Today in Rock & Roll History: April 21st

1956: Elvis Presley had his first big hit when “Heartbreak Hotel” topped the Cash Box chart for the first of six weeks and the Billboard Best Sellers list for the first of eight weeks. Two weeks later the single started a six week run at #1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart as well.

1962: Elvis Presley topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Good Luck Charm.”

1967: The Beatles finished sessions for their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, recording a short section of gibberish and noise that followed the album’s final track “A Day in the Life” in the run-out groove. The recordings were chopped up, reassembled, and reversed by engineer Geoff Emerick. Emerick also added, per John Lennon’s suggestion, a high-frequency 15 kilohertz tone audible only by dogs, which was omitted by Capitol Records from the American release of the album.

1968: “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops peaked at #2 for the first of two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the group’s second of two top 10 hits in the US.

1969: Janis Joplin made her only solo British performance at the Royal Albert Hall, supported by English rock band Yes. The performance has since been considered one of the best of her career.

1969: The Mothers of Invention’s fifth studio album Uncle Meat was released. The double LP was originally intended to serve as the soundtrack to an unfinished science fiction film of the same name, and was simultaneously developed as a part of No Commercial Potential, a project that produced three other albums sharing a conceptual connection: We’re Only in It for the Money, Lumpy Gravy, and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets.

1970: Elton John made his solo stage debut opening for Spooky Tooth, T. Rex, and Jackie Lomax at The Roundhouse in London as part of the “Pop Proms 1970” concert series. The performance kicked of John’s first world tour in promotion of his self-titled second album, which was his first LP released in the US.

1972: “Lean on Me,”by Bill Withers was released as the lead single from his second album, Still Bill, was released. It was his only #1 single on both the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart and the Hot 100 pop chart. Many other version have been recorded since, and it is one of only nine songs to reach #1 on the Hot 100 with versions recorded by two different artists.

1972: The Moody Blues released “Isn’t Life Strange,” the first single from their eighth album, Seventh Sojourn.

1972: During a week-long break between shows in their Europe ’72 tour, the Grateful Dead made a stop in Bremen, German to tape a performance for television show Beat Club. Instead of playing just a couple songs suitable for airtime, the band played a 90-minute set, leaving it to the producers to decide what to air. Only one song, “One More Saturday Night,” was broadcast, and it wasn’t until decades later in 2011 that the entire set was made available as part of the group’s Europe ‘72 – Complete Recordings box set.

1973: “Long Train Runnin’,” the first song from The Doobie Brothers’ third album The Captain and Me, entered the Billboard Hot 100. The record became the group’s first top 10 hit, reaching #8.

1975: Carly Simon released her fifth studio album, Playing Possum. Contributors to the album included Carole King, James Taylor, Dr. John, Jeff Baxter, “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow, Ringo Starr, and Rita Coolidge.

1977: Jesse Winchester performed his first American concert in ten years in Burlington, Vermont after President Carter’ pardoning of draft evaders. Winchester had moved to Canada a decade earlier after receiving his draft notice.

1978: Ringo Starr’s seventh studio album Bad Boy was released in the UK. The LP was later released in the US in mid-June.

1980: Pete Townshend released “Empty Glass,” his second solo album and first of original material. The LP became his only top 10 album on the US charts, reaching #5.

1982: Before the release of the Clash’s fifth studio album, Combat Rock, frontman Joe Strummer was encouraged by the band’s manager to “disappear” due to poor ticket sales of the Scottish leg of their upcoming tour. The plan was for Strummer to secretly travel to Texas to stay with his friend, musician Joe Ely. Instead, Strummer actually disappeared and spent three weeks in France, during which time he ran the Paris Marathon.

1984: Phil Collins had his first of seven solo US #1 hits with “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” which was recorded for the soundtrack to the film of the same name. The single reached #2 in the UK and was a top 5 hit across Europe.

1984: Bananarama released their self-titled second album.

