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 eighteen-day residency in Paris performing two concerts at the Olympia Theatre.

1966: “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK one week 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. The record’s B-side, “As Tears Go By,” had been issued in the US an A-side in December 1965.

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 right 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 1969.

1974: Pink Floyd released “Us and Them” backed with “Time” as the second single from their eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon.

1974: Elton John released “Bennie and the Jets,” the fourth and final single from his seventh studio album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. 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).” The third single from the band’s tenth studio 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 triple album was released as a single. It later reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #28 in the UK.

1977: Elton John released “Crazy Water,” the third single from his eleventh studio album, Blue Moves.

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

1978: “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gee, the third single 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 “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by the youngest Gibb brother, Andy Gibb. Two weeks later, it ceded the position to another Bee Gees single from Saturday Night Fever, “Night Fever,” which held the #1 spot for another eight weeks.

1980: Peter Gabriel released “Games Without Frontiers” as the lead single from his third eponymous solo studio album.

1980: The Ramones released their fifth studio album, End of the Century. It was the group’s first album produced by Phil Spector as well as their 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.

1988: Widespread Panic’s first studio album, Space Wrangler, was released on small Atlanta label Landslide Records.

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

1991: Queen released their fourteenth studio album, Innuendo. It was the band’s last album released in lead singer Freddie Mercury’s lifetime and their most recent LP composed of entirely new material.

1997: Widespread Panic released their fifth studio album, Bombs & Butterflies.

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 and the 50th anniversary of the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1.

Birthdays Today

Paul Burlison, rockabilly guitarist and founding member of The Rock And Roll Trio with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, was born in Brownsville, TN in 1929.

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.

Matthieu Hartley, original keyboardist for The Cure, was born in Smallfield, Surrey, England in 1960.