Category Archives: Today in Rock & Roll History

Today in Rock & Roll History: September 19th

1960: Hank Ballard and the Midnighters became the first group to have three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time: “Finger Poppin’ Time,” “The Twist,” and “Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go.”

1960: Chubby Checker’s first major hit, “The Twist,” reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The original version by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, released the year before, had managed to reach #28 on the US pop charts. In 1959, Dick Clark, then the host of Saturday night television program American Bandstand, wanted “The Twist” performed on his show. It’s uncertain why Ballard never made an appearance on the show, either due to Ballard being unavailable, or Clark wanting the song done by another artist. Clark had local artist Chubby Checker record the song, and Checker performed “The Twist” to a nationwide audience on Clark’s show in August of 1960.

1968: The Beatles began recording George Harrison’s song “Piggies,” with producer Chris Thomas on harpsichord. The track was later released as part of the band’s self-titled “White Album.”

1970: Neil Young’s third studio album, After the Gold Rush, entered the Billboard pop chart, later reaching #8.

1970: Diana Ross achieved her first solo #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

1970: The first Glastonbury Festival, billed as the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, took place at Worthy Farm in Somerset, England. Original headliners the Kinks and Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders pulled out, and were replaced by Tyrannosaurus Rex. Other acts included Keith Christmas, Al Stewart, Stackridge, and Quintessence. Inspired by the open-air Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music held earlier that year, organizer Michael Eavis hosted the event, partly to clear his overdraft. Only 1,500 people attended, however, and put Eavis further in debt.

1971: Deep Purple had their first #1 on the British album charts with their fifth studio LP, Fireball. The album peaked at #32 on the US Billboard chart.

1972: “Ventura Highway,” the lead single from America’s second LP, Homecoming, was released, later making it to #8 on the Billboard and Cash Box charts.

1978: Linda Ronstadt’s ninth studio album, Living in the USA, was released. It became her third and final #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

1979: The No Nukes concert, one of the decade’s largest series of benefit concerts, was held at Madison Square Garden for the first of four days. The event was organized by Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), a group put together by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall, and journalist and activist Harvey Wasserman. After the recent partial reactor meltdown on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, the public safety concerns of nuclear energy was running high. The show attracted numerous other musicians including James Taylor, who’d written to President Carter on the subject, as well as Tom Petty, the Doobie Brothers, Chaka Khan, Poco, and Bruce Springsteen. That November, recordings from the shows arrived in stores as the triple LP “No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future,” and a concert film was released the following year.

1981: The Rolling Stones began a nine-week run at the top of the Billboard pop album chart with Tattoo You.

1981: Simon & Garfunkel held a free benefit concert in New York’s Central Park where they performed for more than 500,000 people. Proceeds of the show went toward the redevelopment and maintenance of the park, which had deteriorated due to a lack of funding. The concert was broadcast by HBO, and was later released as a live album in February of 1982. The performance marked a short-lived reunion of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Tensions between the two prevented them from committing to a permanent reunion, but the duo did embark on a tour of Japan and Europe the next year.

Birthdays Today

Brook Benton, pop, R&B, and soul singer and songwriter, was born Benjamin Franklin Peay in Lugoff, SC in 1931.

Brian Epstein, music entrepreneur and manager for the Beatles, as well as Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dokotas, the Fourmost, Cillia Black, Cyrckle, and Tommy Quickly, was born in Liverpool, England in 1934.

Nick Massi, bass singer and bass guitarist for The Four Seasons, was born in Newark, NJ in 1935.

Gene Dinwiddie, saxophone player for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, was born in Louisville, KY in 1936.

Bill Medley, singer, songwriter, and baritone half of the Righteous Brosthers, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1940.

Paul Williams, singer, songwriter and actor, who wrote several pop hits including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Out in the Country,” Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World,” David Bowie’s “Fill Your Heart” and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays,” was born in Omaha, NE in 1940.

Cass Elliot, singer, actress, solo artist, and member of the Mamas and the Papas, was born Ellen Naomi Cohen in Balitmore, MD in 1941.

Freda Payne, singer and actress best known for her hit single, “Band of Gold”, was born in Detroit, MI in 1945.

David Bromberg, eclectic multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1945.

John Coghlan, original drummer for Status Quo, was born in Dulwich, London, England in 1946.

Lol Creme, guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, bassist, and music video director best known as a founding member of 10cc and afterward as a member of the duo Godley & Creme, Art of Noise, and the Producers, was born Laurence Neil Creme in Prestwich, Lancashire, England in 1947.

