Today in Rock & Roll History: April 18th

1963: “Pride and Joy” by Marvin Gaye was released as the fourth single from his second studio album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. Co-written by William “Mickey” Stevenson, Gaye and Norman Whitfield, the song was considered to be a tribute to Gaye’s then-girlfriend, Anna Gordy. It was Gaye’s first top 10 pop single, peaking at #10, peaked at #2 on the R&B chart, and was his third and final single to feature Martha and the Vandellas as backing vocalists.

1966: Cilla Black released her second solo studio album, Cilla Sings a Rainbow.

1967: The Pretty Things released their third album, Emotions. It was completed largely to fulfill their contract with Fontana Records after the band become displeased with the label’s intervention in response to poor sales of their recent singles.

1968: “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)” by the Temptations was released as the second single from their seventh studio album, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain. The song was the group’s last with lyrics by Rodger Penzabene as well as their final single to feature David Ruffin as lead singer.

1970: “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum topped out at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The record sold over two million copies and was Greenbaum’s only top 40 hit.

1973: The Miracles released Renaissance, the group’s first album without former lead singer Smokey Robinson, whose position had been filled by Billy Griffin.

1973: The Hollies’ version of “Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” a song written by Judee Sill in 1971, as a single from the band’s 1972 album, Romany.

1973: Neil Young’s directorial debut, Journey Through the Past, which combines backstage concert footage with experimental sequences, premiered at the Dallas Film Festival.

1975: John Lennon made his final live performance as part of the “Salute To Sir Lew Grade: The Master Showman,” performing “Slippin’ and Slidin’” and “Stand By Me”—both from his newest album, Rock ‘n’ Roll—as well as an updated take on “Imagine” that reflected his recent troubles with the US government. Members of the band wore masks made by sculptor Ruby Jackson on the backs of their heads, referencing what Lennon considered to be the two-faced business dealings of media mogul Lew Grade, with whom both Lennon and Paul McCartney fought for years for the rights to their own songs. Other artists at the star-studded gala included Julie Andrews, Tom Jones, and early Lennon hero Peter Sellers, who performed before a group of Hollywood elite. The show was televised later in mid-June.

1977: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band released “Mainstreet,” the second single from their ninth studio album, Night Moves.

1981: After the disbanding of British bands Yes and Led Zeppelin, former Yes drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire got together with Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for a series of jams that turned into a proposed supergroup called XYZ, referring to ex members of Yes and Led Zeppelin. Joined during sessions by former Greenslade keyboardist Dave Lawson, the project never got off the ground. A four-song demo tape has since circulated as a bootleg. Squire and White afterward joined guitarist Trevor Rabin and fellow Yes alumni Tony Kaye and formed a new group called Cinema, which turned into a Yes reunion when they were joined by singer Jon Anderson. Meanwhile, former Yes guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes formed Asia with Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer and King Crimson’s bassist John Wetton.

1982: Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder hit the top of the UK singles chart with their duet “Ebony and Ivory,” McCartney’s twenty-fourth #1 hit single as a songwriter. In mid-May, the single started seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. The title had been inspired by comedian Spike Milligan, who’d said “black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two to make harmony, folks.”

1987: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released “Jammin’ Me,” the lead single from their seventh studio album, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough).

1988: Eric Clapton’s Crossroads box set was released by Polydor Records. The multi-disc compilation includes Clapton’s work with the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and Derek and the Dominos, as well as his solo career. The set’s cover was painted by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. The collection won several awards, including two Grammy Awards awarded in 1989, and is Clapton’s most-purchased box set.

1989: Doolittle, the second album by Pixies was released in the US a day after it was issued in the UK. The album was the group’s first to chart in the US as well as their first international release.

1992: Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox debuted at #1 on the UK chart with her first solo album, Diva. In the US, the album made it to #23.

1995: R.E.M. released “Strange Currencies,” the third single from their ninth studio album, Monster.

2006: Matthew Sweet and Bangles singer and guitarist Susanna Hoffs released Under the Covers, Vol. 1, the first collaborative album containing covers from the 1960s and 1970s. The project was inspired by the pair’s mutual love of songwriting from the 1960s. In 2009, they released a second album featuring covers of 1970s songs and in 2013, they put out a third that focuses on the 1980s.

2011: Mike + The Mechanics released The Road, the group’s seventh studio album and first to feature an entirely new lineup with founder Mike Rutherford.

Birthdays Today

Al Lewis, lyricist, songwriter, and music publisher best known for co-writing “Blueberry Hill,” was born in New York City in 1901.

Tony Mottola, jazz guitarist, television composer, and bandleader who played on recordings by Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Burl Ives, Johnny Mathis, and many others, was born in Kearny, NJ in 1918.

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, blues multi-instrumentalist who spend his career synthesizing old blues, country, jazz, Cajun music and R&B styles, was born in Vinton, LA in 1924.

Paul A. Rothchild, record producer who worked with the Doors, Janis Joplin, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John Sebastian, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Buckley, Love, and many others, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1935.

Glen Hardin, pianist, arranger, and member of the Crickets who also performed and recorded with artists such as Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, John Denver, and Ricky Nelson, was born in Wellington, TX in 1939.

Mike Vickers, guitarist and saxophonist with Manfred Mann, was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in 1940.

Clyde Stubblefield, drummer best known for his work with James Brown, was born in Chattanooga, TN in 1943.

Charles Love, guitarist, vocalist, and founder of Bloodstone, was born in Salina, KS in 1945.

Lennie Baker, saxophonist for Danny & the Juniors and vocalist and sax player for Sha Na Na, was born in Whitman, MA in 1946.

Alexander “Skip” Spence, singer-songwriter, early guitarist for Quicksilver Messenger Service, brief drummer for Jefferson Airplane, and guitarist and co-founder of Moby Grape, was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1946.

Les Pattinson, bassist and co-writer for Echo & the Bunnymen, was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England in 1958.

J.D. Wilkes, visual artist, musician, filmmaker, author, leader of Legendary Shack Shakers, and a solo artist, was born Joshua Wilkes in Baytown, TX in 1972.