The day Merle Haggard saw Johnny Cash in San Quentin Prison

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Johnny Cash played one of his first prison shows at San Quentin Prison on January 1, 1959.

The reason this show is so notable is because of the man in the crowd who would be inspired by Cash. That man would be an inmate by the name of Merle Haggard. Merle grew up in Bakersfield, California which was where many poor farmers ended up. Haggard had his first stint in prison at the young age of 11. Haggard would go on to serve three more prison sentences throughout his teenage years.

Haggard would serve a 15 year sentence for burglary at the age of 18 which would bring him here. During his sentence Haggard would be one of the many inmates who got see the man in the black. This would be a life changing event for Haggard. Everyone in attendance became a fan of Cash because of his attitude and playing.

Haggard said on the performance,”He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards, he did everything the prisoners wanted to do.”

Haggard would only have to serve two years instead of fifteen. Afterwards Haggard began his musical career at the age of 21. Haggard’s law breaking and prison stay ended up being where Haggard found the inspiration to be one of the biggest names in country music history.

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Watch Merle Haggard perform with his inspiration in 1970 below:

The day Elvis visited Richard Nixon at the White House

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A meeting that many would never believed happened between Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley occurred on December 21, 1970.

Around Christmas time, Elvis was spending plenty of money on gifts. He bought 32 handguns and ten Mercedes Benz which costs over $100,000. His father and Priscilla began to complain over this fact. Elvis became annoyed with the complaints and took the next plane out of Nashville which took him to Washington. Elvis checked into a hotel and then got bored with it and flew out to Los Angeles.

Elvis was picked up by his chauffeur at 3 AM at the airport. Elvis was traveling with guns and police badges, and decided he needed another badge. Elvis was looking for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs which he could get from Washington. Elvis thought the badge could give him the power to legally enter any country with any guns or drugs he wanted.

The next day Elvis was already on his way back to Washington D.C. During his flight to Washington D.C. Elvis wrote out his letter to President Nixon detailing his plans and how long he would be in the area.

After landing Elvis and Jerry Schilling took a limo to the White House. Elvis dropped off the letter to the entrance gate of the White House at 6:30 AM and then went to his hotel to check in. After checking in he got a meeting with a deputy officer but not about the badge.

While the meeting was going on the letter made it’s way to aide Egil Krogh who was a huge Elvis fan. Krogh loved the idea of Elvis meeting Nixon and persuaded his bosses to make this happen. Krogh called the hotel, Elvis stayed at and through Jerry Schilling the meeting was set up.

Elvis arrived at the White House around noon with Schilling and his bodyguard Sonny West. Elvis arrived wearing a purple suit, a gold belt buckle, and amber sunglasses. Elvis also came with a gift of a Colt .45  pistol in a display case that he took off his wall in his LA home. The gift was quickly confiscated from him by the secret service.

Elvis and Nixon began to shake hand,while White House photographer Ollie Atkins took photos of the historical event that seemed very unbelievable. Elvis showed off his police badges and then got into conversation regarding American culture. Krogh noted that Elvis thought The Beatles were an anti-American spirit. Nixon responded by saying all those who took drugs were apart of the anti-patriotic spirit.

Elvis told Nixon he was on his side and then asked for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge he desired. After asking those around him, Nixon told Elvis he could grant him his wish. Elvis was genuinely excited by this and even hugged Nixon which came as a shock to those around him.

Before leaving Elvis wanted Nixon to meet Jerry Schilling and Sonny West. The two were brought into the office and began joking around. Nixon jokingly punched Schilling on the shoulder and gave White House cuff links to both. After leaving Elvis went to lunch with Krogh and received his badge.

The meeting was kept secret for some time at Elvis’ request. The story did not break until Jack Anderson wrote a column with the headline “Presley Gets Narcotic Bureau Badge.” Many did not seem to pay much attention to this however.

18 years after the event, the National Archives began selling photos of the historic meeting. Within just one week over 8,000 people requested the photo, which made this the most requested photo in Archives history.

