Today in Rock & Roll History: January 15th

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: Sessions began for Elvis Presley’s second soundtrack album King Creole with the recording of “Hard Headed Woman,” “Trouble,” and “New Orleans.”

1961: Vocal girl group the Primettes signed with Motown Records and changed their name to the Supremes. They ultimately became the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts as well as one of the most successful vocal groups in America.

1965: The Beatles released “Ticket to Ride” in the UK. It became the band’s seventh consecutive British #1 and after the single’s US release in April, it became their third consecutive #1 hit in the States

1965: “Tired of Waiting for You,” the lead single from the Kinks’ second album, Kinda Kinks, was released in the UK, where it later reached the top of the singles chart. It was released a month later in the US, where it peaked at #6 on Billboard Hot 100, making it the highest charting Kinks single in America until the band’s 1983 hit “Come Dancing” reached the same position.

1965: The Who released “I Can’t Explain” backed with “Bald Headed Woman,” the first single released under their new name. The group’s previous single “Zoot Suit” backed with “I’m the Face” had been released under the name “the High Numbers.” Only a thousand records were initially pressed, with another 100 thousand issued as the single began climbing the charts, ultimately peaking at #8 in the UK.

1965: The Rolling Stones No. 2, the second British album by the Rolling Stones was released. The LP spent ten weeks at #1 and became one of the year’s biggest sellers in the UK.

1966: “Five O’ Clock World” by Pittsburgh vocal group The Vogues peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, tying with their previous single, “You’re the One,” as their highest reaching record on the US pop charts.

1967: The Rolling Stones made their fifth and penultimate appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. At Sullivan’s request, the band changed the lyrics of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to the more family-friendly “Let’s spend some time together.” It was reported that Sullivan’s exact words were “Either the song goes, or you go.”

1967: The Buckinghams recorded “Don’t You Care” with producer Jim Guercio at Columbia Studios in New York. The single spent fourteen weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and became their second top 10 hit, reaching #6.

1968: The Byrds released their fifth studio album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers. The pinnacle of the band’s psychedelic experimentation and genre-blending, the LP hinted at the country rock direction that the band later pursued on their next album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Producer Gary Usher made extensive use of studio effects, and it was the first time the band employed the use of pedal steel guitar as well as the Moog modular synthesizer—one of the first albums to do so.

1969: After George Harrison’s sudden departure from the Beatles during the recording of their “Get Back” sessions, all four Beatles met to discuss the future of the group. Over the course of their five-hour meeting, Harrison made it clear he would not rejoin unless the idea of a live show before an audience was dropped and recording was moved from Twichenham Film Studios to the new studio in the basement of Apple Record’s headquarters in Savile Row, London. He did, however, agree to be filmed making an album, and his new rules didn’t rule out a live performance for the cameras.

1970: Aretha Franklin released her sixteenth studio album, This Girl’s In Love With You. The LP includes her cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” which was the first recording of the song to be commercially issued.

1970: Dusty Springfield released her sixth studio album, A Brand New Me.

1971: John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat released the collaborative double album, Hooker ‘n Heat. It was Canned Heat’s last album to feature harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter Alan Wilson, and it was Hooker’s first album to chart, reaching #78 in the Billboard charts.

1971: “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison was issued in the UK following its release in the US in November 1970.

1971: David Bowie released “Holy Holy” as a single. Both it and its B-side, “Black Country Rock,” were significantly inspired by British group Tyrannosaurus Rex.

1972: “Sunshine,” the first single by Jonathan Edwards from his self-titled debut album, peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Edwards’ only song to reach the top 100 on the US pop charts.

1972: Don McLean scored his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the title track from his second album, American Pie. The single was McLean’s first entry on the Hot 100 and the first of two top 10 singles on the pop chart.

1973: Johnny Nash released his cover of Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up.” It became his third and final top 20 hit in the US, reaching #12.

1977: Stevie Wonder started five weeks at the top of the Billboard R&B chart with “I Wish,” the first single from his Songs in the Key of Life album.

1977: The Eagles’ fifth studio album Hotel California started the first of eight non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard pop album chart. It was the band’s first LP with Joe Walsh and last with bassist Randy Misner, and became the band’s best-selling album, with over 16 million copies sold in the US and 42 million worldwide.

1977: Leo Sayer scored his first of two #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”

1981: Marvin Gaye released his sixteenth studio album, In Our Lifetime?. It was Gaye’s last album with Motown Records before leaving for Columbia Records.

1982: The Police kicked off the North American leg of their 119-date Ghost in the Machine world tour at Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, supported by the Go-Gos.

1983: Men at Work’s biggest hit, “Down Under,” was at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first of four non-consecutive weeks.

1983: Phil Collins went to #1 in the UK with his cover of the Supremes’ single “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

1990: They Might Be Giants released Flood, their third studio album and first with major label Elektra Records. It is their best-selling and most recognizable album, and is generally considered to be the band’s signature release.

1990: English band The Sundays released their debut studio album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

1990: Phil Collins released “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” the second single from his fourth solo studio album, …But Seriously.

Birthdays Today

Gene Krupa, jazz drummer, band leader, and composer who elevated the role of the drummer from an accompanying line to an important solo voice in the band and was a major force in defining the standard band drummer’s kit, was born in Chicago, IL in 1909.

Earl Hooker, Chicago blues guitarist known for his slide guitar playing who performed with artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells, and John Lee Hooker and fronted his own bands, was born in Quitman County, MS in 1930.

Edward “Sonny” Bivins, singer, songwriter, and member of the Manhattans, was born in Macon, GA in 1936.

Captain Beefheart, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, was born Don Van Vliet in Glendale, CA in 1941.

Joan Marie Johnson, founding member of The Dixie Cups, was born in 1944.

Bobby Bloom, singer, songwriter best known for his 1970 hit “Montego Bay”, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1946.

Peter Waterman, member of songwriting and producing trio Stock Aitken Waterman, was born in Stoke Heath, Coventry, Warwickshire, England in 1947.

Ronnie Van Zant, founding member, primary lyricist, and original Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist, was born in Jacksonville, FL in 1948.

Melvyn Gale, cellist for Electric Light Orchestra from 1975-1979, was born in London, England in 1952.

Boris Blank, musician and half of the duo Yellow, was born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1952.

Pete Trewavas, bassist for Marillion, was born in Middlesbrough, England in 1959.

Damien O’Neill, lead guitarist for the Undertones, was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1961.