1958: David Seville’s novelty tune “Witch Doctor” hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and Best Sellers charts. The record went on to become the fourth best-selling song of the year.
1962: Dee Dee Sharp had the new #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “Mashed Potato Time,” the title track from her debut album. The record was Sharp’s only #1 single and highest charting song on the pop charts, where it reached #2.
1964: “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley was released. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, the song was recorded for Presley’s film of the same name, which was released a month later.
1966: In Studio 2 at EMI Recording Studios, a string ensemble of four violinists, two violists, and two cellists recorded a score composed by Beatles producer George Martin for “Eleanor Rigby.” McCartney’s choice of a string backing supposedly had been influenced by his interest in composer Antonio Vivaldi. The track was released in August simultaneously on the Revolver album and as a double A-side single backed with “Yellow Submarine.”
1967: “Long Legged Girl (With the Short Dress On)” by Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires was released as a single from the soundtrack to the film Double Trouble, which also starred Presley and was released later that summer.
1969: A group calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority released their self-titled debut double album. After threats of legal action by the mass-transit company of the same name, the band’s name was shortened to simply “Chicago.” The album sold over a million copies by 1970 and reached #17 in the US and #9 in the UK.
1970: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles released the album What Love Has…Joined Together. A concept album consisting solely of six extended-length love songs, it charted at #97 on the Billboard pop chart and peaked at #9 on Billboard’s R&B album chart.
1972: David Bowie released “Starman,” the lead single from his fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
1972: Wishbone Ash released their third studio album, Argus. It became the group’s most commercially and critically successful LP, peaked at #3 in the UK, and is considered a landmark album in the progression of twin-lead guitar harmonization.
1973: In the UK, Faces scored their first #1 album with their fourth and final LP, Ooh-La-La. After the album’s release in March, singer Rod Stewart told music journal New Musical Express that the LP was a “stinking rotten album,” much to the dismay of the band’s other members. Bassist Ronnie Lane left the group that summer and was replaced by former Free bassist Tetsu Yamauchi. Over the next two years, Faces toured extensively and managed to record two more singles, but eventually disbanded in 1975 as Stewart lost interest in the group and guitarist Ronnie Wood became increasingly involved with the Rolling Stones.
1973: “The Cisco Kid,” the first track from War’s 1972 album, The World is a Ghetto, peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is the band’s highest charting single.
1973: Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon, became the band’s first #1 album in the US as well as a top 3 hit in several other countries. Despite topping the chart for just one week, the album went on to spend a record 741 weeks on the Billboard chart, and has since sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
1976: America released “Today’s the Day,” the first single from their sixth studio album, Hideaway.
1978: “King Tut” by comedian Steve Martin was released as a single from his second album, A Wild and Crazy Guy. On the record, Martin is backed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who are credited as the Toot Uncommons.
1978: Elvis Costello released “Pump It Up,” the second single from his second album, This Year’s Model.
1978: The film FM opened in the US. It depicts the antics of a commercial radio station in the late 1970s and features live appearances by Tom Petty and REO Speedwagon and performances by Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett. The film’s theme by Steely Dan became a top 40 hit, reaching #22.
1979: Blondie’s breakthrough international hit, “Heart of Glass,” reached the top of the US singles charts after reaching #1 in the UK in February. To celebrate, artist Andy Warhol threw a party for the group at New York’s Studio 54 nightclub. Blondie scored three more #1 singles in the US over the next two years.
1979: The live version of Cheap Trick’s 1977 sophomore single “I Want You To Want Me” entered the Billboard Hot 100. Recorded at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo exactly one year earlier, the live version of the song surpassed the initial studio release, reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1979: Rickie Lee Jones released “Chuck E.’s In Love” from her self-titled debut album. The single became her biggest hit, reaching #4 on the US charts.
1980: The Grateful Dead released Go to Heaven, the band’s eleventh studio album and first with keyboardist Brent Mydland. The band was contractually obligated to record another studio album before they could release live material. As with the Dead’s previous two albums, an outside producer was used in the hope of greater mainstream commercial success. Go to Heaven was the band’s last to use an outside producer.
1982: Warner Bros. Records released the self-titled debut album by Marshal Crenshaw. It reached #50 in the US and features his biggest hit, “Someday, Someway.”
1990: Sinéad O’Connor started six weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart with her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, a week after the album’s second single, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” topped charts worldwide. The album likewise reached #1 and achieved platinum status in several countries.
1998: Dave Matthews Band released their third studio album, Before These Crowded Streets.
1998: Jimmy Buffett released his twenty-second studio album, Don’t Stop the Carnival. Buffett’s first album with Island Records, it comprises twenty original compositions written to promote a stage play based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Herman Wouk.
1992: Tracy Chapman released her third album, Matters of the Heart.
2009: Bob Dylan released his thirty-third studio album, Together Through Life. Dylan co-wrote most of the songs with Robert Hunter, and recorded with musicians including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo.
2009: Playing For Change, a multimedia music project created by over 150 musicians from 25 countries—many of them street musicians, released their first album, Playing for Change: Songs Around the World. Songs included covers of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” Bob Marley’s “One Love,” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Artists who participated or were involved with the project included Keb’ Mo’, Bono, Lukas Nelson, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, and Taj Mahal.
2017: John Mellencamp released his twenty-third studio album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, which features significant contributions from Carlene Carter.
The Fantastic Johnny C, soul singer, was born Johnny Corley in Greenwood, SC in 1943.
John Wolters, drummer for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, was born in Pompton Lakes, NJ in 1945.
Bev Bivens, lead singer for We Five from 1965-1967, was born in Santa Ana, CA in 1946.
Steve Gilpin, singer and co-founder of new wave band Mi-Sex, was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1949.
Chuck Leavell, keyboardist with the Allman Brothers Band during the 1970s, co-founder of Sea Level, frequent session musician, and longtime keyboardist and musical director with the Rolling Stones, was born in Birmingham, AL in 1952.
Pat Donohue, songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist, was born in St. Paul, MN in 1953.
Eddie Jobson, keyboardist, violinist, vocalist, and member of Curved Air, Roxy Music, Frank Zappa’s band, UK, Jethro Tull, and Yes, was born in Billingham, England in 1955.