1959: “There Goes My Baby” by The Drifters was released. The record is noted as one of the first rock and roll tunes to have utilized an orchestral string section. It was also the first single released by the second incarnation of The Drifters, which was made up of entirely different members. In 1958, manager George Treadwell fired the group’s original line-up, hired a group called The Five Crowns who were lead by Ben E. King, and renamed them The Drifters.
1961: “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King was released. Written by King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, the single, according to King, was inspired by a spiritual written by Sam Cooke and J. W. Alexander called “Stand by Me Father” that was recorded by the Soul Stirrers with Johnnie Taylor.
1961: “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson entered the Billboard Hot 100. The song had been written by Jerry Fuller with Sam Cooke in mind, but when it was rejected by Cooke’s manager, it was offered to Nelson. The record became Nelson’s only song to top the Cash Box chart and second and final #1 hit on the Hot 100.
1961: Ernie K-Doe topped Billboard’s R&B chart with his first single, “Mother-in-Law.” Four weeks later, the record topped the Hot 100 pop chart.
1961: “Runaway” by Del Shannon reached #1 on Billboard Hot 100, making it his highest reaching single on the chart.
1961: At age 19, Bob Dylan participated in his first professional recording session, playing harmonica on the song “Midnight Special” with folk singer Harry Belafonte. He received the standard $50 session fee.
1962: Bob Dylan began recording his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan at Columbia Studios in in New York.
1964: “Security” by Otis Redding was released as a single from his debut album, Pain in My Heart.
1965: Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders had the top song on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Bestsellers charts with their first #1 single, “Game of Love.” Fontana left the group by the end of the year, later achieving some solo success in Britain, while the rest of the band continued as the Mindbenders.
1967: “Light My Fire” by The Doors was released as the second single from their self-titled debut album. By the end of July, it became the group’s first #1 single.
1967: “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” was released as the fifth and final single from Bob Dylan’s seventh studio album, Blonde on Blonde.
1968: Louis Armstrong was at #1 in the UK with “What A Wonderful World.” At 66 years of age, Armstrong became the oldest act ever to go to the top of the UK chart. Four years earlier, he had become the oldest male artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in the US with “Hello, Dolly!.” Armstrong’s UK record was later broken in 2009 by Tom Jones at age 68 with his cover of “Islands in the Sun.”
1968: David Bowie’s manager Kenneth Pitt submitted a copy of Bowie’s first album to the Beatles’ new record label Apple Records two days after Bowie had been officially released from Decca Records. Three weeks later, Apple, whose office had been overwhelmed by numerous artists and agents, responded stating that they had no interesting in signing Bowie. Despite the rejection, Bowie produced “Space Oddity” the following year. After its release on the Phillips label, it became his first #1 single.
1968: Columbia Records released Young Girl, the second album by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap.
1970: Cat Stevens released his third studio album, Mona Bone Jakon. Following the success of his debut album, the commercial failure of his second, and a diagnosis of tuberculosis and a collapsed lung that left him bedridden for a year, Steven’s third album marked his reemergence as a different artist, featuring a stripped-down sound, sparse arrangements, and songs that were darker in tone.
1970: Elton John released his first solo single, “Border Song.” The record was the first release from John’s self-titled second album, which was his first LP issued in America, and reached #92 on the Billboard chart and #69 on the Cash Box chart.
1970: The Moody Blues released “Question,” the lead single from their sixth album, A Question of Balance. It became the group’s second-highest charting song, reaching #2 in UK and #21 in the US. Recorded in one take, the song lacked the overdubbing and double-tracking present throughout the band’s last album, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, making it easier to perform live.
1971: Fleetwood Mac announced that guitarist Bob Welch would replace Jeremy Spencer, who had left the band early that year to join the religious cult the Children of God. Welch was recommended to the group, who hired him without ever playing with him or listening to any of his recordings.
1976: Wing’s fifth studio album, Wings at the Speed of Sound, went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart for the first of seven non-consecutive weeks.
1976: During that evening’s broadcast of Saturday Night Live, producer Lorne Michaels spoke directly to the camera about the impact the Beatles made on his generation and offered the band $3,000 to reunite and perform three of their songs. Unbeknownst to Michaels, Paul and Linda McCartney were with John Lennon at his New York City apartment watching the show about a mile and a half away. Lennon and McCartney reportedly considered the offer, but ultimately were too tired to make the appearance. It was the last time the two were together.
