Monday, April 22, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, April 22, 1963


   On a sunny, April morning in Los Angeles, California, "Teen Beat" Sandy Nelson rides his motorcycle nearly head-on into a school bus full of kids...


   On his way to meet Lew Chudd the owner of Imperial Records, Sandy Nelson, one of the most important drummers in rock 'n' roll history meets the bus instead.  The accident results in amputation of his right foot and part of his leg.


   Sandy Nelson was the biggest -- and one of the few -- star drummers of the late '50s and early '60s era.  He had Top Ten hits, the biggest being "Teen Beat" which Sandy was awarded a Gold Record for after selling a million copies, and "Let There Be Drums".  Both of which surrounded his Gene Krupa-inspired solos with cool, mean guitar licks (from co-writer Richard Podolor) that were forerunners of the surf sound.  Nelson had only one other Top 40 hit, "Drums Are My Beat".  He ground out a quick series of instrumental albums in the early '60s -- eight within 18 months, as a matter of fact -- with several other top Hollywood rock and pop session musicians.   His principal importance is that he found a place for drum rock solos in hit instrumental singles, and the more reckless elements of his style no doubt influenced other musicians, such as surf drummers and, later, Keith Moon.



  In September of 2008, Nelson and a few friends, recording as Sandy Nelson and the Sin City Termites, released a new record of original compositions, Nelsonized, on the independent Spinout label.  Other band members included Los Straightjackets guitarist  Eddie Angel, Remi Gits, and bass-player custom bike-builder Billy Favata of Torturing Elvis.



  ...oh yeah, and one of those kids on the school bus was a 13 year-old Bonnie Raitt.