Today in Rock & Roll History: June 11th

1951: Disc jockey and music promoter Alan Freed broadcast his first rhythm and blues radio program, titled The Moondog House, from AM station WJW in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first time that authentic R&B was featured regularly on a major, mass audience station. Freed, who called himself “The King of the Moondoggers,” used the term “rock and roll” to describe R&B in an effort to introduce the music to a broader white audience.

1957: RCA Victor released “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” the lead single from Elvis Presley’s soundtrack album, Loving You.

1965: It was announced that the Beatles would be made Members of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. The band held a press conference the next day to discuss the honor and protests poured into Buckingham Palace, particularly from previous recipients, some of whom returned their medals in protest. Canadian MP Hector Dupuis complained at being “on the same level as vulgar nincompoops.”

1965: The Angry Young Them, the debut album by Irish band Them, led by Van Morrison, was released. In the US, the LP was issued with an altered track list and simply titled Them.

1965: The Rolling Stones’ first live recordings were released in the UK as the band’s last official EP, Got Live If You Want It!. The recording had been made in early March at Liverpool and Manchester during the Stones’ British tour earlier that year.

1966: The Rolling Stones had their third #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Paint It Black.”

1966: “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs entered the Billboard Hot 100. In August, the single became their second top 10 hit, reaching #2.

1968: While George Harrison and Ringo Starr were in the United States, Paul McCartney recorded “Blackbird” and John Lennon worked on “Revolution 9” at EMI Studios. Both tracks were included on the Beatles’ self-titled double album released later that year.

1969: Three Dog Night released their second studio album, Suitable for Framing.

1969: “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” became the Beatles’ seventeenth #1 on the UK single chart.

1970: “It’s A Shame” by the Spinners was released on Motown’s VIP label. The record later became the group’s first top 20 hit on the pop charts and first to enter the top 5 on the R&B charts. Co-written by Stevie Wonder and R&B singer-songwriter Lee Garrett, it was also the first songwriting collaboration between Wonder and his then-girlfriend, singer Syreeta Wright, who Wonder had encouraged to start writing.

1979: The debut studio album by Los Angeles band The Knack, Get the Knack, was released. At the time, the album was one of the most successful debuts in history, selling over one million copies in less than two months and spending five weeks at number one on the Billboard pop chart. It was also the group’s only top 10 LP.

1988: A tribute concert was held at London’s Wembley Stadium for the 70th birthday of imprisoned South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. Acts that performed and spoke at the even included Harry Belafonte, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Simple Minds, Dire Straits with Eric Clapton, Eurythmcis, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Al Green, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman, Midge Ure, Paul Carrack, Bryan Adams, the Bee Gees, Hugh Masekela, UB40, Jackson Browne, Steven van Zandt, and Peter Gabriel. Broadcast in 67 countries to an audience of 600 million, it is believed that the concert potentially pressured South Africa’s apartheid government to release Mandela, who was finally freed twenty months later after twenty-seven years in prison. In the United States, a significantly shorted and heavily censored broadcast of the concert was aired by the Fox television network. Billed as “Freedomfest,” the network refused to include Mandela’s name in the program’s title, and a Fox producer at Wembley had told Hollywood film stars not to say anything political due to the approaching US election.

1990: Crosby, Stills & Nash released Live It Up, their tenth studio album and fourth as a trio.

1991: Aaron Neville released his fourth studio album, Warm Your Heart. The LP features several guest vocalists and session musicians including Rita Coolidge, Ry Cooder, Bob Seger, Dr. John, and the album’s producer, Linda Ronstadt.

2002: David Bowie released his twenty-second studio album, Heathen.

Birthdays Today

Joey Dee, vocalist and founder of Joey Dee and the Starliters, was born Joseph DiNicola in Passaic, NJ in 1940.

Richard Palmer-James, singer, songwriter, musician, founding member of Supertramp, and lyricist for King Crimson, was born in Bournemouth, England in 1947.

Glenn Leonard, soul singer and member of the Temptations from 1975-1983, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1947.

Frank Beard, drummer for ZZ Top, was born in Frankston, TX in 1949.

Johnny Neel, singer, songwriter, musician best known for his work with the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, and the Dickey Betts Band, was born in Wilmington, DE in 1954.