Today in Rock & Roll History: December 16th

1957: Elvis Presley was at the top of Billboard’s pop chart with his third studio album and first Christmas LP, Elvis’ Christmas Album. Presley’s version of “White Christmas,” patterned after the version by The Drifters, drew significant ire from the song’s composer, Irving Berlin, who called Presley’s version a “profane parody” and insisted the song as well the entire album be banned from radio airplay. Most Canadian stations refused to play the album, but most in the US ignored Berlin’s request. The album, along with its subsequent reissues, has since become the best-selling Christmas album of all time in the US, the best-selling Christmas album in the world, and one of the best-selling albums of all time.

1965: The Beatles’ double A-side single “Day Tripper” backed with “We Can Work It Out” went to #1 on the UK chart.

1966: The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their first single in the UK, “Hey Joe” backed with “Stone Free.” On the same day, the Experience made their television debut performing “Hey Joe” on the penultimate episode of UK variety show Ready Steady Go!.

1966: The Beatles released their fourth Christmas record for fan club members, “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas.”

1967: Buffalo Springfield released “Expecting to Fly,” the third single from their second studio album, Buffalo Springfield Again.

1967: “Green Tambourine” by Oxford, Ohio band The Lemon Pipers entered the Billboard Hot 100. It became the group’s only top 40 hit in the US and reached #1 on the Hot 100 in early February.

1968: “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” the second single and title track from the first album by The Bob Seger System, entered the Billboard Hot 100. It later became Seger’s first song to enter the top 100 in the US as well as a top 20 hit, reaching #17.

1969: Keith Emerson and Greg Lake jammed with each other for the first time on the night that both Lake’s group, King Crimson, and Emerson’s, the Nice, were both on the same bill at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Both musicians had become disillusioned with their respective outfits, so a spirited session between Emerson and Lake during an afternoon soundcheck was all it took to get the pair thinking about a longer-term liaison that later roped in drummer and percussionist Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster.

1970: About a month after it was issued in the UK, “Apeman” by Kinks from their eighth studio album, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, was released in the US.

1972: After its release in November, Loggins and Messina’s debut album, Sittin’ In, entered the Billboard pop chart. The collaboration had started by chance; Messina had been signed to produce Loggins’ debut album, but the chemistry between the two led Messina to sing and play on the album as well.

1974: Mott the Hoople announced their breakup when singer Ian Hunter quit the band. The remaining members carried on under the names “Mott” and “British Lions.”

1974: “#9 Dream” by John Lennon was released as the second single from his fifth studio album, Walls and Bridges. Fittingly, it peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. According to Lennon, the song had come to him in a dream and it was “churned out” with “no real inspiration.”

1983: After a series of misfortunes and tragedies, including the death of drummer Keith Moon, the Who broke up for the first time when guitarist Pete Townshend announced that he was leaving the band. After releasing a string of solo material, the Who later reunited at the Live Aid benefit concert in 1985.

1989: Billy Joel achieved his third #1 on the Billboard pop album chart with his eleventh studio album, Storm Front.

Birthdays Today

Tony Hicks, guitarist for the Hollies, was born in Nelson, Lancashire, England in 1945.

Billy Gibbons, singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist and guitarist for ZZ Top, was born in Houston, TX in 1949.

Robben Ford, guitarist and member of the LA Express and the Yellowjackets who has collaborated with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Larry Carlton, and others, was born in Woodlake, CA in 1951.

Mark Heard, record producer, folk rock singer, and songwriter, was born in Macon, GA in 1951.

Stephen Irvine, drummer and former member of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, was born in Scotland in 1959.

Christopher Thorn, guitarist for Blind Melon, was born in Dover, PA in 1968.