1953: “Mess Around” by Ray Charles was released. Written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegun under the pseudonym A. Nugetre, it became one of Charles’ first hit.
1958: Buddy Holly entered Coral Records’ Studios in New York to record for the first time without the Crickets as his backing band. He recorded a cover version of the Bobby Darin song “Early in the Morning.”
1961: “Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker was released. The song references Checker’s 1960 hit single “The Twist” and reached #8 on the Billboard pop chart.
1964: The Animals’ recording of the traditional folk song “The House of the Rising Sun” was released in the UK. The single was later issued in the US in August. It became their first major hit, reaching #1 on the UK and US charts, as well as the most commercially successful recording of the song. The edited single version of the song was included on the band’s self-titled debut American LP, while the full-length version was later included on their 1966 US greatest hits album, The Best of the Animals.
1965: The Who, Solomon Burke, Zoot Money, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Spencer Davis Group, Marianne Faithful, Long John Baldry, The Birds, Dave Witting, and the Ray Martin Group all appeared at the Uxbridge Blues Festival at the Hillingdon Borough Showground in England.
1965: The Four Tops had their first #1 single with the Holland-Dozier-Holland song “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).” Lead singer Levi Stubbs had not been satisfied with the recording session and was promised that the group could record it again the following day, but no other session ever took place. The track that became a hit had only been the second take.
1967: After it was released in the UK in March, “Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was issued in the US with the B-side “The Wind Cries Mary.”
1968: The Rolling Stones scored their seventh British #1 single when “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” topped the UK chart.
1970: Yes released “Sweet Dreams,” the second single from their second studio album, Time and a Word.
1970: “Rock and Roll Madonna” by Elton John was released in the UK. The single made use of live effects such as audience cheering three years before the same technique was used on “Bennie and the Jets.”
1970: Diana Ross released her self-titled debut solo album. The LP went to #19 on the Billboard pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart. It was later re-titled to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough after success of that album’s second single.
1971: Carole King went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart with her second studio LP, Tapestry, for the first of fifteen consecutive weeks. On the same day, King started five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with the album’s first single and her only #1 on the chart, “It’s Too Late” backed with “I Feel The Earth Move.”
1973: Smokey Robinson released his first solo album, Smokey.
1973: The original stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened in London at the Royal Court Theatre.
1974: The Delinquents, a band featuring future Clash guitarist Mick Jones, made their debut at the Students Union bar at Queen Elizabeth College in Kensington, London, England.
1980: “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” became Billy Joel’s first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
1981: “Better Things” by The Kinks, from their nineteenth studio album, Give the People What They Want, was released in the UK.
1981: Los Angeles new wave band Oingo Boingo released their debut studio album, Only a Lad.
1984: Glenn Frey released his second solo album, The Allnighter. The LP became Frey’s most successful solo release, reaching #22 on the Billboard pop chart.
1988: Jimmy Page released Outrider. his only solo studio album. Recorded at his own personal Sol Studios in Berkshire, England, Page is joined on the album by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son, Jason Bonham, former Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow, Chris Farlowe, John Miles, and Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant.
1989: BoDeans released their third studio album, Home.
Lester Flatt, bluegrass guitarist and mandolinist best known as a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and for his collaborations with Earl Scruggs in The Foggy Mountain Boys, was born in Overton County, TN in 1914.
Gaetano “Tommy” DeVito, baritone vocalist, lead guitarist, and founding member of the Four Seasons, was born in Belleville, NJ in 1928.
Ernest Ranglin, guitarist, composer, and session musician who played on many early ska recordings that helped define the genre, was born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1932.
Al Wilson, soul singer, was born in Meridian, MS in 1939.
Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane, lead singer of Spanky and Our Gang, was born in Peoria, IL in 1942.
Robin Box, guitarist for several acts including Five’s Company, Paul Jones, Peter & Gordon, The Flower Pot Men, White Plains, and Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, was born in 1944.
Nick Drake, influential singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, was born in Rangoon, Burma in 1948.
Ann Wilson, singer and songwriter for Heart, was born in San Diego, CA in 1950.
Patty Larkin, singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born in Des Moines, IA in 1951.
Larry Dunn, keyboardist and early member of Earth, Wind & Fire, was born in Denver, CO in 1953.
Andrew Tosh, reggae singer and son of Peter Tosh, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1967.
Scott Avett, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of The Avett Brothers, was born in Cheyenne, WY in 1976.