Today in Rock & Roll History: March 13th

1961: Chubby Checker scored his first #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart with “Pony Time,” the same week that the single began its last week at the top of the Hot 100 pop chart.

1964: “My Guy” by Mary Wells was released by Motown Records. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, the record became Wells’ biggest hit, reaching #1 on the US pop and R&B charts, and made her Motown’s first female star.

1965: Junior Walker & the All Starts topped the Billboard R&B chart for the first time with their first single to enter the chart, “Shotgun.” The record was also their first entry on the Hot 100 pop chart, where it peaked at #4.

1965: Guitarist Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds. Clapton had grown unhappy with the band’s direction toward pop music, culminating in his departure after the release of “For Your Love.” Clapton went on to join John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and had recommended session guitarist Jimmy Page to take his place. Page declined the offer, finding session work already lucrative, and instead suggested Beck. Beck’s tenure with the band didn’t last, however, and he was fired from the group in late 1966. Earlier that year, Jimmy Page had joined the Yardbirds as a bassist.

1965: The Beatles started two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Eight Days A Week,” the group’s seventh #1 in the US.

1965: Tom Jones made his first major television appearance on BBC TVs Billy Cotton Band Show.

1966: Rod Stewart left British blues band Steampacket to record as a solo artist.

1966: ? and the Mysterians recorded their first single “Midnight Hour” as well at its B-side “96 Tears” for the small Pa-Go-Go Records label. The group’s lead singer, who simply went by “?,” encouraged radio stations across Michigan to play the B-side. The local success of “96 Tears” drew the attention of Cameo-Parkway Records president Neil Bogart, who purchased the rights to the song for national distribution and booked the group appearances on television programs American Bandstand and Where the Action is. By the end of October, the song had risen to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1966: Pink Floyd, billed as “Pink Floyd Sound,” had their first contact with London’s emerging counterculture when they played the first “Spontaneous Underground” at London’s Marquee Club. The event was a weekly Sunday gathering organized by New Yorker Bernard Stollman to bring together London’s fragmented experimental scene of musicians, poets, and artists. Pink Floyd became a regular act at the sessions and it was at one of these Spontaneous Underground “happenings” in June later that year that future Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner discovered the band.

1971: “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night entered the Billboard Hot 100. Five weeks later the record reached #1.

1971: Brewer and Shipley had their first entry into the to 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart with “One Toke Over The Line.” The song, which featured the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia on steel guitar, peaked at #10 despite being banned by radio stations for its drug references.

1976: “Strange Magic,” the second single from Electric Light Orchestra’s fifth studio LP Face the Music, entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later reached #14.

1976: The Four Seasons started a three week run at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “December 1963 (Oh What A Night),” the group’s fifth US #1 single.

1976: The Eagles’ first compilation album Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) began a month-long run at #1 on the Billboard pop chart. The album became the best-selling album of the 20th century in the US and remains the best-selling album in the US.

1977: Iggy Pop and David Bowie kicked off the North American leg of their Idiot World Tour at Le Plateau Auditorium in Montreal, Canada with Blondie as the opening act.

1981: “Watching the Wheels,” the third and final single from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy album, was released as Lennon’s second posthumous single from the album.

1984: The Cars’ fifth studio album Heartbeat City was release along with the album’s first single, “You Might Think.”

1993: Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album, recorded live for MTV’s Unplugged television series, began three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart. The album became Clapton’s best-selling album as well as one of the best-selling live albums in the US.

Birthdays Today

Paul Horn, flautist, saxophonist, composer, producer, and pioneer of world and new age music, was born in New York City in 1930.

Mike Stoller, half of songwriting and record producing team Leiber and Stoller, who wrote many hits through the 1950s for artists such as Elvis Presley, The Coasters, and The Drifters, was born in Long Island, NY in 1933.

Neil Sedaka, singer, pianist, composer, record producer, writer of hundreds of songs, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1939.

Donald York, vocalist for Sha Na Na, was born in Boise, ID in 1949.

Danny Kirwan, guitarist, singer, and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac from 1968-1972, was born in Brixton, London in 1950.

Greg Norton, bassist, vocalist, and songwriter for Hüsker Dü, was born in Davenport, IA in 1959.

Adam Clayton, bass guitarist for U2, was born in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England in 1960.