Today in Rock & Roll History: April 6th

1963: Portland, Oregon band The Kingsmen chose Richard Berry’s easy-going ballad “Louie Louie” to be their second recording after “Peter Gunn Rock.” They recorded their version of the song in one take at Northwestern, Inc., Motion Pictures and Recording in Portland with the band’s members splitting the $50 session cost. Lead singer Jack Ely based the Kingsmen’s version on the recording by Rockin’ Robin Roberts with the Fabulous Wailers. When the band entered the studio, the sound engineer had hung a single microphone from the ceiling, forcing Ely to stand on his toes and yell into the mic, which resulted in the song’s seemingly indiscernible lyrics. After the single was released on Want Records in October after initial release on small Jerden label, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 in December and went all the way to #2.

1963: Martha & The Vandellas debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with their second single, “Come And Get These Memories.”

1963: The Chiffons began four weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “He’s So Fine.”

1963: Fats Domino, then one of the most popular musicians in the country, left Imperial Records, the label he’d been with since the start of his career, and signed with ABC-Paramount. After also losing Rick Nelson, the third biggest selling rock and roll artist after Elvis Presley and Fats Domino, Imperial founder Lew Chudd sold the label to Liberty Records. Domino recorded for ABC in Nashville, but his New Orleans sound failed to come through, and he only had one more top 40 hit, “Red Sails in the Sunset,” which reached #35 later that year.

1965: The Beach Boys began recording the then-untitled song that became “California Girls” at United Western Records in Hollywood, recording forty-four takes of the instrumental track before Brian Wilson, as producer, was satisfied. Vocals overdubs were added two months later at CBS Columbia Square using Columbia’s new 8-track recorder. It was also the first Beach Boys song to include vocals from Bruce Johnston, who had joined the group to substitute for Wilson during concert tours.

1965: “Crying in the Chapel” by Elvis Presley was released. He originally recorded the song in 1960 with backing vocalists the Jordanaires, but neither were satisfied with the results. Five years later, RCA released the single and it became Presley’s first million seller since “Return to Sender” in 1962 and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by country musician and songwriter Artie Glenn for his son Darrell, who recorded it in 1953.

1966: The Beatles began recording basic tracks for “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the first song recorded for their next LP, Revolver. Inspired by avant-garde music and sound manipulation, the band experimented with unconventional recording techniques such as tape loops, and the sessions produced the first recorded use of reversed sounds in a pop song. “Rain” was the band’s first single to showcased such techniques, but was recorded a week later. “Tomorrow Never Knows,” was written by John Lennon and the song’s lyrics were adapted from the book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leroy, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner, which contains the lines: “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.” The song’s title came from a malapropism by drummer Ringo Starr during a 1964 BBC interview.

1968: “Mony Mony” by Tommy James and the Shondells entered the Billboard Hot 100. The song became their fourth top 10 hit in the US, reaching #3 in June, and was their first #1 single in the UK later in July.

1968: Pink Floyd announced that founder Syd Barrett had officially left the group. Barrett hadn’t performed with the band since January and was suffering from psychiatric disorders compounded by drug use.

1968: Simon & Garfunkel went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart for the first of nine non-consecutive weeks with the soundtrack to the Mike Nichols film The Graduate. The film boosted the profile of the folk rock duo and on the strength of the hit single “Mrs. Robinson,” the soundtrack album rose to the top of the chart.

1968: Cilla Black’s third studio album, Sher-oo!, was released.

1969: Original Kinks bassist Peter Quaife left the group. The other members didn’t believe him at first and only realized his intention when they saw an article revealing Quaife’s new band, Mapleoak. He was soon after replaced by John Dalton.

1971: After the band’s contract with Decca Records expired, The Rolling Stones launched their own record label, Rolling Stones Records, with Atlantic Records as their initial distributor.

1973: David Bowie released “Drive-In Saturday,” the second single from his sixth studio album, Aladdin Sane. Released a week before the LP, it, like Bowie’s previous single, “The Jean Genie,” reached #3 on the UK chart.

1974: Billy Joel entered the top 40 of the US singles charts for the first time with “Piano Man,” which later peaked at #25.

1974: Gladys Knight & the Pips scored their seventh #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart with “The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.”

1974: The first California Jam music festival took place at the Ontario Motor Speedway in California. Headlined by both Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, additional acts included Rare Earth, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Eagles, Seals and Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, and Black Sabbath. The festival attracted between 300,000-400,000 fans and set records for the most powerful concert sound system ever installed, the highest paid attendance, and the highest gross in history.

