Today in Rock & Roll History: August 3rd

1959: Ray Charles hit the top of the US R&B chart for the fifth time with “What’d I Say.” The song was banned by many black and white radio stations because of suggestive dialogue between Charles and his backup singers that, as one critic wrote, “started in church and ended up in the bedroom.” Black audiences were also troubled by the perceived appropriation of gospel music by a secular musician, and it being marketed to white listeners. Nonetheless, the single reached #6 on the pop charts, earned Charles his first gold record, became Atlantic Records’ best-selling song of all time, and was Charles’ first crossover hit into rock and roll.

1963: Allan Sherman’s novelty song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)” entered the US pop charts at #45, making it the highest debut of the week. It later reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 by the end of the month.

1963: Little Stevie Wonder achieved his first #1 record when “Fingertips (Part 2)” hit the top of the Billboard R&B chart for the first of six straight weeks. The following week, the single topped the Hot 100 chart.

1963: After nearly three hundred performances at the venue, the Beatles made their final appearance at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. Tickets for the show were sold in thirty minutes. A power outage silenced their instruments and plunged the Cavern into temporary darkness, during which time John Lennon and Paul McCartney performed an acoustic version of “When I’m Sixty-Four,” a song they didn’t release until 1967.

1967: Martha and the Vandellas released “Love Bug Leave My heart Alone,” the first single from their fifth studio album, Riding High.

1968: The Doors scored their second #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Hello I Love You,” the second single from the band’s third studio LP, “Waiting for the Sun.”

1968: The Newport Pop Festival was held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California. The two-day event is believed to be the first music concert ever to have more than 100,000 paid attendees. Featured acts included Tiny Tim, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, The Chambers Brothers, the Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, Canned Heat, The Byrds, and Steppenwolf. Its sequel, Newport 69 in Northridge, California, had an estimated attendance of 200,000.

1969: Three Dog Night, the Moody Blues, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, Little Richard, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Dr. John, and the Mothers of Invention performed on the final day of the Atlantic City Pop Festival at Atlantic City Race Track in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

1971: Paul McCartney announced that he had formed a new band called Wings with his wife Linda and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine.

1971: A group calling themselves Teen King and The Emergencies played at a club called The Gallery in Aspen, Colorado. Following another show at Tulagi’s in Boulder, the band renamed themselves Eagles before recording their debut album in early 1972.

1973: Stevie Wonder released his sixteenth studio album, Innervisions, on Motown’s Tamla label. The album’s nine tracks addressed a wide array of issues, ranging from drug abuse, inequality, systematic racism, love, and criticism of then-US president Richard Nixon. Wonder was the first black artist to experiment with the ARP synthesizer, which was used throughout the album. He also played virtually all other instruments, making most of Innervisions a one-man effort.

1974: “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” one of Stevie Wonder’s angriest political statements, aimed specifically at President Richard Nixon, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. The record later reached the top of both the pop and R&B charts.

1974: After Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan decided to quit touring and concentrate on writing and recording in the studio, guitarist Jeff Baxter left the group to join the Doobie Brothers. Afterwards, drummer Jeff Porcaro and vocalist and keyboardist Michael McDonald briefly joined Steely Dan. Porcaro soon after left to co-found Toto and McDonald left to also joined the Doobie Brothers. Becker and Fagen subsequently recruited a diverse group of session players for their next album, Katy Lied.

1979: Talking Heads released their third studio album, Fear of Music.

1982: Eagles drummer and vocalist Don Henley released “Johnny Can’t Read,” the first single from his debut solo album, I Can’t Stand Still.

1985: Tears for Fears’ first #1 single and international hit, “Shout,” started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

2007: Queen guitarist Brian May handed in his doctoral thesis in astrophysics at Imperial College in London, thirty-six years after setting it aside to join Queen. May had been studying the formation of “zodiacal dust clouds.”

Birthdays Today

George Stoker, singer with the Jordanaires, who backed Elvis Presley on several hits and also worked with artists like Connie Francis, Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline, and Julie Andrews, was born in Gleason, TN in 1924.

Tony Bennett, pop, big band, and jazz singer, was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Long Island, NY in 1926.

Arthur Wood, keyboardist for the Climax Blues Band, was born in Staffordshire, England in 1929.

Kenny Hodges, bassist and vocalist for Spanky and Our Gang, was born in Jacksonville, FL in 1936.

Jimmie Nicol, drummer best known for replacing Ringo Starr in the Beatles during a series of concerts in 1964 while Starr was hospitalized with tonsillitis, was born in London, England in 1939.

Beverly Lee, member of The Shirelles, was born in Passaic, NJ in 1941.

John York, bassist and guitarist best known for replacing Chris Hillman in The Byrds who had previously been a member of the Sir Douglas Quintet and as session musician for the Mamas & the Papas and Johnny Rivers, was born in White Plains, NY in 1946.

Syreeta Wright, singer-songwriter best known for her work with Billy Preston and her ex-husband, Stevie Wonder, was born Rita Wright in Pittsburgh, PA in 1946.

B.B. Dickerson, vocalist and original bassist for War who later became a member of The Creators and the LowRider Band, was born in Torrance, CA in 1949.

Johnny Graham, guitarist, trumpet player, and percussionist for Earth, Wind & Fire from 1973-1983, was born in 1951.

Ian Bairnson, multi-instrumentalist, session guitarist, and member of Pilot and the Alan Parsons Project, was born in Lerwick, Shetland Isles, Scotland in 1953.

Lee Rocker, double bass player for the Stray Cats, was born Leon Drucker in Long Island, NY in 1961.