Today in Rock & Roll History: December 19th

1955: Carl Perkins recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” for Sun Records at Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee after writing the song just days earlier. Compared to the cover version by Elvis Presley, it was Perkins’ original recording that was the bigger hit, reaching #2 on Cash Box chart, making it his biggest pop hit. The song is considered one of the first rockabilly records.

1955: Decca records released Bill Haley and His Comets’ third album, Rock Around the Clock. Like the group’s previous two albums, it is a compilation of previously issued singles. It was Haley’s first album to enter the Billboard charts and was one of the first rock and roll albums to do so.

1956: Elvis Presley held nine positions on Billboard 100 chart, breaking the record for the highest number of concurrent singles by a single artist. Presley held the record until 1964 when the Beatles had fourteen entries on the chart.

1962: Marvin Gaye released “Hitch Hike,” the third single from his second studio album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. It became his first top 40 pop single and inspired a brief dance craze.

1964: Petula Clark debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Downtown.” Six weeks later, it became her first of two singles to reach #1 on the chart.

1964: The Beatles’ fourth album, Beatles For Sale, started seven weeks at the top of the UK album chart. The group’s fourth album in just twenty-one months, it spent a total of eleven non-consecutive weeks at #1 and stayed in the British top 20 for forty-six weeks.

1964: The Supremes reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the third of five successive chart-topping hits, “Come See About Me.” It was the sixth and final single from their sixth studio album, Where Did Our Love Go.

1965: After they were unable to join the Kinks on a trip to the US in June, the Moody Blues finally made their first visit to America, performing first on The Ed Sullivan Show. A few days later, the band appeared on ABC’s Shingdig before being featured on the Murray the K Christmas Show at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre, where they played a grueling nine days with four shows each day. The band’s final stop was an appearance on NBC’s Hullabaloo on January 10 before returning to England.

1969: The Beatles’ seventh and final Christmas record was released to members of their fan club. The group had effectively split by that point, so each member’s contribution was recorded separately. For the only time, both the North American and UK album sleeve jackets were identical.

1987: The Pet Shop Boys scored their third UK #1 single with “Always on My Mind.” In the US, the song became their fifth top 10 hit, reaching #4.

Birthdays Today

Charlie Ryan, singer and songwriter best known for co-writing and first recording the rockabilly hit single “Hot Rod Lincoln,” was born in Graceville, MN in 1915.

Professor Longhair, New Orleans blues singer and pianist, was born Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd in Bogalusa, LA in 1918.

Phil Ochs, folk protest singer and songwriter, was born in El Paso, TX in 1940.

Maurice White, founder, lead singer, and songwriter for Earth, Wind, & Fire and producer for several artists, was born in Memphis, TN in 1941.

Alvin Lee, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and co-founder of Ten Years After, was born in Nottingham, England in 1944.

Zal Yanovsky, lead guitarist and singer with the Lovin’ Spoonful, was born in Toronto, Canada in 1944.

Stuart Colman, broadcaster, musician, record producer for artists including Billy Fury, The Blasters, Cliff Richard, Phil Everly, and Little Richard, and co-founder and bassist for The Flying Machine, who are best known for their 1969 hit “Smile a Little Smile for Me,” was born Ian Stuart Colman in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England in 1944.

John McEuen, folk singer, songwriter, musician, and founder of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, was born in Oakland, CA in 1945.

Rod Evans, vocalist and original member of Deep Purple and Captain Beyond, was born in Eton, Buckinghamshire, England in 1947.

Jeff “Stick” Davis, bassist for Amazing Rhythm Aces, was born in 1952.

Andrew Combs, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born in Dallas, TX in 1986.