Today in Rock & Roll History: December 21st

1963: “Baby, I Love You” by the Ronettes entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later peaked 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 California, Bennett was joined by backup singers Cher , Sonny Bono, and the Blossoms (which included Darlene Love) in addition to 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.

1965: Bob Dylan released the single “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” with the B-side “Highway 61 Revisited.” On the A-side, Dylan is backed by the Hawks, who backed him on his 1966 world tour and subsequently became The Band.

1965: Dionne Warwick released her fifth studio album, Here I Am.

1967: The Temptations released “I Wish It Would Rain.” The single reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, #4 on the pop charts, and became the focal point of their seventh studio album, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain.

1967: Marvin Gaye released You, the first single from his eighth studio album, In the Groove/I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

1968: The Bee Gees released “I Started a Joke,” the second single from their fifth studio album, Idea.

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

1968: Glen Campbell achieved his only #1 on the Billboard pop chart with his twelfth studio album Wichita Lineman during its forty-six 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.

1974: Harry Chapin had his 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 and admitted that the song “scares [him] to death.”

1983: Van Halen released “Jump,” the lead single from their sixth studio album, 1984. It became the group’s only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

1984: Frank Zappa released Thing-Fish, a triple album billed as a cast recording for a proposed musical of the same name that was ultimately not produced by Zappa, but was later performed partially in 2003.

Birthdays Today

Luigi Creatore, songwriter and record producer who, with his cousin Hugo Peretti, 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.

Wes Farrell, musician, songwriter and record producer who wrote hits including “Boys” by the Shirelles and the Beatles and “Hang on Sloopy” by The McCoys, was born in New York City in 1939.

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.