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 set records, grossing over $20,000 in the first week. Four days later, the film’s soundtrack album of the same name was released. 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.

1965: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” became the Rolling Stones’ first #1 hit single in the US.

1967: The Jimi Hendrix Experience began recording “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” at New York’s Mayfair Studio, recording over 30 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 had been 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.

1973: Queen’s first single, “Keep Yourself Alive,” was released. Written by guitarist Brian May, the song is the opening track of 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.

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.

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,” their only top 40 single and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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.

Birthdays Today

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

Gene Chandler, R&B singer, songwriter, talent scout, music producer, and record label executive best known for his #1 hit, “Duke of Earl,” was born Eugene Drake Dixon in Chicago, IL in 1937.

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.