Today in Rock & Roll History: January 17th

1966: Simon and Garfunkel released their second studio album Sounds of Silence. Named after the duo’s first major hit, the LP went to #21 in the US and reached #13 in the UK.

1967: While writing “A Day in the Life,” John Lennon was reading a copy of The Daily Mail newspaper. The paper reported 4,000 potholes in Blackburn, Lancashire, along with the coroner’s verdict into the death of socialite, Guinness heir, and friend of the Beatles, Tara Browne, who had died in a car accident a month earlier. The articles indirectly inspired the opening lines of the song, though co-writer Paul McCartney later claimed the lyrics had no connection to Browne’s death.

1969: Elton John released his second single “Lady Samantha” in the UK, sixth months before his debut album. One year later, the record was released as Elton’s first single in America. Despite receiving a fair amount of airplay, the song failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic. Co-writer Bernie Taupin later recalled that the song was the first to represent the songwriting team’s new direction, encouraged by producer Steve Brown, who had suggested the two write songs for themselves, not the market.

1969: Aretha Franklin released her fourteenth studio album Soul ‘69. the album became her last of five #1 LPs on the Billboard R&B chart.

1970: The Doors began a two night stint performing four shows at the Felt Forum in New York City. The final show featured an extended encore with the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian on harmonica and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young session drummer Dallas Taylor playing percussion. Recordings from the shows were included in the Absolutely Live album released that summer, and the same concert recordings, along with additional unreleased material, were compiled for the Live in New York box set, released in 2009.

1972: “Mother and Child Reunion,” the lead single from Paul Simon’s self-titled second solo album, was released.

1974: Joni Mitchell’s sixth studio LP Court and Spark was released, later becoming her first and only #1 album in Canada, and her highest charting album in the US, reaching #2.

1974: Bob Dylan released his fourteenth studio album Planet Waves, backed with longtime collaborators The Band. The LP preceded a reunion tour between Dylan and The Band, selections from which were later released as Before The Flood. A month later, Planet Waves started four weeks as Dylan’s first #1 on the Billboard pop album chart.

1975: Blondie played their first gig at New York’s CBGB club, though singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein had already played at the venue as members of the Stilettos and the Angel and the Snake.

1978: Scottish band Simple Minds played their first “proper” gig at Satellite City in Glasgow.

1978: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made their first of three appearances as the Blues Brothers on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Birthdays Today

Jim Dickson, producer for the Byrds who convinced them to record Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” was an early bluegrass producer with Elektra Records, and produced two albums by The Flying Burrito Brothers, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1931.

Chris Montez, singer and songwriter known for his 1962 hit “Let’s Dance,” was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1943.

William Hart, songwriter and lead vocalist of the Delfonics, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1945.

Domenic Troiano, solo artist and guitarist with Mandala, the James Gang, and the Guess Who, was in Modugno, Italy in 1946.

Mick Taylor, guitarist with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Rolling Stones, the Jack Bruce Band, the Gods, and a solo artist, was born in Welwyn Garden City, England in 1949.

Ryuichi Sakamoto, musician, singer, composer, record producer, and activist, was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1952.

Steve Earle, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and social activist, was born in Fort Monroe, VA in 1955.

Paul Young, singer, songwriter, and musician, was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, England in 1956.

John Crawford, singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and co-founder of Berlin, was born in 1957.

Susanna Hoffs, guitarist, singer, and co-founder of the Bangles, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1959.

Andy Rourke, bassist for the Smiths, was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England in 1964.