Question: What do RCA, Chuck Berry, Connie Francis, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and the Beatle Fan Club have in common?
Answer: March 31
Roots of Rock
March 31, 1949: RCA introduced the 7-inch diameter ’45 RPM as the "New System,. RCA designed it to be a replacement for the bulky 78-RPM record and touted it to be 1/10th the weight of its 12 inch counterpart. It had a playtime of up to 5.3 minutes per side. It also had improved fidelity in terms of noise levels and frequency response. (Roots, see Dec 10; TM, see January 12, 1950)
March 31, 1958,: Chuck Berry released the “Johnny B. Goode”. Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about a poor country boy who plays a guitar "just like ringing a bell," and who might one day have his "name in lights." Berry has acknowledged that the song is partly autobiographical, and originally had "colored boy" in the lyrics, but he changed it to "country boy" to ensure radio play. The title suggests that the guitar player is good, and hints at autobiographic elements because Berry was born at 2520 Goode Avenue in St. Louis. Chuck has said that he wrote it as a Rock and Roll version of the American dream. (see May 9) (see Johnny B Goode for more)
March 31 – April 6, 1962: “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You” by Connie Francis #1 Billboard Hot 100. Written by Benny Davis and Murray Mencher, Francis recorded the ballad in two-part harmony with a spoken bridge. It is a plea from a heartbroken lover who is trying to understand why her lover is going out of his way to treat her unkindly. The song ends with her begging him not to break her heart.The song was Francis's third and final #1 song.
March 31, 1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the London Astoria. While waiting to perform, Hendrix and his manager Chas Chandler were discussing ways in which they could increase the band's media exposure. When Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, Altham suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of The Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix joked: "Maybe I can smash up an elephant", to which Altham replied: "Well, it's a pity you can't set fire to your guitar". Chandler then asked road manager Gerry Stickells to find some lighter fluid. During the show, Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his Fender Stratocaster on fire at the end of a 45-minute set. In the wake of the stunt, members of London's press labeled Hendrix the "Black Elvis" and the "Wild Man of Borneo"
According Setlist dot com that night he played:
Can You See Me
Tony Garland, Hendrix’s press agent scooped up the remains of the Strat, took them home and placed them in the garage of his parents southern U.K. home. About 30 years later, Garland’s nephew found the remains of the guitar, did a little research, and the burnt guitar was auctioned off in 2007 for $575,000.(see May 12)
March 31 Music et al
George Harrison and Patty Boyd
March 31, 1969: a drug squad had raided George Harrison and Patty Boyd’s Esher home on March 12. On this date the trial took place at Esher and Walton Magistrates' Court. They pleaded guilty to possessing the cannabis, which was likely to have been planted in the house by police officers and were each fined £250 plus 10 guineas each in court costs, and were put on probation for a year. (Apr 14)
Paul McCartney v Let It Be album
March 31, 1970: Apple planned to release Paul McCartney's solo album and the Beatles' Let It Be two weeks of each other. Since Let It Be was a group project, John and George composed a letter saying that they’d decided that it made better business sense to delay Paul’s album and avoid competition.
Dear Paul, We thought a lot about yours and the Beatles LPs – and decided it’s stupid for Apple to put out two big albums within 7 days of each other (also there’s Ringo’s and Hey Jude) – so we sent a letter to EMI telling them to hold your release date til June 4th (there’s a big Apple-Capitol convention in Hawaii then). We thought you’d come round when you realized that the Beatles album was coming out on April 24th. We’re sorry it turned out like this – it’s nothing personal. Love John & George. Hare Krishna. A Mantra a Day Keeps MAYA! Away.