1974: Seven-piece group Blue Swede became the first Swedish act to top the US singles charts when their cover of B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked on a Feeling” went to #1. Their recording also included the “ooga chaka” vocals first used three years earlier by English musician and producer Jonathan King in his version of the song.

1981: Queen drummer Roger Taylor released his debut solo album, Fun in Space, in the UK ahead of its release in the US in early May.

1984: Guitarist Steve Van Zandt announced his amicable departure from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band to pursue solo projects. Despite leaving the band, he continued to appear as a special guest on certain concert tours and appeared in a number of the group’s music videos. Van Zandt later rejoined the band briefly in 1995 when it reformed, and once again became a permanent member in 1999.

1987: After leaving Pink Floyd in 1985, Roger Waters issued a statement that he believed himself to be the creative driving force behind Pink Floyd, and that he intended to challenge the use of the group’s name by anyone else, namely former bandmates David Gilmour and Nick Mason. In December, a settlement was reached that allowed Gilmour and Mason to retain the Pink Floyd name, under which they released three more albums over the next twenty-seven years. In 2013, Waters expressed his regret in instigating the lawsuit.

1988: A day after the release of Tracy Chapman’s eponymous debut album, the album’s first single, “Fast Car,” was released. The song became a top 10 hit in the US and UK after Chapman’s appearance at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert.

1992: George Harrison played his first full concert in the UK since the breakup of the Beatles at the Royal Albert Hall to benefit the Natural Law Party, a transnational political party founded that year on the principles of Transcendental Meditation.

1992: Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox released her first solo album, Diva. It reached #23 in the US and #1 in the UK.

1992: “Hold on My Heart” by Genesis was released as the third single from their fourteenth studio album, We Can’t Dance.

1993: Bruce Hornsby released Harbor Lights, his fourth album and first credited solely to him without his previous backing band, The Range. Instead the album features an all-star lineup, including Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Jerry Garcia, Phil Collins and Bonnie Raitt.

1995: Portland band The Dandy Warhols released their debut studio album, Dandys Rule OK.

1996: The Beatles compilation album Anthology 2 hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

2000: An all-star tribute to Joni Mitchell was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City featuring performances by Elton John, Bryan Adams, Shawn Colvin, James Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, Richard Thompson, k.d. lang, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

2003: Detroit duo The White Stripes achieved their first #1 album when their fourth LP Elephant reached the top of the UK chart.

2008: R.E.M. topped the UK chart with their fourteenth studio album, Accelerate.

2010: Peter Wolf released his seventh studio album, Midnight Souvenirs. It was his first album to chart since “Up to No Good” in 1990, peaking at #45 on the Billboard pop chart.

Birthdays Today

Vera Hall, folk singer best known for her 1937 song “Trouble So Hard,” was born in Paynesville, AL in 1902.

Big Walter Horton a.k.a. “Shakey” Horton, one of the premier harmonica players in the history of blues who was a session musician for Chess Records, frequently played with Muddy Waters, toured with Willie Dixon, and played on several albums by artists including Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac, was born in Horn Lake, MS in 1921.

Merle Haggard, country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler who, along with Buck Owens and Haggard’s band the Strangers, helped create the Bakersfield sound, was born in Oildale, CA in 1937.

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, blues guitarist who was a session and touring musician for acts including The Ink Spots, James Brown, Taj Mahal, and a solo artist, was born in Atlanta, GA in 1939.

Don Myrick, saxophonist and member of Earth, Wind & Fire’s original horn section, The Phenix Horns Esq. who later was a session player for Phil Collins, Carlos Santana, and others, was born in Chicago, IL in 1940.

Phil Austin, comedian and writer best known as a member of the Firesign Theatre, was born in Denver, CO in 1941.

John Stax, original bassist for the Pretty Things, was born John Edward Lee Fullagar in Crayford, Kent, England in 1944.

Tony Connor, drummer for Hot Chocolate and Audience, was born in 1947.

Christoper Franke, drummer for Tangerine Dream from 1971-1987, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1953.

Warren Haynes, longtime guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band and founder of Gov’t Mule who has recorded with the Dickie Betts Band, Phil Lesh & Friends and The Dead, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews, John Mayall, and others, was born in Asheville, NC in 1960.

Frank Black, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and frontman for Pixies, with whom he performs under the stage name Black Francis, was born Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV in Boston, MA in 1965.