Today in Rock & Roll History: July 6th

1955: Elvis Presley’s fourth single with Sun Records, “Baby Let’s Play House,” became his first single to chart nationally when it reached #5 on Billboard’s Country and Western chart.

1957: Beatles songwriting team John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at the Wool Parish Church Garden Fete in Liverpool, England, at which Lennon’s skiffle group The Quarrymen were playing. In the audience was 15-year-old Paul McCartney, and at the Woolton Village Hall across the street, where The Quarrymen were scheduled to perform that evening, McCartney borrowed Lennon’s guitar to play Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” as well as Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” on the hall’s piano. Lennon later told biographer Hunter Davies, “I half thought to myself, ‘He’s as good as me.’ If I take him on, what will happen? It went through my head that I’d have to keep him in line if I let him join. But he was good, so he was worth having. He also looked like Elvis. I dug him.”

1963: James Brown and the Famous Flames went to #2 on the Billboard pop album chart with Live at the Apollo. The album’s success was a surprise to the group’s label, King Records, who initially opposed its release, believing that a live album featuring no new songs would not be profitable. It was Brown’s first live album and stayed on the chart for a total of 66 weeks. Many record stores, especially in the southeast US, found themselves unable to keep up with the demand, and many radio disc jockeys played both sides in the album in its entirety.

1964: The Beatles’ first film, the musical comedy A Hard Day’s Night, premiered at the Pavilion Theatre in London where it grossed a record $20,000 in its first week. After the screening, the Beatles, the royal party, and other guests including the Rolling Stones enjoyed a champagne supper party at the Dorchester Hotel, after which some of them adjourned to the Ad Lib Club until the early hours of the morning. Four days later, the film’s soundtrack album of the same name was released.

1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience began recording “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” at New York’s Mayfair Studio, recording over thirty takes. The song was complete the next day with overdubs, including backing vocals from R&B group the Sweet Inspirations, and producer Chas Chandler led the creation of the final mix two weeks later.

1967: Jackie Wilson recorded “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher” at Columbia Studios in Chicago, Illinois. The record became his last #1 on the R&B charts and last top 10 hit on the pop charts.

1968: Cass Elliot’s first solo single, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The same song was originally released on the Mamas and the Papas’ self-titled fourth and final LP. By the time the album was released, it was clear the group was set to disband, and so their label, Dunhill Records, sought to promote the group’s best-known member. In June of 1968, Dunhill released “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” credited to “Mama Cass with the Mamas and the Papas,” much to the displeasure of the group’s leader and principal songwriter, John Phillips. The single reached #12 in the US and #11 in the UK.

1971: MC5 released second and final studio album, High Time.

1971: Diana Ross released her third studio album, Surrender, which saw her reunite with writer-producer team Ashford & Simpson.

1972: Emerson, Lake & Palmer released their third studio album, Trilogy.

1973: Queen’s first single, “Keep Yourself Alive,” was released. Written by guitarist Brian May, the song is the opening track of the group’s debut LP, which was released a week later.

1979: Warner Bros. Records released the self-titled debut album by Athens, Georgia-based new wave band the B-52’s. On the same day, the second single from the album, “Planet Claire” was released with the group’s cover of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” as its B-side.

1981: Pat Benatar released her third studio album, Precious Time. It became her only album to reach #1 when it topped the Billboard pop chart in August.

1982: America released “You Can Do Magic” from tenth studio album, View from the Ground. The track was written and produced by Argent singer and guitarist Russ Ballard and went to #7 in the US.

1983: A live version of “You Belong to Me” by The Doobie Brothers was released as a single from the band’s first live LP, Farewell Tour.

1984: Public Image Ltd. released their fourth studio album, This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get.

1987: The Grateful Dead released their twelfth studio album and first in six years, In The Dark. The LP went on achieve double platinum certification in the US and reached #6 on the Billboard pop chart, making it the band’s only top ten album. The opening track, “Touch of Grey,” became the their only top 40 single, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1987: “Red Rain” by Peter Gabriel was released as the second single from his fifth studio album, So, in the US.

1987: Echo & the Bunnymen released their self-titled fifth studio album. It was the group’s last album with original drummer Pete de Freitas.

1987: Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Life, Young’s last album with Geffen Records. Aside from a few tracks recorded in the studio, most of the album had been recorded live at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California in November of 1986.

1993: Todd Rundgren, credited as TR-i, released his fourteenth studio album, “No World Order.” The album was released for the Phillips CD-i format as the first interactive album and was heavily influenced by electronica and rap.

Birthdays Today

Jack Yellen, lyricist and screenwriter best known for writing the lyrics to the songs “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Ain’t She Sweet,” was born in Raczki, Poland in 1892.

Louie Bellson, jazz drummer, composer, arranger, and bandleader credited with pioneering the use of two bass drums, was born Luigi Paulino Alfredo in Rock Falls, IL in 1924.

Bill Haley, 1950s rockabilly pioneer, was born William John Clifton Haley in Highland Park, MI in 1925.

Big Dee Irwin, singer and songwriter whose biggest hit was “Swinging on a Star” with Little Eva in 1963 and who wrote songs for Ray Charles, Bobby Womack, The Hollies, and others, was born in Harlem, NY in 1932.

Gene Chandler, R&B singer, songwriter, talent scout, music producer, and record label executive, who was a member of doo wop group The Dukays and is best known for his 1962 hit “Duke of Earl,” was born Eugene Drake Dixon in Chicago, IL in 1937.

Jet Harris, bass guitarist for The Shadows until 1958 and solo artist who also played with Cliff Richard’s band the Drifters and drummer Tony Meehan, was born Terence Harris in Kingsbury, North London, England in 1939.

Jan Bradley, soul singer who recorded Curtis Mayfield-penned songs including her biggest hit, “Mama Didn’t Lie,” was born in Byhalia, MS in 1943.

Rik Elswit, guitarist and vocalist with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, was born in New York City in 1945.

Libby Titus, singer, songwriter, actor, and concert producer who co-wrote hits by Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon, collaborated with artists including Burt Bacharach and Dr. John, and married Donald Fagen, was born in Woodstock, NY in 1947.

Michael Shrieve, drummer, percussionist, and composer best known as the drummer for Santana from 1969 to 1974 and as one of the youngest musicians to perform at Woodstock in 1969 at age 20, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1949.

Nanci Griffith, singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was born in Seguin, TX in 1953.

John Keeble, drummer for Spandau Ballet, was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1959.