Today in Rock & Roll History: August 16th

1957: Ricky Nelson recorded his first record for Imperial Records, “Be Bop Baby,” in Los Angeles. Due to Nelson’s popularity from his appearances on his parents’ television sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the record had 750,000 advance orders, went on to sell over a million copies, and reached #3 on the Billboard singles chart.

1957: The Everly Brothers recorded “Wake Up Little Susie” in Nashville, Tennessee.

1962: Little Stevie Wonder’s first single, “I Call It Pretty Music (But the Old People Call It the Blues),” was released. The record only reached the 101st spot on the US charts, and Marvin Gaye played drums on the track.

1962: Ringo Starr, formerly of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, took over as the new drummer for the Beatles after the dismissal of Pete Best. Starr made his first official appearance with the group two days later Port Sunlight, England.

1966: The Monkees’ released their debut single, “Last Train to Clarksville.” Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, it later topped the Billboard Hot 100 in early November.

1969: During the second day of the Woodstock festival, performing acts included Jefferson Airplane, John Sebastian, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, Mountain, the Incredible String Band, Country Joe McDonald, Quill, the Keef Hartley Band, and a little known group called Santana, whose performance quickly led to mainstream popularity. After signing a deal with CBS Records, but before the release of their self-titled debut album, renowned promoter Bill Graham convinced concert organizers to put the San Francisco band on the roster.

1969: Neil Young made his first public appearance with Crosby, Stills, & Nash at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago on the first stop of a 39-date tour with Joni Mitchell as their opening act. They mentioned they were going to someplace called Woodstock the next day, but that they had no idea where that was.

1969: Harry Nilsson’s cover version of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” entered the Billboard Hot 100. Originally released in 1968 as part of Nilsson’s Aerial Ballet album, the song was re-released after it was featured as the theme song to the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. The single became Nilsson’s first top 100 song and first of three top 10 singles in the US, reaching #6 on Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.

1974: The Ramones played their first public gig at the CBGB club in downtown Manhattan. On the bill the same day was another new act called Angel and the Snake, who shortly after changed their name to Blondie.

1976: The Temptations released The Temptations Do the Temptations, the group’s last album before their contract with Motown Records was terminated. The group moved to Atlantic Records for four years, after which they returned to Motown for twenty-four more years.

1980: Keyboardist Jules Holland left Squeeze to fully pursue a solo career that he had started two years earlier. Keyboard duties were taken over by former Ace and Roxy music member Paul Carrack, and later Don Snow. Five years later, Holland joined a reformed Squeeze before again leaving in 1990.

1994: Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s thirteenth LP and fifth as a trio, After the Storm, was released. It was the group’s last release with Atlantic Records, their lowest-selling album, and peaked at #98 on the Billboard chart.

1994: Neil Young released Sleeps with Angels, his twentieth studio album and seventh with Crazy Horse.

1994: Prince released his fifteenth studio album, Come. Issued at a time when Prince was in a public dispute with Warner Bros., it was his last album released by the record company under his name. For the remainder of his contract, he was referred to as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”

1994: Barenaked Ladies released their second studio album, Maybe You Should Drive. It became the group’s first LP to chart in America.

2014: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers achieved their only #1 album in the US when their thirteenth and final studio LP, Hypnotic Eye, debuted at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

Birthdays Today

Ernie Freeman, pianist, organist, bandleader, arranger, and session musician who appears on recordings by Duane Eddy, Bobby Vee, The Platters, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, and Petula Clark, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1922.

Eddie Kirkland, electric blues guitarist, harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who played and toured extensively with John Lee Hooker as well as with Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, and Foghat, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1923.

Bill Evans, influential jazz pianist, was born in Plainfield, NJ in 1929.

Bobby Mitchell, R&B singer and songwriter, was born in New Orleans, LA in 1935.

Eric Weissberg, singer, banjo player, multi-instrumentalist, and member of the Tarriers best known for arranging and recording his banjo solo in “Dueling Banjos” who was also a session musician on albums by Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, John Denver, Loudon Wainwright III, and many others, was born in Brookly, NY in 1939.

Sean Bonniwell, songwriter and lead singer of the Raggamuffins, who later changed their name to The Music Machine, was born Thomas Harvey Bonniwell in San Jose, CA in 1940.

Barbara George, R&B singer and songwriter best known for her hit single “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More),” was born in New Orleans, LA in 1942.

Gary Loizzo, guitarist, singer, recording engineer, and record producer best known as the lead singer for The American Breed, was born in Chicago, IL in 1945.

Gordon “Snowy” Fleet, original drummer for the Easybeats, was born in Liverpool, England in 1945.

Joey Spampinato, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and founding member of NRBQ, was born in The Bronx, NY in 1948.

Barry Hay, lead vocalist and frontman for Golden Earring, was born in Faizabad, India in 1948.

William “Sputnik” Spooner, musician, guitarist, and songwriter, and the founder of The Tubes, was born in Phoenix, AZ in 1949.

Tim Farriss, lead guitarist and founding member of INXS, was born in Perth, Australia in 1957.

Chris Pedersen, drummer for Camper Van Beethoven, was born in 1960.

Emily Strayer, songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and a founding member of the The Chicks/The Dixie Chicks, was born in Pittsfield, MA in 1972.