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Rock 'n' Roll Trivia - Page 1

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Trivia and obscure facts in popular music.

Author: Robert Benson
Robert writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates "collectingvinylrecords.blogspot.com"
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Rock 'n' Roll Trivia
Page 1
Recording Artists
  • The night before their recording session, The Kingsmen played a 90-minute version of "Louie Louie" during a gig at a local teen club. Once they got into the studio, the song was recorded in one take.

  • Courtney Love of the band Hole gained the distinction of being the first AOL subscriber to have her e-mail account shut down, mainly for the death threats she posted against people she thought deserved them.

  • Eagles' bassist Timothy B. Schmit sang backing vocals on Firefall's 1977 hit, "Just Remember I Love You".

  • Anne Murray's 1969 hit "Snowbird" was released as the "B" side of a 45 RPM single, with a song called "Bidin' My Time" as the "A" side. A radio station in the Eastern United States flipped it over and "Snowbird" caught on. Record sales soon topped one million copies, marking the first time in history that an American gold record was awarded to a solo Canadian female.

  • Although singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson placed eight songs on Billboard's Top 40 chart, including the Grammy Award winning, million seller "Everybody's Talkin'", he disliked performing in public so much that he seldom appeared in concert and rarely made televised appearances.

  • While Elvis only recorded twenty Christmas songs, his holiday albums have sold more than twenty-five million copies in the US alone.

  • Scotland's hard-rock group Nazareth recorded a tune called "Love Hurts" as a B-side filler, never intending it to be a hit. Record buyers felt differently and the single rose to number 8 in the US and number 15 in the UK. One count revealed that over 42 different artists have recorded the song, including The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison.

  • Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" entered the Billboard Pop chart only two days before Christmas in 1957, but still managed to climb to number 6 during a six week stay.

  • Elvis Presley's 1957 LP "Elvis' Christmas Album" is the top selling holiday release of all time, racking up over nine million in sales.

  • The chords and structure of Tommy James' 1967 Billboard #10 single, "Mirage", were actually the chords to his previous hit, "I Think We're Alone Now" in reverse, created when it was accidentally played backwards during a writing session.

  • Bruce Hornsby's demo tapes were rejected by over 70 record companies. A year after RCA signed him in 1985, his tune "The Way It Is" topped the Billboard chart, followed by five more Top 40 hits, including "Mandolin Rain" (#4) and "The Valley Road" (# 5).

  • For many years it was thought that the very first song ever recorded was "Mary Had A Little Lamb", as spoken by Thomas Edison while testing an early phonograph in 1877. In March, 2008, the Association for Recorded Sound Collections announced the discovery of a recording of "Au Clair de la Lune", found by audio historians in the archives of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. The recording was made by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville and recorded on a "phonautograph", a device that engraved sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke of an oil lamp. The recording took place on April 9th, 1860...17 years before Thomas Edison invented his phonograph.

  • The Four Seasons' Frankie Valli was arrested by Columbus, Ohio Police in September 1965, after his manager forgot to pay his hotel bill.

  • Although he sang the lead vocal for "Sugar Sugar", a song that sold over 13 million copies and was named Billboard magazine's Record of The Year, Ron Dante did not earn any royalties for the hit. Just happy to be recording at all in 1969, he did the session for the musicians' union scale wage.

  • In November, 2007, Neil Diamond finally revealed a secret that he had held onto for decades. The inspiration for his 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline" was President Kennedy's daughter.

  • They say you don't have to be a rocket scientist to write a hit song, but Michael Kennedy was working for the McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company when he co-wrote The DeFranco Family's "Heartbeat - It's A Love Beat". He later gave up music and went on to work on the International Space Station.

  • Jay And The Americans first learned the song "Cara Mia" in 1962 because it contained the only four chords they knew. When they finally recorded it in 1965, the tune rose to #4 on the Billboard chart.