Ringo delivered the letter. Paul blew up at Ringo.As an attempt at reconciliation, John and George allowed Apple to release the McCartney album in the UK on 17 April 1970, and Let It Be on 8 May.The disagreement did additional damage to the already fragmenting relationships between the four. (see Apr 1) (see Beatles Bible site for much more)
Beatles Official Fan Club
March 31, 1972: The Beatles Official Fan Club closed. The Beatles Monthly magazine had ceased three years previously. (see, Apr 29)
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March 31, 1840: President Martin Van Buren issued a broadly-applicable executive order granting the 10-hour day to all government employees engaged in manual labor. (see February 21, 1848)
César E. Chávez
March 31 1927: César Chávez born in Yuma, Arizona. (see 1929 - 1939)
Civilian Conservation Corps
March 31, 1933: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps to help alleviate suffering during the Depression. By the time the program ended after the start of World War II it had provided jobs for more than six million men and boys. The average enrollee gained 11 pounds in his first three months (see Apr 10)
César E. Chávez & Dolores Huerta
March 31, 1962: Chavez and Huerta resigned from the Community Service Organization. Chavez moved with his wife and eight small children the farm town of Delano, CA and dedicated himself full-time to organizing farm workers. Dolores Huerta and others later join him. (see September 30, 1962)
March 31, 1930: the board of directors of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association formally adopted the Code that was published on February 19. (see Nov 25)
Illinois v Allen
March 31, 1970: Illinois v. Allen. Police had charged William Allen with armed robbery. Before his trial, he obtained permission to conduct his own defense, as long as he allowed court-appointed counsel to sit in. During voir dire, Allen started to argue with the judge, and continued to be insubordinate throughout the opening of the trial. After that, the judge ordered Allen removed from the court room and only allowed him in for identification and for portions of his defense. The US Supreme Courte held that when a defendant refuses to conduct himself in an orderly manner, he can lose his Sixth Amendment right to be present at his own trial. Justice Brennan concurred, only adding that when a defendant is excluded from trial it should be incumbent upon the court to insure that the defendant has full communication with his attorney. (see Mar 31)
Grayned v Rockford
March 31, 1970: Grayned v. Rockford,the Supreme Court found that "The nature of a place, 'the pattern of its normal activities, dictate the kinds of regulations of time, place, and manner that are reasonable.'" In determining what is reasonable, the Court stated that "[the] crucial question is whether the manner of expression is basically incompatible with the normal activity of a particular place at a particular time." Thus, protesters have the right to march in support of a cause, but not on a public place during the middle of the day with bullhorns.The Court held that the anti-picketing law was contrary to First Amendment rights as it created a per se ban on the free exercise of speech and was therefore unconstitutional. The anti-noise ordinance, however, had a compelling justification behind it and therefore it was constitutional. The demonstration was incompatible with the normal use of the facility; the noise was a disruptive to the functioning of the school as it was distracting for students and faculty members alike. Therefore, the state in this instance had a right to regulate it.The Supreme Court held that the anti-picketing ordinance was unconstitutional on its face, but held that the anti-noise ordinance was constitutional. (see Apr 1)
March 31, 2015, : the city of Portland, Maine and the American Civil Liberties Union announced that a U.S. District Court ordered the city to pay $72,000 in damages and court costs to a Jill Walker and Sabatino Scattoloni who sued after they were arrested in May, 2014 while video recording police making another arrest.The settlement also required city police "to utiliz(e) this incident as a training tool to ensure the rights of citizens, including First Amendment rights, will be respected by its police officers in such interactions," City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grodin said in a press release.Sgt. Benjamin Noyes arrested Walker and Scattoloni early in the morning on May 24, 2014, on Spring Street after they saw a traffic stop and then began recording the incident with a cell phone, according to the lawsuit filed against Noyes in September 2014 in Hancock County Superior Court."They watched silently, they did not approach or address the officers, and they did not in any way interfere with the officers' work: they simply stood bearing witness," the complaint said.The suit alleged Noyes, a 17-year veteran of the Police Department, approached the couple, who were vacationing in Portland, and said "You have two seconds to get off this sidewalk or you will be under arrest."After being warned to leave twice, Walker and Scattoloni were charged with Class D obstruction of government administration and taken to Cumberland County Jail. They were freed after several hours on $60 bail; the charges were eventually dismissed.The arrest report referred to in the suit quotes Noyes saying Walker and Scattoloni were arrested because of "their proximity to the combative female (involved in the traffic stop) and their refusal to follow my commands."The alleged violations of the couple's First and Fourth Amendment rights included failure to advise them of their rights, and illegal searches at the scene and jail. (4th, see Apr 21; FS, see Apr 6)
March 31, 1949: RCA introduced the modern ’45 RPM as the "New System,” It was designed to be a replacement for the bulky 78-RPM record and was touted to be 1/10th the weight of its 12 inch counterpart and having a playtime of up to 5.3 minutes per side. It featured a lightweight record design and small 7-inch diameter with improved fidelity in terms of noise levels and frequency response. (Roots, see Dec 10; TM, see January 12, 1950)
Johnny B. Goode
March 31, 1958: Chuck Berry released the “Johnny B. Goode”. Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about a poor country boy who plays a guitar "just like ringing a bell," and who might one day have his "name in lights." Berry has acknowledged that the song is partly autobiographical, and originally had "colored boy" in the lyrics, but he changed it to "country boy" to ensure radio play. The title is suggestive that the guitar player is good, and hints at autobiographic elements because Berry was born at 2520 Goode Avenue in St. Louis. Chuck has said that he wrote it as a Rock and Roll version of the American dream. (see May 9)
March 31 – April 6, 1962: “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You” by Connie Francis #1 Billboard Hot 100.
