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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

June 5, 1964

It is time for another trip back through time with the Tuesday Timeline, the first edition for June 2012.  This week, we’re going to be going back to the 1960s, when the career of a well known singer first began.

Of course, before we do that, we always take a look back at some of the other events that took place on this date.

So, on June 5, the following events happened.

70 A.D. – Titus and his Roman legions breach the middle wall of Jerusalem in the Siege of Jerusalem

1817 – The first Great Lakes steamer, the Frontenac, is launched

1837 – The Republic of Texas incorporates the city of Houston

1849 – Denmark becomes a constitutional monarchy

1851 – Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” begins a ten-month run in abolitionist newspaper “National Era”

1883 – The first regularly scheduled Orient Express departs Paris, France

1888 – Rio de la Plata earthquake occurs

1915 – Denmark amends constitution to allow women’s suffrage

1942 – United States declares war on Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary during World War II

1946 – La Salle Hotel fire in Chicago kills 61 people

1956 – Elvis Presley debuts “Hound Dog” on The Milton Berle Show, mesmerizing the audience with his controversial hip movements

1963 – British Secretary of State John Profumo resigns following a sex scandal

1968 – Robert F. Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan, dies one day later

1976 – Teton Dam collapses

1981 – The first cases of AIDS are reported in Los Angeles, California

1993 – Country singer Conway Twitty passes away at the age of 59

1998 – General Motors strike begins in Flint, Michigan, lasting seven weeks

2001 – Tropical Storm Allison hits Texas and causes $5.5 billion in damage, the costliest tropical storm in American history

2004 – Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan succumbs to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease, at the age of 93

That’s quite a lot of history on this particular date, wouldn’t you say?

Now let’s take a look at some celebrity birthdays for June 5th.  Matthew Lesko, Colm Wilkinson, Freddie Stone (Sly & The Family Stone), J.J. Bittenbinder, Suze Orman, Jill Biden, Richard Butler (Psychadelic Furs), Kenny G, Jeff Garlin, Rick Riordan, Brian McKnight, Mark Wahlberg, Chad Allen, Pete Wentz (Fallout Boy), and Sebastien Lefebvre (Simple Plan).

So, what date are we flashing back in time to this week?

June 5, 1964, that’s what.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this week’s subject got his start in the music industry on this date.  This was the date that his first single was released in the United Kingdom.  Of course, he didn’t achieve this accomplishment alone.  He had help from the band that he was a part of, The King Bees.  And back in those days, he went under his given birth name.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet today’s blog subject.  Davie Jones!, not that Davy Jones.  I already did an entry on him a few months ago, just after his February 29 passing.  I mean this guy.

Yes, today we’re going to do a spotlight on how this Davie Jones launched his way into stardom, though you probably know him better under the name of David Bowie.  And, yes, we’ll discuss how he ended up changing his name as we go ahead with this entry.

David Robert Jones was born on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England.  He was the son of a movie usherette mother and a promotions officer father, and the family lived in a house near the border of Brixton and Stockwell.  It was said by a neighbour of the Jones family at the time that growing up in London during the 1940s was the worst possible time for a child to experience, which made sense, since London was still rebuilding from the damage it sustained during World War II bombings at the time that David was born.

Although David was widely considered by his teachers to be a gifted child, he gained the reputation of being a brawler in school.  And this reputation would end up leading to David sustaining an injury which would permanently alter his face forever.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  It was right around this time that young David Jones discovered his musical talents.  He sang in his school choir, and he played the recorder so well that he was judged as having above-average musical ability.  When David began taking classes in music and movement when he was nine, his teachers became astounded by his vividly artistic moves.  Around this time, his father had gotten interested in music by American artists, and young David was often listening to music by Frankie Lymon, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard.  By the end of the next year, David learned how to play the ukulele and tea-chest bass, began to play the piano, and even performed his own interpretations of Elvis Presley’s songs, complete with the same hip gyrations that Presley was known for.  When the crowd watched David perform, they described the experience as “mesmerizing”.

After flunking his eleven plus exam, David Jones started attending school at Bromley Technical High School, where he studied art, design, and of course, music.  His half-brother turned David onto jazz music around this time, and his mother bought David a plastic saxophone in 1961, eventually trading up for a real saxophone just one year later.

Now here’s where the story gets quite interesting.

In 1962, when David was fifteen, he found himself on the wrong end of someone’s fist.  It turned out that David and his friend, George Underwood had fallen for the same girl, and they decided to fight each other as a result.  During that fight, Underwood punched David square in the left eye.  Because Underwood was wearing a ring on his hand when he punched David, David’s eye was messed up as a result, and doctors feared that he would never recover from the injury.  David spent the next four months in and out of hospital, and underwent several surgeries to repair the damage that was caused to his left eye.  But the end result left David with a permanently dilated pupil, and faulty depth perception, and gave off the impression that he had two completely different coloured eyes.

Despite David’s serious injury, he must have forgiven Underwood, as they remained friends.

And his eye injury didn’t stop him from continuing on with his dream of becoming a musician.  At the age of fifteen, David formed his first band, The Konrads, and they ended up playing gigs at youth halls and wedding receptions.  But David would learn that while his parents were supportive of him taking up music as a hobby, they felt differently about their son pursuing it as a career.  So when David informed his mother that he had chosen to pursue a career in pop music full-time, she immediately got him a job as an electrician’s mate.  But, even that wasn’t enough to stop David from achieving his dream.

Though David soon realized that if he was going to be a star in the music world, he couldn’t do it with The Konrads.  He got frustrated with the band’s limited aspirations, and he decided to leave the band to join another group, The King Bees.  Seeing the success that John Epstein had with the Beatles, David actually wrote a letter to washing machine entrepreneur John Bloom, asking him to help them become a success.  Bloom did not respond to the letter, but somehow, it was passed on to Leslie Conn, who became David’s first management contract.

With Conn’s help, David and his band were heavily promoted, but their singles failed to make an impression on the charts at all.  As a result of this, David left the group, and eventually would join two more bands before branching out on what would become his successful solo career.

One more thing that David would do was change his stage name.  Initially, he had gone by the name of Davie Jones.  Problem was that the Monkees were making a huge name for themselves at the time, and people were confusing him with the lead singer of the Monkees, Davy Jones.  So in 1967, Davie Jones became David Bowie, a name that David picked out himself.  The name came from the nineteenth century American frontiersman Jim Bowie.  The name was good enough to be used to name a knife, so for David Bowie, it was good enough for him to use for a stage name.

And the rest as we say, is history.  We know that David Bowie ended up making a huge name for himself, and the following words could be used to describe some of his successes.  “Fame”.  “Changes”.  “Ziggy Stardust”.  “Let’s Dance”.  “China Girl”.  And, that’s only scratching the surface.

So, what does this have to do with today’s trip back through time?  Well, I thought that I would end this blog off by posting David Bowie’s very first single release that came out on June 5, 1964.  It didn’t chart particularly high (in fact, I don’t think it charted at all here in North America.  But who would have guessed that it would have been the beginning of a remarkable career path?

So, with that, here’s a song to close off June 5, 1964.

ARTIST:  Davie Jones with The King Bees
SONG:  Liza Jane
DATE RELEASED:  June 5, 1964

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