  • After seeing Marvin Gaye's large collection of pornography, writer David Ritz suggested that Gaye needed some "sexual healing". The two later collaborated on some lyrics which went into the hit song, but Ritz was not given any writing credit. After Gaye died, Ritz successfully sued.

  • The Allman Brothers' only Billboard Top 10 hit, "Ramblin' Man" was the last song recorded by bassist Berry Oakley before his death in 1972.

  • The soundtrack for the movie Saturday Night Fever was composed and performed primarily by The Bee Gees and has gone platinum fifteen times over. Despite this success, The Bee Gees' Robin Gibb says he has never seen the film all the way through.

  • When "Monster Mash" first started to get air-play in 1962, Bobby "Boris" Pickett was working part time as a cab driver. The song has since become an annual favorite, reaching the Billboard Top 10 in '62 and '73, earning three gold records and selling an estimated four million copies. Bobby has said that royalties from the record have "paid the rent for 43 years". Not bad for a song that took a half hour to write and another half hour to record and was intended to be a bit of fun to be shared only among family and friends.

  • The Who's album "Tommy" spent over two years on the US chart, but in their home country, the UK, it lasted only nine weeks.

  • After Elvis Presley began his meteoric rise to fame in 1956, his father Vernon said to him, "What happened El? The last thing I remember is I was working in a can factory and you were driving a truck."

  • Peter Cetera wrote "If You Leave Me Now" about a faltering relationship. Although the song proved to be Chicago's biggest selling record, it didn't help save the union, as the woman involved ended up leaving anyway.

  • CCR's John Fogerty had a notebook in which he jotted down words and names that he thought would make good song titles. At the top of his list was "Proud Mary", a phrase that brought images of a domestic washerwoman to John's mind. When he got around to putting it to music, the first few chords he used reminded him of a paddle-wheel going around. Instead of Proud Mary being a clean-up lady, she became a boat and the song is a staple at any wedding reception.

  • Lesley Gore's first album was called "I'll Cry If I Want To" which consisted of songs completely devoted to crying.

  • "Mack The Knife" was written for the 1928 German play The Threepenny Opera, in which "Mack" is Mackie Messer (Macheath), an amoral, anti-heroic criminal. Although it suffered an initially poor reception, the show went on to run 400 times in the next two years. It was translated into English in 1933 and since that time, at least seven productions have been mounted in New York, on and off Broadway.

  • It has often been rumored that Billy Joel played piano on The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack", but this has been denied by one of the song's co-writers, Ellie Greenwich.

  • The original version of "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen cost just $36 to record, but sold over 12 million copies.

  • In the 1950s, Paul McCartney's father lead a combo called Jim Mac's Jazz Band, where he played piano and trumpet. When he was a boy, Paul said that someday he hoped to be as good as his dad.

  • Set to Ronald White's tune, Smokey Robinson was inspired by his wife Claudette to write the lyrics to one of music history's greatest love songs, "My Girl". Smokey's personal problems lead to their divorce in 1986.

  • From clay tablets and other forms of pictures, historians have determined that stringed musical instruments were developed in ancient Egypt and Rome over 3,300 years ago. The first six string guitar, called a vihuela, was developed in Spain in the 17th century.

  • In February 1949, after RCA Victor introduced the first 45 rpm phonograph, they put together a promo package of seven 45s that were sent to US disc jockeys and retailers. The records were color coded for classification of music. Popular - Black; Classical - Red; Popular Classical - Midnight blue; Children's - Yellow; Country and Western - Green; Rhythm And Blues - Cerise; International - Sky blue.

  • John Fogarty's comeback album, 1985's "Centerfield", included a couple of songs titled "Zantz Can't Dance" and "Mr. Greed", which were believed to be attacks on Fogerty's former boss at Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz. Zaentz responded with a lawsuit, which forced Fogerty to issue a revised version of "Zaentz Can't Dance", changing the lead character's name to Vanz.

  • The Knack's lead vocalist, Doug Fieger, is the older brother of famed attorney Jeffrey Fieger, who defended doctor-assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kervorkian.

