1954: Disc jockey Alan Freed’s Moondog Jubilee Of Stars Under the Stars was held at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. On the bill were the Dominoes, the Clovers, the Orioles, Fats Domino, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Count Basie’s Orchestra, and Buddy Johnson’s Orchestra. A large, racially mixed crowd came out for the concert, like others Freed had helped organize or emcee.
1960: Chubby Checker’s version of Hank Ballard’s “The Twist” entered the Billboard pop singles chart. Seven weeks later, it became his break-out hit and first #1 record. In early 1962, the single also became the first to reach the top of the chart on two separate occasions.
1960: Aretha Franklin recorded her first non-gospel songs, “Today I Sing The Blues,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Love Is The Only Thing,” and “Right Now,” at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City.
1963: Roy Orbison released “Blue Bayou,” the second single from his fourth LP, In Dreams. It became an international hit for Orbison as well as the signature song for Linda Ronstadt, who had a top 5 hit with her cover in 1977.
1963: The first of seventy-seven issues of Beatles Monthly was published and sent out to fan club members. Created by publisher Sean O’Mahony, the magazine ran until the end of 1969, when it became apparent to O’Mahony that the group was going to split up.
1964: The Beatles had their fifth #1 of the year on the Billboard Hot 100 with “A Hard Day’s Night.”
1964: A group called The Steampacket, made up of Long John Baldry, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, Ricky Brown, Mickey Waller, and a 19-year-old Rod Stewart, opened for the Rolling Stones at a concert at the London Palladium. A year earlier, Stewart had made his recording debut on the single “Up Above My Head,” by Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men.
1969: Chicago, Joni Mitchell, the Santana Blues Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Procol Harum, Johnny Winter, and Iron Butterfly performed on the opening day of the Atlantic City Pop Festival at the Atlantic City Race Track in Hamilton Township, New Jersey.
1969: The third album by the Bonzo Dog Band, Tadpoles, was issued in the UK after it was released in the US in early June.
1969: Harry Nilsson released his fourth studio album, Harry. It became his first LP to enter the Billboard pop chart, where it reached #120.
1970: Traffic co-founder Dave Mason had his first solo entry on the Billboard pop singles chart with “Only You Know and I Know,” which later peaked at #42.
1970: The film Performance, featuring Mick Jagger in his acting debut, had its UK premiere in London. Though produced in 1968, it wasn’t released to theaters until two years later due to Warner Bros.’ reluctance to distribute it because of its graphic content.
1971: The Concert for Bangladesh was held at Madison Square Garden in New York, with one show at 2:30 and a second at 8:00 PM. Beatles guitarist George Harrison organized the two shows to raise international awareness and relief funds for refugees and victims of famine and war in Bangladesh. It was the first benefit concert of its size, and Harrison was joined onstage by Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Jesse Ed Davis, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, and Badfinger. Two musicians with ancestral roots in the region, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, opened the concert with Indian classic music. The triple live album, released later that year in December in the US, went on to reach #1 in the UK, #2 in the US and won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The concerts, album, and film raised an estimated $12 million in relief and inspired future benefit shows such as Live Aid.
1972: Elvis Presley’s single “Burning Love,” was released. Originally recorded by soul singer Arthur Alexander for his debut album the same year, Presley’s cover version became his biggest hit in the US since “Suspicious Minds” in 1969 as well as his last top 10 hit on the America pop charts.
1972: The Eagles released “Witchy Woman,” the second single from their self-titled debut album. It became the band’s first top 10 hit in the US, reaching #9, and is the only track on the album to feature drummer Don Henley performing lead vocals.
1973: Roberta Flack released her fourth solo studio album, Killing Me Softly.
1974: While on tour supporting his 461 Ocean Boulevard album, Eric Clapton was joined onstage by the Who’s Pete Townshend and Keith Moon at the Omni Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The two guests contributed to a handful of songs during the show, and Townshend reportedly smashed a plastic ukulele on Clapton’s head. Clapton evidently wasn’t bothered, as he invited the two back the next night.
1980: David Bowie released “Ashes to Ashes,” the lead single from his fourteenth studio album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). It became Bowie’s second #1 in the UK and the song’s music video, directed by Bowie and David Mallet, was at the time the most expensive music video ever made.
1981: MTV: Music Television went on the air for the first time, with its creator, John Lack, introducing the network saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The channel was initially only available to households in parts of New Jersey, and the first video aired on the new cable channel was the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
1983: Neil Young released Everybody’s Rockin’, an album featuring a selection of rockabilly songs recorded with the Shocking Pinks, a band assembled specifically for the occasion.
1984: “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder was released as the lead single from Wonder’s soundtrack album to the film The Woman in Red. By mid October, the song reached the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and R&B charts.
1985: Sting released “Love Is the Second Wave,” the second single from his debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles.
1986: The self-titled debut album by New Zealand band Crowded House was released. It was the first LP to feature band-leader Neil Finn and drummer Paul Hester since the breakup of Split-Enz.
1987: “Shakedown,” the second single from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II, became Bob Seger’s only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.
1995: Jimmy Buffett released his nineteenth studio album, Barometer Soup.
Samuel Charters, music historian, writer, record producer, musician, and poet whose first book, The Country Blues, and its accompanying album of the same name, are credited with inspiring the folk music revival of the early 1960s and for introducing dozens of blues artists to artists such as Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones, was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1929.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, folk singer-songwriter, was born Elliot Charles Adnopoz in Brooklyn, NY in 1931.
Rock Scully, one of the promoters and managers for the Grateful Dead from 1965-1985 who helped negotiate the group’s first contract with Warner Bros. Records, was born in Seattle, WA in 1941.
Jerry Garcia, singer-songwriter and lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, was born Jerome John Garcia in San Francisco, CA in 1942.
Geoffrey Britton, drummer with Paul McCartney & Wings who later played with Manfred Mann, Rough Diamond, and The Keys, was born in Lewisham, South East London, England in 1943.
Boz Burrell, singer and guitarist best known as the bassist for King Crimson and Bad Company, was born in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, England in 1946.
Rick Coonce, drummer for the Grass Roots, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1947.
Rick Anderson, bassist for the Tubes, was born in Saint Paul, MN in 1947.
Jim Carroll, author, poet, and musician, was born in Manhattan, NY in 1949.
Tommy Bolin, guitarist with Zephyr, the James Gang, and Deep Purple, was born in Sioux City, IA in 1951.
Tim Bachman, guitarist and co-founder of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1951.
Robert Cray, blues singer and guitarist, was born in Columbus, GA in 1953.
Rob Buck, guitarist and founding member of 10,000 Maniacs, was born in Jamestown, NY in 1958.
Michael Penn, singer, songwriter, and composer, was born in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1958.
Adam Duritz, composer, songwriter and frontman of Counting Crows, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1964.
Nick Christian Sayer, guitarist for Transvision Vamp, was born in 1964.
Dhani Harrison, multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer-songwriter, and son of Olivia and George Harrison, was born in Windsor, Berkshire, England in 1978.