1951: Bill Haley and his band, then called the Saddlemen, recorded their version of “Rocket 88,” originally recorded earlier that year by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Haley’s recording became a regional hit in the northeast US and has since been considered one of the very first rock and roll records.
1964: Motown released “Baby I Need Your Loving” by The Four Tops. Written by production trio Holland-Dozier-Holland, it was the group’s first Motown single and first top 20 pop hit, reaching #11 on Billboard Hot 100, and their first million-selling record.
1965: Beatles VI, the Beatles’ seventh Capitol Records album, was released in the US and Canada. Issued in both stereo and mono, it was the band’s ninth LP released in the North American market in less than one and a half years. Six weeks later, the album went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart, making it the Beatles’ fifth album to top an American chart.
1965: In what was essentially the first solo performance by a member of the Beatles, Paul McCartney recorded two takes of “Yesterday” at EMI Studios in London. Accounts differ as to what degree the band’s other members were involved in preliminary recordings. Ultimately, producer George Martin convinced the group to allow McCartney to play his Epiphone Texan steel-string acoustic guitar and later overdubbed a string quartet. After its release in the US in September, the single went to the top of the singles charts.
1965: The Byrds released their second single and another Bob Dylan cover, “All I Really Want to Do.” A completely different take than album version, the record reached #40 on Billboard Hot 100 and #4 in the UK. Columbia Records rushed the release of the single when they found out that Cher was about to issue a rival cover version of the same song on the Imperial label. The Byrds felt there was room for both versions, but theirs became the fastest-selling UK single in CBS Records’ history.
1966: The Who recorded preliminary versions of “Disguises” and “I’m A Boy,” the latter of which had originated as part of a scrapped rock opera titled Quads. “Disguises” was rush mixed to be used the next day on the last episode of BBC Televison’s A Whole Scene Going, in which Pete Townshend wore a handlebar mustache and John Entwistle played a tuba named “Gladys.”
1967: After a week of performing their first American shows in New York City in late March and early April, The Who began their first North American tour supporting Herman’s Hermits with a concert at the Fifth Dimension Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1967: The Monkees began recording “Daydream Believer” at RCA Victor Studios in Hollywood.
1968: 23-year-old Rod Stewart got his first major exposure in the US when he, as vocalist for the Jeff Beck Group, made his first appearance onstage at a Friday show at New York’s Fillmore East at the outset of the band’s American tour. Stewart had had a bad case of stage fright and for the first few songs, the audience could hear the singer, but not see him. After a thunderous ovation, Stewart stepped out from behind a speaker cabinet, relieved to be well-received by the audience. It was also the Grateful Dead’s first weekend show at Fillmore East. Jerry Garcia, who was a fan of Beck, knew his band had another impressive set planned for the late show, and was motivated to play the Dead’s most difficult song, “The Eleven.” The Dead also introduced their song “Dark Star” to the New York audience on next day’s show, in a dedication to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, who had died that day.
1968: Iron Butterfly’s second album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, was released. A three-minute edited version of the album’s seventeen-minute title track became their highest-charting single and only US top 40 hit, reaching #30.
1968: Aretha Franklin’s thirteenth studio album, Aretha Now, was released. It became her fourth straight #1 LP on the Billboard R&B chart.
1969: San Francisco band It’s a Beautiful Day release self-titled debut album on Columbia Records. The album rose to #47 on Billboard’s chart and its opening track, “White Bird,” became the band’s biggest hit.
1970: After rehearsing at Eric Clapton’s country home and playing on sessions for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, Clapton’s new band Derek and the Dominos, with drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle, and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, performed their first live show at the Lyceum Theatre in London, where they were joined onstage by guitarist Dave Mason.
1970: The Grateful Dead released their fourth studio album, Workingman’s Dead. Recorded back-to-back with the band’s previous LP, “American Beauty,” the new album continued the same folk rock style of songwriting inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
1971: Emerson, Lake & Palmer released their second album, Tarkus. The LP became the group’s first #1 in the UK and first to reach the top 10 in the US, peaking at #9.
1972: After their breakup in 1970, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel briefly reunited in their disdain for President Richard Nixon at the Together for McGovern benefit concert in support of presidential candidate Senator George McGovern at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Additional acts at the concert included Dionne Warwick, Peter, Paul & Mary, and comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
1975: America scored their second Billboard #1 record and their seventh top 40 hit with “Sister Golden Hair.”
1976: Chicago released their eighth studio album, Chicago X. It became the group’s first album to be certified platinum by the RIAA, and in recognition of the achievement, Columbia Records awarded the band a 25-pound bar of pure platinum.
1980: Billy Joel started six-weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop album chart with Glass Houses, his seventh studio LP and second to top the chart.
1982: Pete Townshend released his third solo studio album, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes.
1987: Thirty hired hands moved eight hundred rented National Health Service beds onto Saunton Sands in North Devon, England for artist Storm Thorgerson’s photo shoot for the cover of Pink Floyd’s forthcoming album, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Rain interrupted the shoot and the team was forced to repeat the exercise two weeks later.
2003: Led Zeppelin’s triple live album How the West Was Won, featuring recordings from the band’s 1972 US tour, debuted at the top of the Billboard pop chart.
Burl Ives, singer and actor, was born in Hunt City, IL in 1909.
Junior Walker, singer, saxophonist, and leader of Motown group Jr. Walker & the All Stars, was born Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr. in Blytheville, AR in 1931.
Renaldo “Obie” Benson, soul and R&B singer, songwriter, and member of the Four Tops, was born in Detroit, MI in 1936.
Spooner Oldham, songwriter, organist, session musician, and member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section who played on hits by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge, was born in Center Star, AL in 1943.
Rod Argent, keyboardist and founder of the Zombies and Argent, was born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England in 1945.
Barry “The Fish” Melton, songwriter, guitarist, and co-founder of Country Joe and the Fish and San Francisco supergroup the Dinosaurs, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947.
Alan White, drummer and songwriter for Yes, member of the Plastic Ono Band, and contributor to recordings by George Harrison, John Lennon, Terry Reid, Ginger Baker, Joe Cocker, and the Ventures, was born in Pelton, Country Durham, England in 1949.
Boy George, lead singer and songwriter for Culture Club, was born George Alan O’Dowd in Eltham, London, England in 1961.
Benjamin Booker, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born Benjamin Roderick Evans in Virginia Beach, VA in 1989.