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Today, back in 1976, Mal Evans, a close friend of the Beatles and a former bodyguard and roadie for the group was shot to death by the police in his Los Angeles apartment. Friends contacted the police when he refused to put down a rifle that he was carrying while under the influence of valium. What they did not know at the time was that the 30.30 was an air rifle. He supposedly aimed the weapon at officers upon their arrival and after he refused to put down the gun they opened fire. He was only forty years old. A trunk containing Evans’ diaries was sold off by the Evans’ estate after his death to Sotheby’s in London. Among his things were the original pages of Lennon’s lyrics to “A Day in the Life” as well as a notebook in which Paul McCartney had written the lyrics for “Hey Jude”.
On a brighter note, also on this day in 1964, The Beatles’ track “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was reviewed by Billboard, receiving a rave reception. “This is the hot British group that has struck gold overseas. Side A is a driving rocker with surf-on-the-Thames sound and strong vocal work from the group.” Little did they expect the fame that would await them after the release of this song.
Today also celebrates the birthday of Michael Stipe, lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the recently separated group R.E.M. He is recognized for his distinct singing style as well as his social and political activism. He is 53 years old today.