Daniel Lanois, songwriter, musician, and solo artist, best known for producing albums for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Brian Eno, and U2, was born in Hull, Quebec, Canada in 1951.

Nile Rodgers, record producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger, guitarist, co-founder and lead guitarist for Chic, and collaborator with several artists including Diana Ross, Thompson Twins, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Madonna, INXS, and Sheena Easton, was born in New York City in 1952.

Lita Ford, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and lead guitarist of the Runaways, was born London, England in 1958.

Kenny Smith, guitarist, vocalist, and member of Band of Ruhks, was born in Nine Mile, IN in 1967.

Candy Dufler, saxophonist who’s performed and recorded with artists such as Van Morrison, Prince, Dave Stewart, Maceo Parker, Alan Parsons, Pink Floyd, and Tower of Power, was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1969.

Today in Rock & Roll History: September 18th

1959: The first Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour began with Paul Anka, the Coasters, Lloyd Price, Duane Eddy, and Bobby Rydell at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

1965: The Vogues first charted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “You’re the One.”

1967: “I Can See For Miles,” the first single from the Who’s third album, The Who Sell Out, was released in the US, where it reached #9. After its UK release three and a half weeks later, the record made it to #12 on the British chart.

1967: The Beach Boys’ twelfth studio LP, Smiley Smile, was released. The project began in 1966 as Smile, an elaborate concept album assembled from short, interchangeable fragments of music composed almost entirely by Brian Wilson with lyricist Van Dyke Parks. When Smile went unfinished, Smiley Smile was released with stripped-down versions of some of the original album’s material. It reached #9 on the UK chart but was met with poor sales in the US, peaking at #41—the group’s lowest charting album at that point.

1968: During sessions for the “White Album,” Paul McCartney of the Beatles arrived at the EMI studio with a guitar riff that led to a jam session that resulted in the song “Birthday,” which the band wrote and recorded by that evening. In the early hours of the following morning, they completed the mono mix, with handclaps from roadie Mal Evans and additional backing vocals from John Lennon’s girlfriend, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s wife, Pattie.

1971: “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the first single to chart by Bill Withers, peaked at #3 on Billboard Hot 100

1971: The Who, the Faces, Mott the Hoople and Lindisfarne performed at Goodbye Summer, a fundraiser for famine victims of Bangla Desh, at the Oval Cricket Ground in Kennington, London.

1971: Pink Floyd became the first rock band to perform at the Classical Music Festival in Montreux, Switzerland when they played their “Atom Heart Mother” suite—the title track of their current LP—which had been written with composer Ron Geesen.

1971: The Who achieved their only #1 album in the UK with their fifth studio LP, Who’s Next.

1973: Ringo Starr bought Tittenhurst Park, the 26-room Georgian mansion previously owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

1976: The lead single from Boston’s self-titled debut album, More Than a Feeling, entered the Billboard Hot 100, later peaking at #5 in December.

1979: The Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight,” the first single from their sixth LP, The Long Run, was released. In November, it became the group’s fifth and final #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1983: UB40 had their first UK #1 album with their fourth studio LP, Labour of Love.

1997: Five days before launching their Bridges to Babylon world tour, the Rolling Stones played a surprise warm-up show at the 475-person capacity Double Door club in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Birthdays Today

Jimmie Rodgers, singer, guitarist, and pianist, was born James Frederick Rodgers in Camas, WA in 1933.

Frankie Avalon, singer and actor, was born Francis Thomas Avallone in Philadelphia, PA in 1940.

P.F. Sloan, singer-songwriter who performed as well as wrote and produced several top 20 hits for acts such as Barry McGuire, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, The Grass Roots, the Turtles, the Mamas and the Papas, Jan & Dean, and the Searchers, many of which in collaboration with songwriter and record producer Steve Barri, was born Philip Gary Schlein in New York City in 1945.

Alan King, guitarist and singer, best known as a member of 1960s group The Action and 1970s band Ace, was born in Muswell Hill, North London, England in 1945.

Dee Dee Ramone, singer, songwriter, bassist, guitarist best known as a founding member and occasional lead vocalist for the Ramones, who was the band’s most prolific lyricist and composer, writing many of their best-known songs, was born Douglas Glenn Colvin in Fort Lee, Virginia in 1951.

Joanne Catherall, vocalist for Human League, was born in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England in 1962.