Today in Rock & Roll History: December 12th

1955: Bill Haley and His Comets recorded “See You Later, Alligator” for Decca Records in New York City. The song became their third and final million-selling top 10 single in the US. In Britain, the song was the group’s second of eight songs to reach the top 10.

1963: The Beatles had their third #1 in the UK with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

1964: “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers entered the Billboard Hot 100. The song became their first top 40 single and, in February, their first #1 on the US and UK charts. Produced by Phil Spector, the song is considered to be the ultimate expression of Spector’s “Wall of Sound” recording technique.

1965: The Beatles’ final UK tour ended with two concerts at the Capitol Cinema in Cardiff, Wales.

1966: Pink Floyd performed their first concert at a large venue at London’s Royal Albert Hall for the Oxfam charity organization.

1968: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles released “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry,” the lead single from their album Time Out for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.

1969: “Victoria,” the third single from the Kinks’ seventh studio album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), was issued in the US following its release in the UK in October.

1969: Live Peace in Toronto 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band was released. The album had been recorded at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in September at the Toronto’s Varsity Stadium. The festival’s promoters had called John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono the day before the show, asking Lennon to be the master of ceremonies. Lennon offered instead to perform and assembled a band that included Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, and Alan White. It was the first live album released by any member of the Beatles separately or together.

1970: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles achieved their first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart with “The Tears of a Clown.” The week before, it had become the group’s fourth record to top the R&B chart. First appearing on the group’s 1967 album Make It Happen, the song was released in the US as a single after it went to #1 on the UK chart in September.

1970: “Love the One You’re With,” the lead single from Stephen Stills’ debut self-titled album, entered the Billboard Hot 100. It later became Stills’ first solo record to chart on in the US as well as his only top 20 hit on the Hot 100. The song had been inspired by a frequent remark by keyboardist Billy Preston.

1970: The Doors performed their last concert with singer Jim Morrison at the Warehouse in New Orleans, debuting several new songs from their upcoming LP, L.A. Woman. Morrison, who was struggling with alcohol and the law, fumbled his way through the show before prematurely leaving the stage. The group’s other members decided it best to stop their current tour and retreated to Los Angeles to finish the album.

1974: Guitarist Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones just before the band began recording their Black and Blue album in Munich, Germany. One of the session guitarists on the LP, the Faces’ Ronnie Wood, later became Taylor’s permanent replacement.

1976: “Night Moves,” the title track and first single from Bob Seger’s ninth studio album and first song credited to the Silver Bullet Band, was released. It became Seger’s first top 10 hit in the US, reaching #4.

1980: The Clash released their fourth studio album, Sandinista!. The triple album features a mix of funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, disco, and rap and was the group’s first in which songwriting was credited to simply the Clash rather than Joe Strummer and Mick Jones.

1981: The Human League scored their first #1 record with “Don’t You Want Me,” when it reached the top of the UK chart. The single became the group’s first #1 in the US the following July.

1995: “Free as a Bird,” by the Beatles was released in the US. Released a week earlier in the UK, it was the group’s first new song in twenty-five years as well as the promotional single from the compilation album Anthology 1.

1998: John Fogerty began recording his first solo live album, Premonition, at Warner Bros. Sound Studios.

2003: Mick Jagger was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Several individuals including Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards and David Bowie publicly objected to Jagger accepting the honor, and it has been speculated that the queen, who had also been displeased with the nomination, had scheduled knee surgery to avoid the ceremony.

Birthdays Today

Frank Sinatra, influential singer, actor, and producer, was born in Hoboken, NJ in 1915.

Dick James, singer, music publisher, co-founder of the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs, and founder of the the DJM Records label who later signed Elton John and Bernie Taupin, was born in London, England in 1920.

Manu Dibango, musician and songwriter best known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa,” was born Emmanuel N’Djoké Dibango in Douala, French Cameroon in 1933.

Reggie Young, lead guitarist in the American Sound Studio house band, The Memphis Boys, and leading session musician who played on recordings by artists such as Elvis Presley, B.J. Thomas, John Prine, Dusty Springfield, J.J. Cale, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, the Box Tops, Johnny Cash, and the Highwaymen, was born in Caruthersville, MO in 1936.

Terry Kirkman, songwriter and singer with The Association, was born in Salina, KS in 1939.

Dionne Warwick, singer, actress, and television host, was born in Orange, NJ in 1940.

Grover Washington, Jr., saxophonist, arranger, and producer considered to be one of the founders of smooth jazz, was born in Buffalo, NY in 1943.

Dickey Betts, guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, solo artist, and founder and frontman of Great Sourthern, was born Forrest Richard Betts in West Palm Beach, FL in 1943.

Melvyn “Deacon” Jones, organist and founding member of Baby Huey and the Babysitters who later worked with Curtis Mayfield, Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, Gregg Allman, Elvin Bishop, Lester Chambers, Albert Collins, Pappo, and Buddy Miles, was born in Richmond, IN in 1943.

Rob Tyner, lead singer and co-founder of MC5, was born Robert Derminer in Detroit, MI in 1944.

Alan Ward, lead guitarist for the Honeycombs, was born in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England in 1945.

Clive Bunker, drummer and founding member of Jethro Tull, was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, England in 1946.

Ralphs Scala, keyboardist and vocalist for Blues Magoos, was born in 1947.

Ray Jackson, mandolinist, harmonica player, and joint lead vocalist of Lindisfarne, was born Lindsay Raymond Jackson in Wallsend, Northumberland, England in 1948.

Sheila E., percussionist, singer, solo artist, and session musician for Prince, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, and others, was born Sheila Cecelia Escovedo in Oakland, CA in 1957.

Cy Curnin, singer, songwriter, musician, and lead vocalist for the Fixx, was born in Wimbledon, England in 1957.