Classic Rock Trivia

Janis Joplin

Classic Rock is a popular genre of music with many die-hard fans who love to discuss and dissect trivia about their favorite songs, albums, and bands. Next time you hear the following artists, impress your friends with these diverse bits of trivia.

Classic Rock Trivia

The classic rock genre is wide ranging and encompasses two (or three, depending on who you ask) decades of music. From personalities to live shows and recordings, there are plenty of trivia facts to learn.

Personal Trivia

  • Janis Joplin's college years were not kind to her. When she was a student at Lamar State College of Technology in 1963, she was voted "Ugliest Man on Campus" by one of the fraternities.
  • John Kay, lead singer of Steppenwolf, is legally blind.
  • Davey Jones of The Monkees used to be a horse jockey.
  • During his last years, Elvis always opened his shows by playing The Theme to 2001. He was asked repeatedly about the odd choice, but all he could say is that he felt that the number 2001 was significant to him. The date of Elvis' death, which is 8-16-1977, adds up to 2001.
  • Randy Bachman was a member of the Guess Who but left at the height of their popularity due to his religious beliefs and formed Bachman Turner Overdrive.
  • Paul McCartney is a British knight.
  • Elvis Presley got a "C" in music in the eighth grade.
Paul McCartney

Studio Trivia

  • Keith Moon, legendary drummer for The Who, wasn't quite as good on the mic as he was with the sticks. The band barred him from the studio whenever vocals were being recorded.
  • Elvis' Hound Dog took 31 takes to record.
  • None of The Beatles play on Eleanor Rigby. Aside from vocals, the song was performed entirely by studio musicians.
  • Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead played several types of music, including folk, bluegrass, country, rock 'n' roll, and acid rock. In fact, Garcia performed in a country band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, which opened for the Grateful Dead for several concerts.
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive was rejected by 25 record companies before they were signed by Mercury Records.

On Stage Trivia

  • It took U.S. audiences a while to warm up to Jimi Hendrix. Although blues-inspired rock was already mainstream in the UK, when The Monkees hired Hendrix to open for them on a U.S. tour in the summer of 1967, Hendrix was routinely booed off the stage. He only lasted two weeks on the tour before quitting.
  • The first time Led Zeppelin played Stairway to Heaven live, the audience booed.
  • The first time Pete Townshend of The Who broke his guitar during a show, it was an accident. The audience loved it, however, so he started doing it at every show.
  • Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, was sentenced to eight months of hard labor and a $500 fine in 1970 for indecent exposure and using profanity during a concert in Florida. He appealed the sentence, but died before his legal issues were resolved.

Song and Album Trivia

Eric Clapton
  • The Animals classic House of the Rising Sun is actually an interpretation of a classic folk song originally recorded in 1920. The song is based on a real brothel in New Orleans that was opened in 1862 to cater to Union soldiers. The brothel was run by Madame Marianne Le Soleil Levan, whose name translates to "rising sun." The brothel itself was closed in 1874 when neighbors rallied to run it out of business.
  • Eric Clapton penned the song Wonderful Tonight while waiting for his then wife Patti Boyd Harrison, who had been previously married to close Clapton friend George Harrison, to get ready for a party at Paul and Linda McCartney's house. The party was their annual homage to Buddy Holly.
  • In the Three Dog Night classic Joy To The World, the recognizable opening line "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" was not supposed to be in the song at all. Hoyt Axton, the songwriter, put that line in there as a placeholder since he hadn't thought of an opening line yet and wanted to move on with the rest of the song. Three Dog Night heard the track and decided they liked the song the way it was.
  • The common phrase "life in the fast lane" was first introduced into popular language and culture by the Eagles' song of the same name.
  • At the beginning of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, there is a strange series of noises. These sounds are actually the count in and the tapes starting to record the tracks of the song.
  • Richard Nixon was a music fan, but he had his limits. He invited the band The Guess Who to perform for him at the White House, but he had one condition - they could not perform their mega hit American Woman. Nixon thought the song was anti-American and anti-establishment.

Band Trivia

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young might have turned out to be a winning combination, but Neil Young was not the rest of the band members' first choice for joining the group. Before inviting Young, they asked George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Steven Winwood to consider the role.
  • John Lennon was once asked if he believed that Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world. He said that Ringo wasn't even the best drummer in The Beatles.
  • Foghat is named after a fake word made up by the band's singer Dave Peverett and his brother during a game of Scrabble.
  • In 1964, 60 percent of the records sold in the U.S. were Beatles records.
  • The Crosby, Stills & Nash logo from the mid-'70s into the '80s which featured the initials of their last names intertwined, was designed by Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman.

The Wonder of Classic Rock

Everyone knows at least a few classic rock songs and bands, so learning the trivia behind these classic hits and hitmakers is a great way to start exploring the genre. Songs become more interesting when you know the stories behind them, and bands get a little more accessible when you understand the personalities they're made up of. Dig in and discover your own trivia facts about classic rock and the rockers who made the music.

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