1957: Elvis Presley recorded “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. The single reached #1 on US singles charts for seven weeks that summer as well as #1 on R&B and country charts.
1960: After leaving the independent Keen Records label, Sam Cooke became one of the first major black artists to sign with RCA Records.
1962: Gene Chandler made his television debut on American Bandstand.
1963: Gerry and the Pacemakers recorded their debut single, “How Do You Do It?,” at EMI Studios in London. The song’s producer, George Martin of EMI, had decided to pick up the song for the new group he was producing, the Beatles, who had recorded the song in September of 1962, but chose not to release it. As Gerry and the Pacemakers’ first single release, the song also became their first UK #1.
1963: The Drifters recorded “On Broadway.” The song was written Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, along with the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and originally recorded by female R&B groups the Cookies and the Crystals. The Drifters had been scheduled to record in the studio and were one song short. Mann and Weil proposed “On Broadway,” but Leiber and Stoller felt the song wasn’t quite right, so the four held an overnight brainstorming session that produced the more well-known version. The Drifters’ recording, with a young Phil Spector playing lead guitar, ultimately reached #9 on the US pop charts and #7 on the R&B chart.
1965: “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones, from his debut album, Along Came Jones, was released in the UK. Written by Les Reed and Gordon Mills, it was first recorded by Jones as a demo for singer Sandie Shaw. Shaw was so impressed with Jones’ performance that she declined the song and recommended that Jones release it himself. His second single for Decca Records, it went to #1 on the UK chart and peaked at #10 in the US after it was released in the States in March.
1965: Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders released “The Game of Love.” The single became their biggest hit and only #1 on the US charts.
1966: The Knickerbockers’s hit single “Lies” peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the group’s highest reaching song and only top 40 record on the chart.
1966: The Beach Boys began work on “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” with members of the Wrecking Crew session players, recording twenty-one takes of the song’s instrumental track at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles with Brian Wilson producing. Vocals for the song were recorded later in March.
1966: Stevie Wonder began five weeks at #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart with “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).”
1967: Simon & Garfunkel performed a live concert at the Philharmonic Hall in New York City. Some of the concert was later released in 1997 on their box set Old Friends, but most of the recordings were not released until July of 2002 on the album Live from New York City, 1967.
1968: New Orleans musician Mac Rebennack released Gris-Gris, his debut album as Dr. John. Rebennack had wanted to make an album that combined different forms of New Orleans music behind a front man called “Dr. John,” after a black man named Dr. John Montaine, who claimed to be an African monarch. Rebennack initially wanted singer Ronnie Barron to front the band, but his manager advised him against it, so Rebennack adopted the Dr. John stage name himself.
1968: Los Angeles band Spirit released their self-titled debut album.
1968: Canned Heat released their second studio album, Boogie with Canned Heat. Unlike their debut LP, it features mostly original material.
1968: Aretha Franklin released her twelfth studio album, Lady Soul. It became her third straight LP to reach #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart and the top 5 on the pop chart.
1968: Offices for the Beatles’ business venture, Apple Corps., opened on the fourth floor of 95 Wigmore Street in London. Apple’s staff were unable to play records during office hours so as to not disturb the building’s other tenants, so operations were relocated to 3 Savile Row in mid-July, though some parts of Apple remained at the Wigmore Street address until the expiration of their year-long lease.
1969: On the eleventh day of recording the Beatles’ contentious “Get Back”/”Let It Be” sessions, and the second day of recording at Apple Studios, George Harrison invited keyboardist Billy Preston to join the band in the studio. Preston’s presence on piano and keyboards helped the group’s sound as well as greatly improved the mood in the studio, and Preston’s contributions feature prominently on the resulting Let It Be LP.
1972: Don McLean’s second studio album, American Pie, started seven weeks as his only #1 on the Billboard pop album chart.
1972: Yes entered the Billboard pop chart with Fragile, the group’s fourth studio and album and first with former Strawbs keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The LP became the band’s first to reach the top 10 in the US, peaking at #4, as well as their second to do so in the UK, where it reached #7.
1973: “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack, a song originally recorded by Lori Lieberman in 1971, was released as a single. The record later became Flack’s second #1 on the US pop charts.
1977: Hall & Oates released “Rich Girl,” the first single from their fifth studio album, Bigger Than Bother of Us.
1977: Wings went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart with their triple live album Wings Over America, making it Paul McCartney’s sixth chart-topping album in the US since leaving The Beatles.
1977: A week after reaching the top of the Billboard R&B chart, “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder topped the Hot 100 pop chart.
1984: Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut single, “Relax,” began five weeks at the top of the UK singles chart despite being banned by the BBC two weeks earlier. The single went on to enjoy prolonged chart success and sold over two million copies in the UK alone. By the end of the year, the BBC lifted its ban on the song and the band performed it on a Christmas Day edition of Top of the Pops and Radio 1’s rundown of the best-selling singles of the year.
1994: Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “All for Love,” a song written for the 1993 film The Three Musketeers.
2000: Santa topped the Billboard pop album chart with their eighteenth studio album, Supernatural.
Sam Cooke, soul and gospel singer, was born in Clarkesdale, MS in 1931.
Eugene Church, R&B singer, songwriter, and collaborator with Jesse Belvin as The Cliques, was born in St. Louis, MO in 1938.
Addie “Micki” Harris, singer with the Shirelles, was born in Passaic, NJ in 1940.
Mick Grabham, guitarist for Procol Harum from 1972-1977 and a solo artist, was born in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England in 1948.
Nigel Pegrum, drummer for Small Faces and Steeleye Span, was born in North Wales in 1949.
Michael Hutchence, founding member, lyricist, and lead singer for INXS, was born in Sydney, Autralia in 1960.
Andrew Cash, singer-songwriter turned politician, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1962.
Jimmy Herring, lead guitarist for Widespread Panic who also played with the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Dead, was born in Fayetteville, NC in 1962.