Today in Rock & Roll History: February 4th

1956: James Brown and his backing group the Famous Flames recorded their first single “Please, Please, Please” for Federal Records at King Studios in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1959: Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and Jimmy Clanton took over as the headlining acts for the Winter Dance Party tour after the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

1964: The Beatles wrapped up their 18-day residency in Paris, performing two concerts at the Olympia Theatre.

1966: “19th Nervous Breakdown” by The Rolling Stones was released in the UK eight days before it was issued in the United States. Written during the band’s 1965 US tour, the single reached #2 on both the US and UK charts.

1966: Ten days before the start of his Nashville recording sessions for Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan performed at the Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the first date on Dylan’s 1966 World Tour, in which he continued his adoption of an electric backing band. The musicians Dylan had assembled, then known as the Hawks, later became famous in their own rite as The Band.

1966: The Who played their first show as headliners at the Astoria in Finsbury Park, England. Also appearing were Birmingham beat group The Fortunes and Liverpool band The Merseys.

1967: Johnny Rivers’ cover of “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” originally recorded by the Four Tops in 1964, entered Billboard Hot 100. Rivers’ version peaked at #3 on the chart, reaching higher than the original which had topped out at #11.

1968: The Beatles convened at EMI Abbey Road Studios in London to record John Lennon’s “Across the Universe,” which was to be released as a single during their upcoming trip to India. Deciding they needed some falsetto harmonies, they invited two teenage girl fans, into the studio to record backing vocals. Lennon was unsatisfied, however, and the session’s recordings were set aside, and the group opted to release Paul McCartney’s “Lady Madonna” backed with George Harrison’s “The Inner Light.” The group revisited the song after returning from India. During the sessions, comedian Spike Milligan dropped by the studio, and after hearing the song, suggested the track be released on a charity album he was organizing for the World Wildlife Fund. The Beatles agreed, and the song was mixed in January the following year, with the addition of bird sound effects. The song was then first released on the charity album titled “No One’s Gonna Change Our World” in December of 1969.

1974: “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John was released, the fourth and final single from his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road LP. The song reached #1 on the both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box charts, as well as #15 on the Billboard R&B chart.

1976: Fleetwood Mac released the Stevie Nicks-penned single “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win).” Originally released as part of the band’s eponymous debut album, the record became the group’s biggest hit yet, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1977: A live version of Wings’ “Maybe I’m Amazed” from their Wings over America album was released as a single. It later reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #28 in the UK.

1977: Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh studio album Rumours was released by Warner Bros. Records. The LP became the band’s most successful album, topping the Billboard pop chart for 31 non-consecutive weeks, winning the Grammy award for Album of the Year in 1978, and selling over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.

1978: “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gee, the third single released from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album, hit #1 in the US for the first of four weeks. It was replaced at the top spot by Bee Gees member Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water,” which in turn two weeks later ceded the position to another Bee Gees single from Saturday Night Fever, “Night Fever,” which held the #1 spot for another eight weeks.

1980: The Ramones’ fifth studio album End of the Century was released. It was the group’s first album produced by Phil Spector as well as the first without original member Tommy Ramone. The LP became the Ramones’ highest charting album of all time, reaching #44 on the Billboard pop chart and #14 on the UK chart.

1983: Echo and the Bunnymen’s third studio album Porcupine was released. It became the group’s highest charting album in the UK, debuting at the #2 spot a few days later.

1984: Eurythmics scored their first #1 album in the UK with their second LP Touch. In the US, it was their first of two top 10 albums, peaking at #7.

1984: Culture Club achieved their only #1 in the US with “Karma Chameleon,” which started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

1989: Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians’ debut album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars entered the top 10 on the Billboard pop chart. It was the group’s first and only top 10 LP and peaked at #4 two weeks later.

2008: On the 40th anniversary of the song’s recording, “Across the Universe” by the Beatles became the first song beamed into space, with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration transmitting the recording in the direction of the North Star, Polaris, 431 light years away. The transmission had been arranged by Beatles historian Martin Lewis, and also coincided with the celebrations of NASA’s 50th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1.

Birthdays Today

John Steel, original drummer for The Animals and the only original band member playing with the current incarnation of The Animals, was born in Gateshead, County Durham, England in 1941.

Barry Beckett, keyboardist and co-founder of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, was born in Sheffield, AL in 1943.

Jimmy Johnson, guitarist and co-founder of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, was born in Birmingham, AL in 1943.

Florence LaRue, singer and original member of The 5th Dimension, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1944.

Spyder Turner, soul singer, was born Dwight David Turner in Beckley, WV in 1947.

Alice Cooper, singer and songwriter, was born Vincent Damon Furnier in Detroit, MI in 1948.

Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser, identical twins and members of The Shangri-Las, were born in Oceanside, NY in 1948.

James Dunn, singer and member of the Stylistics, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1950.

Jerry Shirley, drummer for Humble Pie, was born in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, England in 1952.

Tim Booth, lead singer for James, was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England in 1960.