Today in Rock & Roll History: January 31st

1957: Decca Records announced that “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets, which had become a hit in Great Britain before it was re-released in the United States, had sold over a million copies in the UK, mostly on 10-inch 78 rpm records.

1959: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper plaed the Armory in Duluth, Minnesota as part of the Winter Dance Party tour. In attendance was 17-year-old Robert Zimmerman, who was inspired by the show to become a musician and later performed under the name Bob Dylan.

1961: Bobby Darin hosted Bobby Darin and Friends on NBC, making him the youngest person to headline a television special.

1963: Two former members of the Shadows, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, were at #1 on the UK singles chart for the first of three weeks with the instrumental hit “Diamonds.” It was the first major session for Jimmy Page as rhythm guitarist, and after “Diamonds” became a hit, Harris and Meehan hired bassist John Paul Jones to be a member of their touring band.

1965: The Rolling Stones’ second UK album Rolling Stones No. 2 hit #1 on the album chart. The LP occupied the top spot for ten out of the next twelve weeks, dipping down to the #2 spot first for the Beatles’ Beatles for Sale and seven weeks later for Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

1967: During a lunch break while filming a promotional film for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John Lennon and associate Tony Bramwell stopped at an antique shop and bought an 1843 Victorian circus poster reading “Grandest Night of the Season—For the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” which inspired the song of the same name whose lyrics were adapted from the poster.

1969: After working with the Beatles during their Get Back sessions, Billy Preston signed with the group’s Apple Records label. His first single on label “That’s the Way God Planned It” was produced by George Harrison.

1969: Two and a half weeks after the release of their debut album, Led Zeppelin played the first of two nights at the Fillmore East in New York City during the band’s first North American tour, opening for Iron Butterfly. Despite Iron Butterfly having a much bigger following at the time, many in attendance were eager to see former Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page’s new band.

1970: British blues band Fleetwood Mac debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Oh Well.”

1970: “I Want You Back,” the first single released by the Jackson 5 on Motown Records, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as it began its fourth and final week at the top of the R&B chart. The group went on to achieve over 30 more top 40 hits in the US and UK.

1971: “Jackson 5 Day” was declared in their hometown of Gary, Indiana when the group returned for the first time since moving to California to perform at West Side High School.

1974: After five months of recovery from a near-fatal car crash that left him in a coma, Stevie Wonder returned to performing with a show at London’s Rainbow Theater.

1979: British punk rock band The Clash launched their first tour of North America with a gig at the Commodore Ballroom in Vacouver, British Columbia, Canada. Bo Diddley opened for the band during the tour at the request of singer Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon. Originally dubbed the “Pearl Harbor ’79 Tour,” it was re-titled the “Give ‘Em Enough Rope Tour” after their newly released second album because their label, Epic Records, was worried about negative reactions from American audiences. A week later the band played their first US show at the Berkeley Community Theatre in California.

1981: Blondie had their third #1 in the US with “The Tide is High,” a song originally recorded in 1962 by John Holt and his Jamaican band The Paragons. Blondie’s version had become their fifth UK #1 in November the year before as well an international top 10 hit.

1987: Paul Simon’s seventh solo studio album Graceland went to #1 on the UK chart, making it his second British #1 and first since his self-titled LP in 1972.

Birthdays Today

Roosevelt Sykes, blue musician, singer, and pianist also known as “The Honeydripper,” was born in Elmar, AR in 1906.

Chuck Willis, blues, R&B, and rock singer and songwriter, was born Harold Jerome Willis in Atlanta, GA in 1926.

Al De Lory, record producer, arranger, conductor, and musician who, in addition to being a member of the Wrecking Crew session group, also produced hits for such artists as Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, Donovan, Dobie Gray, and The Turtles, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1930.

Rick Hall, producer, songwriter, recorder, and owner of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama until his death in 2018, was born in Tishomingo County, MS in 1932.

Charlie Musselwhite, blues singer, songwriter, harmonica player, and bandleader, was born in Kosciusko, MS in 1944.

Terry Kath, musician, songwriter, and founding member of Chicago who was the band’s original guitarist and one of their lead singers, was born in Chicago, IL in 1946.

Phil Manzanera, record producer and lead guitarist for Roxy Music, was born in London, England in 1951.

William “Curly” Smith, drummer and vocalist for Jo Jo Gunne, was born in Wolf Point, MN in 1952.

Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd, was born John Joseph Lydon in Holloway, London, England in 1956.

Lloyd Cole, signer, songwriter, solo artist, and lead vocalist of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, was born in Buxton, Derbyshire, England in 1961.

Jimmy Ryser, solo artist and guitarist with John Mellencamp, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1965.

Alan Doughty, bassist for Jesus Jones, was born Alan Jaworksi in Plymouth, Devon, England in 1966.

Jason Cooper, drummer for the Cure, was born in London, England in 1967.