Today in Rock & Roll History: August 11th

1958: Elvis Presley’s #1 hit, “Hard Headed Woman,” became the first rock and roll single to receive the Gold Record designation from the RIAA for a million copies sold.

1962: “Green Onions” by Stax Records house band Booker T. & the M.G.’s entered the Billboard Hot 100. According to Booker T. Jones, the instrumental’s title originated with bassist Lewie Steinberg, who’d thought the tune was so funky that he suggested calling it “Funky Onions.” That title was considered too low-class, so “Green Onions” was chosen instead. A month later, the song went to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and five weeks later peaked at #3 on the Hot 100.

1962: After having eight previous songs in the US top 40, Neil Sedaka scored his first #1 on the Billboard chart with “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

1962: The Ventures released Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, the band’s seventh studio album and third of four LPs released in 1962.

1964: The Beatles began work on their fourth album, Beatles For Sale, at EMI Studios in London.

1965: The Beatles’ movie Help! had its US premiere in New York City after the film’s world premiere had been held at London’s Pavilion Theatre in London earlier in July.

1965: The Kink’s second studio album, Kinda Kinks, was released in the US after its release in the UK in March . The LP went to #3 on the UK chart and #60 in the US.

1966: John Lennon held a press conference in Chicago to apologize for his remarks in March in which he had said that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” Said Lennon, “I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it. I’m sorry I opened my mouth. I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ, or anti-religion. I was not knocking it. I was not saying we are greater or better.”

1968: The Beatles launched their own label, Apple Records. The operation was headed by Ron Kass, formerly of Liberty Record’s European division, and the Granny Smith label was designed by Gene Mahon, who had designed the back cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Recording began within days, and among the first projects were A&R director Peter Asher producing James Taylor, George Harrison producing Jackie Lomax, and Paul McCartney producing the Black Dyke Mills Band and Mary Hopkin.

1969: Donovan’s seventh studio album, Barabajagal, was released in the US. The LP was kept from being issued in the UK because of a continuing contractual dispute that had also prevented Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, and The Hurdy Gurdy Man from being released in the UK. The album was named after Donovan’s hit single, “Barabajagal,” which was recorded during sessions with the Jeff Beck Group. Produced by Mickie Most, the album includes contributions by Jeff Beck, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, Rod Stewart, and Aynsley Dunbar.

1972: “Dinah Flo” by Boz Scaggs was released as a single from his fifth album, My Time.

1972: Three Dog Night entered Billboard Hot 100 with the opening track and first single from their Seven Separate Fools album, “Black and White.”

1973: After the success of their #1 single “Frankenstein,” the Edgar Winter Group entered the Billboard Hot 100 with “Free Ride.” By mid-October, it reached #14, making it the band’s only other top 20 single.

1974: Leonard Cohen released his fourth studio album, New Skin for the Old Ceremony. The LP marked Cohen’s transition away from minimalist instrumentation, with the use of violas, mandolins, banjos, guitars, percussion and other instruments producing a more orchestrated sound.

1976: Canadian band Klaatu released their debut album, 3:47 EST, which was renamed Klaatu when it was released in the United States by Capitol Records. The album was moderately successful in the US in part due to rumors that the band was a secretly reunited Beatles.

1979: Led Zeppelin played their final UK concert at the Knebworth Festival in England.

1979: The debut album by Los Angeles band The Knack, Get the Knack, started its first of five weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart. Two weeks later, the album’s hit single, “My Sharona,” went to #1 for the first of six weeks on the Hot 100.

1982: The Go-Go’s released their second studio album, Vacation.

1984: Ray Parker Jr.’s biggest hit, “Ghostbusters,” became his only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two weeks later it became his only song to reach the top of the R&B chart as well.

1986: The Moody Blues released “The Other Side of Life,” the second single and title track from their twelfth studio album.

1986: After almost twenty years, The Monkees were back on the Billboard pop chart with re-issues of the group’s first four albums re-released by Rhino Records as well as a “Best of the Monkees” singles compilation put out by Arista. Also back on the singles chart were the Beatles with “Twist and Shout” twenty-two years after it had originally entered the Billboard Hot 100. The song had had a resurgence in popularity after being featured in the summer movies Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Back to School.

1986: The Human League released “Human,” the first single from their fifth studio album, Crash. It became the group’s second #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1988: Steve Winwood released “Roll with It,” the title track from his fifth solo studio album.

1998: Capitol Records released Endless Harmony Soundtrack, a compilation of previously unheard material by The Beach Boys designed to tie in with the band’s biographical documentary of the same name.

2008: R.E.M. released “Man-Sized Wreath,” the third single from their fourteenth studio album, Accelerate.

Birthdays Today

Shel Talmy, record producer, songwriter, and arranger best known for his work with the Who, the Kinks, Cat Stevens, Pentangle, and the Easybeats, was born in Chicago, IL in 1937.

Ronnie Dawson, rockabilly guitarist and session musician, was born in Dallas, TX in 1939.

Mike Hugg, drummer, keyboardist, and founding member of Manfred Mann, was born in Gosport, Hampshire, England in 1942.

Guy Villari, singer and member of The Regents, best known for recording the original version of “Barbara Ann,” was born Gaetano Villari in The Bronx, NY in 1942.

Jim Kale, original bassist for the Guess Who, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1943.

Kenneth Gamble, songwriter and producer who, together with partner Leon Huff, is credited with developing the Philadelphia soul genre as well as writing and producing 175 gold and platinum records, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1943.

Denis Payton, sax, guitar, and harmonica player for the Dave Clark Five, was born in Walthamstow, East London, England in 1943.

Michael Fonfara, keyboardist and member of The Electric Flag, Rhinoceros, Rough Trade, Lou Reed’s backing band, and The Downchild Blues Band, was born in Stevensville, Ontario, Canada in 1946.

Eric Carmen, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist who started out as the lead vocalist for the Raspberries before going solo, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1949.

Erik Brann, guitarist and vocalist for Iron Butterfly, was born in Pekin, IL in 1950.

Bob Mothersbaugh, songwriter, composer, musician, singer, and lead guitarist, occasional lead singer, and co-founder of Devo, was born in Akron, OH in 1952.

Joe Jackson, singer-songwriter and musician, was born in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England in 1954.

Richie Ramone, drummer for the Ramones from 1983-1987, was born Richard Reinhardt in Passaic, NJ in 1957.

Jah Wobble, singer, poet, composer, and original bassist for Public Image Ltd, was born John Joseph Wardle in Stepney, London, England in 1958.

Bragi Ólafsson, bassist for The Sugarcubes, was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962.

Charlie Sexton, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and member of Bob Dylan’s backing band since 1999 who’s also recorded and played with Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, Don Henley, Keith Richards, Lucinda Williams, Tommy Shannon, and Chris Layton among others, was born in San Antonio, TX in 1968.

Andy Bell, bassist, keyboardist, and guitarist for Oasis, was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1970.

Ben Gibbard, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and co-founder of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, was born in Bremerton, WA in 1976.

Brendan Bayliss, founder, lead guitarist, and primary vocalist for Umphrey’s McGee, was born in South Bend, IN in 1976.