Today in Rock & Roll History: August 31st

1958: Ricky Nelson kicked off his musical concert career with a show at Steel Pier in Atlantic City, NJ, where he set an all-time attendance record for the venue, performing in front of 44,221 people over two days.

1963: The Ronettes debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Be My Baby,” their first song produced by Phil Spector and one of the first songs to feature Spector’s “wall of sound” recording method. The single became the group’s only top 10 hit, sold more than two million copies, and peaked at #2 on the US pop charts and #4 on the R&B charts. The Blossoms, led by Darlene Love, and Sonny & Cher were part of the group of guests that provided additional backup vocals on the record.

1963: The Angels became the first white girl group to have a #1 hit in the US when “My Boyfriend’s Back” started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It was the group’s only single to reach the top 10 and their first of two songs to enter the R&B chart, where it reached #2.

1964: The Supremes released their second studio album, Where Did Our Love Go. With the release of this album, the group became the first act in “Billboard” magazine’s history to have three #1 hits from the same album.

1964: Dionne Warwick released her third studio album, Make Way for Dionne Warwick. It became her first LP to enter the US charts and reached the top 10 on the R&B chart.

1967: Dionne Warwick released her eighth studio album, The Windows of the World.

1967: The Doors made their national television debut performing “The Crystal Ship” and “Light My Fire” on American Bandstand.

1967: Paul McCartney called a band meeting with the other Beatles to discuss his idea for a television movie about a psychedelic bus ride, which ultimately resulted in the band’s third film, Magical Mystery Tour. The made-for-television musical aired on BBC 1 the following Boxing Day and later received an American theatrical release in 1974. The 52-minute surreal comedy portrays a group of Brits on a mystery tour in a 1967 coach bus. During the course of the tour, strange things begin to happen at the whim of a group of magicians.

1968: Shortly after the release of their second album, Mr. Wonderful, Fleetwood Mac added 18-year-old guitarist Danny Kirwan to their line-up after guitarist Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood had watched Kirwan rehearse with his previous band, a South London blues trio called Boilerhouse. Green had wanted Boilerhouse to become a professional band, but deemed their drummer and bass player unprepared to go pro. Green and Fleetwood held auditions for a new rhythm section for Kirwan, but after seeing three hundred applicants, they couldn’t find anyone good enough. Thus, Kirwan was instead invited to be Fleetwood Mac’s third guitarist.

1968: Vanilla Fudge’s cover of The Supreme’s #1 hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s chart debut and highest-charting single, it had been edited down to three minutes from the full-length 7:20 version included on the band’s self-titled debut album.

1968: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell started five weeks at the top of Billboard’s R&B chart with their second #1 on the chart that year, “You’re All I Need to Get By.”

1968: The Rolling Stones’ single “Street Fighting Man” was released in the US. Considered to be one of the band’s most political songs, and released within a week of the violent confrontations between police and anti-Vietman War protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, some radio stations in the city refused to play the song, calling it “subversive.” Singer Mick Jagger was reportedly delighted to hear that the song had been banned, stating that “the last time they banned one of our records in America, it sold a million.” The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 in early September and peaked at #48 a month later.

1968: “Midnight Confessions” by The Grass Roots entered the Billboard Hot 100. It later becoming the group’s second top 10 hit and most successful record, reaching #5 on both the Billboard and Cash Box singles charts.

1970: Former Love Sculpture guitarist Dave Edmunds debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with his cover version of “I Hear You Knocking,” a song written by Dave Bartholomew and first recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1955. The record became Edmunds’ only top 10 solo hit, reaching #4, as well as his only song to hit #1 on the UK chart.

1970: The Beach Boys released Sunflower, their sixteenth studio album and first with Reprise Records.

1971: Dr. John released his fourth studio album, The Sun Moon & Herbs. Originally intended to be a three-album set, it was ultimately cut down to a single disc. Contributors to the LP include Eric Clapton, Graham Bond, Bobby Keys, Mick Jagger, Doris Troy, and Bobby Whitlock.

1973: The Rolling Stones released their eleventh British and thirteenth American LP, Goats Head Soup. The album made it to top the top of both the UK and US charts and was the group’s second album recorded outside the UK as tax exiles.

1978: Cheap Trick debuted on the US pop singles charts with “Surrender,” the first single from their third studio album, Heaven Tonight.

1983: Carly Simon released her eleventh studio album, Hello Big Man.

1985: 20 years after it originally topped the UK chart for Sonny and Cher, “I Got You Babe” was a #1 hit for UB40 and Chrissie Hynde. It was UB40’s second of two #1 UK singles, and second of two songs to chart in US, where it reached #28.

1985: Dire Straits achieved their only #1 album in the US when their fifth studio LP, Brothers in Arms, started nine weeks at the top of the Billboard pop chart. It became the band’s most successful album, reaching #1 in over ten countries around the world.

1987: R.E.M.’s fifth studio album, Document, was released. It became the band’s first top 10 album in the US and was a breakthrough success for their new producer, Scott Litt, who worked with the band on their next five studio albums before parting ways in 1997.

1987: Fleetwood Mac released “Little Lies,” the third single from the group’s fourteenth studio album, Tango in the Night.

1987: Michael Jackson released his seventh studio album, Bad.

1999: The Dixie Chicks released their fifth studio album, Fly, which later debuted at the top of the Billboard pop chart.

2004: Concord Records posthumously released Ray Charles’ final studio album, Genius Loves Company. The album consists of rhythm and blues, soul, country, blues, jazz and pop standards performed by Charles and several guest musicians, such as Natalie Cole, Elton John, James Taylor, Norah Jones, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, and Bonnie Raitt.

2004: Green Day released “American Idiot,” the lead single and title track from the band’s seventh studio album.

2010: Elton John and Leon Russell released “If It Wasn’t For Bad,” the first single from their collaborative album, The Union, released later that fall.

Birthdays Today

Bobby Parker, blues-rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known for his 1961 song “Watch Your Step,” was born in Lafayette, LA in 1937.

Jerry Allison, drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets and co-writer of hits like “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue,” was born in Hillsboro, TX in 1939.

Wilton Felder, saxophone and bass player, best known as a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, later known as The Crusaders, who also played for the Jackson 5, America, Seals & Crofts, and Marvin Gaye, was born in Houston, TX in 1940.

Van Morrison, singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and poet who started out as the lead singer for Them before beginning a prolific solo career, was born George Ivan Morrison in Bloomfield, Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1945.

Bob Welch, singer-songwriter, guitarist and solo artist, who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971-1974, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1945.

Pete Gage, guitarist, pianist, composer, record producer best known as a member of Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band and Vinegar Joe, was born in Lewisham, London, England in 1947.

Andy Stein, saxophonist, violinist, and founding member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, was born in New York City in 1948.

Rick Roberts, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and solo artist who recorded with the Flying Burrito Bros on their first album before co-founding Firefall, with whom he’s the lead vocalist, was born in Clearwater, FL in 1949.

Anthony Thistlethwaite, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of The Waterboys, was born in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England in 1955.

Glenn Tilbrook, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and lead vocalist for Squeeze, was born in London, England in 1957.

Gina Schock, drummer for The Go-Go’s, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1957.