Today in Rock & Roll History: February 18th

1959: Ray Charles recorded “What’d I Say” for Atlantic Records in New York City. There were two initial problems, however. The record was over seven and a half minutes long and producers were worried that the song’s suggestive qualities could potentially cause it to be banned. The recording was mixed down to fit on both three and a half minute sides of a 45rpm single and after some radio stations refused to play it, a sanitized version was released in July. In early August, the single reached #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart and became Charles’ first top 10 record on the Hot 100 pop chart.

1961: Del Shannon’s debut single, “Runaway,” was released. The song was originally titled “Little Runaway,” but manager Ollie McLaughlin persuaded writers Shannon and Max Crook to re-write and re-record it after unsuccessful preliminary sessions for BigTop Records. The single reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 pop charts and was his only record to reach the top of the US and UK charts.

1964: Aretha Franklin released her fifth album, Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington as a tribute to the recently deceased singer.

1966: Donovan released “Josie,” the second single from his debut album, What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid.

1966: The Byrds released “It Won’t Be Wrong,” the third single from their second studio album, Turn! Turn! Turn!. The song was previously issued in a completely different version under the alternate title of “Don’t Be Long” on a 1964 single that the band released under the pseudonym of the Beefeaters.

1966: The Hollies released “I Can’t Let Go.” Co-written by Al Gorgoni and Chip Taylor, the song was first recorded by singer Evie Sands the year before.

1965: The Beatles recorded “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Tell Me What You See” at EMI Studios in London for their fifth studio album, Help!.

1967: “Kind of a Drag” by The Buckingham became the group’s only #1 in the US when it topped the Billboard Hot 100.

1970: A three-minute single version of Rare Earth’s recording of Smokey Robinson’s “Get Ready” was released as the title track from their second studio album. It was the band’s first recording for Motown Records, though the label initially declined to issue it. and was based on a version they performed to close their live performances. The full twenty-one minute version of the song took up the entire second side of the album. The single beat out the original version by the Temptations on the pop charts, reaching #2 on the Cash Box chart and #4 on the Billboard chart.

1974: Ringo Starr released “Oh My My,” the third single from his third studio album, Ringo. By the end of April, the record peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1977: George Harrison’s cover of Cole Porter’s “True Love” was released as the third single from his seventh studio album, Thirty Three & 1/3.

1978: Talking Heads debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Psycho Killer,” the second single from their debut album, Talking Heads: 77.

1984: Hall & Oates released “Adult Education,” a single recorded for the duo’s 1983 compilation album, Rock ‘n Soul Part 1.

1986: Jackson Browne released his eighth album, Lives in the Balance.

1987: Prince released “Sign o’ the Times,” the lead single and title track from his ninth studio album.

1992: Elektra Records released Phish’s third studio album and first with a major label, A Picture of Nectar. The album is dedicated to Nector Rorris, the proprietor of Nectar’s in Burlington, Vermont, where the band played their first bar gig.

2007: Norah Jones scored her third consecutive #1 album on the Billboard pop chart with Not Too Late.

Birthdays Today

Pee Wee King, country songwriter and recording artist best known for co-writing “Tennessee Waltz,” was born Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski in Abrams, WI in 1914.

Yoko Ono, artist, musician, activist, and second wife of John Lennon, was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1933.

Skip Battin, singer-songwriter, bassist, and member of New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Byrds, was born Clyde Battin in Gallipolis, OH in 1934.

Bobby Taylor, soul singer and member of Little Daddy & The Bachelors and Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers who discovered and produced the Jackson 5, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1934.

Bobby Hart, singer, songwriter, and half of hit songwriting team Boyce & Hart, was born Robert Luke Harshman in Charlottesville, VA in 1939.

Irma Thomas, soul and gospel singer known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” was born Irma Lee in Ponchatloula, LA in 1941.

David Blue, folk singer-songwriter and actor, integral part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, and member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975, was born Stuart David Cohen in Providence, RI in 1941.

Herman Santiago, singer, songwriter, and member of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1941.

Keith Knudsen, drummer, vocalist, and songwriter for The Doobie Brothers and co-founder of Southern Pacific, was born in Le Mars, IA in 1948.

Buddy Cage, pedal steel guitarist best known as a longtime member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage who was also a session and touring musician for The Band, Bob Dylan, David Bromberg, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and many others, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1948.

John Lingwood, drummer and songwriter who played with Steamhammer, Stomu Yamashta, Leo Sayer, Roger Chapman, Maddy Prior, Elkie Brooks, and Manfred Mann, was born in Wembley, London, England in 1951.

Judy Kay “Juice” Newton, pop and country singer, songwriter, and musician, was born in Lakehurst, NJ in 1952.

Veronica “Randy” Crawford, jazz and R&B singer and guest vocalist for The Crusaders who experienced more success in Europe than in the US, was born in Macon, GA in 1952.

Robbie Bachman, drummer for Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was born Robin Peter Kendall Bachman in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1953.

Sean Watkins, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and member of Nickel Creek, Fiction Family, and Works Progress Administration, was born in Vista, CA in 1977.

Regina Spektor, singer, songwriter, pianist, and record producer, was born in Moscow, Russia in 1980.