Today in Rock & Roll History: December 25th

1957: Richard Starkey’s step father gave him a second-hand drum kit consisting of a snare drum, bass drum, and a makeshift cymbal fashioned from a garbage can lid. Starkey later became known as Ringo Starr, drummer for the Beatles.

1958: Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson, Frankie Avalon, Eddie Cochran, Dion and the Belmonts, Bo Diddley, and headliners the Everly Brothers and Johnnie Ray were among the artists who took part in disc jockey Alan Freed’s Christmas Jubilee at Loew’s State Theater in New York.

1960: James Taylor received his first guitar for Christmas at the age of 12.

1964: The Zombies began a ten-day stint in New York City as part of Murray the K’s Christmas Show, performing along with the Shangri-Las, the Nashville Teens, and the Shirelles among others. This followed three days of negotiations with US immigration authorities who, faced with an onslaught of British acts trying to promote their respective recordings, had attempted to circumvent an international union agreement by banning the group from working in the States.

1965: The Dave Clark Five achieved their first and only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Over and Over.”

1965: The McCoy’s cover of Little Willlie John’s “Fever” peaked at #7 on Billboard Hot 100.

1965: Lou Christie’s only chart-topping record, “Lightning Strikes,” began its first of fifteen weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

1965: The Young Rascals debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their first single, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” which later reached #52.

1971: “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single spent a total of eight weeks on the chart and peaked at #15.

1971: Melanie scored her only #1 single when “Brand New Key” topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts.

1972: Badfinger’s third album, Straight Up, entered the Billboard pop chart. It was the group’s last to enter the top 100, reaching #31.

1981: The J. Geils Band performed two Christmas concerts for the inmates at the Billerica House of Corrections near Boston. A few days later, their Freeze Frame album went gold.

1982: David Bowie’s duet with Bing Crosby “Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy” topped out at #3 on the UK singles chart. Recorded in September of 1977, the recording circulated for years as a bootleg before it was officially released by RCA Records as a single.

1982: The Who released “Eminence Front,” the second single from the band’s tenth studio album, It’s Hard.

Birthdays Today

Cab Calloway, singer, dancer, bandleader, actor, and master scat vocalist who mixed jazz, swing, and vaudeville, was born in Rochester, NY in 1907.

Bill Horton, lead vocalist for the Silhouettes, was born in Hickory, NC in 1929.

Chris Kenner, R&B singer who co-wrote “I Like It Like That” and wrote “Land of 1000 Dances,” was born in Kenner, LA in 1929.

O’Kelly Isley Jr., vocalist and founding member of the Isley Brothers, was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1937.

Pete Brown, poet, lyricist, and singer best known for his collaborations with Cream and Jack Bruce who also worked with Graham Bond and Phil Ryan and formed Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments and Pete Brown & Piblokto!, was born in Ashtead, Surrey, England in 1940.

Trevor Lucas, singer-songwriter, guitarist and member of British folk rock groups Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, was born in Bungaree, Victoria, Australia in 1943.

John Edwards, solo singer and leader of The Spinners between 1977 and 2000, was born in St. Louis, MO in 1944.

Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine, guitarist for Canned Heat, was born in Takoma Park, MD in 1944.

Noel Redding, bass player and vocalist for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was born David Noel Redding in 1945.

Jimmy Buffett, singer, songwriter, author, and actor, was born in Pascagoula, MS in 1946.

Merry Clayton, soul and gospel singer, actress, member of 1960s girl group The Blossoms, who provided backing vocals for several major artists such as the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Jock Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Phils Ochs, Tori Amos, Coldplay, and others, was born in New Orleans, LA in 1948.

Robin Campbell, guitarist and vocalist for UB40, was born in Birmingham, England in 1954.

Annie Lennox, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and co-founder of Eurythmics, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1954.

Shane MacGowan, lead singer and songwriter for Pogues, was born in Pembury, Kent, England 1957.

Noel Hogan, musician and record producer best known as the lead guitarist and co-songwriter for the Cranberries, was born in Moyross, Limerick, Ireland in 1971.

Lukas Nelson, singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of his band Promise of the Real, and son of Willie Nelson, was born in Paia, HI in 1988.