Today in Rock & Roll History: March 19th

1957: Elvis Presley purchased the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee for a little over 100,000 dollars. In 1982, the house was opened to the public and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991. After the White House, it is the most visited house in the United States.

1958: Big Records released “Our Song” by Queens, New York-based teen duo Tom & Jerry. The record was one of a handful released after their debut hit single “Hey Schoolgirl” that failed to achieve any success. Later in the 1960s, the duo reemerged as a folk duo using their real names, Simon & Garfunkel.

1958: Buddy Holly performed his only UK shows at the Regal Cinema in Hull, Yorkshire, England.

1962: Bob Dylan released his self-titled debut album in the US, featuring mostly folk standards along with original compositions “Talkin’ New York” and “Song To Woody.” Initially poor sales lead the record to be known around Columbia Records as “Hammond’s Folly,” referring to John Hammond, producer of Dylan’s early recordings and the man responsible for signing him to the label. The album had been recorded in three short sessions and many tracks were recorded in a single take.

1962: Aretha Franklin released her second studio album, The Electrifying Aretha Franklin.

1968: Donovan traveled to India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, along with several other celebrities that included musicians Mike Love, Paul Horn, Mia Farrow, and the Beatles. During their time in Rishikesh, India, Donovan taught John Lennon and Paul McCartney a guitar finger-picking technique that was later implemented by Lennon on the Beatles songs “Julia” and “Dear Prudence,” and by McCartney on “Blackbird.” George Harrison was also influenced by Donovan’s picking style and later composed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

1971: Jethro Tull released their fourth studio album, Aqualung. It was the band’s first album with keyboardist John Evan as a full-time member, their first with new bassist Jeffrey Hammond, and last album featuring Clive Bunker on drums. It became their best-selling album and its success signaled a turning point in their career, which went on to become a major radio and touring act.

1971: Leonard Cohen released his third studio album, Songs of Love and Hate.

1974: Cat Stevens released eighth studio album, Buddha and the Chocolate Box. The title was inspired by a plane trip to a gig in which Stevens had a buddha in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other, which to Stevens, represented the spiritual and material worlds.

1975: America released their fifth studio album, Hearts. It was the group’s last studio album to reach the top 10 on the Billboard pop chart, peaking at #4. On the same day, the album’s first single, “Sister Golden Hair,” was also released.

1975: Tommy: The Movie had its Los Angeles premiere at Mann’s Wilshire Theater. Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Ann-Margret, Tina Turner, Elton John, and Robert Stigwood were among those in attendance and all were interviewed by David Frost for an ABC Wide World Special. Other celebrities interviewed by Army Archerd on their way into the theater or the afterwards at a party held at the Studio One Club included Paul and Linda McCartney, Ron Wood, Kenney Jones, Sally Kellerman, Dean Martin, Tommy Smothers, and Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. The special aired on US television later that month.

1976: The Doobie Brothers released Takin’ It to the Streets, their sixth studio album and first with Michael McDonald performing lead vocals.

1978: Billy Joel made his UK live debut at London’s Dury Lane Theatre.

1979: The Beach Boys released L.A. (Light Album), their twenty-third studio album, first with CBS Records, and first to feature contributions from Johnston since his departure from the band in 1972.

1984: “I’m Stepping Out” by John Lennon, from his sixth and final studio album with wife Yoko Ono, Milk and Honey, was released in the US.

1990: Depeche Mode released their seventh studio album, Violator. Featuring hit singles such as “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence,” the album propelled the band into international stardom and it became their first top 10 entry on the Billboard pop album chart in the US.

1990: Robert Plant released his fifth studio album, Manic Nirvana.

1993: “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite,” the third single from R.E.M.’s eighth studio album, Automatic for the People, was released in the US following its release in the UK in early February. The song was influenced by “The Lions Sleeps Tonight,” which R.E.M. paid the rights to use. The deal also stipulated that the band record a cover of “The Lions Sleeps Tonight,” which was made the single’s B-side.

1996: Barenaked Ladies released Born on a Pirate Ship, their third studio album and first LP recorded following the departure of keyboardist Andy Creeggan.

2002: Jimmy Buffett released Far Side of the World, his twenty-fourth studio album and first on his own Mailboat Records label.

2002: Donovan released Pied Piper, his twentieth studio album and third LP of children’s music.

Birthdays Today

Tom Paley, guitar, banjo, and fiddle player best known as a co-founder of the New Lost City Ramblers, was born Allan Thomas Paley in New York City in 1928.

Clarence “Frogman” Henry, rhythm and blues singer and pianist, was born in New Orleans, LA in 1937.

Tom Constanten, keyboardist best known for playing with Grateful Dead from 1968 to 1970, was born in Long Beach, NJ in 1944.

Paul Atkinson, guitarist, record executive, and co-founder of the Zombies, was born in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, England in 1946.

Ruth Pointer, soul and R&B singer and member of the Pointer Sisters, was born in Oakland, CA in 1946.

Derek Longmuir, drummer and founding member of the Bay City Rollers, was born in Edingburgh, Scotland in 1951.

Ricky Wilson, founding member and original guitarist for the B-52s, was born in Athens, GA in 1953.

Terry Hall, lead singer for the Specials, solo artist, and former a member of groups that include Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, and Vegas who has also collaborated with artists such as Dave Stewart, Bananarama, Lightning Seeds, Sinéad O’Connor, Stephen Duffy, Damon Albarn, and Shakespears Sister, was born in Coventry, England in 1959.