  • Three Dog Night's 1972, #1 hit "Black And White" was written in the mid-1950s about the 1954 US Supreme Court's landmark decision banning segregation in public schools. Some of the verses were changed in the Three Dog Night version. The original second verse went "Their robes were black, Their heads were white, The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight. Nine judges all set down their names, To end the years and years of shame".

  • Diane Renay, who was born Renne Diane Kushner, initially wanted to be billed as Renay Diane. She chose the "Renay" spelling to keep it from being mis-pronounced as "Ree-nee". Unfortunately, Atco Records misunderstood and printed early copies of her first recordings that said "Diane Renay". Rather than make an issue out of it, she decided to leave it that way. The record, "Navy Blue", went on to reach #6 in the US in 1964.

  • Joey Scarbury, who reached #2 on the Billboard chart with "Believe It Or Not" in 1981, was discovered by singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb's father, who wandered into a furniture store and heard the 14 year old's mom praising her son's singing ability. His initial recordings were not successful and it took another 12 years for Joey to have his big hit. Although he never cracked the Top 40 again, he did record the soundtracks for ER, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Fahrenheit 9/11.

  • By 1968, around eighty-five different manufacturers had sold over 2.4 million cassette players world wide and in that year alone, the cassette business was worth about $150 million. In August, 2008, ABBA's "Gold" compilation rose to #1 on the UK album chart for the fifth time since being released in 1992, making it the oldest ever UK #1 album to return to the top of the chart, 16 years after release.

  • "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield got its title when Stephen Stills first played the song for the group, saying "Here's a new song I wrote, for what it's worth." When he finished playing, he was asked what the title was. Stills said he didn't have one. Someone then replied, "Sure you do. You just said it."

  • David Rose, who had a Billboard #1 hit in 1962 with an instrumental called "The Stripper", also wrote the theme for the TV show Little House On The Prairie.

  • In January, 2005, on what would have been Elvis Presley's 70th birthday, "Jailhouse Rock" was re-released in the UK where it went straight to #1. At over 47 years after its original release, it became the oldest recording ever to top the UK charts.

  • The lightest Elvis ever weighed as a six foot tall adult was 170 lbs in 1960 following his discharge from the U.S. Army. The heaviest was at the time of his death, which was 260 lbs.

  • Helen Reddy's husband, Jeff Wald, was also her manager. He was also the manager for Sylvester Stallone, George Foreman, James Brolin, George Carlin, Elliot Gould, Deep Purple, Donna Summer, Flip Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Chicago and Crosby, Stills & Nash, to name only a few.

  • In 1959, Philadelpia's Overbrook Highschool boys basketball team won their league championship. Members of the team included future NBA stars, Walt Hazzard and Wally Jones, along with Len Borisoff, who would later change his name to Len Barry and become a member of The Dovells, who had a hit with "The Bristol Stomp" as well as having a solo hit with "1-2-3".

  • Chip Taylor is the stage name of American songwriter James Wesley Voight, brother of actor Jon Voight and uncle of actress Angelina Jolie. Besides writing The Troggs' hit "Wild Thing", he also penned "Angel of the Morning", by both Merrilee Rush and Juice Newton as well as "I Can Make It With You" by The Pozo Seco Singers and many other hit records.

  • When a poem called "Too Many Teardrops" was put to music, it was re-titled "69 Tears". Knowing that a song with such a name would never get any radio air play, it was re-named "96 Tears" and by October, 1966 became a number one hit for Question Mark and The Mysterians.

  • Vee Jay Records was the most successful Black owned and operated record company before Motown. The firm was founded in 1953 by Vivian Carter (the "Vee") and her husband, James Bracken (the "Jay").

  • Brian Jones, the original lead guitarist of The Rolling Stones, is said to have fathered six illegitimate children before his untimely death on July 3rd, 1969.

  • Although Ernie K-Doe had a US number one smash with "Mother-in-law" in 1961, he failed to match that song's success with any other release. His career came to a halt in the 70s and 80s and he often wandered the streets singing for spare change. In the mid-90s he turned his fortunes around and opened a successful night club.

