Today in Rock & Roll History: February 27th

1961: Chubby Checker started a three-week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Pony Time,” his second #1 on the pop chart and first song to reach #1 on the R&B chart.

1961: 18-year-old Aretha Franklin’s debut album Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo was released by Columbia Records. On the same day, Franklin debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart with the album’s second lead single “Won’t Be Long.”

1965: Herman’s Hermits, Del Shannon, and Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders began a 21-date package tour of the UK at Sheffield City Hall in England.

1967: “At the Zoo” by Simon & Garfunkel was released. It was the third single issued ahead of the release of the duo’s fourth studio LP, Bookends, and reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1967: On the non-commercial Manhattan station WBAI, during the Radio Unnamable program, folk musician Arlo Guthrie performed “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” for the first time on the radio. For months, the station’s phone lines were filled with requests to hear the song again. For many listeners, the song crystallized the counter-cultural movement to resist the military draft as well as the Vietnam War. It has since been a tradition of many radio stations to play the eighteen-and-a-half minute song on Thanksgiving Day.

1971: Janis Joplin’s second and final studio album Pearl reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart for the first of nine straight weeks.

1988: Former Smiths lead singer Morrissey released “Suedehead,” his debut solo single from his first LP Viva Hate that was released later in March.

Birthdays Today

David Ackles, singer-songwriter and major influence to British artists such as Elvis Costello, Elton John, and Phil Collins, was born in Rock Island, IL in 1937.

Jake Thackray, singer-songwriter, poet, and journalist who was an influence to such artists as Ralph McTell, Morrissey, and Alex Turner, was born John Philip Thackray in Kirkstall, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England in 1938.

Eddie Gray, guitarist for Tommy James and Shondells, was born in Scottsdale, PA in 1948.

Robert Balderrama, lead guitarist for ? and the Mysterians, was born in O’Donnell, TX in 1950.

Neal Schon, guitarist, songwriter, and solo artist who’s worked with Santana, Journey, Paul Rodgers, and others, was born on Tinker Air Force Base, OK in 1954.

Byron Contostavlos, bassist for Mungo Jerry, was born in 1954.

Paul Humphreys, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, was born in Merseyside, England in 1960.