Today in Rock & Roll History: December 22nd

1958: After three weeks on the singles charts, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s creator, Ross Bagdasarian, who used the stage name David Seville, named the Chipmunks Alvin, Simon, and Theodore after executives at Liberty Records.

1962: The Tornados became the first British group to have a #1 record in the US when they hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their instrumental “Telstar.”

1962: “Let’s Go (Pony),” the biggest hit by Los Angeles band The Routers, peaked at #19 on Billboard Hot 100.

1964: “Shake” by Sam Cooke was released eleven days after his death. The single’s B-side was an edited version of “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which had been released earlier that year as part of Cooke’s final studio album, Ain’t That Good News.

1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Move, Pink Floyd, and the Graham Bond Organisation were among the bands that performed at Christmas on Earth Continued, a show held at the Olympia London in West Kensington, England and promoted as an “All Night Christmas Dream Party.” A lack of publicity and a bitter winter freeze hampered attendance, and the event is also considered Pink Floyd’s last major show with founder Syd Barrett. The Who had been scheduled to perform but didn’t show up, and the Grateful Dead, who had hoped to make their UK debut at the festival, were barred from performing due to permit problems. Other acts included 1984, which included future Queen guitarist Brian May.

1968: The original Animals lineup, consisting of Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler, Hilton Valentine, and John Steel, reunited to play a benefit concert in their hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. The band had broken up about a month earlier in part due to a disastrous Japanese tour that had been delayed from September and was cut short after their manager was kidnapped by yakuza members, resulting in the band fleeing the country and losing all of their equipment.

1973: On the day that Elton John’s performance at at London’s Hammersmith Odeon was broadcast live on BBC Radio One, his seventh studio album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, reached the top of the UK chart. On the Billboard pop chart in the US, the album began its seventh week at #1.

1978: Original Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones officially joined the Who, replacing the recently deceased Keith Moon, with whom Jones had been close friends.

1977: The stage adaptation of Harry Nilsson’s 1970 album The Point opened in London at the Mermaid Theatre starring two of Nilsson’s longtime friends, Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. An additional role was created specifically for Dolenz so he could share the stage with Jones. The musical closed by the end of February and an original cast album was released in the UK by MCA Records in January.

1980: Pat Benatar debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Heartbreaker,” the third single from her first album, In the Heat of the Night. The single later peaked at #23.

1984: “The Old Man Down the Road,” the lead single from John Fogerty’s third solo album and first after a nine year hiatus, Centerfield, entered the Billboard Hot 100. The song became Fogerty’s only solo top 10 hit on the pop chart, reaching #10.

Birthdays Today

Brian Locking, musician and songwriter known for his brief tenure as bassist with The Wildcats and The Shadows who also toured as a session player with numerous artists including Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Joe Brown, Conway Twitty, and Brenda Lee, was born in Bedworth, Warwickshire, England in 1938.

James Gurley, guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company, was born in Detroit, MI in 1939.

Barry Jenkins, second drummer for both Nashville Teens and the Animals, was born Colin Ernest Jenkins in Leicester, England in 1944.

Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist and primary songwriter of Cheap Trick, was born in Elmhurst, IL in 1948.

Robin and Maurice Gibb, fraternal twins, singers, songwriters, and members of the Bee Gees with brother Barry, were born in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1949.

Barry Sless, six-string and pedal steel guitarist who has performed with the David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Kingfish, and many others, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1955.

Ricky Ross, singer-songwriter and lead vocalist for Deacon Blue, was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1957.