Today in Rock & Roll History: June 22nd

1959: Chuck Berry’s single “Back in the USA” backed with “Memphis, Tennessee” entered the US charts. The A-side made it to #16 on the Billboard pop chart and its B-side went to #6 in the UK.

1961: After being approached by Polydor Records agent Bert Kaempfert to be the backing band for singer-songwriter Tony Sheridan, the Beatles, then with Pete Best on drums, had their first recording session with Sheridan at a converted stage at the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle in Hamburg, Germany. The venue was often used by Polydor and Philips Records due to its good acoustics. During two consecutive days, the Beatles and Sheridan recorded “My Bonnie,” “The Saints,” “Why,” and “Cry For a Shadow.” All but “Cry For a Shadow,” an instrumental, feature Sheridan on lead vocals. “Cry For a Shadow,” an imitation of the style of English instrumental group The Shadows, is the only Beatles composition credited only to George Harrison and John Lennon. “My Bonnie” was released as a single backed with “The Saints” later that year in Germany, and “Cry For a Shadow” was released with “Why” as its B-side in early 1964.

1963: “Wipe Out,” the debut single by California band the Surfaris, entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later became their only top 40 hit peaked at #2 in August.

1963: Stevie Wonder debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his first single, “Fingertips – Part 2.” Seven weeks later, it reached #1.

1964: “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters entered the Billboard Hot 100. The record later reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Cash Box R&B chart.

1968: Herb Alpert topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “This Guy’s in Love with You.”

1968: Acoustic guitar instrumental “Classical Gas” by Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour composer and writer Mason Williams entered the Billboard Hot 100. By early August, the single reached #2 on the chart and was Williams’ only top 40 entry. At that year’s Grammy Awards, the record won for Best Instrumental Theme, Best Instrumental Arrangement, and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

1968: “Hurdy Gurday Man,” the lead single and title track from Donovan’s sixth studio album, entered the Billboard Hot 100. The record later reached #5 in the US and #4 in the UK. Donovan had written the song in Rishikesh, India, where he studied Transcendental Meditation with the Beatles. The song features an Indian influence with the use of the stringed instrumental called a tambura, a gift from Beatles guitarist George Harrison, who also helped write the song’s lyrics. In his autobiography, Donovan states that he originally wanted the song to be recorded by Jimi Hendrix.

1971: Joni Mitchell released her fourth studio album, Blue. The LP became Mitchell’s first to enter the top 20 in the US, first to enter the top 10 in Canada, and is regarded by many critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.

1973: Al Kooper reunited with the original members of his old band The Blues Project at the Schaefer Music Festival at New York’s Central Park. A recording of the show was released later that year by MCA Records titled Reunion in Central Park.

1974: Gordon Lightfoot started two weeks at the top of the Billboard pop chart with his tenth original album and first and only #1 in the US, Sundown. The album’s title track also became Lightfoot’s first #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

1975: Paul McCartney and Wings went to #1 in the UK with their fourth studio album, Venus and Mars.

1979: Former Bluesbreakers and Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor released his self-titled debut solo album.

1990: Billy Joel became the first rock artist to perform at Yankee Stadium when he played the first of two sold-out nights at the venue.

Birthdays Today

Kris Kristofferson, singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, was born in Brownsville, TX in 1936.

Bobby Harrison, singer, drummer, and early member of Procol Harum before leaving to form Freedom, was born Robert Leslie Harrison in West Ham, England in 1939.

Peter Asher, guitarist, singer, manager, record producer, and half of pop duo Peter and Gordon, was born in Park Royal, London, England in 1944.

Howard Kaylan, lead singer and founding member of the Turtles and “Eddie” of the duo Flo and Eddie with fellow Turtles member Mark Volman, with whom he also recorded and toured with Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, was born Howard Kaplan in New York City in 1947.

Todd Rundgren, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, solo artist, and founder of the Nazz and Utopia, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1948.

Cyndi Lauper, singer, songwriter, actress, and activist, was born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper in New York City in 1953.

Derek Forbes, bassist, vocalist, and member of Simple Minds who appears on the group’s first six albums, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1956.

Garry Gary Beers, bassist and founding member of INXS, was bornin Sydney, Australia in 1957.

Alan Anton, bassist for Cowboy Junkies, was born Alan Alizojvodic in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1959.

Jimmy Somerville, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and lead vocalist for Bronski Beat, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1961.

Dicky Barrett, singer and frontman of the Might Mighty Bosstones, was born in Providence, RI in 1964.

Steven Page, singer, songwriter, and founding member, lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Barenaked Ladies, was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1970.