Today in Rock & Roll History: January 13th

1958: “Tequila” by Los Angeles group the Champs was released on the Challenge Records label. Written by saxophone player Danny Flores, the recording was a throwaway B-side to accompany their first single, “Train to Nowhere,” written by bandleader Dave Burgess. It was “Tequila” that became the bigger hit, reaching #1 in just three weeks, and the Champs became the first group to go to the top spot with an instrumental as their first release. The following year, the song also won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance. Members of the group included sax player Jim Seals and drummer Dash Crofts, who later became hit-makers on their own as Seals & Croft.

1958: Specialty Records released “Good Golly, Miss Molly” by Little Richard. The record became Richards’ third top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and ninth top 5 single on the R&B chart.

1962: “The Twist” by Chubby Checker became the only single to make it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on two separate occasions. The first time, in September of 1960 shortly after it’s release, and again in 1962 after the dance had caught on in high society. Celebrities were sighted doing the dance and long lines formed at nightclubs like the Peppermint Lounge in New York, the most popular celebrity twisting spot. The new interest in “The Twist” led to the single’s second rise to the top of the chart, and marked a major turning point for adult acceptance of rock and roll music.

1962: “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler entered the Billboard Hot 100. Five weeks later the record started three weeks at #1. Released Vee-Jay records, it became label’s first single to top the chart and their first million-seller. Penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards, the song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Edwards and Chandler, who went by his original name, Eugene Dixon. The pair worked on the song with songwriter and mentor Bernice Williams, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. However, the group’s record company preferred to release another song, “Nite Owl,” and left Dixon with the offer of releasing “Duke of Earl” as a solo artist. Dixon accepted and changed his name to Gene Chandler.

1963: The television play The Madhouse of Castle Street was transmitted by the BBC in London, featuring Bob Dylan portraying a young American folk singer. Director David Saville had seen Bob Dylan performing in New York City, prompting Dylan to make his first trip outside of North America. Despite Dylan’s lack of acting experience, he was originally cast in the leading role, but during rehearsals it became apparent that he was unable to learn his lines, with Dylan stating that he’d rather “express himself in song.” The play was then re-structured to split the lead role into two characters, with Dylan essentially playing himself.

1964: Bob Dylan’s third studio album The Times They Are a-Changin’ was released by Columbia Records.

1965: Recording sessions for Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home album began in Studio A at Columbia recording studios in New York City.

1968: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles scored their third #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “I Second That Emotion.”

1968: Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” entered the Billboard Hot 100 and later became group’s highest reaching US single, peaking at #5.

1968: Johnny Cash recorded his first live album At Folsom Prison. Backed with June Carter, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at California’s Folsom State Prison. The album became the first in a conceptual series of live albums recorded at prisons, including At San Quentin in 1969, På Österåker in 1973, and A Concert Behind Prison Walls in 1976. At Folsom Prison became one of Cash’s most successful albums, reaching #1 on the US country chart and sold over three million copies.

1969: Elvis Presley began a 10-day recording session that produced his final US #1 record, “Suspicious Minds.” The tracks were recorded at producer Chip Moman’s American Sound Studios in Memphis and marked the first time Presley recorded in his home town since his Sun Records days in the mid 1950s.

1969: Apple Records released the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine soundtrack LP in the United States.

1973: After a two year hiatus, caused by his descent into drug and alcohol addiction, Eric Clapton returned to the stage with two concerts at London’s Rainbow Theatre that had been organized by friend Pete Townshend as a form of musical intervention. Clapton was accompanied by an all-star band that included Townshend, Steve Windwood, Ronnie Wood, and Jim Capaldi. Highlights from the concerts were released later that year as Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert. In the year following the two shows at the Rainbow, Clapton recovered from his heroin addiction and recorded his second solo LP 461 Ocean Boulevard.

1973: Carly Simon’s breakthrough third album No Secrets reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart for the first of five weeks.

1978: Work began on Outlandos d’Amour, the debut album by the Police, at the Surrey Sound Studios in London.

1978: Earth, Wind & Fire had their sixth #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “September.”

Birthdays Today

Bobby Lester, lead vocalist for the Moonglows and a solo artist, was born in Louisville, KY in 1930.

John Lees, guitarist and founder of Barclay James Harvest, was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England in 1947.

Chris Thomas, record producer who has worked extensively with groups that include the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, Badfinger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, and the Pretenders, was born in Brentford, Middlesex, England in 1947.

Leon Hendrix, artist, guitarist, singer, and younger brother of Jimi Hendrix, was born in Seattle, WA in 1948.

Trevor Rabin, musician, singer-songwriter, producer, composer, and session musician with a variety of artists prior to forming Rabbitt and Cinema, and joining Yes as a guitarist in the early 1980s, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1954.

Mark Karan, guitarist, singer, and member of the Other Ones, Bob Weir and RatDog, and leader of Jemimah Puddleduck, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1955.

Fred White, drummer and early member of Earth, Wind & Fire, was born in Chicago, IL in 1955.

Don Snow, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and keyboardist for Squeeze who’s also known for his work with The Sinceros, Procol Harum, the Catch, and Van Morrison, was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1954.

Graham “Suggs” McPherson, solo artist and lead singer of Madness, was born in Hastings, Sussex, England in 1961.

Wayne Coyne, lead singer, guitarist and founding member of the Flaming Lips, was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1961.