Today in Rock & Roll History: August 9th

1963: Ready Steady Go! premiered on Britain’s ITV network. Conceived by producer Elkan Allan, the program aimed to be more youth-oriented than it’s BBC rival, Top of the Pops, with producers selecting audience members from the most fashionably-dressed dancers at London clubs. The show was also known for allowing artists to perform the full version of their songs rather than short versions demanded by other shows. Musical guests on the debut episode included Billy Fury, Burl Ives, and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Despite its popularity, the program was canceled in late 1966. The show was seen for the first time in the US in 1989 on the Disney Channel.

1968: Cream’s third studio album, Wheels of Fire, was released in the UK. It reached #3 in the UK and was the group’s only #1 in the US. Future Mountain vocalist and bassist Felix Pappalardi played several instruments on the album, managed recording sessions, and is credited as producer.

1968: Jerry Lee Lewis lived up to his nickname, “The Killer,” at the Sunbury Blues and Jazz Festival in Britain when he worked the crowd into such a frenzy that he was asked to leave the stage. Additional groups featured at the event included The Nice, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, The Herd, Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Mayall, Chicken Shack, the Incredible String Band, the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, The Jeff Beck Group, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

1969: Chicago debuted on the US singles charts with their first single, “Questions 67 and 68.”

1969: “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone, released in the wake of their high-profile performance at Woodstock, entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single reached #2 on the pop chart and #3 on the R&B chart.

1971: John Sebastian released his second solo studio album, The Four of Us.

1973: Soon after a successful tour of the UK, Wings began rehearsals for their third album, Band on the Run. After rehearsal sessions, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell abruptly left the group.

1974: Little Feat released their fourth studio album, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now. It was the band’s first LP to enter the Billboard pop chart and peaked at #36.

1975: Executive producer Don Kirshner staged the first Rock Music Awards in Santa Monica, California, which aired live on CBS. Hosted by Elton John and Diana Ross, the winners of various categories included the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, and Bob Dylan.

1976: The Beach Boys released “It’s O.K.,” the second single from their twentieth studio album, 15 Big Ones.

1976: Grand Funk Railroad released their eleventh studio album, Good Singin’, Good Playin’. After the band’s breakup, Frank Zappa expressed an interest in producing an album for them, so the group reassembled to record the LP. On the first day of recording overdubs, the band decided to split up again, despite Zappa’s attempts to talk them out of it. The album was the final release to feature both bassist Mel Schacher and keyboardist Craig Frost.

1978: Muddy Waters performed at a White House picnic at the request of President Jimmy Carter. Said Waters, “Where I’m from, a black man couldn’t even get into a white man’s front room.”

1986: Queen performed what ended up being their last live show with Freddie Mercury at Britain’s Knebworth Park, the last stop on the group’s biggest tour, The Magic Tour. It was also the final show with bassist John Deacon, and Queen did not tour again until 19 years later, when guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor went on tour with singer Paul Rodgers.

1994: “Circle of Life” by Elton John from the soundtrack to the Disney film The Lion King was released as a single.

1994: Julian Cope released his eleventh studio album, Autogeddon. Like the Heathcote Williams poem of the same name, the album centers on a distaste for car culture.

2005: Stephen Stills released his eighth studio album, Man Alive!. The LP is mix of new and old recordings dating back to the mid 1970s.

Birthdays Today

Merle Kilgore, singer, songwriter, manager, and co-writer of “Ring of Fire”, was born in Chickasha, OK in 1934.

Bill Henderson, singer and original member of the Spinners, was born in Indianapolis, IN in 1939.

Viv Prince, drummer for The Pretty Things noted for his eccentric behavior which influenced Keith Moon, was born in Loughborough, England in 1941.

Pete Thomas, studio and touring drummer best known for his work with Elvis Costello as a solo artist and as a member Costello’s band, the Attractions, who’s also worked with Squeeze, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, and Arctic Monkeys among others, was born in Hillsborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England in 1954.

Charlie Morgan, singer, songwriter, and popular UK session drummer who’s worked with artists like Elton John, Kate Bush, Roy Harper, Pete Townshend, Clannad, Tracey Ullman, Gary Moore, Justin Hayward, and Nik Kershaw, was born in Hammersmith, London, England in 1955.

Whitney Houston, singer and actress, was born in Newark, NJ in 1963.

Dan Donovan, keyboardist for Big Audio Dynamite, was born in London, England in 1967.