Today in Rock & Roll History: March 12th

1964: For the first time in British recording history, all top ten singles in the UK were by British acts. At #1 was “Anyone Who Had A Heart” by Cilla Black, followed by “Bits and Pieces” by The Dave Clark Five, “Little Children” by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, “Diane” by The Bachelors, “Not Fade Away” by The Rolling Stones, “Just One Look” by The Hollies, “Needles and Pins” by The Searchers, “I Think Of You” by The Merseybeats, “Boys Cry” by Eden Kane, and “Let Me Go Lover” by Kathy Kirby.

1965: Donovan’s debut single “Catch the Wind” was released in the UK where it reached #4. After its US release a few months later, the record went to #23 on Billboard Hot 100.

1965: Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs released “Wooly Bully.” Written by band’s leader, Domingo “Sam” Samudio, the song was initially released on the small Memphis-based XL label in 1964 and was picked up by MGM the following year. As the Pharaohs were preparing to write their debut album, lead singer Samudio wanted to write a tribute to the Hully Gully dance. His record label’s legal department feared using that title due to the existence of another song with a similar title, but they gave the green light after Samudio rewrote the lyrics, replacing “Hully Gully” with “Wooly Bully.” Recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, the successor to Phillips’ original Sun Studio, the track proved to be the only recording made at the studio that achieved national success. “Wooly Bully” was the band’s first and biggest hit, and became a worldwide success, selling three million copies and reaching #2 on the Billboard 100 chart in June. Some radio stations banned the song due to its hard to understand lyrics.

1966: Wilson Pickett went to the top of Billboard’s R&B chart with “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.).”

1967: The Velvet Underground and German singer Nico released their eponymous debut album. Co-produced by Andy Warhol, the album initially sold poorly and was ignored by critics. Since then, however, it has been regarded as one of the most influential albums in pop music history.

1969: The notorious Sgt. Norman Pilcher of the Drugs Squad launched a raid on the home of George and Pattie Harrison and charged them with possession of marijuana. Pilcher became infamous for vigorously targeting pop musicians such as Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon, and it was widely believed that he framed a number of celebrities or zealously carried out raids in order to become famous in the tabloid press.

1971: “Power to the People” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band was released in the UK after its recording in January during sessions for his Imagine album. The song became Lennon’s third solo top 10 single in the UK, reaching #6, and peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, where it was released ten days later.

1971: The Allman Brothers Band performed the first of two nights at the Fillmore East in New York. The resulting live album helped the band achieve breakthrough success and has often been cited as one of rock music’s greatest live albums.

1977: “Heard It in a Love Song” by The Marshall Tucker Band entered the Billboard Hot 100. It later became the band’s highest charting single, reaching #14 in June.

1977: “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs entered Billboard Hot 100, where it later peaked at #11.

1980: Billy Joel released his seventh studio album, Glass Houses. It became his second album to reach #1 in the US and includes his first #1 single, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

1982: The Jam released their sixth and final studio album, The Gift. It became one of their most successful albums and their only one to reach #1 on the UK chart.

1982: Elton John released “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny),” the lead single from his sixteenth studio album, Jump Up!. The song is a tribute to John Lennon, who had been assassinated fifteen months earlier.

1983: 40 years ago today, U2 scored their first #1 album when their third studio LP, War, reached the top of the UK chart. It spent a total of 147 weeks on the chart. The album featured the hit singles “New Years Day,” “Two Hearts Beat As One,” and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”

1984: Berlin released their third studio album, Love Life. It became their highest charting LP in the US, peaking at #23 on the Billboard chart.

1990: Robyn Hitchcock released his eighth studio album, Eye. The acoustic LP was Hitchcock’s only solo release between 1985 and 1995, during which time he mostly recorded with his backing band, the Egyptians.

1991: R.E.M. released their seventh studio album, Out of Time. The LP became the group’s second to reach the top 10 in the US and first to reach #1. It was also the band’s first album to enter the top 20 in the UK, where it also reached #1. The album catapulted R.E.M. to international success and has sold over four and a half million copies in the US and over eighteen million copies worldwide.

1991: BoDeans released their fourth studio album, Black and White.

1994: Pink Floyd released “Keep Talking” from their fourteenth studio album, The Division Bell.

2002: The Indigo Girls released their eighth studio album, Become You.

2006: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour achieved his first #1 solo album when he went to the top of the UK chart with his third LP On An Island. In the US, the album was Gilmour’s first to reach the top 10, peaking at #6.

2013: Eric Clapton released his nineteenth solo studio album, Old Sock.

Birthdays Today

Leonard Chess, co-founder of Chess Records and influential figure in the development of electric blues, Chicago blues, and rock and roll, was born Lejzor Shmuel Czyż in Motal, Poland in 1917.

Wardell Quezergue, composer, arranger, record producer and bandleader known as the “Creole Beethoven” who worked with artists such as The Dixie Cups, King Floyd, Robert Parker, Paul Simon, and Dr. John, was born in New Orleans, LA in 1930.

Don Drummond, ska trombonist, composer, and original member of The Skatalites, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1932.

Al Jarreau, singer and musician, was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1940.

George Jackson, blues, rhythm & blues, rock and soul songwriter and singer who wrote or co-wrote many hit songs for other musicians, was born in Indianola, MS in 1945.

James Taylor, singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born in Boston, MA in 1948.

Bill Payne, keyboardist, vocalist, and co-founder of Little Feat, was born in Waco, TX in 1949.

Mike Gibbins, drummer for Badfinger, was born in Swansea, Wales in 1949.

Jack Green, musician, songwriter, and solo artist who worked with T. Rex and The Pretty Things in the mid-1970s, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1951.

Marlon Jackson, member of the Jackson 5, was born in Gary, IN in 1957.

Graham Coxon, singer-songwriter and founding member and leader guitarist for Blur, was born in Rinteln, West Germany in 1969.