Today in Rock & Roll History: June 23rd

1958: The Coasters had their third #1 on the Billboard R&B chart with the Lieber and Stoller song “Yakety Yak.” A month later, the single reached the top of both the Billboard and Cash Box pop charts.

1958: Bobby Darin debuted on the US top 40 singles charts with “Splish Splash.”

1959: “A Big Hunk o’ Love” by Elvis Presley was released. The song was written by Aaron Shroeder and Sidney Wyche under the pseudonym Sid Jaxon and it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1960: Eddie Cochran posthumously achieved his only #1 single when “Three Steps To Heaven” went to the top of the UK chart a little over two months after he had been killed in a car crash.

1964: Motown Records released Stevie Wonder’s fourth studio album, Stevie at the Beach.

1965: “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles was released on Motown’s Tamla label. The single went on to reach #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart by early September.

1966: The Beatles had their tenth #1 song on the UK chart with “Paperback Writer.”

1967: Aretha Franklin recorded “Chain of Fools” at Atlantic Records’ New York studio. The song was originally written by R&B artist Don Covay in his youth while he was a gospel singer, and he had recorded a demo of the song after producer Jerry Wexler asked him to create a song for Otis Redding. After hearing the demo, Wexler instead chose to give the song to Franklin, and her recording ultimately went to the top of the Billboard and Cash Box R&B charts and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1971: The Byrds released their tenth studio album, Byrdmaniax. It was the group’s second album to feature the line-up of the Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Gene Parsons, and Skip Battin. Recorded in early 1971 during an exhausting tour, the band had little time to work on the album’s new songs, which resulted in an album that was considered underdeveloped.

1972: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash was released. The single became his biggest hit and only record to reach #1 in the US.

1972: Electric Light Orchestra’s debut single, “10538 Overture,” was released in the UK. Written by Jeff Lynne, the song was first recorded as a B-side for a single by his previous group, The Move, and cello parts were added before it became ELO’s first release. During the single’s chart run, Roy Wood left the group and emerged a year later with his new band, Wizzard.

1972: Smokey Robinson performed with the Miracles for the final time at Washington, D.C.’s Carter Barron Amphitheatre. Toward the end of the concert, Smokey introduced his replacement, Billy Griffin, as the new lead singer for the Miracles.

1973: Chicago released “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” the lead single from the band’s fifth studio album, Chicago VI.

1973: B.W. Stevenson recorded “My Maria.” The song became his highest charting single, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart by the end of September.

1973: George Harrison’s fourth studio album, Living in the Material World, started five weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

1973: The Doobie Brothers had their first top 10 hit in the US with “Long Train Runnin’.” The following week, the record peaked at #8.

1973: “Brother Louie” by Stories entered the Billboard Hot 100. Earlier that year, the song had been a hit for Hot Chocolate on the UK chart. Stories’ version later became their only top 40 single and only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

1975: “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John was released. The nearly seven-minute long autobiographical song tells the story of an attempted suicide by John, after which he took refuge with his friends, particularly singer Long John Baldry. As a sign of gratitude to Baldry, co-writer Bernie Taupin references him in the song as “Sugar Bear” and as the “someone” in the song’s title.

1975: Amazing Rhythm Aces released “Third Rate Romance,” the lead single from their debut album, Stacked Deck. The song was written by lead single Russell Smith and was first recorded in 1974 by Jesse Winchester and his band Rhythm Aces. In 1975, the group re-formed as the Amazing Rhythm Aces and “Third Rate Romance” became their biggest hit.

1980: Pink Floyd released “Comfortably Numb,” the third single from the band’s eleventh studio album, The Wall. The lyrics by bassist Roger Waters were inspired by an experience of being injected with tranquilizers for stomach cramps before a 1977 performance in Philadelphia.

1980: Bob Dylan released Saved, his twentieth studio album and second after converting to Evangelical Christianity. Critical reception was mixed, with some critics describing the album as unremarkable, a failed experiment, and burdened by overtly religious messages.

1986: Peter Cetera released Solitude/Solitaire, his second solo album and first after leaving Chicago.

1986: David Bowie and composer Trevor Jones’ soundtrack to the film Labyrinth was released.

1986: Rod Stewart released his fourteenth studio album, Every beat of My Heart.

1990: Elton John achieved his first solo #1 single on the UK chart with “Sacrifice,” the second single from his twenty-second studio album, Sleeping with the Past.

1992: “It’s Probably Me” by Sting and Eric Clapton was released as a single from the soundtrack to the film Lethal Weapon 3.

1992: The B-52’s released Good Stuff, the group’s sixth studio album and only one not to feature vocalist Cindy Wilson.

1992: Glenn Frey released his fourth solo studio album, Strange Weather.

1997: Paul Weller released his fourth album, Heavy Soul.

1998: Mermaid Avenue, the first in a series of three albums of previously unheard lyrics written by Woody Guthrie put to music and performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco, was released on Elektra Records. The project was the first of several organized by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora Guthrie.

1998: Linda Ronstadt released We Ran, an album of rock covers in which she is backed by Tom Petty’s band, The Heartbreakers.

Birthdays Today

June Carter Cash, singer, songwriter, actress, member of pioneering country gospel group the Carter Family, and wife of Johnny Cash, was born Valerie June Carter in Maces Spring, VA in 1929.

Nikki Sullivan, guitarist and original member of Buddy Holly’s backing band, the Crickets, was born in South Gate, CA in 1937.

Stu Sutcliffe, early bassist for the Beatles, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1940.

Robert Hunter, singer-songwriter, poet, and lyricist best known for his work with the Grateful Dead along with his solo work and collaborations with Bob Dylan, Jim Lauderdale, Pete Sears, Rob Barraco, and New Riders of the Purple Sage among others, was born in Oceano, San Luis Obispo, CA in 1941.

Rosetta Hightower, lead singer for The Orlons, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1944.

Paul Arthurs, guitarist and co-founder of Oasis, was born in Burnage, Manchester, England in 1965.

Mark Chadwick, singer, songwriter, and co-founding frontman and lyricist for the Levellers, was born in Münster, West Germany in 1966.

KT Tunstall, singer-songwriter and musician, was born Kate Victoria Tunstall—Edinburgh, Scotland in 1975.