March 31, 1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the London Astoria. While waiting to perform, Hendrix and his manager Chas Chandler were discussing ways in which they could increase the band's media exposure. When Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, Altham suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of The Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix joked: "Maybe I can smash up an elephant", to which Altham replied: "Well, it's a pity you can't set fire to your guitar".Chandler then asked road manager Gerry Stickells to find some lighter fluid. During the show, Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his Fender Stratocaster on fire at the end of a 45-minute set. In the wake of the stunt, members of London's press labeled Hendrix the "Black Elvis" and the "Wild Man of Borneo"Tony Garland, Hendrix’s press agent scooped up the remains of the Strat, took them home and placed them in the garage of his parents southern U.K. home. About 30 years later, Garland’s nephew found the remains of the guitar, did a little research, and the burnt guitar was auctioned off in 2007 for $575,000.(see May 12)
George Harrison and Patty Boyd
March 31, 1969: George Harrison and Patty Boyd’s drug trial took place. They pleaded guilty to possessing the cannabis, which was likely to have been planted in the house by police officers and were each fined £250 plus 10 guineas each in court costs, and were put on probation for a year. (Apr 14)
McCartney v Let It Be
March 31, 1970: Paul McCartney solo album and the Beatles Let It Be were scheduled for release within two weeks of each other. John and George composed a letter saying that they’d decided that it’d make much better business sense to delay Paul’s album so as not to compete with the Beatles. Ringo delivered the letters.Paul blew up at Ringo.As an attempt at reconciliation, John and George allowed the McCartney album to be issued in the UK on 17 April 1970, while Let It Be was eventually released on 8 May, but further damage to the already fragmenting relationships between the four had occurred. (see Apr 1)
Beatles Official Fan Club
March 31, 1972: The Beatles Official Fan Club closed. The Beatles Monthly magazine had ceased three years previously. (see, Apr 29)
BACK HISTORY and Feminism
March 31, 1950: Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry Annie Allen. (BH, June 5; see Feminism Sept 18, 1950)
March 31, 1992: in Freeman v. Pitts the US Supreme Court further delayed the end of school desegregation, ruling that school systems can fulfill their obligations in an incremental fashion. (BH, see April 29; SD, see June 12, 1995)
March 31, 1999: four New York City police officers were charged with murder for killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, in a hail of bullets. (see Dec 16)
Crime and Punishment
Trop v. Dulles
March 31, 1958: in the case of Trop v. Dulles, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to revoke the citizenship of a U.S. citizen as a form of punishment. While serving in the Army in 1944, Albert Trop escaped from the stockade where he was being held for misbehavior. The next day, he and a companion were walking along the road near Casablanca, Morroco, and were stopped by an Army truck. Trop willingly got into the truck and was returned to the Army base. (Thus, his “desertion” lasted for only some hours.) He was then court martialed and given a dishonorable discharge. In 1952 he applied for a passport and was then informed that, under a 1940 law, he had lost his citizenship because of his dishonorable discharge. (see May 22, 1964)
March 31 Peace Love Activism
March 31, 1966: Luna 10 launched from the Soviet Union. The unmanned probe will achieve lunar orbit — the first object to do so — and send information about the moon back to earth. (see June 2)
DRAFT CARD BURNING
March 31, 1966: high school boys punched and kicked seven anti-Vietnam demonstrators on the steps of the South Boston District Court House after four of the protesters had burned their Selective Service cards. With shouts of “Kill them, shoot them,” about 50 to 75 high school boys charged the steps and knocked the demonstrators to the ground as a crowd of 200 watched. David O’Brien, 19, was one of the card burners. (Draft Card Burning, see July 1, 1966; Vietnam, see April 12; O’Brien, see May 27, 1968)
March 31, 1968: President Johnson announced his decision not to run again and offered partial Vietnam bombing halt. (see April 8)
March 31, 1980: Depository Institutions' Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 changed rules governing thrift institutions, expands alternative mortgages. It gave the Federal Reserve greater control over non-member banks.
