Today in Rock & Roll History: April 11th

1956: James Brown and the Famous Flames debuted on the Billboard R&B chart with their first single, “Please, Please, Please.” The record eventually made it to #6 that summer and became the group’s signature song.

1961: 19-year-old Bob Dylan performed his first live gig opening for John Lee Hooker at Gerdy’s Folk City in New York City’s West Village.

1963: “Needles and Pins” by The Searchers was released. The single reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and #1 in the UK. Written by Jack Nitzche and Sonny Bono, the song had first been recorded by Jackie DeShannon the same year.

1963: Gerry & The Pacemakers topped the UK chart with their debut single, “How Do You Do It?.”

1964: The Beatles had a record fourteen songs on the Billboard 100 chart. Previously, the highest number of concurrent singles by one artist on the Hot 100 was nine by Elvis Presley in December of 1956.

1966: Buffalo Springfield made their live debut at an unbilled gig at The Troubadour in Hollywood, California. Allegedly, they were the first group allowed to use electric instruments in the venue known for its folk performances. In attendance at the show was Chris Hillman of the Byrds, who invited the group to open for his band in a series of shows across Southern California. Afterward, a residency at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go club made Buffalo Springfield a sensation on the Sunset Strip and one of the first bands to become popular in the wake of the British Invasion.

1968: Janis Joplin made her television debut when Big Brother and the Holding Company performed on ABC-TV’s variety show Hollywood Palace.

1969: “Get Back” by the Beatles was released as a single. Credited to “The Beatles and Billy Preston,” a different mix of the song later became the closing track of the band’s final album, Let It Be. The record went to #1 across the globe and was also the Beatles’ first single released in the US in true stereo.

1970: Two weeks after topping the Cash Box singles chart, the Beatles started a two week run at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Let It Be,” the title track from the band’s final album. It was the group’s nineteenth #1 in six years.

1970: While Fleetwood Mac was on tour in Europe, guitarist Peter Green announced he was leaving the band to follow his religious beliefs, though he did fulfill his contractual obligation to finish the band’s current tour.

1971: Convinced that a growing number of popular songs contained coded drug-related messages directed at kids, the US Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice warning radio station program directors not to air songs with possible drug references over the airwaves. Such songs included Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line,” Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Disc jockeys at many major stations were surprised by the FCC’s notice, stating that the trend they were observing was the reverse—that many groups were performing anti-drug songs. Unable to explicitly define what was and was not a reference to drugs, and faced with criticism that their notice encroached on freedom of artistic expression, the FCC opted to leave it up the judgment of broadcasters. FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson was the lone dissenting vote against the decision. In Johnson’s view, the ruling had less to do with drugs than it did with the Nixon administration seeking another weapon in its fight against dissent—something he based on a Defense Department briefing on song content that, he noted, “used a lot of of lyrics that aren’t talking about drugs at all—they’re anti-war songs or songs attacking the commercial standards of society, the standards of conspicuous consumption.”

1981: Hall & Oates scored their second #1 single in the US with “Kiss On My List.”

1983: R.E.M.’s debut studio album Murmur was released by I.R.S. Records.

1987: The Count Five, who’s hit “Psychotic Reaction” reached #5 in the US in 1965, reunited twenty-two years later for a show at the One Step Beyond club in Santa Clara, California. The performance was later released in 1993 as Psychotic Reunion LIVE!.

1987: Prince had his fifth #1 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart with “Sign o’ the Time,” the title track from his ninth studio album.

1994: Oasis released their first single “Supersonic,” which later went to #31 on the UK chart.

Birthdays Today

Cleotha Staples, eldest sibling in gospel and R&B group the Staple Singers, was born in Drew, MS in 1934.

Richard Berry, singer, songwriter, and musician best known as the composer and original performer of the rock standard “Louie Louie,” was born in Extension, LA in 1935.

Neville Staple, singer for The Specials as well as his own group, The Neville Staple Band, was born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1955.

Stuart Adamson, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and co-founder of Big Country, was born in Manchester, England in 1958.

Joss Stone, singer and songwriter, was born in Dover, Kent, England in 1987.