1957: 16-year-old Ricky Nelson made his television debut, performing his first single, a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’,” on his his parent’s television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on ABC.
1958: Bobby Darin recorded “Splish Splash” at Atlantic Studios in New York City. Darin wrote the song with disc jockey Murray “The K” Kaufman, who bet Darin that he couldn’t write a song that began with the words “Splish Splash, I was takin’ a bath” as suggested by Kaufman’s mother. The song became Darin’s first hit and was a major boost to his career, reaching #3 on the US pop charts and #2 on the R&B Best Sellers list.
1965: British band Freddie and the Dreamers had their only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “I’m Telling You Now.”
1965: Tom Jones debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “It’s Not Unusual,” which later peaked at #10.
1967: “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals was released. Written by members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, the song was different enough from the band’s white soul origins that the head of Atlantic Records didn’t want to release it. Disc jockey Murray the K reportedly intervened, insisting it was a hit. The next month, “Groovin’” reached the tops of the Billboard and Cash Box pop charts in the US as well as Canadian singles charts. It was also the only hit the Rascals ever had in the UK, where it reached #8.
1970: English progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer was formed. Keyboardist Keith Emerson, formerly of The Nice, and Greg Lake, bassist and former member of King Crimson, met when both their bands were billed together for a series of concerts at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Both decided to form a new group and auditioned several drummers before meeting Carl Palmer, then a member of Atomic Rooster. Palmer was reluctant to leave his current group, as they were in their infancy and just starting to see success in Europe. After several sessions, however, Palmer agreed to join. The trio’s debut album was released later that year in November.
1970: Elton John’s self-titled second LP and debut release in the US was issued by DJM Records in the UK and Uni Records in America. It was his first of several albums produced by Gus Dudgeon, who later recalled that the album was originally intended not necessarily to launch Elton John’s career, but to be a collection of demos written by John and his co-writer Bernie Taupin for other artists to record. John’s first album Empty Sky wasn’t released in the US until early 1975.
1971: John Denver debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which ultimately reached #2.
1976: Peter Frampton went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart with Frampton Comes Alive!. The double live album stayed on the chart for ninety-seven weeks and become one of the best-selling live albums in the US.
1982: “Ebony and Ivory,” Paul McCartney’s duet with Stevie Wonder and the lead single from McCartney’s Tug of War LP, entered the Billboard Hot 100. Five weeks later the record reached #1.
1993: A week after becoming the group’s first #1 album on the UK chart, Depeche Mode’s eighth studio album Songs of Faith and Devotion became their first #1 in the US when it topped the Billboard pop chart.
2012: Bonnie Raitt released her sixteenth studio album, Slipstream. The LP became her first to enter the top 10 on the Billboard pop chart since Nick of Time in 1994.
Sheb Wooley, actor and singer best known as the writer and singer of the 1958 novelty song “The Purple People Eater,” was born in Erick, OK in 1921.
Bobby Smith, vocalist for The Spinners, was born in Detroit, MI in 1936.
Weldon Myrick, Nashville session musician and member of Area Code 615, was born in Jayton, TX in 1938.
Bunny Wailer, singer, songwriter, percussionist, and original member of reggae group The Wailers along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, was born Neville O’Riley Livingston in Kingston, Jamaica in 1947.
Fred Smith, original bassist for Blondie best known for his work with Television who also recorded and toured with The Fleshtones and contributed to albums by Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, The Roches, and Willie Nile, was born in New York in 1948.
Eddie Hazel, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and original lead guitarist for Funkadelic, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1950.
Terre Roche, singer-songwriter and member of The Roches with her sisters Maggie and Suzzy, was born in New York City in 1953.
Steve Gustafson, bassist and founding member of 10,000 Maniacs, was born in Seville, Spain in 1957.
Brian Setzer, songwriter, lead singer and guitarist for the Stray Cats, and founder of the swing revival band the Brian Setzer Orchestra, was born in Massapequa, NY in 1959.
Katrina Leskanich, lead singer for Katrina and the Waves, was born in Topeka, KS in 1960.