Today in Rock & Roll History: August 15th

1959: The Drifters were at the top of the Cash Box chart and at #2 on the Billboard pop singles chart with “There Goes My Baby,” one of the first records to pair strings with a black vocal group.

1960: “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley started five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His fifteenth #1 on the chart, the record had international sales of over 20 million copies and was Presley’s fifth UK #1.

1962: Original Beatles drummer Pete Best played his last show with the group, the second of two shows at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. The following morning manager Brian Epstein told Best he was being dismissed from the band.

1964: “A Summer Song,” by British duo Chad & Jeremy entered the Billboard pop singles chart, where it later became the their first and only US top 10 hit, reaching #7.

1964: Capitalizing on their recent pop star success on the silver screen, MGM signed the Dave Clark Five to a movie contract for a picture called Catch Us If You Can. For its release in the US, the film was renamed Having a Wild Weekend. The film premiered in the US a year later after its initial release in Britain earlier in the spring.

1965: The Beatles kicked off their second tour through the US at New York’s Shea Stadium in front of a crowd of 56,000 fans and 2,000 security guards. The milestone event was the first major stadium concert, the first at Shea Stadium, and set new world records for attendance and for revenue.

1966: The Beatles played at D.C. Stadium in Washington during their third and final American tour.

1966: The debut album by Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was released. Original female vocalist Signe Toly Anderson and drummer Skip Spence both left the group shortly after the album’s release and were replaced by Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden.

1969: The Woodstock Music & Art Fair began on Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, NY. The three day long festival drew a crowd of more than 400,000 people and became one of the most celebrated rock and folk concerts of all time. Performers on the first day included Richie Havens, Sweetwater, Tim Hardin, Melanie Safka, Bert Sommer, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, and Indian musicians Ravi Shankar and Swami Satchidananda.

1975: Following weeks of speculation, a record company spokesperson announced that Peter Gabriel was leaving Genesis to concentrate on “other literary and experimental interests outside of music.” The spokesperson also assured that Genesis would have a new singer and continue touring. Gabriel, who had recently had his first child, later said, “There was all this big time stuff happening with long tours being planned way in the future, and I just felt I was getting to be part of a machine. I felt I was becoming a sort of stereotype, sort of ‘rock star,’ or falling into wanting that ego gratification. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like the situation, and I didn’t feel free.”

1979: Led Zeppelin released their final album of original material, In Through the Out Door. The LP entered both the US and UK charts at #1 and held the top spot on the Billboard chart for seven weeks, selling over six million copies.

1992: INXS achieved their first and only #1 album in the UK with their eighth LP, Welcome to Wherever You Are.

Birthdays Today

Bill Pinkney, singer, member of the Drifters, and founder of The Original Drifters, was born in Dalzell, SC in 1933.

Bobby Helms, country, pop, and rockabilly singer, was born in Helmsburg, IN in 1933.

Pete York, drummer for the Spencer Davis Group, who later played with Eric Clapton’s Powerhouse and fronted the Olympic Rock & Blues Circus, was born in Redcar, Yorkshire, England in 1942.

Frederick Knight, R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and co-founder of Juana Records, was born in Bessemer, AL in 1944.

Eddie Phillips, guitarist for the Creation, who was the first guitarist to use a violin bow with a guitar, a technique later popularized by Jimmy Page, was born Edwin Michael Phillips in Leyton, London, England in 1945.

Jimmy Webb, singer, songwriter, and composer who wrote hits for the Fifth Dimension, the Supremes, Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, Jock Cocker, and many others, was born in Elk City, OK in 1946.

Matt Johnson, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and only constant member of The The, was born in London, England in 1961.