Today in Rock & Roll History: June 20th

1957: “Words of Love” by Buddy Holly was released. The single failed to chart, but it is regarded as one of Holly’s important recordings.

1964: “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons entered the Billboard Hot 100. A month later, it started two weeks at #1 on the chart.

1965: The Beatles began what would be their final European tour at the Palais des Sports in Paris, France.

1966: Bob Dylan’s seventh studio album, Blonde on Blonde, was released. It was one of the first double albums in rock music and most of its songs were recorded at Columbia Record’s studios in Nashville. At the suggestion of producer Bob Johnston after unfruitful sessions in New York, Dylan, along with keyboardist Al Kooper and guitarist Robbie Robertson, traveled to Tennessee, where they produced recordings that combined the expertise of Nashville session musicians with a modernist literary sensibility. Considered by some critics to be one of the greatest albums of all time, Blonde on Blonde peaked at #9 on the Billboard pop chart and reached #3 in the UK.

1966: Love recorded “7 and 7 Is” at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood for their second album, “De Capo.” Released by Elektra Records that July, the single reached #33 on Billboard pop chart by end of month and became the band’s highest-charting hit single.

1967: The Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service performed for the summer solstice celebrations at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

1968: Recording sessions for Elvis Presley’s comeback NBC special began at Western Recorders in Burbank, California. The program aired in early December, along with the release of the soundtrack album, which made it to #8 on the charts.

1969: David Bowie recorded “Space Oddity” at Trident Studios London. The song initially reached #5 in the UK, but its re-release in 1975 became Bowie’s first British #1.

1969: The Grateful Dead released their third studio album, Aoxomoxoa. Considered to be the band’s experimental peak, it was one of the first rock albums to be recorded using 16-track technology. It was also the group’s first album recorded entirely in or near their original hometown of San Francisco and their only studio release to include pianist Tom Constanten as an official member. It was also the group’s first album to have lyricist Robert Hunter as a full-time contributor to the band, which cemented Jerry Garcia’s songwriting partnership with Hunter that endured for the rest of the band’s existence.

1969: Atco Records released Otis Redding’s third posthumous album, Love Man. The album was produced by Steve Cropper and features Booker T. and the M.G.’s.

1969: Approximately 200,000 people showed up at the Devonshire Downs horse racing track in the suburban Los Angeles city of Northridge to witness the Newport 69 festival, which featured the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Spirit, Jethro Tull, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, Marvin Gaye, The Byrds, The Rascals, and many others. The second of two Newport music festivals, the three-day event was considered the largest pop concert at the time. Headliner Jimi Hendrix’s fee was reported to be $125,000, which at that time a record-breaking sum for a single appearance by a rock performer.

1970: The Jackson 5 topped the Billboard R&B singles chart with “The Love You Save.”

1973: The 20th anniversary episode of American Bandstand aired, featuring appearances by Neil Diamond, Little Richard, Cheech and Chong, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Three Dog Night.

1974: Bob Dylan & the Band’s Before the Flood live album was released by Asylum Records. Their first joint live album, it was recorded during their 1974 American Tour, with all but one track taken from two mid-February shows in Los Angeles.

1974: The first Knebworth rock festival, billed as the “Bucolic Frolic,” was held at Knebworth Park in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. Featured performers included Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, The Doobie Brothers, the Allman Brothers, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. A special PA system was used for the event. It was purported to be the best ever for an outside show, weighed twelve tons, and was manned by five technicians.

1975: Neil Young released his sixth studio album, Tonight’s the Night. Recorded primarily in 1973, the album’s songs had been written by Young after Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and Young’s friend and roadie Bruce Berry had both died from drug overdoses. The band assembled for the album was known as The Santa Monica Flyers and consisted of Ben Keith, Nils Lofgren, and the Crazy Horse rhythm section of Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina.

1980: The Blues Brothers released their second album and the soundtrack to their first film on the same day that it opened in theaters. The songs on the soundtrack are a noticeably different mix than in the film, with female backing vocals and the inclusion of Blues Brothers band members saxophonist Tom Scott and drummer Steve Jordan.

1980: The Rolling Stones released Emotional Rescue, their fifteenth British and seventeenth American studio album.

1981: Dutch supergroup Stars on 45 reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with a self-titled single whose full title was “Medley: Intro ‘Venus’ / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45.” It is the longest-titled song to ever enter the Billboard chart and is commonly referred to as simply “Stars on 45 Medley.”

1983: Guitarist Duane Eddy kicked off his first US tour in fifteen years in San Francisco, performing alongside Ry Cooder and prolific session drummer Hal Blaine. Among the musicians that made the pilgrimage to see Eddy perform were Jeff Beck, Lindsey Buckingham, Eric Clapton, Albert Lee, Tom Petty, Lee Ritenour, and Ron Wood.

1986: Steve Winwood released “Higher Love,” the lead single from his fourth solo studio album, Back in the High Life.

1987: “La Bamba” by Los Lobos was released ahead of the biographical film of the same name about Richie Valens. It became the most notable recording of the Mexican folk song as well as Los Lobos’ first and biggest hit, reaching #1 on charts around the world.

1987: Herb Alpert had his first and only #1 single on the Billboard R&B chart with “Diamonds.”

1988: Chicago released their sixteenth studio album, Chicago 19.

1989: The B-52’s released “Love Shack,” the third single from their fifth studio album, Cosmic Thing. Produced by Don Was, it became their biggest hit and signature song, reaching #3 in the US, #2 in the UK, and #1 in Austrlia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

2004: Jets sprayed dry ice into clouds in order to prevent rain during Paul McCartney’s 3,000th concert in St. Petersburg, Russia.

2009: Dave Matthews Band went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart with their seventh studio album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.

Birthdays Today

Danny Cedrone, guitarist and bandleader best known for his work with Billy Haley & His Comets, was born in Jamesville, NY in 1920.

Chet Atkins, musician, songwriter, record producer, and occasional vocalist who helped create the country music style known as the Nashville sound, was born Chester Burton Atkins in Luttrell, TN in 1924.

Lazy Lester, blues musician and singer who recorded with artists such as Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim, and Katie Webster, and was an influential figure in the development of swamp blues, was born Leslie Johnson in Torras, LA in 1933.

Billy Guy, lead singer for The Coasters, was born Frank Phillips, Jr. in Itasca, TX in 1936.

Mickie Most, record producer who had several hit singles with groups such as the Animals, Herman’s Hermits, the Nashville Teens, Donovan, Lulu, Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate, Arrows, Racey, and the Jeff Beck Group, many of which were issued on his own RAK Records label, was born Michael Peter Hayes in Aldershot, Hampshire, England in 1938.

Brian Wilson, musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, solo artist, and co-founder of The Beach Boys who wrote many of the band’s most celebrated songs, was born Brian Douglas Wilson in Inglewood, CA in 1942.

Anne Murray, singer and the first Canadian female solo singer to reach #1 on the US charts, was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1945.

Dolores “LaLa” Brooks, second lead singer for the Crystals and a Broadway actress, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947.

Lionel Richie, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and member of the Commodores, was born in Tuskegee, AL in 1949.

John Taylor, bassist for Duran Duran and The Power Station, was born Nigel John Taylor in Solihull, Warwickshire, England in 1960.

Amos Lee, singer-songwriter, was born Ryan Anthony Massaro in Philadelphia, PA in 1977.

Grace Potter, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, was born in Waitsfield, VT in 1983.