Today in Rock & Roll History: December 18th

1961: Sam Cooke recorded “Twistin’ the Night Away” at RCA’s studios in Hollywood with musicians from Los Angeles session group the Wrecking Crew.

1961: Just over a week after reaching the top of the Cash Box chart, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Originally written and recorded in South Africa in 1939, the song was adapted to English and covered by several pop and folk artists in the 1950s and 1960s. The Tokens’ version became the most well-known and was the group’s only top 10 hit.

1962: The Beatles returned to Hamburg, Germany for the fifth and final time to begin a thirteen-day residency playing at the Star Club.

1964: The Beatles released their second Christmas record for UK fan club members, Another Beatles Christmas Record. Fans in the US received an edited version of The Beatles Christmas Record, which had been sent to British fan club members the year before.

1965: After signing with RCA Victor Records a month earlier, Jefferson Airplane had their first recording session in Los Angeles, where they recorded their debut single, “It’s No Secret,” written by vocalist Marty Balin.

1965: The Rolling Stones released “As Tears Go By,” the second single from their fifth American album, December’s Children (And Everybody’s). The song was one of the first original compositions by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and was first recorded by Marianne Faithfull in 1964.

1967: The Beach Boys released their thirteenth studio album, Wild Honey. It was the group’s first foray into soul music and was heavily influenced by the R&B sound of Motown and Stax Records. On the same day, the album’s second single, “Darlin’,” was released.

1968: After its release in the UK in October, “I’m the Urban Spaceman” by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band” from their third album, Tadpoles, was issued in the US by Imperial Records.

1968: Janis Joplin began rehearsals with her new group the Kozmic Blues Band in San Francisco.

1970: T. Rex released their self-titled fifth studio album. It was the band’s first release under the name T. Rex after changing it from Tyrannosaurus Rex, marked a transition from their previous folk style to more rock sound, and was their first to reach the British top 10. It also was the first T. Rex album to feature backing vocals by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, aka “Flo and Eddie,” who went on to sing on most of the group’s subsequent string of hits.

1970: All seven of the Beatles’ Christmas records, released each year from 1963 to 1969, were issued in the UK as single LP titled From Them to You. In the US, the seven messages were issued as The Beatles’ Christmas Album and sent out to fan-club members around springtime 1971. It was the first time the 1964 and 1965 messages had been made available in the US.

1971: Sly and the Family Stone had their only #1 album on the Billboard pop chart with their sixth studio album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On. The lead single, “Family Affair,” was also at the top of the Hot 100 singles chart for its third and final week.

1975: At a press conference in London, Rod Stewart announced the breakup of Faces with plans to start a new band. A spokesperson for Stewart cited guitarist Ron Wood’s increasing association with the Rolling Stones as the reason for the band’s breakup. Shortly after, Wood was declared an official member of the Stones after the departure of Mick Taylor.

1976: After the breakup of Sly and the Family Stone in 1975 and the release of Sly Stone’s first solo album, High on You, Stone and a new Family Stone released Heard Ya Miss Me, Well I’m Back. Former Family Stone members who returned for the LP included Cynthia Robinson, Vet Stone, and Elva Mouton.

1978: Led Zeppelin completed work on their eighth and final studio album, In Through the Out Door.

1982: Hall & Oates scored their fifth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their biggest hit, “Maneater.”

Birthdays Today

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Jr., Jump blues, R&B, and jazz saxophonist, singer, composer, and bandleader, was born in Houston, TX in 1917.

Fred Tomlinson, singer, songwriter, composer, founder of the Fred Tomlinson Singers, who sang the music featured on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and other British television shows, and co-writer of Monty Python songs such as “The Lumberjack Song” and “Spam,” was born in England in 1927.

Galt MacDermot, composer, pianist, and writer of musical theater best known for his most successful musical, Hair, was born Arthur Terence Galt MacDermot in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1928.

Allen Klein, businessman, music publisher, founder of ABKCO Music & Records, and business manager for artists that included Sam Cooke, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles, was born in Newark, NJ in 1931.

Lonnie Brooks, blues singer and guitarist, was born Lee Baker, Jr. in Dubuisson, St. Landry Parish, LA in 1933.

Chas Chandler, bassist for the Animals who, after becoming a talent scout, found then-unknown guitarist Jimmy James performing at Greenwich Village’s Cafe Wha? and convinced him to go to England, where they formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience with Chandler as manager, was born Bryan James Chandler in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1938.

Sam Andrew, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of Big Brother and the Holding Company who left in 1968 with Janis Joplin to form the Kozmic Blues Band, was born in Taft, CA in 1941.

Keith Richards, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and co-founder of the Rolling Stones, was born in Dartford, Kent, England in 1943.

Bobby Keys, saxophonist who recorded and performed with the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Harry Nilsson, Delaney & Bonnie, George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and others, was born in Slaton, TX in 1943.

Bill Nelson, chief songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist of Be-Bop Deluxe, was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England in 1948.

Martha Johnson, singer, keyboardist, songwriter, and vocalist for Martha and the Muffins, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1950.

Elliot Easton, lead guitarist for the Cars, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1953.