Today in Rock & Roll History: April 23rd

1956: Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut on the first night of a two week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel. Billed as the “Atomic Powered Singer,” Presley performed as part of a package show alongside comedian Shecky Greene, Freddy Martin and his orchestra, and the Venus Starlets. Despite already being popular with teens around the country, Presley was not the typical Vegas Strip performer, and his shows were met with a rather cool reception and little enthusiasm.

1962: “My Bonnie” by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers was released first by Polydor Records in Germany and by Decca Records in US. A year later, a second pressing of the record was released in the UK, where “the Beat Brothers” was replaced with the group’s real name, the Beatles. The Beatles had recorded several songs during a session with Sheridan in Germany the previous summer and the Beatles’ initial contract with Polydor allowed the record company to use a pseudonym for the group. The UK single was the first commercial release anywhere in the world to carry the Beatles’ name. The record failed to chart on the US Billboard and Cash Box charts until the band’s breakthrough in the States two years later.

1963: Per a friend’s recommendation, budding teen tycoon Andrew Loog Oldham attended a performance by six piece blues band the Rollin’ Stones at England’s Crawdaddy Club. Oldham saw potential in the group and less than a month later, signed the recording rights to the Stones to Decca Records. As the band’s talent manager, Oldham made a few key tweaks to the band to make them ready for mass consumption: he reassigned pianist Ian Stewart from stage shows to studio recordings, encouraged Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to start writing their own songs, and promoted the band’s “bad boy” image to contrast the Beatles.

1964: Peter & Gordon topped the UK chart with their debut single, “A World Without Love.” Just over a month later, the record also reached #1 in the US.

1965: Motown released “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by the Four Tops. The single later became the group’s first #1 on both the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts.

1966: The Standells’ single “Dirty Water,” which mocks the then-famously polluted Boston Harbor and Charles River in Massachusetts, entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it rose to #11 in July. It was the band’s highest charting song and also reached #8 on the Cash Box chart.

1966: The Swingin’ Medallions debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with their second single, “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love).” It was the band’s only record to enter the chart and reached #17 in July.

1968: Laura Nyro released “Eli’s Coming,” the first single from her second album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Three Dog Night covered the song the following year, and their version reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1969: The Beatles with Billy Preston were at #1 on the UK singles chart with “Get Back.”

1971: The Rolling Stones released their ninth British and eleventh American studio album, Sticky Fingers. It was the band’s first release on their new Rolling Stones Records label, the first full-length appearance by guitarist Mick Taylor on a Stones album, and the first not to include guitarist and founder Brian Jones. It was also the band’s first album to go to #1 on both the UK and US charts.

1973: Stephen Stills’ band Manassas released their second studio album, Down the Road.

1974: Bad Company’s self-titled debut album was released as the first LP on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label.

1975: The Doobie Brothers released “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me),” the lead single from their fifth studio album, Stampede.

1976: Cliff Richard released “Devil Woman,” the second single from his eighteenth studio album, I’m Nearly Famous. It became his biggest and only top 10 hit in the US, reaching #6.

1976: The Rolling Stones released their thirteenth British and fifteenth American studio album, Black and Blue. The LP was Ronnie Wood’s recording debut with the band as the replacement for Mick Taylor.

1976: The Ramones’ self-titled debut studio album was released by Sire Records. Despite peaking at #111 on the Billboard pop chart, the LP has since been regarded as a highly influential record, inspiring several groups in the punk rock scene in both the US and UK.

1976: Jethro Tull’s ninth studio album, Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, was released in the UK. The LP was released in the US in mid-May.

1979: Bob Dylan’s live album Bob Dylan at Budokan was released. It was recorded during Dylan’s 1978 world tour with the same musicians from his previous album, Street Legal, and features many of his greatest hits performed with significantly different arrangements.

1982: The Clash released “Know Your Rights,” the lead single from their fifth studio album Combat Rock.

1982: Stevie Nicks released “After the Glitter Fades,” the fourth single from her debut album, Bella Donna.

1983: Nearly a year after Mike Oldfield released “Family Man,” Hall & Oates released their cover of the song as the third single from their eleventh studio album, H2O.

1983: Dexys Midnight Runners went to the top of the Billboard singles chart with “Come On Eileen,” their only song to enter the US top 40. In August, it became their second and final song to top the UK chart.

1984: The Human League released “The Lebanon,” the lead single from their fourth studio album, Hysteria.

1985: Men at Work released their second studio album, Two Hearts. Drummer Jerry Speiser and bassist John Rees had left the band prior to the album’s production, while guitarist Ron Strykert left the band during recording sessions, leaving Colin Hay and Greg Ham to tour with guest musicians.

1988: Prince released “Alphabet St.,” the first single from his tenth studio album, Lovesexy.

1991: Joe Walsh released his ninth studio album, Ordinary Average Guy.

1991: Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead was released. The compilation album, which directed significant proceeds to the Rainforest Action Network and Cultural Survival charities, features recordings by acts including Los Lobos, Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Warren Zevon, Indigo Girls, Midnight Oil, Dr. John, and The Harshed Mellows, a one-off group formed exclusively for the album whose members included Dan Baird, Mike Campbell, Stan Lynch, Brendan O’Brien, and Michelle Malone.

1994: Pink Floyd’s fourteenth studio album, The Division Bell, debuted at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

2002: Wilco’s fourth studio album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was commercially released by Nonesuch Records. After the album’s completion, Reprise Records had refused to release it. The group acquired the rights to the album when they left the label and streamed it for free on their website in September of 2001. Once Wilco signed with Nonesuch Records, another Warner Music Group label, the album was officially released.

2002: Elvis Costello released his nineteenth studio album, When I Was Cruel. Though credited to just Costello, it was his first album to feature his new band, The Imposters. The only difference between The Imposters and his previous band, The Attractions, however, was the replacement of bassist Bruce Thomas with Davey Faragher.

2002: Supertramp released Slow Motion, the band’s eleventh and final studio album.

Birthdays Today

Roy Orbison, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Traveling Wilburys, was born in Vernon, TX in 1936.

Wizz Jones, singer, songwriter, and guitarist who worked with notable guitarists of the British folk revival such as John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, was born Raymond Ronald Jones in Thorton Heath, Croydon, Surrey, England in 1939.

John Allen, lead guitarist for The Nashville Teens from 1963-1969, was born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England in 1945.

Glenn Cornick, bassist and founding member of Jethro Tull, was born in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England in 1947.

John Miles, vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboard player who worked with Jimmy Page, Tina Turner, Alan Parsons and Joe Cocker, was bornin Jarrow, County Durham, England in 1949.

Cliff Hugo, bass guitarist for Supertramp and session musician, was born in Glendale, CA in 1951.

Narada Michael Walden, singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer who has worked with artists including The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Clarence Clemons, George Benson, and Al Jarreau, was born in Kalamazoo, MI in 1953.

Rob Dean, lead guitarist for Japan, was born in Clapton, Hackney, England in 1955.