Today in Rock & Roll History: February 27th

1961: Chubby Checker started three weeks 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.”

1962: “Good Luck Charm” by Elvis Presley was released. Written by Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, the single topped the US pop charts as well as the UK chart.

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: Simon & Garfunkel released “At the Zoo,” the second single from their fourth studio album, Bookends. Written for the soundtrack of the film The Graduate, the song is one of Paul Simon’s many tributes to his hometown of New York City. It reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1967: On the non-commercial Manhattan station WBAI, during the Radio Unnameable 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.

1981: The Who released “You Better You Bet,” the first single from their ninth studio album, Face Dances. The band’s first single since the death of original drummer Keith Moon, it became one of their most recognizable songs and their last top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #18. It was also their last single to reach the top 10 in the UK, where it peaked at #9.

1984: Berlin released “No More Words,” the lead single from their third studio album, Love Life. It became their first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #23.

1985: English band Sade’s debut studio album, Diamond Life, was released in the US seven months after its release in the UK.

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

1989: XTC released their eleventh studio album, Oranges and Lemons. It became the band’s highest-charting album since 1982’s English Settlement, rising to #28 in the UK and #44 in the US.

1990: Outlaw country supergroup The Highwaymen released their second studio album, Highwaymen 2.

1996: The Band released their ninth studio album, High on the Hog.

1996: Neil Young’s soundtrack to the 1995 Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man was released. Young recorded the album by improvising while watching the film alone in a recording studio.

1996: The Lost Episodes, a posthumous album by Frank Zappa of mostly unreleased material, was released. Zappa had been working on the album, which includes tracks as early as 1958, in the years before his death in 1993.

2001: The Dave Matthews Band released their fourth studio album, Everyday.

2009: U2 released their twelfth studio album, No Line on the Horizon. The band originally intended to release the songs as two EPs, but later combined the material into a single record.

Birthdays Today

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.

Steve Harley, singer, songwriter, and frontman for Cockney Rebel, was born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice—Deptford, London, England in 1951.

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.

Ewan Vernal, bassist, keyboardist, and original member of Deacon Blue, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1964.