Today in Rock & Roll History: December 21st

1963: “Baby, I Love You” by the Ronettes entered the Billboard Hot 100, later peaking at #24. It was the group’s second single produced by Phil Spector after “Be My Baby” after they had failed to find success under their previous contract with Colpix Records. The recording of “Baby, I Love You” featured only Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes, while the trio’s other two members, Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley went on tour with Dick Clark. At Gold Star Studios in CA, Bennett was joined by backup singers Darlene Love and Cher as well as Spector’s session group of choice, the Wrecking Crew, which included pianist Leon Russell.

1964: “My Girl” by The Temptations was released on Motown’s Gordy label. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White of the Miracles, it became the Temptations’ first #1 pop single in the US and was the group’s first song to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals.

1968: The Bob Seger System entered the Billboard pop chart with their debut album, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. Eight weeks later, the album peaked at #17.

1968: Glen Campbell reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart with his twelfth studio album Wichita Lineman during its 46 week chart run. The album’s title track became Campbell’s second US #1 single, his third #1 in Canada, and his first top 10 hit in the UK.

1968: Crosby, Stills & Nash performed together publicly for the first time in California.

1974: Harry Chapin had his one and only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Cat’s in the Cradle,” a song which began as a poem written by his wife Sandra about her first husband and his father. Chapin turned the poem into a song about his relationship with his own son admitting, “Frankly, this song scares me to death.”

1983: “Jump,” the lead single from Van Halen’s sixth LP 1984 was released. The record became the group’s only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

Birthdays Today

Luigi Creatore, songwriter and record producer who, with his cousin Hugo Peretti, who co-wrote hits such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and produced singles that included “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” and “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke, “Honeycomb” by Jimmie Rodgers, and “The Hustle” by Van McCoy, was born in New York City in 1921.

Hank Crawford, jazz saxophonist, arranger, songwriter, and musical director for Ray Charles who also appears on early recordings by B.B. King, was born in Memphis, TN in 1934.

Frank Zappa, musician, composer, activist, and filmmaker, with Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1940.

Ray Hildebrand, half of pop duo Paul & Paula, was born in Joshua, TX in 1940.

Carla Thomas, singer often referred to as the “Queen of Memphis Soul,” was born in Memphis, TN in 1942.

Albert Lee, solo artist and session guitarist known for his fingerstyle and hybrid picking technique, was born in Lingen, Herefordshire, England in 1943.

Carl Wilson, singer, songwriter, and co-founder and lead guitarist of the Beach Boys, was born in Hawthorne, CA in 1946.

Nick Gilder, singer and songwriter, was born in London, England in 1951.

Alan Glen, British blues harmonica player who has played on over fifty albums and recorded and performed with artists such as The Yardbirds, Nine Below Zero, Little Axe, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, John Mayall, Steve Lukather, and Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter, was born in Wuppertal, Germany in 1951.

Betty Wright, soul and R&B singer and songwriter, was born in Miami, FL in 1953.