Certainly a hot bath can be one of the more relaxing pleasures of daily existence. It can also be one of the most horrendous. Just ask Jean-Paul Marat, the French revolutionary who was done in by Charlotte Corday while bathing. Or ask Janet Leigh about her Psycho shower. Or singer Al Green, at the height of his soul music career, who fared better than the other two but had one downright unrelaxing bath in his Memphis, Tennessee, home on October 18, 1974.
Green was a rub dub, just relaxin’ in the tub, thinkin’ everything was all right, when an ex-girlfriend stormed into his bath and poured a pot of scalding hot grits over him. She then retreated to a bedroom and shot herself with Green’s gun. Was she angry about his being late for breakfast or was it something more serious? Green himself took it as a sign from God, angry because he had strayed from the righteous musical path. Born-again, Al Green renounced the evils of pop superstardom and all that it stood for. By 1976, Green had become an ordained Baptist minister and purchased a Memphis church where he still preaches today. Never underestimate the power of a good scrubbing — whether with soap or grits.
Another rock superstar was born on this day nearly 50 years earlier in 1926. Chuck Berry had an amazing string of hits primarily in the mid-50s, even though his career has spanned six decades so far. Rock’n Roll Music, Sweet Little Sixteen, Maybelline, Johnny B Goode, Roll Over Beethoven – which one of these classics was his biggest hit? Turns out his biggest came a bit later. At about the time Al Green was getting religious, Chuck was going in the other direction with his 1972 – and all-time top-selling – recording of My Ding-a-Ling.