Today in Rock & Roll History: July 5th

1954: Elvis Presley has his first commercial recording session at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, in which he recorded “That’s All Right (Mama)” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Two weeks later, both tracks were released as his first single. Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore, and drummer Bill Black took a break during sessions and fooled around on an uptempo version of “That’s All Right (Mama)” compared to the original version Delta bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Producer Sam Philips was impressed and asked them to perform it again and record it.

1960: “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley was released by RCA Records. The single later become his fourteenth #1 on the US pop charts.

1965: Marty Balin and Paul Kantner formed a folk rock group that later evolved into the Jefferson Airplane. The Airplane made its debut the following month at a Haight-Ashbury club, and the band signed to RCA Records later that year.

1965: The Beach Boys released their ninth studio album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). The group had abandoned themes related to surfing, cars, and teenage love on their previous album, The Beach Boys Today!, but sales disappointed Capitol Records, so for their follow-up release, they were pressured to produce bigger hits with simpler themes.

1967: The first Schaefer Music Festival was held in New York’s Central Park, with a lineup that consisted of Len Chandler, The Young Rascals, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

1968: Concert promoter Bill Graham opened the Fillmore West in San Francisco.

1968: English psychedelic folk group Tyrannosaurus Rex released their debut album, My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows.

1969: “Polk Salad Annie” became Tony Joe White’s first single to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The record became his only top 40 hit in the US and reached #8 in August.

1969: “I’m Free,” the second single from the Who’s fourth studio LP, Tommy, was released in the US. The song reached #37 in late August.

1969: Cass Elliot released her second solo album, Bubblegum, Lemonade &…Something for Mama. The LP was released again in early December later that year with a new title and different cover as Make Your Own Kind of Music/It’s Getting Better.

1969: The Rolling Stone gave a free concert at London’s Hyde Park to introduce new guitarist Mick Taylor and honor founding member Brian Jones, who had died less than a week earlier.

1971: Led Zeppelin headlined a government sponsored day-long festival at the Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan, Italy for the final date of the band’s brief European tour. Appearing before an audience of 15,000 people, the band had to abandon the concert when the tear-gas wielding police clashed with the riotous crowd. Despite the fact that such outbreaks of violence were common occurrences at concerts in the country at the time, Led Zeppelin never again returned to Italy.

1972: Frank Zappa released his jazz-influenced fourth solo studio album, Waka/Jawaka.

1974: Linda Ronstadt recorded her version of “You’re No Good,” at Los Angeles’ Sound Factory with producer Peter Asher. The song was initially recommended to her by bandmate Kenny Edwards after Ronstadt started performing it to close her live shows. Originally written by Clint Ballard Jr. and recorded by Dee Dee Warwick in 1963, Ronstadt’s version became the song’s most successful cover and her first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of 1975.

1974: Steely Dan played the last of two nights at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. Despite earning a gold record for their most recent LP, Pretzel Logic, and the facts that their recent single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” was on its way to becoming the band’s biggest single, Walter Beck and Donald Fagen had grown tired of touring and wanted to focus on recording in the studio. Other members of the group, particularly guitarist Jeff Baxter and drummer Jim Hodder, wanted to continue touring and gradually left the group, with only guitarist Denny Dias staying on. Becker and Fagen recruited a new set of session players for their next LP, Katy Lied, but refrained from touring for the next nineteen years.

1974: Bryan Ferry released his second solo studio album, Another Time, Another Place, which includes covers of songs by artists that include Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Ike & Tina Turner, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Joe South.

1976: The Beach Boys released their twentieth studio album, 15 Big Ones. The LP comprises cover versions of rock and roll and rhythm and blues standards, along with a few new originals and became the band’s first top 10 album in the US since Pet Sounds in 1966.

1978: EMI’s record pressing plant in Britain stopped printing the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls album after some celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli, and the estate of Marilyn Monroe threatened to sue for the use of their likenesses in the cover’s mock wig advertisement. The album was quickly re-issued with a redesigned cover that removed images of all celebrities except for those of the Stones and former Beatles member George Harrison.

1980: The Rolling Stones went to #1 in the UK with their fifteenth British album, Emotional Rescue.

1993: U2 released their eighth studio album, Zooropa. Inspired by the band’s experiences on the Zoo TV Tour, the album expanded on many of the tour’s themes of technology and media oversaturation, and was a continuation of their experimentation with alternative and electronic music that began with their previous album, Achtung Baby.

1994: The debut album by Columbia, South Carolina band Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View, was released by Atlantic Records. A #1 hit in both the US and Canada, it remains one of the best-selling albums in the US.

1997: The first Lilith Fair concert tour, founded by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan, Dan Fraser and Terry McBride of the Nettwerk Music Group, and NY talent agent Marty Diamond, kicked off at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA. The tour consisted solely of female solo artists and female-led bands, such as Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, the Indigo Girls, Natalie Merchant, and several others, many of who had won slots on the bill in a series of local talent searches in their home cities.

Birthdays Today

Smiley Lewis, New Orleans rhythm and blues singer and guitarist, was born Overton Amos Lemons in DeQuincy, LA in 1913.

Shirley Collins, folk singer and significant contributor to the English Folk Revival of the 1960s and 1970s, was born in Hastings, Sussex, England in 1935.

Bobby Thompson, banjo and guitar player with Area Code 615 and session musician who recorded with Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Neil Young, and Perry Como among others, was born in South Carolina in 1937.

Robbie Robertson, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor, and author, best known as the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band, was born Jaime Royal Robertson in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1943.

Huey Lewis, singer, songwriter, actor, and lead singer and harmonica player in his band Huey Lewis and the News, was born Hugh Anthony Cregg III in New York City in 1950.

Michael Monarch, original lead guitarist for Steppenwolf, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1950.

Marc Cohn, folk rock singer-songwriter and musician, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1959.

Nick O’Malley, bass guitarist for Arctic Monkeys , was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England in 1985.