Today in Rock & Roll History: January 1st

1955: In an effort to make recordings a mass consumer item and to raise the “deteriorating” moral of dealers, RCA Victor announced a marketing plan called “Operation TNT.” The company dropped the list price on LPs from $5.95 to $3.98, EPs from $4.95 to $2.98, 45rpm EPs from $1.58 to $1.49 and 45rpm singles from $1.16 to $.89. Other record labels followed RCA’s lead and began to drop prices as well.

1956: Carl Perkins’ recording of “Blue Suede Shoes” was released by Sun Records. The song became Perkins’ first record to chart, his first #1 in February, and in March, he became the first country artist to reach the #3 spot on the rhythm and blues charts.

1962: The Beatles played their first audition for a major record label, Decca Records, in London. Executives declined to offer them a contract and instead signed another band that had auditioned the same day, the Tremeloes. Head of A&R Dick Rowe, who made the decision, recalled that the Beatles were rejected because they came from Liverpool, whereas the Tremeloes, who hailed from Dagenham, were more local and therefore easier to work with. The official reason, given to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, was that “guitar groups were on their way out.” Rowe did however, sign the Rolling Stones to the label at the recommendation of Beatles guitarist George Harrison.

1964: BBC television premiered Top of the Pops, a new musical variety show hosted by radio disc jockey Jimmy Saville. The program was kicked off by Dusty Springfield who performed “I Only Want to Be With You,” followed by lip-synced performances by the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Hollies, and the Swinging Blue Jeans.

1966: Simon and Garfunkel had their first #1 single in the US with “The Sound of Silence.” Throughout the month of January, the record twice traded places with the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” as the top song on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. In the wake of the song’s success, Simon promptly returned to the United States to record a new Simon & Garfunkel album at Columbia’s request.

1966: New Jersey quintet the Knickerbockers entered the top 40 on the Billboard singles chart for the first time with “Lies,” making it to #20 during the song’s thirteen-week chart run.

1967: The Doors made their first live television appearance on KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles lip-synching their first single “Break on Through.” The show was hosted by Casey Kasem and produced by Dick Clark.

1968: Berkley, California rock group the Golliwogs made the decision to change their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Rejected band names included Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence Nuball and the Ruby. They eventually settled on Creedence Clearwater Revival, inspired by friend of Tom Fogerty, Credence Newball, a TV commercial for Olympia Beer that marketed the beverage as “clear water,” and the four members’ renewed commitment to the band.

1969: Scottish pop rock band Marmalade had their first and only #1 on the UK singles chart with their cover of the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” making them the first Scottish group to top the chart.

1972: Carole King’s third album Music, the follow-up to her previous #1 LP Tapestry, reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

1972: Faces debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Stay With Me.” The single became the group’s biggest hit in the US, climbing to #17.

1974: Joni Mitchell’s sixth album Court and Spark was released. The LP became her biggest chart success, reaching #2 in the US and #1 in her home country of Canada.

1977: The Clash headlined the grand opening of the Roxy in London, establishing both the band and the venue in London’s exploding punk scene. The Roxy’s success was short-lived however, and the club was shuttered just over a year later in April of 1978.

Birthdays Today

Country Joe McDonald, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer of Country Joe and the Fish, was born Joseph Allen McDonald in Washington, D.C. in 1942.

Chris Youlden, vocalist for Savoy Brown from 1967-1970 and solo artist, was born in Dagenham, England in 1943.

Morgan Fisher, Mott the Hoople’s second keyboardist from 1973-1980, was born in Mayfair, London, England in 1950.

Steve Ripley, songwriter, studio engineer, guitarist, inventor, and leader of The Tractors, who also worked with artists like Bob Dylan, J.J. Cale, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and as the founder of Ripley Guitars, created guitars for John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Jimmy Buffett, Eddie Van Halen, and others, was born in Boise, ID in 1950.