  • The husband and wife song-writing team of Felice and Boudleaux Byant have said that they wrote the Everly Brothers' 1958 number one hit "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in about 15 minutes.

  • According to legend, to add the authentic sound of a motorcycle engine to The Shangri-Las' "Leader Of The Pack", one was driven through the lobby of the hotel and up to the floor of the recording studio. However, in an interview four decades later, Shangri-Las lead singer Mary Weiss scoffed at this story and said that the motorcycle sound was simply taken from an effects record.

  • Bruce Springsteen was once the opening act for Canadian singer, Anne Murray, of "Snowbird" fame.

  • The Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian played harmonica on The Doors' recording of "Road House Blues". He is credited on the album as G. Puglese.

  • Although AM radio broadcasts were tested in 1906 and used for voice and music broadcasts up until WW1, it wasn't until 1916, when 8XK in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania began regularly scheduled broadcasts.

  • The first 'live' television satellite program to air worldwide was a two-hour show called Our World, in which The Beatles performed "All You Need is Love" on June 25, 1967.

  • The Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" was included in John Lennon's personal jukebox along with "Do You Believe In Magic?". Paul McCartney later said that "Daydream" was a major influence on his composition "Good Day Sunshine".

  • Sam and Dave were a Soul singing duo who scored a half dozen hits on the US pop and R&B charts in the mid 1960s, including "Hold On, I'm Comin'". The two didn't get along very well and seldom spoke to each other off stage. Sam Moore said he lost all respect for his partner Dave Prater after Prater shot his own wife during a 1968 domsestic dispute, an incident for which he was never prosecuted.

  • There have been over 30 different members of The Drifters and two entirely seperate sets of singers known by that name. The first group of Drifters had a couple of hits on the R&B chart in the mid-fifties, but after Clyde McPhatter left in 1956, the remaining members had a falling out with their manager and were all fired. A new version of the Drifters featured Ben E. King on "There Goes My Baby", "This Magic Moment" and "Save The Last Dance For Me" before he quit. Rudy Lewis replaced King as lead vocalist for "Some Kind Of Wonderful", "Up On The Roof" and "On Broadway", but he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1964. Johnny Moore, from the original set of Drifters then re-joined to sing "Under The Boardwalk", as well as a series of moderate British hits.

  • Even though the members of the three piece band called America are all from the US, they actually met and formed the group while they were living in the UK.

  • Diana Ross has recorded 18 US number one songs, but has never won a Grammy Award.

  • 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.

  • The song title of the Beatles' "Penny Lane" is derived from the name of a street in the Beatle's hometown of Liverpool. Locally the term "Penny Lane" was the name given to Allerton Road and Smithdown Road and its busy shopping area and is named after James Penny, an 18th century slave trader.

  • After recording her first record, Oasis records made a spelling mistake on the label and Donna Sommer became Donna Summer for the rest of her career.

  • Songwriter Jimmy Webb got the inspiration to write The Fifth Dimension's hit "Up, Up and Away" from a hot air balloon that a friend flew on promotions for radio station KMEN.

  • The Dovells, who scored a number two hit in the U.S. in 1961 with "Bristol Stomp", also appeared as Chubby Checker's backing band on "Let's Twist Again" and accompanied Jean Hillery on the 1968 novelty tune, "Here Comes The Judge".

  • The Sir Douglas Quintet were playing in a club one night and noticed a couple dancing. Lead singer Doug Sahm said "She's a body mover!", which gave him an idea for a song. Back in those days you couldn't say "body mover" on a record, so he changed the lyrics to "She's About A Mover" and achieved a US Top 20 hit.

  • The blistering guitar lead in George Harrison's song, "Taxman" is the exact same guitar part heard at the ending fade of the song. It was copied and re-recorded onto the end.

