Today in Rock & Roll History: July 17th

1965: James Brown had his first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” In mid August, it became Brown’s second #1 on the R&B chart and held the top spot for eight straight weeks.

1965: The Righteous Brothers released their version of “Unchained Melody” on Philles Records.
Vocalists Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley had previously agreed to each perform one solo piece per album, but for their fourth LP, they both wanted the song, and Hatfield ended up winning the ensuing coin toss. The track was originally released as the B-side of the duo’s single “Hung on You,” which failed to interest disc jockeys. Incensed that DJs were playing the B-side, producer Phil Spector called radio stations to stop them from playing the song. The effort failed to stop song’s success, however, and by the end of August, it reached #4 on Billboard Hot 100 and #14 in the UK.

1966: “Bus Stop” by the Hollies entered the Billboard Hot 100. Already their ninth UK top 10 hit, it became the group’s first top 5 single in the US in September.

1967: The Temptations released their fifth studio album, The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul. It became the group’s is the most successful album from their “classic 5” era, during which their lineup consisted of David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams.

1968: Yellow Submarine, the animated movie based on the music of The Beatles, had its world premiere at the London Pavilion on Piccadilly Circus. Aside from composing and performing the songs, the real Beatles participated only in the closing scene of the film, while their cartoon counterparts were voiced by other actors. Directed by Canadian filmmaker and animator George Dunning and released in the midst of the psychedelic pop culture of the 1960s, the film was a box-office hit, drawing in audiences for its wildly creative imagery and its soundtrack of Beatles songs. The version shown in Europe included an extra musical number, “Hey Bulldog,” which was not included in the original American version since it was assumed American movie-goers would grow tired if the film was too long.

1971: “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart was released. Although it was the B-side of Stewart’s single “Reason to Believe,” radio stations began playing the flip-side, and “Maggie May” became the more popular song. It was Stewart’s first major hit as a solo performer and launched his solo career. By early October, it became his first #1 in the US and UK.

1971: After making his debut on the Billboard R&B chart the week before, Bill Withers debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The track features Stax musicians Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass and Al Jackson Jr. on drums alongside guitarist Stephen Stills, and the song was arranged and produced by Booker T. Jones.

1971: “Sweet Hitch-Hiker,” the first single from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s seventh and final studio album, Mardi Gras, entered the Billboard Hot 100, where It later became the group’s last top 10 hit in the US.

1971: Rare Earth entered Billboard Hot 100 with “I Just Want to Celebrate,” the lead single from their fourth studio LP, One World.

1973: Paul Simon released “Loves Me Like a Rock,” which features backing vocals by southern gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds. The single peaked at #2 in the US in October, reached #1 on the Cash Box and Adult Contemporary charts, and was a top 5 hit in Canada.

1974: The Moody Blues took over Decca Studio One in North London and renamed it Threshold Studios with the intention of using it as their base for future recordings. The band claimed it was the first studio in England capable of recording quadraphonic sound, and it was where members of the group recorded their solo and duo albums.

1976: “Magic Man,” the second single from Heart’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie, entered the Billboard Hot 100. Singer and co-writer Ann Wilson later revealed that the “Magic Man” was her then boyfriend, band manager Michael Fisher. The song became Heart’s first top 10 hit in the US and peaked at #9.

1978: The soundtrack album to the film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. Produced by George Martin, the double album features covers of Beatles songs by several artists including Peter Frampton, Bee Gees, and Steve Martin, who all star in the film.

1982: Frank Zappa and his 14-year-old daughter Moon entered the Billboard Hot 100 with “Valley Girl.” That September, it became Zappa’s only single to enter the US top 40.

1994: The Rolling Stones’ twentieth British LP, Voodoo Lounge, debuted at the top of the UK chart, making it their first #1 in the UK since Emotional Rescue in 1980.

Birthdays Today

Vince Guaraldi, innovative jazz pianist noted for composing music for the animated television adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip and for solo compositions like “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” was born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio in San Francisco, CA in 1928.

Stanley Bronstein, saxophonist, clarinet player, and vocalist with Elephant’s Memory who backed John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the mid 1970s, was born in 1938.

Spencer Davis, multi-instrumentalist and founder of the The Spencer Davis Group, was born Spencer David Nelson Davies in Swansea, Wales in 1939.

Wolfgang Flür, percussionist for Kraftwerk, was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1947.

Ron Asheton, guitarist, bassist, co-writer with Iggy Pop, and co-founder of the Stooges, was born in Washington D.C. in 1948.

Mike Vale, bassist with Tommy James and the Shondells, was born in New Alexandria, PA in 1949.

Phoebe Snow, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York City in 1950.

Damon Harris, soul and R&B singer, best known as a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975, was born Otis Robert Harris, Jr. in Baltimore, MD in 1950.

Nicolette Larson, singer, was born in Helena, MT in 1952.

Chet McCracken, session musician and drummer for The Doobie Brothers, was born in Seattle, WA in 1952.

Lou Barlow, musician, songwriter, and founding member of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and The Folk Implosion, was born Louis Knox Barlow in Dayton, OH in 1966.

Anderson East, Nashville-based R&B singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born Michael Cameron Anderson in Athens, AL in 1987.