Today in Rock & Roll History: January 8th

1957: Bill Haley and His Comets played their first gigs outside the US with two sold out shows in Newcastle, Australia. They were the first rock and roll concerts on the continent and additional acts on the tour included LaVern Baker, Joe Turner, and Freddie Bell & the Bellboys.

1960: Eddie Cochran recorded “Three Steps to Heaven,” a song he’d written with his brother Bob, during his final recording session at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, California. The single was posthumously released in Britain that spring and became his only #1 in the UK.

1965: The Beach Boys began recording “Help Me, Rhonda” at United Western Recorders in Hollywood with engineer Chuck Britz and Brian Wilson as producer. Additional instrumentation was provided by Los Angeles session group the Wrecking Crew, whose members included Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Hal Blaine, and Billy Lee Riley.

1966: Music variety show Shindig! was broadcast for the last time on ABC, with musical guests Jackie DeShannon, Billy Preston, the Knickerbockers, The Blossoms, Dick and DeeDee, Bobby Sherman, and the Wellingtons.

1966: A week after topping the Cash Box Top 100 chart, the Beatles started two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “We Can Work It Out.” At the same time, that their Rubber Soul LP became their seventh #1 in America, starting six weeks at the top of the Billboard pop chart.

1966: The Mamas and the Papas debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with their second single, “California Dreamin’.”

1968: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding was posthumously released less than a month after his death. Quieter and more poetic, the song was a departure from Redding’s usual style, primarily to accommodate the throat operation he had had earlier in the fall. Executives at Stax Records weren’t sure if they wanted to release the recording, but after Redding’s death, they saw an opportunity. Stax guitarist and co-writer Steve Cropper finished mixing the record within the week, adding the sounds of seagulls and ocean waves, as Redding had requested. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” became Redding’s biggest hit, winning two Grammys, selling millions of records, and became his first #1 on the US pop charts and the first posthumous single to top the charts in the US.

1968: Sam & Dave released “I Thank You,” the title track from their fourth studio album. It was the duo’s last single released on Stax Records before Stax severed its distribution deal with Atlantic Records.

1968: Manfred Mann released their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mighty Quinn.” The single later topped the chart in the UK and became the band’s second and final top 10 hit in the US.

1969: Music and comedy trio The Scaffold hit #1 in the UK with their only chart-topping record, “Lily the Pink,” a modernization of an older folk song titled “The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham.” Elton John, Graham Nash, and Tim Rice sing backup and Jack Bruce of Cream plays bass guitar.

1970: Marvin Gaye released his tenth studio album, That’s the Way Love Is.

1973: The Beach Boys released their nineteenth studio album, Holland. After former member Bruce Johnston suggested that the group record a new album in France, the band members and their families moved to the village of Baambrugge in the Netherlands.

1973: Yoko Ono released her third solo album, Approximately Infinite Universe. The double LP represented a departure from the experimental avant garde rock of her first two albums towards a more conventional pop rock sound.

1973: Jim Croce released “One Less Set of Footsteps,” the first single from this fourth studio album, Life and Times.

1975: On his 40th birthday, Elvis Presley released his twenty-first album, Promised Land.

1975: At the height of their popularity, Led Zeppelin sold out three concerts at Madison Square concerts in a record four hours—the fastest in the arena’s history.

1977: “Go Your Own Way,” the lead single from Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh studio album, Rumours, entered the Billboard Hot 100, later reaching #10.

1986: Following its release in the UK in July, “Take Me Home,” the fourth and final single from Phil Collins’ third solo studio album, No Jacket Required, was issued in the US.

1989: Peter Frampton released his tenth studio album, When All the Pieces Fit.

1990: Sinéad O’Connor released “Nothing Compares 2 U,” the second single from her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. The song was written by Prince for his side project, The Family, and featured on their eponymous debut album in 1985. O’Connor’s version became her biggest hit and reached #1 on several charts around the world.

1991: Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ released their fourth studio album, Fly Me Courageous. It is the band’s most commercially successful release, in part due to the success of the title track during the start of the Persian Gulf War.

1992: “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Rush was released. The song’s lyrics were inspired by the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor. It became Clapton’s best-selling single in the US, reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and won three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.

2013: On his 66th birthday, David Bowie released “Where Are We Now?,” the first single from his twenty-fourth and penultimate studio album, The Next Day. The song reached #6 on the UK singles chart and was his final recording to reach the top 10.

2016: David Bowie released his twenty-fifth and final studio album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday and two days before his death. Co-producer and longtime collaborator Tony Visconti described the album as Bowie’s intended swan song and a “parting gift” for his fans.

Birthdays Today

Tampa Red, influential Chicago blues guitarist and songwriter, was born Hudson Woodbridge in Smithville, GA in 1903.

Luther Perkins, guitarist and a member of the Tennessee Three, the backup band for singer Johnny Cash, was born in Como, MS in 1928.

Bill Graham, 1960s impresario and rock concert promoter who made famous the Winterland and Fillmore venues, which served as proving grounds for San Francisco Bay area rock bands such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Country Joe and the Fish, and Quicksilver Messenger Service,was born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca in Berlin, Germany in 1931.

Elvis Presley, singer, musician, and actor, was born Elvis Aaron Presley in Tupelo, MS in 1935.

Shirley Bassey, singer and first Welsh person to achieve a #1 single, was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales in 1937.

Little Anthony, lead singer for Little Anthony and the Imperials, was born Jerome Anthony Gourdine in Brooklyn, NY in 1941.

John Petersen, drummer for the Beau Brummels and Harpers Bizarre, was born in Rudyard, MI in 1942.

Lee Jackson, singer-songwriter and bassist for the Nice, was born Keith Anthony Joseph Jackson in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1943.

Robby Krieger, singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the Doors, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1946.

David Bowie, singer, songwriter, and actor, was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, England in 1947.

Terry Sylvester, singer and guitarist with The Escorts, The Swinging Blue Jeans, and the Hollies, was born in Allerton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1947.

Steve Garvey, bassist for the Buzzcocks, was born in Manchester, England in 1958.

Paul Hester, drummer for Split Enz and Crowded House, was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1959.

Dave Weckl, jazz fusion drummer who worked with artists such as Paul Simon and Robert Plant, was born in St. Louis, MO in 1960.