  • The song "Summertime Blues" was a US Top 40 hit in three different decades - in the fifties by Eddie Cochran (#8), the sixties by Blue Cheer (#14) and the seventies by The Who (#27).

  • The Mothers Of Invention are believed to have released the first double album with "Freak Out!" in early 1967.

  • In 1962, Gene Pitney recorded "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" for the movie of the same name, starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Although the song reached #4 on the Billboard singles chart, it was never included in the film.

  • When the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964, producers received over 50,000 applications for the 728 seats in the TV studio.

  • Alan Gordon, the co-writer of The Turtles' hit "Happy Together" said that he wrote the melody to the song based on an open string pattern used by a bandmate to tune his guitar.

  • Jerry Lee Lewis' parents mortgaged their house in order to buy him a piano.

  • Johnny Preston's 1960 number one hit, "Running Bear" was written by J.P. Richardson, The Big Bopper.

  • The double entendre title of the Bellamy Brother's hit "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me" was derived from a quote by Groucho Marx.

  • With some left over studio time on their hands, a group of musicians recorded an instrumental intended to be a throw-a-way album track. The song ended up on the flip side of a single release called "Train To Nowhere", which was virtually ignored by US radio stations. Finally, someone flipped the disc over and discovered "Tequila", which went to number one on both the Pop and R&B charts for The Champs.

  • Kenny Loggins joined The Electric Prunes during their final tour in 1969, two years after the band had scored a hit with "I Had Too Much Too Dream". When the tour was over, the band split up for good and Loggins went on to team up with Jim Messina in 1971 and later had several solo hits.

  • The distinct horse logo that appeared on most of Poco's albums was designed by Saturday Night Live star, Phil Hartman.

  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in the basement of Jane Asher's house. She was Paul's girlfriend, to whom he would later become engaged to, but never married.

  • One day while out riding with her dad, Stella McCartney stopped to stare at him. It had just come to her at that moment. She said, "You're Paul McCartney."

  • While the title of the song is often shown with a comma ("Louie, Louie"), writer Richard Berry told Esquire magazine in 1988 that the correct title of the song was "Louie Louie", with no comma.

  • When The Supremes' Mary Wilson was contacted for an interview by the television show Romance of The Rich and Famous, she moved some of her personal belongings into a freinds' mansion and let on it was hers, instead of revealing her true residence, a tiny, two bedroom bungalow in Studio City, California.

  • Little Richard's recording career had just gotten off the ground when his father was murdered in the winter of 1952. To support his family, Richard took a job washing dishes at a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Georgia.

  • Reginald Kenneth Dwight changed his stage name to Elton John, taking his first name from Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and his last from bluesman, Long John Baldry.

  • When Decca Records first released "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley And His Comets in the Spring of 1954, most people had never heard of Rock And Roll and the company had a hard time describing the song. The label on the single called it a "Novelty Foxtrot."

  • On December 17th, 1977, David Ackroyd became the first record buyer to receive a Gold Disc when he purchased the one-millionth copy of "Mull Of Kintyre" by Wings.

  • In December of 1969, Mick Jagger was quoted saying "I don't really like singing very much, I enjoy playing the guitar more than I enjoy singing and I can't play the guitar either."

  • Ross Bagdasarian (Davis Seville) named The Chipmunks after executives at Liberty records. Alvin was named for Al Bennett, president of the company, Simon was named after Bennett's partner, Si Waronker and Theodore was named for Ted Keep, a recording engineer.

  • "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958. Although Decca released it in both that year and again in 1959, it did not catch on until Lee rose to stardom in 1960. That Christmas season, it reached #16 on the Billboard Pop chart and has since become a perennial holiday favourite. The song continues to sell well during the holiday season and rose to #5 on the Christmas chart in 1984.

  • One of the strangest moments in Pop music history took place on September 11, 1977, when two stars from different generations, David Bowie and Bing Crosby, got together to tape "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Peace On Earth" for Bing's upcoming Christmas TV special. The pair rehearsed for an hour and finished their duet in only three takes, but Bing died a month later having never seen the video.

