Today in Rock & Roll History: July 11th

1951: Disc jockey and music promoter Alan Freed broadcast his first rhythm and blues radio program, titled “The Moondog House,” from AM station WJW in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first time that authentic R&B was featured regularly on a major, mass audience station. Freed, who called himself “The King of the Moondoggers,” used the term “rock and roll” to describe R&B in an effort to introduce the music to a broader white audience.

1960: The novelty song “Alley-Oop” hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Inspired by the V.T. Hamlin comic strip of the same name, the song was written by country singer-songwriter Dallas Frazier and was credited to “The Hollywood Argyles,” a short-lived ensemble of studio musicians assembled by producer Kim Fowley and Gary Paxton. According to Fowley, all participants in the “Alley-Oop” session were “hopelessly drunk on cider by the time they recorded the song.” Another recording of the song by California group Dante & the Evergreens entered the chart the same week and their version, despite reaching only #15 on the Billboard chart, became a bigger hit on the East Coast, and along with the Hollywood Argyles’ version, went to #1 on the Cash Box chart later that month.

1962: “Beechwood 4-5789” by The Marvelettes was released. The single features co-writer Marvin Gaye playing the drums.

1969: “Space Oddity” by David Bowie was released as a 7-inch single. The release coincided with the Apollo 11 moon landing, which occurred five days later, though it wasn’t aired by the BBC until after the Apollo 11 crew had safely returned. The song became Bowie’s first to chart in the UK, where it peaked that fall at #5. It also won Bowie the 1970 Ivor Novello Special Award for Originality. In 1975, the song was re-released as part of a maxi-single, and later that year became Bowie’s first UK #1 single.

1970: Three Dog Night had their first of three #1 singles in the US with their cover of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me (Not To Come).”

1970: Florida band Blues Image peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their only major hit, “Ride Captain Ride.”

1970: The Who’s cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” entered the Billboard Hot 100.

1972: The Supremes released “Your Wonderful, Sweet Sweet Love,” the third single from their twenty-fifth studio album, Floy Joy. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, the song was first recorded by Kim Weston in 1966, and her version was not released until 2005.

1975: Fleetwood Mac released their tenth studio album and second eponymous LP. Often referred to by fans as “The White Album,” it was the band’s first album to feature guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks after the departure of Bob Welch in 1974. It was also their last release on the Reprise label until The Dance in 1997. Over a year later, it became Fleetwood Mac’s first #1 album when it reached the top of the Billboard pop chart.

1979: Just over a week after Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s live album Rust Never Sleeps was released, the concert film of the same name debuted at the Bruin Theatre in Westwood, CA. Both the movie and album documented Young’s most recent US tour.

1980: English pop group Dexys Midnight Runners released their debut studio album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels.

1980: Ultravox released their fourth studio album, Vienna. It was the group’s first release for Chrysalis records as well as their first record with their best-known line-up, after Midge Ure had taken over as lead vocalist and guitarist following the departures of John Foxx and Robin Simon. It was their first album to chart internationally and their most successful LP on several charts, reaching #2 in New Zealand and the Netherlands, #3 in the UK, and #4 in Australia.

2005: R.E.M. released “Wanderlust,” the fourth and final single from their thirteenth studio album, “Around the Sun.”

Birthdays Today

Danny Flores a.k.a. Chuck Rio, saxophonist for The Champs, who wrote their biggest hit, “Tequila,” was born in Santa Paula, CA in 1929.

Thurston Harris, rock and R&B singer, was born in Indianapolis, IN in 1931.

Billy Davis, R&B songwriter, record producer, singer, and creator of commercial jingles who collaborated with Berry Gordy and wrote and produced hits for artists like Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Little Milton, Marv Johnosn, Jackie Rose, and Fontella Bass, was born Roquel Davis in Detroit, MI in 1932.

Terry Garthwaite, guitarist for Joy of Cooking who also worked with pianist Toni Brown as Terry & Toni, was born in Berkeley, CA in 1938.

Jeff Hanna, singer-songwriter best known as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, was born in Detroit, MI in 1947.

John Holt, reggae singer and songwriter and member of The Paragons, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1947.

Bonnie Pointer, member of the Pointer Sisters and a solo artist, was born Patricia Eva Pointer in Oakland, CA in 1951.

Michael Rose, reggae singer, songwriter, and member of Black Uhuru, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1957.

Suzanne Vega, singer-songwriter and record producer, was born in Santa Monica, CA in 1959.

David Baerwald, singer-songwriter, composer, and co-founder of Tuesday Night Music Club, whose songs have been recorded by a wide range of artists, was born in Oxford, OH in 1960.

Scott Shriner, bassist for Weezer, was born in Toledo, OH in 1965.

Andrew Bird, violinist, singer, songwriter, and member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Bowl of Fire before pursuing a solo career, was born in Lake Forest, IL in 1973.

Kathleen Edwards, singer-songwriter and musician, was born in 1978.