Today in 1940, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello debuted a summer replacement show (for Fred Allen) on NBC radio. In October 1942, the comedy duo launched their own program on the network. Here’s their most famous routine, “Who’s On First?”
In 1965, Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger died at the age of 33. Originally named “Golden Cloud”, Trigger made an early appearance as the mount of Maid Marian, played by Olivia de Havilland in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). A short while later, when Roy Rogers was preparing to make his first movie in a starring role, he was offered a choice of five rented “movie” horses to ride and chose Golden Cloud. Rogers bought him eventually in 1943 and renamed him Trigger for his quickness of both foot and mind. It was said that he could walk 50 feet (15 meters) on his hind legs and was such a ham that he would bow whenever he heard applause. After his death, Trigger was stuffed and put on display at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California. Here’s a video tribute.
Legend has it that on this date in 1968, Joni Mitchell hosted a get-together at her home for musician friends, including David Crosby of the Byrds, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash of the Hollies, who started an informal jam session that led directly to the formation of Crosby, Stills & Nash. After an unsuccessful audition with The Beatles’ Apple Records, they were signed to Atlantic Records by Ahmet Ertegün, who had been a fan of Buffalo Springfield and was disappointed by that band’s demise. Their eponymously titled first album was a major hit in the United States, peaking at # 6 on the Billboard album chart during a 107-week stay, spawning two Top 40 hits (“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” [# 21] and “Marrakesh Express” [# 28]).
On this date in 1969, Ex Rolling Stone, Brian Jones, was found dead in the swimming pool at his home in England, just 3 weeks after being fired by the band. Reports said he had sunk into substance abuse & was no longer able to function as a musician. He was 27. Here’s a rare video of “Paint It Black” from 1965 with Jones in sitar.
In 1971, Singer Jim Morrison died of heart failure and acute respiratory distress at the age of 27 in Paris. Together with Ray Manzarek, Morrison co-founded the Doors during the summer of 1965 in Venice, California. The band spent two years in obscurity until “Light My Fire,” shot them to super-stardom. Morrison wrote or co-wrote “Light My Fire”, “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” “The End,” “Moonlight Drive,” “People are Strange”, “Hello, I Love You,” “Roadhouse Blues,” “L.A. Woman,” and “Riders on the Storm.” Though the Doors recorded two more albums after Morrison’s passing, his death affected the band’s fortunes, and they split up in 1973. Twenty years later, Morrison and the Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. He is ranked # 47 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time,” and his grave site in France is a point of pilgrimage for fans.
Today in 1993, Joe DeRita, the last of the Three Stooges, died of pneumonia at 83. He was preceded in death by Joe Besser (1988), Moe Howard (1975), Larry Fine (1975), Shemp Howard (1955), and Curly Howard (1952). Here’s his final appearance as a Stooge.
Godspeed, Lee Iacoca, who passed away on July 2 at the age of 95. He was an early hero who designed my favorite sports car and got me interested in the art of the turnaround. One of his early successes was the 56 for 56 campaign, a precursor to the creative sales offers we know well today.