Today in Rock & Roll History: June 27th

1963: Billy J. Kramer recorded “Bad to Me,” a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Released a month later, it became one of the first occasions a Lennon–McCartney composition made the US top 40 recorded by an artist other than the Beatles.

1964: British duo Peter & Gordon were at #1 in the US with their first single, “A World Without Love,” written by Paul McCartney. It was the duo’s only #1 record on either the US or UK charts.

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

1966: Freak Out!, the debut album by the Mothers of Invention was released by Verve Records. Often cited as one of rock music’s first concept albums, the LP is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa’s perception of American pop culture. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music as well as the first two-record debut album. Although the album was initially poorly received in the US, it was a success in Europe, and ultimately gained a cult following in America, where it continued to sell in substantial quantities until it was discontinued in the early 1970s.

1969: Billy Preston’s first release with Apple Records and the first single and title track from his debut album, “That’s the Way God Planned It,” was released. The record became Preston’s first to chart in both the US and UK, reaching #62 and #11 respectively.

1970: UK band Vanity Fair’s biggest hit in the US, “Hitchin’ a Ride,” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1970: The Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music was held at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England. The three-day event featured a line-up of the top American west coast and British bands of the day including Santana, The Flock, Hot Tuna, Country Joe McDonald, Colosseum, The Byrds, Dr. John, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Canned Heat, It’s a Beautiful Day, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, John Mayall with Peter Green, Pink Floyd, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Keef Hartley, the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, and headliner Led Zeppelin. The festival is widely considered by music critics and by the participating bands themselves as one of the most important of their career and marked a turning point in terms of the amount of recognition they received in Great Britain. For Led Zeppelin, the audience of 200,000 people was one of the largest crowds the band had performed to yet and the show included their first live performance of “Immigrant Song.”

1970: British band Smile was hired to perform at a Red Cross charity event at the City Hall of the Cornwall parish of Truro. Drummer Roger Taylor’s mother had booked them so far in advance that by the time they took the stage, they had changed the band’s name to Queen. It was the first public performance of Taylor and guitarist Brian May with singer Freddie Mercury as Queen, and the group remained in flux throughout the rest of the year, with new bassist Barry Mitchell taking over in August, before finally coalescing into its most successful lineup with the arrival of John Deacon in March of 1971.

1970: The Transcontinental Pop Festival, commonly referred to as Festival Express, began with its first show at the CNE Stadium in Toronto. The three-city tour across Canada featured the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and the Full-Tilt Boogie Band, The Band, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Buddy Guy Blues Band traveling by train to Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary through the rest of June and into early July.

1971: The final closing concert was held at promoter Bill Graham’s famed Fillmore East concert hall in New York’s East Village. The three billed acts at the venue’s final show were the Allman Brother’s Band, The J. Geils Band, and Albert King, and surprise guests included Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Mountain, The Beach Boys, and Country Joe and the Fish.

1974: The Grateful Dead released their seventh studio album, From the Mars Hotel.

1980: Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton-John’s soundtrack album to film Xanadu was released in the UK. It was later released in the US in July. Unlike the film, the album was a worldwide critical and commercial success.

1983: “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama was released. The single was the group’s first top 10 hit in the US and was subsequently included on their self-titled second album, which was released a year later.

1986: The Monkees released “That Was Then, This Is Now,” their cover of the Vance Brescia song first recorded by the Mosquitos in 1985. The song was chosen by Arista Records founder to be the band’s comeback single and theme to their 20th Anniversary Tour.

1988: Ranking Roger, former singer for the Beat and General Public, released his first solo album, Radical Departure.

1989: The B-52’s released their fifth studio album, Cosmic Thing. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Don Was, the album’s success served as a comeback after the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson in 1985.

1989: Don Henley released his third solo studio album and last with Geffen Records, The End of the Innocence. It would be eleven years before the release of his next solo LP, and it remains his best-selling album.

1989: The Who played their rock opera Tommy in its entirety for the first time in nineteen years at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The show was the first of two performances presented by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation to benefit charities for autistic and abused children. It was also the group’s third stop on a concert series marking the band’s 25th anniversary and was dubbed the Kids Are Alright Tour: 1964-1989. The highly publicized show, broadcast live over national radio, marked the band’s reemergence seven years after the group had concluded a farewell tour.

1989: Pete Townshend released The Iron Man: The Musical, an adaptation of Ted Hughe’s story The Iron Man. Produced and largely composed and performed Townshend, it also stars Roger Daltrey, Deborah Conway, John Lee Hooker, and Nina Simone.

1992: Emerson, Lake & Palmer released Black Moon, their eighth studio album and first in fourteen years.

1994: Beck released his fourth studio album, One Foot in the Grave.

1995: Southern rock jam band Gov’t Mule released their self-titled debut studio album.

1995: Neil Young’s collaborative album with members of Pearl Jam, Mirror Ball, was released.

Birthdays Today

Doc Pomus, famed songwriter and blues singer best known as the lyricist of numerous rock and roll hits, many of which were products of his collaboration with Mort Shuman, was born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, NY in 1925.

Andy White, session drummer and one of the individuals named “the fifth Beatle” for his involvement in recording the band’s first single, “Love Me Do,” who also played with Chuck Berry, Billy Fury, Herman’s Hermits, and Tom Jones, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1930.

Nick Reynolds, folk musician and founding member of the Kingston Trio, was born in San Diego, CA in 1933.

Bruce Johnston, singer, songwriter, record producer, and member of the Beach Boys, was born Benjamin Baldwin in Peoria, IL in 1942.

Joey Covington, drummer best known for his involvement with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, and Jefferson Starship, was born in Johnstown, PA in 1945.

Gilson Lavis, drummer for Squeeze, was born in Bedford, England in 1951.

Lisa Germano, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, solo artist, and guest performer and session musician on over sixty albums by a variety of artists such as John Mellencamp, U2, Simples Minds, David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Pop, and Billy Joel, was born in Mishawaka, IN in 1958.

Margo Timmins, lead vocalist for Cowboy Junkies, was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1961.