Musings On Music History: Mr. Morrison Likes To Fly, The Fab Four Like Pepperland, and Jimi Likes The Top Spot

11.11: On this day in 1969, Jim Morrison’s boisterous and drunken behavior on a flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix landed him in jail. Apparently, he was taking a break from his indecent exposure trial in Miami to attend a Rolling Stones concert in Phoenix, after stopping off in LA. The man just wanted to see The Stones, for goodness sake! Can’t a man have some drinks and fun on his way to a Stones show? Guess not, as he was arrested, like so many other times, for being drunk and disorderly. We miss ya, Jimbo.

11.12: On this day waaaaaay back in 1955, Billboard magazine ushers in “The Top 100.” That’s right, another music chart. More charts than you can shake a stick at! Go ahead, just try to shake that stick. You can’t. The Top 100, based on sales and radio play, eventually replaced the three charts that’d preceded it, those based on airplay, jukebox play, and disc jockey play. The Top 100 eventually became The Hot 100, which remains, to this day, an all-inclusive, genre-bending barometer for, well, a song’s hotness. What was the first #1 song on that Top 100 chart way back in 1955? You get a lollipop if you remember, or even know, “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” by The Four Aces. [more]

11.13: On this day in 1967, Yellow Submarine opened in theaters. A psychedelic tour of an undersea kingdom (called Pepperland, of course) that’s been occupied by the “Blue Meanies,” who have taken the kingdom’s protectors (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, naturally) hostage, turned all the citizens into statuary, and drained the countryside of color, the movie makes no sense and people loved it. Somehow, John, Paul, George, and Pete Best, er, we meant Ringo, help drive the Meanies from Pepperland and…..does it really matter what the plot was? This movie came out in 1967, was chock full of groovy and colorful animation, and blared Beatles’ songs, including, of course, the eponymous track, one of the group’s oddest. Of course the movie became a hit. How could it not?

11.14: On this day in 1990, Pete Townshend talked about his bisexuality in Newsweek. “I know how it feels to be a woman because I am a woman,” he said. “And I won’t be classified as just a man.” He later told Rolling Stone that while he briefly explored bisexuality, he never fully embraced it and considers himself hetero. Does it really matter, though? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. Maybe he was just stating how he’s in touch with his feminine side. Whatever. Pete, you’re awesome.

11.16: On this day in 1968, Electric Ladyland, the third and, sadly, final album by Jimi Hendrix hit the top of the charts for the first week of its two week stay. A double-album full of some of Jimi’s best playing and production, showcasing the breadth of his adventurous rock pedigree, from the blues-heavy “Voodoo Chile” to the amazing cover of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” to the sprawlingly epic “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be),” we absolutely adore this album. A huge hit, Electric Ladyland became the only #1 album of his short career. Either the culmination of his considerable chops or the beginning of a new, brilliant chapter in his life, this album left many, and continues to leave many, in awe. What could have followed, we’ll never know. You may speculate, but we are just grateful for Electric Ladyland.

11.17: On this day in 1990, David Crosby crashed his motorcycle in Los Angeles, breaking his left leg, ankle and shoulder. Police stated Crosby was speeding and not wearing a helmet, but this was only the beginning of his problems. Events from the same time period, from the bio on his own website: “…financial woes due to criminal mishandling of his business affairs, and severe earthquake damage to his lovingly restored home, followed by its loss through foreclosure. By far the worst news, however, was the threat to his life the musician faced as his liver, damaged by years of substance abuse and a previously undiagnosed case of Hepatitis ‘C,’ went into rapid deterioration.” Wow, he lost his house and his liver, too. Yet he still managed to tour, meet a child (now an adult) he never knew about, make music, and drop off a donation at the sperm bank for Melissa Etheridge and her then partner. Not much, it seems, slows him down. What a guy.

11.17: Ray Charles, the man, the myth, the inimitable legend, scored his first #1 hit on this day in 1960 when “Georgia On My Mind” hit the top of the pop charts. Man, what a monumental talent. You don’t even need to see the movie (Ray, which is pretty good, we say) based on his life to appreciate this man. Just pick up The Genius Hits The Road, from whence “Geogia” came, or his masterpiece Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and you’ll understand the talent in his arrangements, production, playing and voice. Ray Charles is the man, no ifs, ands, or buts. What’d I Say?

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