Today in Rock & Roll History: June 18th

1953: Truck driver Elvis Presley made his first recordings when he paid $3.98 at the Memphis Recording Service and sang two songs, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” Presley later gave the acetate recording to his mother as a gift.

1963: “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley was released. The single reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Presley’s last top 10 single on the R&B chart.

1965: “Pretty Little Baby” by Marvin Gaye was released. It became his second top 40 single, reaching #16 on the R&B chart and #25 on the pop charts. The song was first written and recorded as a psychedelic holiday song called “Purple Snowflakes,” but this version was eventually shelved and wasn’t released until 1992.

1966: Soul duo Sam & Dave had their first #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with “Hold On! I’m Comin’,” a song written by Stax Records songwriter Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

1966: The Grass Roots debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Where Were You When I Needed You.”

1966: Them, fronted by Van Morrison, ended a three-week stint as the headlining act at the Whiskey a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard in California. During the final show, they were joined on stage by that week’s opening act, The Doors, and Van Morrison and Jim Morrison together sang “Gloria.”

1966: At a drunken gig at Queen’s College in Oxford, England, bassist and producer Paul Samwell-Smith quit The Yardbirds and star session guitarist Jimmy Page agreed to take his place in the band.

1967: On third and final day of the Monterey International Pop Festival, The Jimi Hendrix Experience made their American debut. After their performance of “Wild Thing,” Hendrix knelt over his guitar, poured lighter fluid over it, set it on fire, and then smashed it onto the stage seven times before throwing its remains into the audience.

1973: Donny Hathaway’s final solo LP, Extension of a Man, was released.

1973: Joe Walsh released his second studio album, The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get. Walsh was joined on the album by musicians Joe Vitale and Kenny Passarelli from Barnstorm, a power trio formed in 1972 by Walsh after leaving the James Gang.

1976: Queen released “You’re My Best Friend,” the second single from their fourth studio album, A Night at the Opera.

1976: In the US, “Candy Store Rock” from Led Zeppelin’s seventh studio album, Presence, was released as a single.

1976: After the release of the Pretty Things’ eighth studio album, Savage Eye, the band dissolved amid rising tensions between founder Phil May and new members Jack Green and John Edwards. Two years later, May reformed the group with original guitarist Dick Taylor.

1977: James Taylor entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his version of “Handy Man,” a song penned by Otis Blackwell and originally a hit for Jimmy Jones in 1960. Taylor’s version reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Cash Box chart.

1977: Fleetwood Mac scored their only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Dreams.” Over the next twelve years, the group achieved thirteen more US top 40 pop hits.

1977: The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, the band’s first official live recording featuring performances from two shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California in August of 1964 and 1965, went to #1 on the UK album chart.

1979: Los Angeles band The Knack released their debut single, “My Sharona.” The song went to #1 in the US in September and was the band’s only top 10 hit in the US and UK.

1980: The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, premiered in New York City. The film includes appearances by such artists as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, Cab Calloway, and John Lee Hooker.

1982: Fleetwood Mac’s thirteenth studio album, Mirage, was released.

1982: King Crimson released Beat, their ninth studio album and first to feature a band line-up identical to that of their previous album.

1984: “Life on Your Own” by The Human League was released as the second single from their fourth studio album, Hysteria.

1984: Elvis Costello released his ninth studio album and eighth with backing band the Attractions, Goodbye Cruel World.

1984: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their debut studio album, From Her to Eternity. On the same day, the group released a cover of Elvis Presley’s 1969 hit “In the Ghetto” as their debut single.

1984: Rod Steward released his thirteenth studio album, Camouflage. Stewart was joined on several of the album’s songs by guitarist and former Jeff Beck Group bandmate Jeff Beck.

1985: “Weird Al” Yankovic released his third studio album, Dare to Be Stupid.

1996: Patti Smith released her sixth studio album, Gone Again. Production of the record was preceded by the deaths of many of Smith’s close friends and peers. It also features the last studio performance of Jeff Buckley.

1996: Beck released his fifth studio album, Odelay.

Birthdays Today

Sammy Cahn, lyricist, songwriter, and musician who co-wrote several popular songs including many for film and Broadway productions, was born Samuel Cohen in New York City in 1913.

Don “Sugarcane” Harris, rock violinist, guitarist, and pioneer of violin amplification who co-wrote several hits in the 1950s and later became a sideman with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Frank Zappa, was born in Pasadena, CA in 1938.

Paul McCartney, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, solo artist, and co-founder of the Beatles and Wings, was born James Paul McCartney in Liverpool, England in 1942.

Richard Perry, record producer who worked on albums by artists including Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, and Ray Charles, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1942.

Carl Radle, bassist for Derek and the Dominoes who also performed with Delaney and Bonnie, Duane Allman, Joe Cocker, and played on albums by Dave Mason, J.J. Cale, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Buddy Guy, and many others, was born in Tulsa, OK in 1942.

Rick Griffin, graphic artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s who was closely identified with the Grateful Dead, was born in Palos Verdes, CA in 1944.

Alison Moyet, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and half of duo Yazoo, was born Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet in Billericay, Essex, England in 1961.

Ray LaMontagne, singer-songwriter and musician, was born in Nashua, NH in 1973.