It forced all banks to abide by Federal rules.
It removed the power of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors under the Glass–Steagall Act to use Regulation Q to set maximum interest rates for any deposit accounts other than demand deposit accounts.
It raised the deposit insurance of US banks and credit unions from $40,000 to $100,000.
It allowed credit unions and savings and loans to offer checkable deposits.
It allowed institutions to charge any loan interest rates they choose. (see July 22, 1987)
March 31, 1989: the National Transportation Safety Board reported that Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of the Exxon Valdez, was legally drunk when he was tested some 10 hours after his tanker hit a reef, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history.After the NTSB's announcement, Exxon officials confirmed that they had fired the 42-year0old captain, although investigators could not determine whether he had been drinking on the job.Coast Guard Commandant Paul Yost called it "almost unbelievable" that the Exxon Valdez had strayed from a 10-mile-wide shipping channel to crash into Bligh Reef. "This was not a treacherous area," he said. " . . . your children could drive a tanker through it." (see February 27, 1990)
Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana
March 31, 2015: facing a national uproar over a religious freedom law, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana said that he wanted the measure changed by week’s end, even as he stepped up a vigorous defense of the law, rejecting claims that it would allow business to deny services to gays and lesbians.“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to discriminate against anyone,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.He acknowledged that the law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, had become a threat to the state’s reputation and economy, with companies and organizations signaling that they would avoid Indiana in response to it. Mr. Pence said he had been on the phone with business leaders from around the country, adding, “We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business.” (see Apr 20)
1967 had already been a busy year for the Beatles before March 30. As you can see below, working on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band dominated their January days. Some recordings would not appear on Pepper's ("Penny Lane").
Though no MTV was around, the studio-dedicated Beatles had already gotten into going outside to do short films with some of their songs. A compromise for fans who could not see them perform. In January they did a short for "Strawberry Fields Forever" in Knole Park. Here's a piece of that short.
There was also a proposed movie in the works. Paul and Ringo went to see some guy Jimi Hendrix.
02: Tape copying: When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever
04: Recording: Penny Lane
05: Recording: Penny Lane, Carnival Of Light
06: UK album release: The Family Way
06: Recording: Penny Lane
09: Recording, mixing: Penny Lane
10: Recording: Penny Lane
11: McCartney and Starr watch Jimi Hendrix in London
12: Joe Orton is asked to write a film script for The Beatles
12: Recording, mixing: Penny Lane
15: McCartney and Harrison watch Donovan in London
16: Joe Orton begins writing a script for The Beatles’ third film
17: John Lennon begins writing A Day In The Life
17: Recording, mixing: Penny Lane
18: Television: Paul McCartney interviewed for Scene Special
19: Recording: A Day In The Life
20: Recording: A Day In The Life
24: Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein discuss The Beatles’ third film with Joe Orton
25: Mixing: Penny Lane
30: Filming: Strawberry Fields Forever
30: Mixing: A Day In The Life
31: Filming: Strawberry Fields Forever
No Hendrix in February. They did go back outside to film a short for "Penny Lane" in Knole Park again as well as near Angel Lane in Stratford, London.
