Today in Rock & Roll History: July 8th

1954: Elvis Presley’s manager, Sam Phillips, gave Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips of WHBQ Radio a copy of Presley’s first single “That’s All Right (Mama)” for his radio show and Presley later appeared on Phillips’ show. That night, Phillips became the first DJ to play an Elvis Presley song.

1957: “Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley became his eighth US #1 hit single and fourth #1 that year, reaching the top of Billboard’s Best Sellers chart for the first of seven weeks. In addition to hitting the top of both the R&B and country charts, it also topped Billboard’s Top 100 chart one week later.

1965: The Four Tops recorded “It’s The Same Old Song” at Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. Studios in Detroit, Michigan. By the afternoon of the following day, 1,500 copies had been sent out to disc jockeys across the country, and the single later climbed to #2 on the Billboard R&B chart and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Songwriting and production trio Holland-Dozier-Holland had originally written and cut a recording of the song for The Supremes in May, but their initial version went unreleased until 2017. The Supremes recorded a second version in a very similar style to the Four Tops’ version and was released in 1967 as part of The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland.

1966: Jr. Walker and the All Stars’ cover of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” was released. Like the original, it also reached #3 on Billboard’s R&B chart.

1967: Five teenagers from Mansfield, Ohio who called themselves The Music Explosion became stars overnight when their second single, “Little Bit O’ Soul,” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song had been written by John Carter and Ken Lewis, who’d previously written hits for The Ivy League and Herman’s Hermits, and despite being the group’s only top 40 (top 60) hit, the song’s success allowed them to tour with contemporary groups like the Left Banke and The Easybeats. Lead singer Jamie Lyons later recorded several solo singles and drummer Bob Avery joined bubblegum rock band Crazy Elephant.

1967: Jimi Hendrix joined The Monkees as their opening act during their US tour at the Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida. The Monkees, especially Micky Dolenz, had been wowed by Hendrix’s performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June, and Hendrix’s management believed teaming up with the extremely popular Monkees would be an excellent way to build an audience for Hendrix in America. Despite the band’s admiration for Hendrix, the young children and parents who came to concerts were not impressed with Hendrix. After his eighth of twenty-nine scheduled tour dates, Hendrix had had enough, and was released from his contract to play at the remaining shows. A few months later, Melody Maker magazine presented Jimi with their “World’s Top Musician” award at the same time that his music began to hit the mainstream US market.

1968: The Beach Boys released “Do It Again,” a single written as a callback to the group’s earlier surf-based material, which they had not embraced since 1964.

1969: Canned Heat released their fourth studio album, Hallelujah. It was the group’s last release to feature their classic lineup before the departure of guitarist Henry Vestine.

1971: Mott the Hoople played at London’s Royal Albert Hall in their only show at the venue. An unprecedented amount of damage was caused at the show and it was one of twenty-two performances that ended in destruction that year, which lead to the Hall banning all rock and pop concerts in March 1972. Vilified acts included Deep Purple, Yes, Gordon Lightfoot, James Brown, and The Byrds. The ban, however, turned out to be short-lived, and it wasn’t long before it was repealed and rock and pop shows returned to the Hall.

1972: Bill Withers reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with “Lean on Me.” The single spent three weeks at #1 and also reached the top of the R&B chart.

1972: The Who released “Join Together” in the US. The single ultimately reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

1975: Doobie Brothers released “Sweet Maxine,” the second single from their fifth studio LP, Stampede.

1979: After signing with Island Records, The B-52’s made their live debut at London’s Lyceum Ballroom.

1981: R.E.M. released “Radio Free Europe” backed with “Sitting Still.” The single was released on the short-lived Atlanta, Georgia-based label Hib-Tone and its success earned the band a recording deal with I.R.S. Records. The re-recording of the song for their debut album, Murmur, became their first charting single and reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1981: Stevie Nicks released “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” the first single from her debut solo album, Bella Donna. Originally written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell as a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, producer Jimmy Iovine, who was working with both Petty and Nicks at the time, arranged for her to sing on the track.

1981: Californian new wave band the Go-Go’s released their debut album, Beauty and the Beat. Preceded by the hit single “We Got the Beat,” the LP rose to #1 on the Billboard pop chart and is their only chart-topping album.

1987: Pete Townshend released Another Scoop, his second compilation album featuring demos, outtakes, and unreleased material, many of which were songs recorded by The Who. Townshend dedicated the album to his father, jazz musician Cliff Townshend, who had died in 1986.

2002: Counting Crows released their fourth studio album, Hard Candy.

Birthdays Today

Louis Jordan, saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader known as “The King of the Jukebox” who performed with stars including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong and was an early influence on rock and roll, was born in Brinkley, AR in 1908.

Billy Eckstine, jazz and pop singer and bandleader during the swing era who formed the first bop big-band and was an influential figure in his support of younger artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Charlie Parker who would shape the future of jazz, was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1914.

Johnnie Johnson, jazz, blues, and rock pianist who was a long-time collaborator with Chuck Berry as well as the inspiration for “Johnny B. Goode,” was born in Fairmont, WV in 1924.

Earl Van Dyke, soul musician who, as the main keyboardist for Motown Records’ in-house band the Funk Brothers, played on numerous hits, was born in Detroit, MI in 1930.

Jai “Jaimoe” Johanny Johanson, drummer and percussionist who backed artists included Otis Redding and Sam & Dave and was a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, was born Johnny Lee Johnson in Ocean Springs, MS in 1944.

Bill Deal, frontman for blue-eyed soul and surf rock group Bill Deal and the Rhondels, was born in 1944.

Ricky Wolff, keyboardist, saxophonist, flute player, and vocalist for The Flower Pot Men, was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1945.

Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, keyboard player and founding member of Depeche Mode, was born in Nottingham, England in 1961.

Joan Osborne, singer and songwriter, was born in Anchorage, KY in 1962.

Beck, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer, was born Bek David Campbell in Los Angeles, CA in 1970.

Jamie Cook, songwriter, rhythm guitarist, and founding member of Arctic Monkeys, was born in High Green, Sheffield, England in 1985.