Today in Rock & Roll History: August 30th

1959: “Bad Girl” by the Miracles became the first record released on the Motown Records label, albeit locally as Motown did not yet have national distribution. The record was licensed to Chess Records for release nationwide. Having already had a handful of regional R&B hits, “Bad Girl,” became the Miracles first national chart hit, reaching #93 on the Billboard Hot 100. The record was the only Miracles song released on the Motown label, and all previous and future records were released on Motown Records’ Tamla label.

1965: Bob Dylan’s sixth studio album and second electrified LP, Highway 61 Revisited, was released by Columbia Records. Having until then recorded mostly acoustic music, Dylan used rock musicians as his backing band on every track of the album except for the closing 11-minute ballad, “Desolation Row.” The LP peaked at #3 in the US and #4 in the UK.

1966: The Mama’s & The Papa’s self-titled second studio album was released. Beforehand, tension in the band erupted when it was discovered that group member Michelle Phillips was having an affair with Gene Clark of the Byrds. Phillips was fired from the group and producer Lou Adler’s girlfriend Jill Gibson replaced her. A new cover photo for the album was taken and the album’s name was changed to Crashon Screamon All Fall Down. Several thousand advance pressings of the album with the amended cover and title were sent out to radio stations and record distributors, but with the return of Michelle to the group just prior to the LP’s general release, the original cover and eponymous title were quickly reinstated. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard pop chart and #24 in the UK. Two singles from the album, “I Saw Her Again” and “Words of Love” both reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1968: After dabbling in country music across their previous albums, the Byrds released their sixth studio LP, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, showcasing their fullest immersion in the genre yet. Recorded with new member and country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, the album was the first major country rock album by an established group, and represented a departure from the psychedelic sound of the band’s previous album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Between legal complications and tensions between Parsons and the other members of the band, Parsons ended up leaving the Byrds before the album’s release. Recorded during sessions in both Los Angeles and Nashville, the album received a great deal of hostility from the conservative Nashville country music scene, who viewed the album as an attempt by long-haired hippies to subvert country music.

1969: The three-day Texas International Pop Festival opened at the Dallas International Motor Speedway. Performers included Canned Heat, Chicago Transit Authority, Janis Joplin, Billboard King, Sam & Dave, Delaney & Bonnie, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Johnny Winter, Sly & the Family Stone, Spirit, Nazz, Ten Years After, Tony Joe White, Herbie Mann, Rotary Connection, James Cotton Blues Band, the Incredible String Band, and Sweetwater. Attendance at the festival was estimated to be between 120,000-150,000.

1970: Performers at the star-studded final night of the Isle of Wight Festival included the Moody Blues, Donovan, Jethro Tull, Joan Baez, Free, Leonard Cohen, Pentangle, and Kris Kristofferson. Richie Havens, who had opened the Woodstock festival earlier that summer, closed the show. Jimi Hendrix’s performance was his last live appearance in the UK. Attendance for the festival was estimated to be between 600,000 and 700,000, and is cited as one of the largest crowds ever to attend a rock festival.

1971: The Beach Boys released their seventeenth studio album, Surf’s Up. The LP became the group’s highest-charting album in the US since 1967, peaking at #29, and continued their string of 40 records in the UK, reaching #15.

1972: Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono to sing “Give Peace a Chance” at their One to One benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. The show, which also featured performances by Melanie Safka and Sha-Na-Na, raised over $250,000 to aid mentally challenged children. Recordings from the concert were later released in 1986 as Live in New York City.

1973: The Doors officially disbanded two years after the death of singer Jim Morrison. The group’s surviving members sought out a new lead singer, but after unsuccessful recruiting efforts in the US, the band went to London and guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore formed The Butts Band. Active for only two years, the pair recorded two albums each with a different set of musicians. Shortly afterward, keyboardist Ray Manzarek produced a number of solo albums and formed his own group, Nite City.

1973: After a tour of Britain that ended in June and the release of the title track of the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings began rehearsals for their next album. In August, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough left the group, feeling disenchanted with the group’s musical direction, as well as the involvement of Paul’s wife, Linda. The band continued as a trio of Paul and Linda McCartney along with Denny Laine and later released what turned out to be Wings’ most successful album, Band on the Run.

1975: Rod Stewart went to #1 on the UK album chart with Atlantic Crossing, his fourth in a string of five straight chart-topping LPs.

1975: James Taylor’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1965 hit “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1980: Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross had his only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Sailing.”

1978: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released “Listen to Her Heart,” the second single from their second studio album, You’re Gonna Get It!.

1983: XTC released Mummer, the group’s sixth studio album and last with drummer Terry Chambers.

1986: Steve Winwood went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with “Higher Love,” the lead single from his fourth solo studio album, Back in the High Life. The song features additional vocals by R&B singer Chaka Khan and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1987.

1988: John Hiatt released his ninth studio album, Slow Turning. The album’s title track became his only top 10 hit, peaking at #8 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.

1988: Boz Scaggs released Other Roads, his tenth solo album and first after an eight-year hiatus from recording.

Birthdays Today

Kitty Wells, pioneering country singer and first woman to top the US country charts, was born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, TN in 1919.

Johnny Mann, arranger, composer, conductor, recording artist, television host, musical director for multiple television shows, and jingle writer whose vocal group, The Johnny Mann Singers, were involved in sessions for Johnny Burnette, The Crickets, and Eddie Cochran, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1928.

Ernie Ball, entrepreneur and musician best known in the development of guitars and related accessories, was born Roland Sherwood Ball in Santa Monica, CA in 1930.

John Phillips, singer, guitarist, songwriter, promoter, solo artist, and leader of the Mamas and the Papas, was born in Paris Island, SC in 1935.

John Peel, influential British disc jockey who started on offshore pirate radio and later became the longest-serving BBC Radio 1 DJ, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004, was born in Heswall, Cheshire, England in 1939.

Charles Colbert, bassist and vocalist for American Breed, was born in Chicago, IL in 1939.

John McNally, guitarist, vocalist, and founding member of the Searchers, was born in Walton, Liverpool, England in 1941.

Fred Tackett, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and member of Little Feat who has collaborated with several other artists including Boz Scaggs, Harry Nilsson, Rickie Lee Jones, Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers, Bonnie Raitt, Rita Coolidge, Jimmy Webb, and Bob Dylan, was born in Little Rock, AR in 1945.

Horace Panter, bassist for The Specials and General Public, was born Stephen Graham Panter in Croydon, Surrey, England in 1953.