They recorded another song that would not be on Sgt Pepper's, "Only a Northern Song," . And while we have memorized the album's song order, it would be a mistake to think that they recorded it in that order.
01: Recording: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
02: Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
03: Recording: A Day In The Life
05: Filming: Penny Lane
07: Filming: Penny Lane
08: Recording: Good Morning Good Morning
09: Recording: Fixing A Hole
10: Recording: A Day In The Life
13: US single release: Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever
13: Recording, mixing: A Day In The Life, Only A Northern Song
14: Recording, mixing: Only A Northern Song
16: Recording, mixing: Good Morning Good Morning
17: UK single release: Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever
17: Recording, mixing: Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
20: Recording, mixing: Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, Good Morning Good Morning
21: Recording, mixing: Fixing A Hole
22: Recording, mixing: A Day In The Life
23: Recording, mixing, editing: A Day In The Life, Lovely Rita
24: Recording: Lovely Rita
28: Recording: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
March meant more recording and of course their new album needed a cover. And what a cover. Suffice to say that having lyrics on the back, a gatefold sleeve with their huge pictures in the middle, and an insert to cut out props would have been plenty, but the front cover. Oh that front cover!
01: Recording: A Day In The Life, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
02: Recording, mixing: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
03: Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
06: Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
28: Recording: Good Morning Good Morning, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
29: Recording: Good Morning Good Morning, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, With A Little Help From My Friends
30: Cover shoot for Sgt Pepper
30: Recording: With A Little Help From My Friends
31: Recording, mixing: With A Little Help From My Friends, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
Ironically, they had "With a Little Help From My Friends" on their evening schedule, but before that they had a late afternoon appointment at Michael Cooper's London photo studio to take that cover shot.
Sgt Pepper Cover Photo Shoot
Once they settled on the concept of the Beatles being surround by various personages, each of them contributed a list of names. John's suggestions of Hitler and Jesus (see John Lennon Opines) were crossed off. EMI scratched off Ghandi because it would cause problems with sales in India.
Artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth designed the cover from an ink drawing Paul had don. Robert Fraser was the art director. Blake and Haworth also designed the inside cardboard cutouts.
The final cost for the cover art was nearly £3,000, an extravagant sum for a time when album covers would typically cost around £50. For their work on Sgt. Pepper, Blake and Haworth won the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.
So who’s who?
1. Sri Yukteswar (Indian Guru) 2. Aleister Crowley (black magician) 3. Mae West 4. Lenny Bruce 5. Karlheinz Stockhausen (German composer) 6. W.C. Fields 7. Carl Jung (psychologist) 8. Edgar Allen Poe 9. Fred Astaire 10. Merkin (American artist) 12. Huntz Hall (Bowery Boy) 13. Simon Rodia (creater of Watts Towers) 14. Bob Dylan 15. Aubrey Beardsly (Victorian artist) 16. Sir Robert Peel (Police pioneer) 17. Aldous Huxley (philosopher) 18. Dylan Thomas (Welsh poet) 19. Terry Southern (author) 20. Dion (American pop singer)21. Tony Curtis 22. Wallace Berman (Los Angeles artist) 23. Tommy Handley (wartime comedian) 24. Marilyn Monroe 25. William Buroughs (author) 26. Mahavatar Babaji (Indian Guru) 27. Stan Laurel 28. Richard Lindner (New York artist) 29. Oliver Hardy 30. Karl Marx 31. H.G. Wells 32. Paramhansa Yogananda (Indian Guru) 33. Stuart Sutcliffe 35. Max Muller 37. Marlon Brando 38. Tom Mix (cowboy film star) 39. Oscar Wilde 40. Tyrone Power41. Larry Bell (modern painter) 42. Dr. Livingstone 43. Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) 44. Stephen Crane (American writer) 45. Issy Bonn (comedian) 46. George Bernard Shaw 47. Albert Stubbins (Liverpool footballer) 49. Lahiri Mahasaya (Indian Guru) 50. Lewis Carol 51. Sonny Liston (boxer) 52 – 55. The Beatles (in wax) 57. Marlene Dietrich 58. Diana Dors 59. Shirley Temple 60. Bobby Breen (singing prodigy) 61. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)