  • In October, 2000, George Michael paid over $2 million for the piano that John Lennon used to write "Imagine". It is a simple upright model and not the white piano that appeared on the album cover.

  • John Lennon often expressed his dislike for Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister that he was named after. He felt so strongly that he had his middle name changed from Winston to Ono after he married Yoko.

  • Andy White, who played drums on The Beatles' track "Love Me Do", which was included on the Beatles Greatest Hits album, did not earn any money in royalties from it. He only received his original session fee of £7 ($14 US), which is not even enough for him to buy his own copy of the album.

  • Gloucestershire airport in England used to blast Tina Turner songs on its runways to scare birds away.

  • The much publicized Jerry Lee Lewis pistol-waving episode outside Graceland in 1976 is said to be a misunderstanding. Jerry and Elvis were long time friends and he had been invited to visit. A pistol on the dashboard of Jerry's car had been given to him earlier that evening as a present and when security guards at the Gracelands gates saw the pistol and asked Jerry if he'd come to shoot Elvis, Jerry just joked: "Sure I have." This led to the arrest and the subsequent press stories.

  • After Sam Cooke turned down "Travelin' Man", Ricky Nelson recorded the song and had a Billboard chart topping single with it in 1961.

  • Before assembling AC/DC, Malcolm Young played with the Velvet Underground- not THE Velvet Underground; Young's band mates were Australians who simply stole the name.

  • One of Motley Crue's earliest stage gimmicks was to light their pants on fire. Brings new meaning to the term- 'liar, liar-pants on fire.'

  • In 1963, the brother and sister team of Nino Tempo and April Stevens took "Deep Purple" to Billboard's number one position. The same song had topped the charts for Larry McClinton in 1939 and would become a #14 hit for Donny and Marie Osmond in 1976.

  • 1950s crooner Perry Como, who scored many hits including "Round and Round", "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" and "Hot Diggity", was the seventh son of a seventh son.

  • The Righteous Brothers' hit "Unchained Melody" was never intended to be a single. It was recorded as an album cut and later pressed on the "B" side of the 45 "Hung On You". When it was released, DJs flipped the disc over and "Unchained Melody" quickly rose to #4 in the US and #1 in the UK.

  • Barry Manilow recorded his vocal and piano parts for "Mandy" in just one take.

  • Elvis Presley was a devoted animal lover. He owned dogs, mules, horses, peacocks, chickens, a turkey and had a silly mynah bird that said, "Elvis! Go to hell!"

  • We all know that Elvis loved his food. "I like it well-done," the legendary icon stated. "I ain't ordering a pet."

  • While we are on the subject, it seems that rowdy Allman Brother Dickey Betts was out riding his motorcycle one day and he was hungry. So he stopped his machine, jumped a fence and killed a cow. As he was butchering the animal, a cop passed by and quickly arrested the bloody Brother.

  • The first known million selling recording was by Ben Selvin and his Orchestra. It was a two sided hit featuring "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Darandella", recorded in 1919.

  • Guitarist Henry Gross, who hit the US charts in 1976 with "Shannon", was one of the founding members of the rock and roll revival group, Sha Na Na.

  • For the year 2005, the top earning dead celebrity in the US was Elvis Presley, who still generated $45 million worth of business. John Lennon was third with $22 million.

  • The Beatles 4th UK #1 single, "Can't Buy Me Love", had advanced sales of over 2.1 million, setting the record for the greatest advanced orders in the UK.

  • The most expensive guitar in the world is a Fender Stratocaster once owned by Eric Clapton. Nicknamed "Blackie", it sold at auction for $959,500. on June 25th, 2004.

  • In early 1957, RCA Records released two versions of a song called "Young Love", one by Tab Hunter, the other by Sonny James. Both records caught on and by the first week of March, Hunter's rendition was number one in the US, while James' version was number 4.

  • When Cher topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Believe" in March, 1999, she became the first female over the age of 50 to have a chart topping record.

