Today in Rock & Roll History: February 17th

1960: After more than 15 million in sales with Cadence Records, the Everly Brothers signed a ten-year $1 million contract with Warner Bros. Records. The duo went on to have eight more top 40 hits in the US over the next seven years.

1962: Gene Chandler had his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Duke of Earl,” which had already reached the top of the R&B chart weeks earlier. The song had originated as a warm-up exercise by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler, under his original name, Eugene Dixon. The Dukays had planned to record the song, but their record company preferred to release a different track, “Nite Owl,” and left Dixon with the offer of releasing “Duke of Earl” as a solo artist. Dixon took the offer and changed his name to Gene Chandler.

1962: The Beach Boys debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with their first single, “Surfin’.”

1965: Following its UK release a month earlier, the Kinks’ single “Tired of Waiting” was issued in the US. The record peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the next day, reached at #1 in the UK.

1966: In the early hours of the morning at Columbia’s Music Row Studios in Nashville, Bob Dylan recorded twenty takes of “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” for his Blonde on Blonde LP. During the three-hour session, Dylan continually revised the song’s lyrics and reworked its structure with each successive take before choosing the twentieth and final recording as the master. The entire three-hour session was released in 2015 by Legacy Records as part of The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966.

1966: Nancy Sinatra was at #1 on the UK singles chart for the first time with her first major hit, “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” which was recorded with the help of Los Angeles’ Wrecking Crew session musicians. Ten days later, the record topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

1966: Brian Wilson started work on “Good Vibrations” with The Wrecking Crew session musicians, a process that spanned six months, four studios, seventeen sessions, and cost an estimated $50,000-$70,000. The project marked the beginning of the Beach Boys’ Smile album, the follow-up to their Pet Sounds LP. The single and album represented a new approach by Wilson in creating songs through recording short interchangeable musical fragments. Numerous issues prevented the Smile album from being completed or released, and it was ultimately abandoned. Over the next few decades, occasional attempts were made to resurrect the project, during which time recordings surfaced in bootleg circles. Portions of the sessions were officially released in the 1990s, and in 2004, Brian Wilson reinterpreted and released Smile as a solo album.

1967: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers released their third studio album, A Hard Road. The LP was the recording debut of guitarist Peter Green, who had become a full-time member in 1966 after the departure of Eric Clapton.

1967: The Beatles began recording “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!” at EMI Studios in London. The inspiration for the song had come from an antique circus poster from 1843 that he had purchased in January while out filming a promotional film for “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

1968: “Valleri” by the Monkee was released. The song was written by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart after a request by Colgems Records executive and Monkees manager Don Kirshner for a “girl’s-name-song” to be used in the Monkees’ television show. Boyce & Hart improvised the song on way to Kirshner’s office after telling him that they had already finished it. “Valleri” later went to #3 on Billboard Hot 100, #1 on Cash Box chart, #1 in Canada, and #12 in the UK. The track’s flamenco-esque guitar solo was performed by session musician Louis Shelton. The original recordings were featured on the first season of the Monkees’ TV show in 1967. Afterward, Lester Sill of Colgem Records decided to overdub brass onto the track before its 1968 release. Michael Nesmith was reluctant to remake the song or release it as single, calling it “the worst record ever,” but was overruled by Colgem.

1968: After Syd Barrett withdrew involvement from Pink Floyd, David Gilmour officially replaced Barrett as guitarist and vocalist. Initially, the intention was for Gilmour to assume Barrett’s role as a musician in the band while Barrett focused exclusively on songwriting. By March, however, working with Barrett had become too difficult, and he agreed to leave the group.

1969: The Temptations released their ninth studio album, Cloud Nine. It is the first regular Temptations studio LP to feature Dennis Edwards as the replacement for David Ruffin and marks the beginning of the group’s four-year delve into psychedelia recording.

1969: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash began the first of a two-day recording session. It was the only time the two men recorded together despite a decades-long friendship. Dylan had been finishing his Nashville Skyline album at Columbia Studios in Nashville when he was joined by Cash, and less than three months later, Dylan joined Cash on the first episode of The Johnny Cash Show.

1971: James Taylor made his prime-time television debut in the US on The Johnny Cash Show on ABC performing “Fire and Rain,” “Country Road,” “Sweet Baby James,” and a duet with Cash of the Stephen Foster song “Oh! Susanna.” Additional guests on the program were Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, and Tony Joe White.

1972: Michael Jackson’s cover version of Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin” was released as the second single from his debut solo studio album, Got to Be There.

1973: A week after achieving their first #1 album on Billboard’s R&B albums chart, War’s fifth studio album, The World Is A Ghetto, became their only #1 LP on the Billboard pop chart.

1973: “Love Train” by the O’Jays started four weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. The single reached #1 on the Hot 100 pop chart in late March.

1973: Free played their final live gig at Florida’s Hollywood Sportatorium.

1975: John Lennon released his sixth solo album, Rock ‘n’ Roll. Made up of covers of late 1950s and early 1960s songs, sessions were partly produced by Phil Spector. Recording had begun in late 1973 and various problems caused recording to span the entire year. The album was Lennon’s last until 1980, during which time he took a hiatus from the music business.

1976: Bob Dylan released “Mozambique” from his seventeenth studio album, Desire.

1978: Kate Bush released her debut studio album, The Kick Inside.

1978: “Clash City Rockers” by The Clash was released as a single from the US version of the band’s eponymous debut album.

1979: Blondie had their first #1 album on the UK charts with Parallel Lines. On the same day, the group debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US with “Heart of Glass,” which later became their first #1 single in America.

1981: Eric Clapton released his seventh solo studio album, Another Ticket. Recorded with guitarist Albert Lee, it was Clapton’s last studio album for RSO Records before the label shut down in 1983 as it absorbed to Polydor Records.

1984: Thompson Twins released their fourth studio album, Into the Gap.

1986: Talk Talk released their third studio album, The Colour of Spring. A departure from the synthesised pop sound of their early work, the LP was described by the band as more organic and improvisational.

1989: The Bangles released “Eternal Flame,” the second single from their studio album, Everything.

1990: Earth, Wind & Fire released their fifteenth studio album, Heritage.

1997: The Bee Gees released “Alone,” the lead single from their twenty-first studio album, Still Waters.

1997: Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees premiered on ABC television. Written and directed by Michael Nesmith, it was the last time Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork appeared together in a new television program.

1999: XTC released their thirteenth studio album, Apple Venus Volume 1.

2004: Indigo Girls released their ninth studio album, All That We Let In.

Birthdays Today

Hoppy Jones, bass vocalist and cello player for The Ink Spots, was Orville Jones in Chicago, IL in 1905.

Johnny Bush, country music singer, songwriter, and musician best known for writing the song “Whiskey River,” was born John Bush Shinn III in Houston, TX in 1935.

Gene Pitney, pop songwriter and vocalist, was born in Hartford, CT in 1940.

Karl Jenkins, composer and musician with Soft Machine, was born in Penclawdd, Gower, Wales in 1944.

Doyle Bramhall, singer-songwriter, drummer, and co-founder of The Nightcrawlers, was born in Dallas, TX in 1949.

Billie Joe Armstrong, songwriter, guitarist, and lead vocalist for Green Day, was born in Oakland, CA in 1972.

Ed Sheeran, singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England in 1991.