Today in Rock & Roll History: January 21st

1957: Chuck Berry recorded “School Days” for Chess Records at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, IL. Backing Berry during sessions were guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums. After its release the following March, the single reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the R&B Best Sellers chart, and became Berry’s first to enter the UK singles chart, where it reached #24.

1961: Del Shannon recorded his first single “Runaway,” written by Shannon and keyboardist Max Crook. The song topped the US charts in April and also reached #1 in the UK and Australia.

1964: Peter and Gordon recorded the Lennon-McCartney tune “A World Without Love.” The song topped the UK singles chart by the end of April. In 1963, McCartney had moved into the home of his then-girlfriend Jane Asher, sharing a room with her brother Peter, who asked McCartney if he could record the song after he and Gordon Wallace had together signed a record contract with Columbia Records. The song is one of two written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to reach #1 in the US by an artist other than the Beatles.

1965: A show featuring the Animals at New York’s Apollo Theater was canceled after US Immigration Department officials, continuing a crackdown on UK bands, forced the group to leave the country.

1965: Over 3,000 fans met the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison at Sydney’s airport when they arrived for a 16-date tour of Australia and New Zealand. Additional acts on the tour included Louisiana vocal trio the Newbeats and New Zealand band Ray Columbus and the Invaders.

1965: The self-titled debut album by the Four Tops was released. Written and produced by Motown’s main writing and producing team Holland-Dozier-Holland, the LP includes the singles “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Without the One You Love (Life’s Not Worth While),” and “Ask the Lonely,” and is the group’s only studio album to reach #1.

1966: The Trips Festival began at San Francisco’s Longshoremen’s Hall. Considered the beginning of the city’s Haight-Ashbury era, the three-day event drew together the city’s diverse underground art scene, including rock groups, experimental theater performers, dance companies, light show artists, and film producers. Though it wasn’t billed as a concert, the performances by the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company captivated audiences, and when organizer Bill Graham took over the Fillmore Auditorium two weeks later, his first weekend show was advertised as “The Sights and Sounds of the Trips Festival.”

1967: “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones entered the Billboard Hot 100. Six weeks later the single reached #1.

1968: Less than two months after Bob Dylan recorded “All Along The Watchtower,” the Jimi Hendrix Experience started sessions to record their own version of the song at Olympic Studios in London. Traffic guitarist Dave Mason joined in on the sessions, playing a 12-string guitar, as well as the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones, who played various percussion instruments. Halfway through the sessions, bassist Noel Redding grew dissatisfied with how things were proceeding and left, leaving Mason, and eventually Hendrix, to play bass on the track.

1972: At the Portsmouth Guildhall in England, Pink Floyd performed for the first time the entirety of their then work-in-progress album titled Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics. The project’s name was briefly changed to Eclipse when British blues duo Medicine Head released an album also titled Dark Side of the Moon, but after it proved to be a commercial dud, Pink Floyd reverted the project back to its original title.

1975: Earth, Wind & Fire released “Shining Star,” the lead single from the group’s That’s the Way of the World album. The record went to the top of both Billboard’s Hot 100 and R&B charts shortly after the album’s release in March.

1978: The soundtrack album to the film Saturday Night Fever, composed and performed primarily by the Bee Gees, topped the Billboard album chart for the first of 24 straight weeks. The album, which epitomized the disco phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic, also spent 18 weeks at #1 in the UK.

1978: Art Garfunkel’s cover of the Sam Cooke song “Wonderful World,” featuring Paul Simon and James Taylor, entered the Billboard Hot 100 on its way to #17.

1979: Ian Dury and the Blockheads hit #1 in the UK for the one and only time with “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.”

1984: Tina Turner debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist with her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” the first single released from her Private Dance LP.

1984: Yes went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the only time with “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

Birthdays Today

Snooks Eaglin, blues guitarist and singer, was born Fird Eaglin, Jr. in New Orleans, LA in 1937.

Wolfman Jack, rock and roll disc jockey, actor and entertainer, was born Robert Weston Smith in New York City in 1938.

Richie Havens, folk singer and guitarist, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1941.

Keith Barbour, member of The New Christy Minstrels and solo artist, was born in New York City in 1941.

Edwin Starr, soul singer and songwriter, was born Charles Edwin Hatcher in Nashville, TN in 1942.

Mac Davis, singer, songwriter, actor, and solo artist who wrote hits for Elvis Presley such as “In the Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation,” was born in Lubbock, TX in 1942.

Chris Britton, guitarist for the Troggs, was born in Watford, England in 1945.

Pete Kircher, drummer for Status Quo from 1982-1985, was born in Folkestone, Kent, England in 1945.

Jimmy Ibbotson, multi-instrumentalist for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a solo artist, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1947.

Billy Ocean, R&B singer-songwriter, was born Leslie Sebastian Charles in Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago in 1950.

Rob Brill, drummer for Berlin from 1983-1987, was born in 1956.

Kenneth Kinsey, bassist for The Kinsey Report, was born in Gary, IN in 1963.

Wendy James, singer-songwriter and vocalist for Transvision Vamp, was born in London, England in 1966.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy, singer-songwriter and actor, was born William Oldham in Louisville, KY in 1970.

Mark Trojanowski, drummer for Sister Hazel, was born in 1970.