Today in Rock & Roll History: December 8th

1956: Elvis Presley’s second studio album, Elvis, started four weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart, making Presley the first recording artist to have both his first two albums go straight to #1 in the same year.

1957: “Hey Schoolgirl,” the first single by Simon & Garfunkel, then known as Tom & Jerry, entered the Billboard Top 100.

1958: Neil Sedaka debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with his first charting record and first with RCA Victor, “This Diary.”

1958: Clyde McPhatter had his fifth and final solo #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart with “A Lover’s Question.”

1961: The Beach Boys’ first single, “Surfin’” backed with “Luau,” was released on the independent California label Candix Records. Brian Wilson recalled his brother, Dennis, coming home from the beach and saying, “Hey, surfing’s getting really big. You guys ought to write a song about it.”

1962: Dionne Warwick debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with her first single, “Don’t Make Me Over.”

1963: Roy Orbison’s recording of “Pretty Paper,” written by Willie Nelson and produced by Fred Foster, entered the Billboard Hot 100. Four weeks later, the song peaked at #15.

1965: The Mamas and the Papas released “California Dreamin’,” the second single from their debut album, “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.” The song was written by John and Michelle Phillips and the group originally sang backing vocals on the first recorded version by Barry McGuire as a gesture of thanks after McGuire helped them get their first record contract with Dunhill Records. The Mama and the Papa’s version of the song became emblematic of the “California Sound” as well as the 1960s counterculture movement.

1967: After the release of the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles was released in America in late November, the double EP version was released in the UK.

1967: The debut album by Traffic, Mr. Fantasy, was released in the UK. The US version of the album was later released in 1968 and temporarily re-titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, with a different cover not depicting band member Dave Mason, who had left the band before the album’s initial British release. Two of Mason’s songs were also omitted from the US version and replaced with singles “Paper Sun,” “Hole in My Shoe,” and “Smiling Phases.” The album peaked at #16 in the UK and #88 in the US.

1967: The Rolling Stones released their sixth British and eighth American studio album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. Upon its release, the album was criticized for its imitation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album released earlier that summer, and following the album’s release, the Stones abandoned the psychedelic style and returned to blues music.

1967: Otis Redding and his backup band, The Bar-Kays, played Redding’s last show at Leo’s Casino nightclub in Cleveland, Ohio. Two days later, Redding and four of the six Bar-Kays died in a plane crash.

1968: Stevie Wonder released his ninth studio album, For Once in My Life.

1968: Graham Nash made his final appearance with the Hollies at a benefit concert at the London Palladium.

1970: Doors lead singer Jim Morrison recorded his second of two sessions of spoken-word poetry. Seven years after Morrison’ death and five years after the remaining members of the Doors had broken up, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over Morrison’s poetry. Additional audio from Morrison was added to the audio collage that was released in November 1978 as the album An American Prayer.

1972: Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack to the film Trouble Man was released. It was the first album to be written and produced solely by Gaye.

1975: George Harrison released “This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying),” the second single from his sixth studio album, Extra Texture (Read All About It). The song was written as a sequel to his popular Beatles composition “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” in response to the personal criticism he had received during and after his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar.

1975: The benefit concert “A Night of the Hurricane” was held a New York’s Madison Square Garden. The last stop of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, the show featured many non-musical celebrities and raised over $100,000 for the release of imprisoned boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

1976: The Eagles released their fifth studio album, Hotel California. It was the band’s first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, who had replaced founding member Bernie Leadon, and the last to feature bassist Randy Meisner.

1978: English group Public Image Ltd released their debut album, Public Image: First Issue. It is considered one of the pioneering records in the development of the post-punk genre.

1978: Rod Stewart entered the Billboard Hot 100 with “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” nearly a week after the song had topped the UK chart. The record reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in February.

1979: Chicago quintet Styx scored their third of eight US top 10 hits and their only #1 single with “Babe.”

1980: Queen released their ninth studio album and first soundtrack album, Flash Gordon.

1984: “Out of Touch” became Hall & Oates sixth US #1 single, leading Billboard Magazine to name them the most successful duos in rock history.

1984: “The Heat is On” by Glenn Frey entered the Billboard Hot 100. It became Frey’s first of two top 10 hits on the pop chart, peaking at #2.

2009: Jimmy Buffett released his twenty-seventh studio album, Buffet Hotel.

Birthdays Today

Jean Ritchie, folk singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player known as the “Mother of Folk” who inspired numerous musicians such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, and Emmylou Harris, was born in Viper, KY in 1922.

Sammy Davis Jr., singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, and comedian, was born in Harlem, NY in 1925.

Jimmy Smith, jazz musician who helped popularize the Hammond B-3 organ, was born in Norristown, PA in 1925.

Jerry Butler, soul singer-songwriter, producer, musician, politician, and original lead vocalist of the Impressions, was born in Sunflower, MS in 1939.

Bobby Elliott, drummer for the Hollies, was born in Burnley, Lancashire, England in 1941.

Toots Hibbert, singer, songwriter, lead vocalist for the Toots and the Maytals who helped establish some of the fundamentals of reggae music, was born Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert in Kingston, Jamaica in 1942.

Jim Morrison, singer, songwriter, poet, and lead singer of the Doors, was born James Douglas Morrison in Melbourne, FL in 1943.

Graham Knight, bassist and vocalist for Marmalade, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1943.

Mike Botts, drummer for Bread who also recorded and tour with artists that include Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff, Hoyt Axton, J.D. Souther, Dan Peek, John Stewart, Rita Coolidge, Warren Zevon, and Dan Fogelberg, was born in Oakland, CA in 1944.

Gregg Allman, singer-songwriter, keyboardist, vocalist, and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, was born in Nashville, TN in 1947.

Geoff Daking, drummer for the Blues Magoos, was born in Wilmington, DE in 1947.

Ray Shulman, songwriter, musician, and the youngest of three brothers in Gentle Giant, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England in 1949.

Wah Wah Watson, guitarist and session musician who, as a member of Motown Records’ house band, the Funk Brothers, recorded with the Temptations, The Jackson 5, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Supremes, and others, was born Melvin M. Ragin in Richmond, VA in 1950.

Dan Hartman, was born in Dauphin County, PA in 1950. (singer, songwriter, record producer, solo artist, and vocalist for the Edgar Winter Group)

D.J. Bonebrake, drummer and original member of X, who’s also played as a member of the Eyes, the Knitters, the Germs, and the Flesh Eaters, was born in 1955.

Warren Cuccurullo, musician, singer, and songwriter who first worked with Frank Zappa, was a founding member of Missing Persons, and later joined Duran Duran, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1956.

Paul Rutherford, keyboards, percussionist, and backing vocalist for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, was born in Liverpool, England in 1959.

Sinéad O’Connor, singer-songwriter, was born in Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland in 1966.

Ryan Newell, lead guitarist of Sister Hazel, was born in 1972.