Today in Rock & Roll History: January 4th

1936: After shifting its focus strictly to music, Billboard magazine published its first ever pop music chart, and one of the first of its kind, listing the most popular music of that week. At the time, it was referred to as “The Hit Parade.” The magazine’s first #1 was “Stop! Look! Listen!” by jazz violinist Joe Venuti. By 1955 the magazine published three charts tracking the biggest selling singles in stores, the most played songs on US radio stations, and the most played songs on jukeboxes across the country. In 1958, Billboard premiered a singular all-genre singles chart called the “Hot 100.”

1954: Four days before his twentieth birthday, truck driver Elvis Presley paid $4 to record a 10-inch acetate demo at the Memphis Recording Service, an open-to-the-public business run by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. The two songs Presley recorded, “I’ll Never Stand In Your Way” and “It Wouldn’t Be the Same Without You,” impressed Phillips enough that he had Presley record his first professional sides for Sun Records the following August.

1958: “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors reached #1 for the first of five weeks on the US Cashbox singles chart. The following week, the song began five weeks at the top of Billboard’s “Best Sellers in Stores” chart, and in March, became the group’s only British top 10 hit. The group originally went by the name the Juvenaires and had originally recorded the song with the title “Do the Bop,” penned by group member Dave White, and it was released by Singuar Records, a local Philadelphia label. Artie Singer, a local disc jockey and co-writer of the song, took it to a fellow DJ named Dick Clark. Clark liked the tune and suggested the group change their name to Danny and the Juniors and re-name the song. They re-recorded it as “At the Hop” and it became a local hit. In December they got the opportunity to be a last-minute substitute on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show, where they got to perform for a national audience. The song became a nationwide hit after ABC-Paramount bought the master recording and released it in January of 1958.

1960: “El Paso” by Marty Robbins became his first and only #1 record on the US pop charts when it topped the Billboard Hot 100. It was also Robbins’ first single to chart in the UK.

1966: Martha and the Vandellas released “My Baby Loves Me,” the fifth and final single from the group’s 1966 Greatest Hits album. None of the Vandellas are featured on the song. Backing vocals are instead performed by Motown session group The Andantes and The Four Tops.

1967: The self-titled debut album by The Doors was release by Elektra Records.

1969: The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared on the BBC’s Lulu Show, where they were scheduled to perform “Voodoo Child” and “Hey Joe.” Midway through “Hey Joe,” the band switched to an unscheduled cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” which Hendrix dedicated to the recently disbanded group. Hendrix was subsequently banned from the BBC.

1969: “You Showed Me” by The Turtles entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later became the group’s fifth top 10 hit, reaching #6.

1969: “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations entered the US singles charts, where it ultimately become their only top 10 hit and highest-charting song in the US, reaching #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It nearly became the group’s second UK #1, peaking at #2, and topped the charts in Australia and Canada. The song was also their first hit to feature new lead singer Colin Young, who had replaced Clem Curtis.

1970: The Beatles recorded for the last time as a group, albeit without John Lennon. At EMI’s London studios, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr recorded overdubs for McCartney’s song “Let It Be.”

1972: Yes released the single version of “Roundabout” from their fourth studio album, Fragile. The song became the band’s first of two top 20 hits in the US, reaching #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on the Cash Box chart.

1973: Following the death of Berry Oakley, Lamar Williams was announced as the new bass player for The Allman Brothers Band.

1974: Jefferson Airplane vocalist Grace Slick released Manhole, her first solo studio album. The album was conceived as a soundtrack to a film that ultimately was never made and features contributions from Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, David Freiberg, David Crosby, Jack Casady, Craig Chaquico, John Barbata, Ron Carter, Gary Duncan, Pete Sears, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

1975: Elton John’s cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” started two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1980: Detroit band The Romantics released their eponymous debut album.

Birthdays Today

Miriam Bienstock, co-founder of Atlantic Records along with then-husband Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun who later served as the company’s financial manager and vice president, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1923.

John Gorman, comedian, vocalist, musician, and founder of comedy group The Scaffold, was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England in 1936.

John McLaughlin, guitarist, composer, bandleader, pioneer of jazz fusion, and founder of Mahavishnu Orchestra who contributed to recordings by several artists including Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, the Graham Bond Organisation, Brian Auger, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Santana, and John Coltrane, was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England in 1942.

Volker Hombach, flute player and violinist for Tangerine Dream, was born in 1944.

Arthur Conley, soul singer, was born in McIntosh County, GA in 1946.

Eugene Chadbourne, jazz guitarist and critic, was born in Mount Vernon, NY in 1954.

Mark Hollis, co-founder, lead singer and principal songwriter of Talk Talk, was born in Tottenham, London, England in 1955.

Clive Gregson, singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, and founding member of Any Trouble, was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, England in 1955.

Nels Cline, composer and guitarist for Wilco, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1956.

Bernard Sumner, singer, songwriter and founding member of both Joy Division and New Order, was born in Broughton, Salford, England in 1956.

Michael Stipe, songwriter and lead vocalist for R.E.M., was born in Decatur, GA in 1960.

Robin Guthrie, musician, songwriter, and founding member of the Cocteau Twins, was born in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1962.

Martin McAloon, musician and co-founder of Prefab Sprout with his brother, Paddy, was born in Durham, England in 1962.

Cait O’Riordan, bassist for the Pogues from 1983-1986 and collaborator with Elvis Costello, was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1965.

Benjamin Darvill, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist for Crash Test Dummies, and solo artist known by his stage name, Son of Dave, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1967.

Justin Townes Earle, singer-songwriter, musician, and son of Steve Earle, was born in Nashville, TN in 1982.