1986: Siouxsie and the Banshees released their seventh studio album, Tinderbox. It was the band’s first full-length album recorded with guitarist John Valentine Carruthers.

1986: Peter Gabriel released “Sledgehammer,” the lead single from his fifth studio album, So. It was his biggest hit in North America and ties with “Games Without Frontiers” as his biggest hit in the UK.

1986: Bob Dylan released “Band of the Hand,” the title track from the soundtrack album of the same name. Recorded while on tour in Sydney, Australia earlier that year, Dylan is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and a group of backing vocalists including Stevie Nicks. The recording was also produced by Tom Petty.

1987: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their seventh studio album, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough). It was the group’s first album to not feature bassist Ron Blair, who took a 20-year hiatus from the band starting in 1982. The album also features the most songwriting collaborations between Tom Petty and lead guitarist Mike Campbell out of any of the band’s releases.

1990: During his worldwide concert tour, Paul McCartney played in front of 184,000 fans at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which at the time set a new world record for the largest paying crowd to attend a rock concert.

1990: Sinéad O’Connor topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first of four weeks with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” It was her first #1 single and a worldwide hit, reaching the top of the charts in at least ten other countries.

1990: Fleetwood Mac went to #1 on the UK chart with their fifteenth studio album, Behind the Mask. In the US, the album reached #18.

1992: The Cure released their ninth studio album, Wish. It was the group’s final studio album to feature drummer Boris Williams, the first to include keyboardist and guitarist Perry Bamonte, and last album to feature guitarist Porl Thompson for sixteen years.

1998: Ray Davies’ second solo album The Storyteller was released. The success of Davies’ semi-fictional 1994 memoir X-Ray as well as the book’s promotional tour lead to a VH1 series titled Storyteller, and later the album of the same name.

2017: Procol Harum released Novum, the group’s twelfth studio album, first album in fourteen years, and first not to feature lyrics by Keith Reid.

Birthdays Today

David Lucas, songwriter, producer, and jingle writer, was born in Buffalo, NY in 1937.

Ernie Maresca, songwriter and record executive best known for writing or co-writing some of Dion’s biggest hits, was born in the Bronx, NY in 1939.

Robert Knight, singer, best known for his 1967 recording of the song “Everlasting Love,” was born in Franklin, TN in 1940.

Mars Bonfire, musician and singer for the Sparrows, which later became Steppenwolf, best known for writing “Born to Be Wild,” was born Dennis Eugene McCrohan in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada in 1943.

Iggy Pop, singer, songwriter, musician, producer, actor, solo artist, and vocalist for the Stooges, was born James Newell Osterberg Jr. in Muskegon, MI in 1947.

Alan Warner, guitarist for the Foundations, was born in Paddington, West London, England in 1947.

John Weider, multi-instrumentalist best known as the guitarist for Eric Burdon & the Animals from 1966-1968 and bass player for Family from 1969-1971, was born in London, England in 1947.

Paul Davis, singer and songwriter, was born in Meridian, MS in 1948.

Nickey Barclay, keyboardist for Fanny who also collaborated with Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, and Keith Moon, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1951.

Todd Phillips, bluegrass musician and member of the David Grisman Quartet, was born in San Jose, CA in 1953.

Mike Barson, keyboardist and founding member of Madness, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1958.

Michael Timmins, songwriter and guitarist for Cowboy Junkies, was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1959.

Robert Smith, multi-instrumentalist and lead singer and songwriter for the Cure, was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England in 1959.

John Maher, drummer for Buzzcocks, was born in Manchester, England in 1960.

Johnny McElhone, guitarist and songwriter played in Scottish groups Altered Image, Hipsway, and Texas, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1963.

Michael Franti, singer-songwriter, musician, activist, member of groups such as the Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and leader of Michael Franti & Spearhead, was born in Oakland, CA in 1966.

Glen Hansard, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and member of the Frames and Swell Season, was born in Ballymun, Dublin, Ireland in 1970.