stage to make the announcement to open the show. “Ladies and gentleman, please welcome, direct from England for their North America debut, Led Zeppelin!” There was a smattering of polite applause. Then, Robert Plant let it rip and everybody in the audience was stunned. You didn’t have to be a genius to known Zeppelin was going to be a smash. Oh, my God. People were going crazy!”
Here is the set for their first American Concert
1. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (cover) written by Anne Bredon and recorded by Joan Baez in 1962.
2. “I Can’t Quit You Baby” (cover) written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush in 1956.
3. “Dazed and Confused” (cover) written and recorded by Jake Holmes in 1967.
4. “You Shook Me” (cover) recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962 and co-written by Willie Dixon.
5. “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (cover) first recorded by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951.
6. “As Long As I Have You” (cover) by Garnet Minns, 1964.
7. “For Your Love” (cover) written by Graham Gouldman in 1965 and made famous by the Yardbirds.
8. “Killing Floor” (cover) Written by Howlin’ Wolf in 1964 and performed live by Jimi Hendrix. Later on this song title, tempo and some lyrics were changed to “The Lemon Song” (Led Zeppelin II) because of legal action taken by Howlin’ Wolf’s publisher.
9. “How Many More Times”
10. “Communication Breakdown”
11. “Moby Dick” (aka “Pat’s Delight”)
12. “White Summer/Black Mountain Side”
Fleetwood Mac/Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
No, Fleetwood Mac did not destroy this hotel with any wild parties (at least not that I known of), but it did lose an original band member while staying here.
The original Fleetwood Mac consisted of Peter Green (founder), Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer. At the very beginning they used a temporary bassist (Bob Brunning) who was soon replaced by John McVie. Some would say Danny Kirwan as well, but Danny did not join until after their second album.
Through a religious experience and lots of LSD the band lost Peter Green in mid 1970 and were about to lose another member in 1971. The band came to Hollywood about two weeks into their American tour. They checked into the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel with new keyboardist Christine McVie who joined the group prior to the tour start. Guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Spencer who had been a vital element of the group was becoming a bit disillusioned with his role in the band and had been becoming more reserved which was a bit contradictory to his on stage persona. Some members of the band had remarked they had discovered him reading the Bible on occasion in his room.
Shortly after arriving at the Hawaiian on the day of a concert scheduled at the Whiskey A Go Go,
Spencer left the hotel room (bags unpacked) to visit a bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard. He never returned! The band was forced to cancel the concert and go search for him. Five days later he was found at the Children of God (religious group that had approached him) Headquarters at a warehouse in downtown L.A. and he told his band mates that he no longer wanted to be involved with Fleetwood Mac. He was tired of the hedonistic rock and roll lifestyle and he was through with the group.
In spite of the appeals of band manager, Clifford Davis, to fulfill his obligation to Fleetwood Mac Spencer could not be convinced to rejoin the band. With six weeks left on the tour Fleetwood Mac persuaded former guitarist Peter Green to fly in and finish the tour as an emergency fill in. Later the band would recruit Bob Welch as their new guitarist.
Today, Jeremy Spencer is believed to still be active with the Children of God (although under a different name) and is still recording music. The Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel is still there but is now called the Princess Grace Apartments.
Well these are four rock music events. One discussing a rather raucous event, another one about a promotion stunt and the other two just normal events that happen in the lives of many groups. I’m sure if you are a fan of any of these groups you have probably heard of them by now, or maybe not. I’ll add some more at a later time but in the meantime I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. Perhaps you were at Led Zeppelin’s 1st concert or one on their first tour. Maybe you were in Lower Manhattan the day the Stones rode down 5th Ave singing “Brown Sugar”. If so I would love to hear about your experience.
If you like reading rock and roll trivia I have another post HERE with a few interesting trivia articles.
Please feel free to comment below.