Today in Rock & Roll History: January 3rd

1950: Sam Phillips launched independent record label Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. Sun was the first company to record such influential artists as Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.

1957: Fats Domino recorded “I’m Walkin’” at Cosimo Recording Studio in New Orleans. The song managed to reach #4 on the US pop charts and was his third release to hit the top of the Billboard R&B chart, where it stayed for six weeks.

1963: After placing 30 songs on the chart for Imperial Records, Rick Nelson signed an unprecedented 20-year, $1 million contract with Decca Records, with whom he went on to achieve six more top 20 hits.

1963: The Beatles began their first tour of the year with a five-day tour of Scotland to support the release of their new single “Love Me Do,” beginning with a performance in the town of Elgin.

1964: Following the huge success of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the US, Vee-Jay Records re-released the Beatles single “Please Please Me” after it had failed to make an impact upon it’s initial release the previous year. The re-issue made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over 1.1 million copies. The re-released record also corrected a misspelling of the “Beattles” name on the record.

1964: The Beatles appeared on US television for the first time when footage of the band performing “She Loves You” at a concert in Bournemouth, England was shown on The Jack Paar Show.

1967: The Bee Gees achieved their first recording success when their twelfth single “Spicks and Specks” rose to the top of the Australian singles chart. The group soon moved to England after their manager began promoting them to a worldwide audience.

1970: Britain’s Melody Maker magazine named Al Stewart’s second album Love Chronicles as its folk album of the year. The LP features guitar work by Jimmy Page and a supporting band the includes Fairport Convention members Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings and Martin Lamble. Due to record label contracts, they appear under pseudonyms. Despite the presence of Page and Fairport Convention, the album made little impact in the US and was soon out of print and remains a hard to find release.

1970: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr recorded Harrison’s “I Me Mine” at Abbey Road Studios in London during the group’s final recording session. Harrison’s lyrics comment on the tensions within the band that eventually lead to the breakup of the Beatles the following April.

1970: “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from the soundtrack to the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid became B.J. Thomas’ first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also won Best Original Song at the 42nd Academy Awards.

1970: “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Joe South and the Believers entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single later reached #12, the same position as South’s other highest charting record, “Games People Play.”

1970: Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett released his debut solo album The Madcap Laughs two years after leaving the band. The album was re-released in 1974 as Syd Barrett.

1970: “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & the Family Stone entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single became the group’s second #1 on the R&B and pop charts in February.

1974: Bob Dylan and the Band began a six week reunion tour in Chicago two weeks before the release of Dylan’s collaborative album with the Band, Planet Waves. Recordings from the tour were released six months later as the live album Before the Flood. The 40-concert tour was Dylan’s first tour since 1966 and his first time performing with the Band since New Year’s Day 1972.

1975: Spooky Tooth keyboardist Gary Wright debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist with “Dream Weaver.” According to Wright, the song had been inspired by the autobiography of Indian guru Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi which had been given to him by George Harrison. The expression “Dream Weaver” had been also been popularized by John Lennon in 1970 in his song “God.” The record later became the first of Wright’s two highest-charting songs, peaking at #2.

1976: Bay City Rollers scored their only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Saturday Night.”

1976: Former Temptations lead vocalist David Ruffin had his first and only #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart with “Walk Away from Love.” The single was Ruffin’s second of two top 40 hits on the Hot 100 pop chart, reaching #9, and was his only song to chart in the UK.

1987: Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Birthdays Today

George Martin, record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, musician, and one of the individuals referred to as the “fifth Beatle” due to his extensive involvement on each of the band’s original albums, was born in Highbury, London, England in 1926.

Gene Summers, rockabilly singer and songwriter, was born in Dallas, TX in 1939.

Van Dyke Parks, composer, arranger, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, was born in Hattiesburg, MS in 1943.

Stephen Stills, singer, songwriter, guitarist, member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and a solo artist, was born in Dallas, TX in 1945.

John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin bassist, keyboardist, writer, and arranger, was born John Richard Baldwin in Sidcup, London, England in 1946.

Curt Bisquera, session drummer who worked with such artists as Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Tom Petty, the Beach Boys, was born in Santa Maria, CA in 1959.

Kurt Vile, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, solo artist, and former lead guitarist for The War on Drugs, was born in Lansdowne, PA in 1980.