Today in Rock & Roll History: March 17th

1956: After reaching #6 on the pop charts in February, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ debut single “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” hit the top of the Billboard R&B chart for the first of five weeks. Three and a half months later, the single reached the top of the UK chart.

1958: Bill Haley and His Comets released their sixth rock and roll album, Rockin’ Around the World. It was the first of three themed albums for Decca Records and features rearranged rock versions of well-known folk songs from around the world.

1958: Little Richard had his final top 10 hit on the US pop and R&B charts with “Good Golly Miss Molly.” The song was from his last recording session for Specialty Records before embarking on a career in gospel music.

1958: Two days after it started five weeks at #1 on the Cash Box chart, The Champs’ debut single, “Tequila,” started five weeks at the top of Billboard’s Best Sellers and Top 100 charts. It was the group’s only record to top the US pop and R&B charts and made it to #5 in the UK.

1962: After establishing themselves at London’s Marquee Club, Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated began a weekly “Rhythm and Blues Night” at the Ealing Jazz Club in London with a lineup that included Cyril Davis, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart. The shows brought together many fans of blues and R&B music including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Rod Stewart, Paul Jones, John Mayall, Zoot Money, and Jimmy Page, some of whom occasionally sat in on Blues Incorporated performances. Bands that formed as a result of the Ealing Club shows include the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Small Faces, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin.

1964: Paul Revere and the Raiders released “Louie, Go Home.” A re-recorded version of the song with a guitar opening instead of a saxophone opening was featured on their fifth studio album, Midnight Ride.

1967: “Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was released as a single in the UK with the B-side “51st Anniversary.” It was issued in the US in June with the B-side “The Wind Cries Mary” and became one of Hendrix’s best-known songs. After their first single, “Hey Joe,” producer Chas Chandler heard Hendrix toying with a new guitar riff. He encouraged him to keep working on it, saying, “That’s the next single!.”

1967: San Francisco band the Grateful Dead released their self-titled debut album.

1967: The Beatles finished recording “She’s Leaving Home” at EMI Studios in London. Harpist Sheila Bromberg, who was part of the string section on the track, became the first woman to play on a Beatles recording.

1968: The Bee Gees made their US television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show performing “Words” and “To Love Somebody.”

1969: The Rascals released their fifth studio album, Freedom Suite. The double album peaked at #17 and was the band’s last to enter the top 40 on the Billboard pop chart.

1972: Ringo Starr released “Back Off Boogaloo.” The song was produced and co-written by Starr’s former Beatles bandmate George Harrison and was recorded shortly after the two appeared together at Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. It reached #9 in the US and became Starr’s highest reaching single in the UK, where it peaked at #2.

1973: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder entered the Billboard Hot 100. Nine weeks later the record reached #1.

1976: The Doobie Brothers released “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the lead single and title track from their sixth studio album. It was the band’s first single with vocalist Michael McDonald, who also wrote the song.

1976: Boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was granted a retrial, in part because his murder case had been championed by Bob Dylan with his single “Hurricane.” Carter lost the retrial, but his conviction was later overturned in 1985.

1977: Emerson, Lake & Palmer released their double-LP fifth studio album Works Volume 1. It features sides dedicated to material exclusively written and arranged by each member of the band, while the fourth side contains songs written collaboratively.

1978: Elvis Costello released This Year’s Model, his second studio album and first with backing band the Attractions.

1978: English punk band Generation X released their eponymous debut album.

1979: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” by Bad Company entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single reached #13 in the US and became the group’s only song to be certified gold.

1981: Original Blues Project members Al Kooper, Steve Katz, and Roy Blumenfeld, reunited for a one-off concert at Bond’s International Casino in New York. The show was broadcast live on WLPJ-FM and, along with the recorded rehearsal from the day before, was later released as the bootleg album 1981: The Last Reunion… But Not The Least.

1986: Depeche Mode released their fifth studio album, Black Celebration.

1992: k.d. lang released her second solo studio album, Ingénue. It became her most successful album on pop charts around the world.

1992: Melissa Etheridge released her third studio album, Never Enough.

1995: Elton John released his twenty-fourth studio album, Made in England.

2008: Van Morrison released his thirty-third studio album, Keep It Simple. It debuted at #10 on the US charts, making it Morrison’s highest ranking LP in the US at that time.

Birthdays Today

Nat King Cole, jazz pianist and vocalist, was born Nathaniel Adams Cole in Montgomery, AL in 1919.

Vince Martin, folk singer and songwriter who first recorded as a member of the Tarriers and became more widely known for his recordings with Fred Neil, was born Vincent Marcellino in 1937.

Zola Taylor, singer and original female member of The Platters, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1938.

Dean Mathis, member of vocal pop trio The Newbeats, best known for their single “Bread and Butter,” was born Louis Aldine Mathis in Hahira, GA in 1939.

Clarence Collins, founding member of Little Anthony and the Imperials, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1941.

Paul Kantner, guitarist, vocalist, and co-founder of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1941.

Jim Weatherly, singer-songwriter best known for writing songs such as “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Neither One of US (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” was born in Pontotoc, MS in 1943.

John Sebastian, singer-songwriter, musician, founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, and a solo artist, was born in Greenwich Village, NY in 1944.

Pat McAuley, keyboardist and drummer for Them and organist for Belfast Gypsies, was born in 1944.

Harold Ray Brown, original member of War and the LowRider Band, was born in Long Beach, CA in 1946.

Fran Byrne, drummer for Ace, was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1948.

Pat Lloyd, rhythm guitarist for The Equals, was born in Holloway, London, England in 1949.

Scott Gorham, guitarist, songwriter, and lead guitarist for Thin Lizzy from 1974–1983, was born William Scott Gorham in Glendale, CA in 1951.

Mike Lindup, keyboardist and falsetto vocalist for Level 42, was born in London, England in 1959.

Clare Grogan, lead singer for Altered Images, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1962.

Michael Ivins, bassist, keyboardist, backing vocalist, and co-founder of The Flaming Lips, was born in Omaha, NE in 1963.

Billy Corgan, musician, songwriter, producer, and lead singer, primary songwriter, guitarist, and sole permanent member of The Smashing Pumpkins, was born in Elk Grove Village, IL in 1967.

Hozier, singer-songwriter and musician, was born Andrew John Hozier-Byrne—Bray, Ireland in 1990.