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.”

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: “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 10th #1 song on the UK chart with “Paperback Writer” backed with “Rain.”

1967: Aretha Franklin recorded “Chain of Fools” at Atlantic Records’ New York studio. The song had been originally written by R&B artist Don Covay in his youth while he was a gospel singer, and had recorded a demo of the song after producer Jerry Wexler asked Covay 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.

1969: “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond was released. It became his third song to enter the top 10 and first to be certified platinum.

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, his second top 10 hit, and only record to reach #1 in the US.

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 LP, “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.

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.

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: 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 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.

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