1976: Presence became Led Zeppelin’s sixth #1 album in the UK. It later went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart in the US at the beginning of May.
1976: The O’Jays topped the Billboard R&B singles chart with “Living For The Weekend.”
1977: Several artists, including Santana, Joan Baez, and her sister Mimi Fariña, performed at a free concert for 653 inmates of California’s Soledad Prison. The show was organized by Bread and Roses, a non-profit co-operative founded by Fariña to bring free music and entertainment to institutions such as jails, prisons, hospitals, juvenile facilities, and nursing homes.
1981: New Order began work on their debut studio album at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, Manchester, England. After the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in 1980, band members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris decided to carry on under the new name “New Order.” Morris’ girlfriend, Gillian Gilbert, who had played with Joy Division a number of times before, joined as a keyboardist and guitarist to complete the lineup.
1984: The Talking Heads’ concert film Stop Making Sense premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of four nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983 during the group’s tour to promote their newest album, Speaking in Tongues. It was also the first film made entirely using digital techniques. It was commercially released in October later that year.
1989: Tom Petty released his first solo studio album, Full Moon Fever. It features contributions from members of his band the Heartbreakers as well as Petty’s Traveling Wilburys bandmates Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Roy Orbison. Lynne also co-wrote and produced the album with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell.
1990: World Party released their second studio album, Goodbye Jumbo.
1993: Farm Aid VI took place in Ames, Iowa with performances by artists that included Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, and Bruce Hornsby.
1994: After a fourteen year breakup, the Eagles played the first of two live shows at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California for an MTV special. Eleven tracks from both shows were included on the band’s next album Hell Freezes Over. The album’s name references a statement by Don Henley after the breakup of the band in 1980. Henley had been asked when the Eagles would play together again, to which he answered “when Hell freezes over.” The band had initially reunited the previous year for the making of the video for country musician Travis Tritt’s cover of “Take It Easy.”
1995: Oasis released “Some Might Say,” the first single from their second studio album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. The song became the Manchester group’s first #1 in the UK.
2001: The Bee Gees released their twenty-second and final studio album, This Is Where I Came In.
2006: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris released the collaborative album All the Roadrunning.
2007: Patti Smith released her tenth studio album, Twelve. It contains twelve covers of songs by artists that including Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Doors, The Beatles, and Stevie Wonder.
2007: Lou Reed released his twelfth and final solo studio album, Hudson River Wind Meditations. A departure from Reed’s regular rock music, the album is a collection of music intended to relax the mind, body, and spirit.
Freddie Scott, soul singer and songwriter, was born in Providence, RI in 1933.
Dick Kniss, upright bass player for Peter, Paul & Mary, was born in Portland, OR in 1937.
George Tomsco, guitarist and founding member of The Fireballs, was born in 1940.
Barbra Streisand, singer, songwriter, actress, and filmmaker, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1942.
Glen Dale, rhythm guitarist for The Fortunes, was born Richard Garforth in Deal, Kent, England in 1943.
St. Clair Lee, vocalist for The Hues Corporation, was born Bernard St. Clair Lee in California in 1944.
Doug Clifford, drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival, was born in Palo Alto, CA in 1945.
John Pasche, graphic designer who created the Rolling Stones’ “tongue and lips” logo, was born in 1945.
Steve York, bassist for Manfred Mann, Graham Bond, Vinegar Joe, Robert Palmer, Joan Armatrading, Marianne Faithfull, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Pete Townshend, Grace Jones, Bo Diddley, The Drifters, the Marvelettes, and many others, was born in London, England in 1948.
Nigel Harrison, bassist for Blondie from 1978-1982, was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England in 1951.
Jack Blades, guitarist, bassist, vocalist, member of several groups, and half of the duo Shaw Blades, was born in Palm Desert, CA in 1954.
David J., bass guitarist and vocalist for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, was born David John Haskins in Northampton, England in 1957.
Boris Williams, drummer for the Cure, was born in Versailles, France in 1957.
Paul Ryder, bassist and founding member of Happy Mondays, was born in Little Hulton, Salford, Lancashire, England in 1964.
Patty Schemel, drummer for Hole, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1967.