The photo still remains popular to this day and can be seen on anything from shirts to coffee mugs. The meeting was one of the most shocking moments in Rock N’ Roll and showed the power of the king. The event would even go on to inspire a 1997 comedy called “Elvis Meets Nixon” parodying the event. A 2016 film was also made about the event with Kevin Spacey.

Read more at Smithsonian.com

Jim Morrison played his last show with The Doors, 47 years ago today

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The legendary front man of The Doors, Jim Morrison, would make his final on stage performance at the Warehouse in New Orleans on December 12, 1970.

The performance would be historic for what would come of it, but the performance would be considered a disaster. Jim Morrison had begun his self destruction many months before this when he began to drink heavily and gained weight. Jim Morrison’s appearance would change during this time as he went from a sex symbol with leather pants to an alcoholic, bearded man who had lost his touch.

Jim’s heavy drinking and abuse would show once again be seen this night. The band was debuting some of their hits from their upcoming album LA Woman. All was going well until halfway through the set when Jim Morrison began forgetting words to the songs. Morrison began telling long jokes that did not impress the crowd instead of trying to remember the lyrics.

Morrison also later had to hang on to the mic stand for support when the band went into “Light My Fire.” During the solos to the song, Morrison sat down on the drum riser and did not even get up to sing the final verse. Morrison did not get up until John Densmore hit him with his foot. Morrison then proceeded to walk to the mic and smashed it until it was completely destroyed. Jim then walked off the stage, and the show ended a lot earlier then expected.

After the show all members of the band except Jim Morrison had a meeting. They decided the New Orleans show would be their final live show. Morrison was too unpredictable and his past behavior in past shows could damage the band even more. 

Morrison would record LA Woman with the band which would be the final Doors album with Morrison. Jim would leave for Paris while the band finished the mixing sessions. Jim would pass away two months after the album was released in April.

Jimi Hendrix played his last live concert, 47 years ago today

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At the Open Air Love and Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany, Jimi Hendrix gave his final concert on this day, 47 years ago. The Jimi Hendrix Experience looked different from a couple years ago with their new lineup. Jimi Hendrix was of course on vocals and guitar, Mitch Mitchell stayed on drums, and the newly appointed Billy Cox was on bass. All of this however would not stop the band from giving a great performance.

The band was originally supposed to play the night before but got pushed back a day because of rain. Hendrix said on the event,”I’ll play tomorrow. Tomorrow at noon. I don’t have to, but I want to. The fans are out there in the dirt, I have to play for them. They came because of me. Otherwise I would have a bad conscience.” The band was also about to play a concert for the sixth night in a row. Two of the six concerts included headlining the Isle of Wight Festival and performing in Berlin five days later.

Despite the multiple days of playing in a row, this did not stop the band from playing an electrifying 13 song set. The set opened with a cover of “Killing Floor” which Jimi famously played the night he jammed with Eric Clapton to Clapton’s amazement. The set also included hits like,”Hey Joe,” “All Along The Watchtower,””Purple Haze,” and “Voodoo Child”to close out the night.

The only recording of the event is found on The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at the Isle of Fehmarn which was released in 2005. The sound quality of the concert is not great. Concert promoters recorded the concert using two overhead stage microphones into a consumer grade Revox reel-to-reel tape machine that Hendrix did not know about.

There was a rumor circulating that a stage-hand named Rocky was shot in the leg during the concert. The problem was there was no one who worked with Jimi on the road named Rocky. The only credible fact that may make this true is the trouble the Hells Angels caused during the weekend. The concert promoter’s trailer was later burned down which was reportedly caused by the Hells Angels.

Despite all the violence, there was no denying the historical impact of the concert. Though historical for an unfortunate reason, this was not supposed to be the band and Jimi’s last concert. The band was supposed to play in Rotterdam on September 13th but was cancelled when Billy Cox became sick. Jimi was also supposed to play on September 15th at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho with Eric Burdon and War, but that was put off when Jimi was too stoned to perform.

Jimi would end up playing some songs with Burdon the next night which would end up being his final live performance and public appearance. Jimi was shockingly and tragically found dead in his girlfriend’s apartment in London just two days later. Jimi laid down a foundation the World will never forget and inspired a generation like no one else could.

Check out some footage and background on the show below:

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