Today in Rock & Roll History: January 26th

1934: The Apollo Theater opened in Harlem with a show titled “Jazz a la Carte,” headlined by Benny Carter and his Orchestra, Ralph Cooper, and Aida Ward.

1956: Buddy Holly began his first recording sessions as Buddy and the Two Tones at country producer Owen Bradley’s barn studio in Nashville in the first of three sessions for Decca Records. Songs recorded during the sessions included “Blue Days, Black Nights,” “Rock Around with Ollie Vee,” “Love Me,” “Modern Don Juan,” a cover of “Bo Diddley,” “Have You Ever Been Lonely,” and many more. Also recorded was the first version of “That’ll Be the Day.” Performing on the recordings with Holly were guitarists Sonny Curtis and Grady Martin, upright bassists Don Guess and Larry Welborn, and drummers Jerry Allison and Doug Kirkham. The Decca recordings failed to produce a hit single, but after Holly found success on the Brunswick and Coral labels, Decca released the 1956 recordings in 1958 as That’ll be the Day, Holly’s third and final studio album released before his death in 1959.

1957: Fats Domino began eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “Blue Monday.”

1963: “Walk Like a Man” by The 4 Seasons entered the Billboard Hot 100. Five weeks later the single became the group’s third straight #1.

1963: The Rooftop Singers were at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first of two weeks with “Walk Right In,” a song originally recorded by Memphis blues trio Cannon’s Jug Stompers in 1929. The new recording reached #10 in the UK, #1 in Australia, #4 on US Billboard R&B chart, and #23 on US country charts.

1968: Pink Floyd played their first gig without lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist Syd Barrett. After struggling with Barrett’s erratic behavior, the band’s four other members opted not to pick him up on the way to their show at Southhampton University. Keyboardist Rick White later announced Barrett’s official departure from the band in April.

1969: Ringo Starr wrote “Octopus’s Garden” with the help of George Harrison during the fifteenth day of filming the Beatles’ “Get Back”/”Let It Be” sessions.

1970: Simon & Garfunkel released their fifth and final studio album, Bridge over Troubled Water.

1970: Chicago released Chicago, their second studio album and first after changing their name from Chicago Transit Authority to simply Chicago. It was also the band’s first LP to feature their cursive logo and is commonly known as Chicago II.

1973: Less than a week after it was released in the UK, Elton John’s sixth studio album, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, was issued in the US.

1974: Dolly Parton debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Jolene,” the lead single and title track from her thirteenth studio album.

1974: Al Green scored his fourth #1 single on the Billboard R&B chart with the title track from his seventh studio album, Livin’ For You.

1974: Ringo Starr’s recording of the Johnny Burnette hit, “You’re Sixteen,” became his second solo #1 in the US. The song features a kazoo solo by Paul McCartney.

1979: Generation X released second studio album, Valley of the Dolls.

1980: Prince made his television debut on American Bandstand on ABC.

Birthdays Today

Jimmy Van Heusen, songwriter, composer, and pianist who composed songs such as “Come Fly With Me,” “Ring-a-Ding Ding!,” and “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” was born Edward Chester Babcock in Syracuse, NY in 1913.

Page Cavanaugh, jazz and pop pianist, vocalist, and arranger, was born Walter Page Cavanaugh—Cherokee, KS in 1922.

Coxsone Dodd, record producer influential in the development of ska and reggae in the 1950s and 1960s, was born Clement Seymour Dodd in Kingston, Jamaica in 1932.

Huey “Piano” Smith, R&B pianist, was born Huey Pierce Smith in New Orleans, LA in 1934.

Alison Steele, progressive rock radio DJ known as “The Nightbird” who was the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s “Night Bird Flying,” was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1937.

Marshall Leib, singer and original member of The Teddy Bears who performed backing vocals on their hit “To Know Him Is to Love Him”, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1939.

Jean Knight, soul, R&B, and funk singer best known for her hit single “Mr. Big Stuff,” was born in New Orleans, LA in 1943.

Merrilee Rush, singer best known for her recording of the song “Angel of the Morning,” was born in Seattle, WA in 1944.

Ashley Hutchings, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and bassist for Fairport Convention, was born in Southgate, England in 1945.

Deon Jackson, R&B singer-songwriter known for his 1966 hit “Love Makes the World Go Round,” was born in Ann Arbor, MI in 1946.

Corky Laing, drummer for Mountain, was born Laurence Gordon Laing in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1948.

Derek Holt, guitarist with the Climax Blues Band, was born in Stafford, England in 1949.

Paul Pena, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born in Hyannis, MA in 1950.

David Briggs, lead guitarist for the Little River Band as well as an engineer and producer, was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1951.

Andy Hummel, singer, songwriter, and bassist for Big Star, was born in Valley Forge, PA in 1951.

Christopher North, keyboardist and vocalist for Ambrosia, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1951.

Maurice Bacon, drummer for Love Affair, was born in Southgate, London, England in 1952.

Lucinda Williams, singer, songwriter, and musician, was born in Lake Charles, LA in 1953.

Eddie Van Halen, songwriter, musician, producer, and co-founder of Van Halen, was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1955.

Norman Hassan, percussionist, vocalist, and trombone player for UB40, was born in Birmingham, England in 1958.

Charlie Gillingham, multi-instrumentalist with Counting Crows, was born in Torrance, CA in 1960.

Andrew Ridgeley, singer, songwriter, and half of pop duo Wham! with George Michael, was born in Windlesham, Surrey, England in 1963.

Susannah Melvoin, vocalist, songwriter, and member of Prince’s band The Revolution who has also worked with Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Mike Oldfield, Madonna, her twin sister Wendy Melvoin, and her husband Doyle Bramhall II, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1964.