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: 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 starting five weeks at #1 on the Cash Box chart, The Champs’ debut single “Tequila” started a five week run 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.

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.”

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

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.

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.

Birthdays Today

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

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

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

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

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.

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.