Today in Rock & Roll History: July 20th

1954: Elvis Presley, with Scotty Moore and Bill Black as the Blue Moon Boys, played their first concert on the flat bed of a truck at the opening of a new drugstore in Memphis, Tennessee.

1959: “Peggy Sue Got Married” by Buddy Holly was posthumously released with “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” as its B-side.

1963: Jan & Dean scored their only #1 single on the US singles charts with “Surf City,” a song written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson.

1963: The Essex were at the top of the Billboard R&B chart with “Easier Said Than Done.” All four members of the group, including co-writer William Linton, were active-duty members of the US Marine Corps, and the song was released as the B-side of their debut single, “Are You Going My Way.”

1964: Capitol Records released four songs from the Beatles third studio album, “A Hard Day’s Night,” as two singles in the US: “I’ll Cry Instead” backed with “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” and “Andy I Love Her” backed with “If I Fell.”

1964: Capitol Records released the Beatles’ fifth American LP, Something New.

1965: The Lovin’ Spoonful released “Do You Believe in Magic,” the lead single and title track from the band’s debut album.

1965: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan was released. The song had originated as an extended piece of verse Dylan had written the month before after a grueling tour of England, after which the draft was distilled into four verses and a chorus. “Like a Rolling Stone” was then recorded a few weeks later as part of sessions for Dylan’s forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. At over six minutes long, Columbia Records was hesitant to release the song due to it’s length and electric sound. It wasn’t until a month later when a copy was leaked to a popular music club and was subsequently heard by influential disc jockeys that the song was released as a single. Radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, but “Like a Rolling Stone” still managed to become a worldwide hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard chart, #1 on the Cash Box, and enter the top 10 on charts around the world.

1968: Hugh Masekela started two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with his only top 40 hit, “Grazing in the Grass.”

1968: Iron Butterfly’s second LP, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida entered the Billboard chart. It became the group’s first of two top 10 albums, reaching #4 after 56 weeks on the chart.

1970: The Doors released their first live album, Absolutely Live. The double album features tracks recorded at concerts held between July 1969 at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood and May 1970 at the Cobo Arena in Detroit.

1972: Jefferson Airplane released Long John Silver, their seventh studio album and last of all new material until 1986.

1973: Mott the Hoople released their sixth studio album, Mott.

1973: Genesis released their first live album, Genesis Live. The album initially began as a recording for American radio program King Biscuit Flower Hour and was assembled from recordings of shows at Free Trade Hall in Manchester and De Montfort Hall in Leicester while touring earlier that year.

1973: Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, both joined by their respective bands, Santana and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, released Love Devotion Surrender, a jazz fusion album inspired by the teachings of Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy and dedicated to John Coltrane.

1974: Soon after forming the Ramones, bassist and singer Dee Dee Ramone realized his vocals cords could not sustain the demands of consistent live performances, nor could he play and sing at the same time. Thomas Erdelyi, set to become the band’s manager, encouraged drummer Joey Ramone to become the group’s new lead singer. Joey then discovered that he too was unable to play and sing at the same time. After auditioning for new drummers, it became apparent that Erdelyi was able to play the Ramones’ songs better than anyone else, so he joined the band as Tommy Ramone. While Joey’s vocals gave the Ramones their iconic sound, Dee Dee continued to count off each song’s tempo with his signature shout, “1-2-3-4!”

1975: On the first proper date of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run Tour, guitarist Steven Van Zandt performed in concert for the first time as an official member of the E Street Band at the Palace Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island.

1976: The Buzzocks made their live debut supporting The Sex Pistols in Manchester.

1981: The Ramones released their sixth studio album, Pleasant Dreams. The band had wanted Steve Lillywhite to produce the album, but Sire Records chose Graham Gouldman. The recording process brought about several conflicts among the group’s members, including disputes over whether to take the album in a hard rock or pop direction.

1985: The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, the first solo album by Sting, entered the Billboard chart, where it later reached #2.

1986: On Carlos Santana’s 39th birthday, the Santana band celebrated its 20th anniversary with a concert in their home town of San Francisco, with all of the group’s past and present members.

Birthdays Today

Buddy Knox, rockabilly singer and songwriter, was born in Happy, TX in 1933.

Sleepy LaBeef, singer, musician and actor, was born Thomas Paulsley LaBeef in Smackover, AR in 1935.

Dennis Yost, lead singer for Classics IV, was born in Detroit, MI in 1943.

John Lodge, singer, songwriter, bassist, member of The Moody Blues, and a solo artist, was born in Erdington, Birmingham, England in 1945.

Carlos Santana, pioneering Latin blues-rock guitarist, was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico in 1947.

James Hooker, keyboardist, composer, and session musician for Hi Records as a member of the Hi Rhythm Section who later worked at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studios and was a founding member of the Amazing Rhythm Aces, was born James Hooker Brown, Jr. in Winnsboro, SC in 1948.

Mick MacNeil, original keyboardist for Simple Minds, was born Normal Michael MacNeil in Isle of Barra, Scotland in 1958.

Radney Foster, country singer-songwriter who made his debut as part of the duo Foster & Lloyd, was born in Del Rio, TX in 1959.

Chris Cornell, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and lead vocalist for Soundgarden and Audioslave, was born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle, WA in 1964.

Stone Gossard, guitarist and founding member of Pearl Jam, was born in Seattle, WA in 1966.