  • When Elvis was drafted into the US Army in March, 1958, his monthly pay went from $100,000 to $78.

  • Bobby "Boris" Pickett, who topped the Billboard Pop chart in 1962 with "The Monster Mash", once had his tour bus break down outside of a town called Frankenstein, Missouri.

  • When asked about their controversial hit song "One Toke Over The Line" during an interview with Brewer and Shipley, they said that "toke" had nothing to do with marijuana, but meant token or ticket. Hence the line about "sittin' downtown in a railway station."

  • When The Beatles' single "Ticket To Ride" was first issued, the fine print under the title said "From the United Artists Release Eight Arms To Hold You", which was the original name for the film Help!

  • The bass drum head with the Beatles logo that Ringo Starr used during the band's first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was bought by a memorabilia collector in the mid-1990s for around $50,000. By 2006, it's estimated value had risen to half-a-million dollars.

  • Jethro Tull's 1968 debut single, "Sunshine Day" was erroneously credited to Jethro Toe.

  • When Roberta Flack was awarded a gold record for her 1973, number one hit, "Killing Me Softly With His Song", she wanted to listen to her song etched in gold. She removed the disc from its frame and placed it on a turntable, only to hear "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods.

  • The studio musicians who recorded the music for many "bubblegum" hits credited to The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and many others, were actually former members of The Shadows of Knight, who had a hit of their own with "Gloria".

  • In February and March, 1964, The Beatles sold 60% of all the records sold in the U.S.

  • The first recording that Ray Charles made was called "Confession Blues", but at the time of the session, the American Federation Of Musicians was on strike. The violation cost Ray $600 and left him penniless.

  • For their first two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles were paid just $3500 per show. The expenses alone to bring them to America totaled over $50,000, which was paid for by their manager, Brian Epstein.

  • When record executives at RCA gave a song called "Rock and Roll Waltz" to Kay Starr, she thought they must have been kidding, as rock and roll was still frowned upon by serious musicians. After many arguments, RCA still insisted that she record the song. Their hunch proved to be a good one as the record went to number 1 in the US in February, 1956.

  • Carl Perkins, the rockabilly pioneer who wrote Elvis Presley's hit, "Blue Suede Shoes", was a sharecropper's son who learned to play music on a guitar fashioned from a cigar box and broomstick.

  • In the late 70's, while at a stadium show in Toronto, the members of Aerosmith actually boarded limousines to travel the one hundred yards from their dressing rooms to the stage.

  • Beach Boy Carl Wilson got so excited the first time one of their songs was played on the radio-that he threw up when he heard the song.

  • The Odeon label was created in Germany in 1904 by the International Talking Machine Company. Odeon pioneered something they called the "album" in 1909 when it released the "Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky on four double-sided discs in a specially designed package.

  • Dion DiMucci of Dion and The Belmonts was a part of 1959's Winter Dance Party with Buddy Holly. When Buddy suggested that Dion fly with him after their show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2nd, Dion declined because he didn't want to spend the extra money. It was a decision that saved his life.

  • Buddy Holly and The Crickets recorded their hit "Maybe Baby" in the officer's club at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

  • The publishing rights to most of Buddy Holly's songs are owned by Paul McCartney.

  • The first time that Don McLean performed "American Pie" on stage, it didn't get a very good response from the audience. McLean would later remark that "People didn't know what the hell I was singing about."

  • Jimmy Hart, one of the original members of The Gentrys, who scored a US number 4 hit with "Keep On Dancin" in 1965, went on to become a popular wrestling character in the WWF, calling himself the "Mouth of the South".

  • The popular 1970s group, Super Tramp, turned down a five million dollar offer from the Greyhound corporation to use their song "Take The Long Way Home" in bus commercials.

  • Including Ringo, there have been at least five drummers for The Beatles. Norman Chapman (for the Silver Beatles), Tommy Moore, Pete Best and Jimmy Nichol.

  • While the Beatles were still struggling to establish themselves, they were turned down by five different British record companies.


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