Today in Rock & Roll History: April 5th

1964: The Searchers made their US debut with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1965: After the success of their single “Baby Don’t Go,” 30-year-old Sonny Bono and his 18-year-old wife Cher signed contracts with ATCO Records in the US and Atlantic Records in the UK and Europe. Over the next two years, the couple released three albums and two greatest hits compilations on the labels. The duo had earlier made a handful of unsuccessful singles as “Caesar and Cleo,” but over the next seven years they had eleven Billboard top 40 hits.

1967: The Who recorded “Pictures of Lily” at IBC Studios in London. Guitarist Pete Townshend later coined the term “power pop” when he used it to describe the song in an interview with British music journal New Musical Express.

1969: Jerry Butler scored this third and final #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart with “Only the Strong Survive.”

1969: New entries on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart included “Pinball Wizard” by The Who, which later reached #19, “These Eyes” by the Guess Who, which made it to #6, “Atlantis” by Donovan, which reached #7, and the Friends of Distinction’s cover of the Hugh Masekela instrumental “Grazing in the Grass,” which became the group’s first and biggest hit, reaching #3.

1971: Chicago became the first rock and roll group to sell out a week of shows at Carnegie Hall. The band’s six performances were recorded and released as their first live LP, Chicago at Carnegie Hall. The album was their first to reach the top 5 on the pop chart and peaked at #3.

1971: With each of the band’s members owing a quarter of a million dollars to the British government, the Rolling Stones decided to become tax exiles by moving to France and sheltering their earnings in a Netherlands holding company. That summer, the Stones finished recording the album Exile on Main St. using their mobile recording studio in the basement of the French villa Nellcôte that was being rented out by Keith Richards.

1975: Minnie Riperton’s biggest hit and only top 40 single on the pop charts, “Lovin’ You,” went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1980: The Brothers Johnson achieved their third and final #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “Stomp!.”

1980: Genesis scored their first #1 album when Duke went to the top of the UK chart. It also became their highest-charting album in the US at the time, reaching #11. The band’s next four albums all enjoyed similar success, achieving #1 status in the UK and reaching the top 10 in the US.

1980: R.E.M. played their first ever gig at a at friend’s birthday party at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia. At the time, the band was known as “Twisted Kites,” but changed their name to R.E.M. by the end of the month. The church, built in 1869, had been converted to a residence and was rented out to members of the city’s burgeoning music community, and Michael Stipe and Peter Buck were tenants at the time of the show. Ten years after the show, everything but the church’s steeple was demolished, and local efforts have kept the musical landmark intact.

1985: At 3:50pm GMT, over five thousand radio stations worldwide aired “We Are The World,” the charity single by USA (United Support of Artists) for Africa. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, the single went on to be a #1 hit in the US and the UK, and most Western territories, with sales in excess of 20 million copies.

1986: Prince and the Revolution began four weeks at the top of the Billboard R&B chart with “Kiss,” the lead single from Parade, their soundtrack album to the film Under the Cherry Moon.

1988: Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut album was released by Elektra Records.

Birthdays Today

Tony Williams, leader singer for the Platters who later pursued a solo career in the 1960s, was born in Elizabeth, NJ in 1928.

Joe Meek, record producer, musician, and songwriter who pioneered space age and experimental pop music, assisted in the development of recording practices like overdubbing, sampling and reverb, and is considered one of the most influential sound engineers of all time, was born Robert George Meek in Newent, Gloucestershire, England in 1929.

Peter Grant, manager for groups such as the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, the Animals, Chuck Berry, the Nashville Teens, and Bad Company who was a record executive at Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records and is credited with improving pay and conditions for musicians in dealings with promoters, was born in South Norwood, London, England in 1935.

Ronnie White, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of The Miracles who also wrote hits for The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, and others, was born in Detroit, MI in 1939.

Crispian St. Peters, pop singer-songwriter, was born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley, Kent, England in 1939.

Dave Swarbrick, singer-songwriter and mandolinist, fiddler, and vocalist for Fairport Convention, was born in New Maiden, Surrey, England in 1941.

Allan Clarke, founding member and original lead singer for the Hollies, was born in Salford, Lancashire, England in 1942.

Everett Morton, original drummer for the Beat (aka The English Beat), was born in 1950.

Peter Case, singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born in Buffalo, NY in 1954.

Stan Ridgway, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and original lead singer for Wall of Voodoo, was born in Barstow, CA in 1954.

Michael McCready, lead guitarist and founding member of Pearl Jam, was born in Pensacola, FL in 1966.

Paula Cole, singer-songwriter, was born in Rockport, MA in 1968.