Today in Rock & Roll History: March 21st

1952: Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed hosted the Moondog Coronation Ball, billed as “the first rock and roll concert,” at the Cleveland Arena, featuring many of the increasingly popular R&B artists who were appearing on Freed’s radio shows. Acts included Paul Williams, Tiny Grimes, the Hucklebuckers, the Rocking Highlander, the Dominoes, Varetta Dillard, and Danny Cobb. Between printing errors and counterfeiting, there were more tickets than the arena’s capacity, which filled with an estimated 20,000 attendees—nearly twice the arena’s capacity. Almost an hour into the show, overflow crowds broke through barriers keeping them outside, prompting police and fire authorities to shut the whole thing down. The next day, Freed took to the radio to offer a public apology.

1961: The Beatles performed their first night show at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. The band had made eleven appearances at the venue for lunchtime gigs. Within six months, the band had a regular Wednesday night gig and appeared at the club over 300 times.

1962: After studying piano with renowned musician Antonia Brico, 13-year-old Judy Collins made her live debut at Carnegie Hall in New York performing Mozart’s “Concerto for Two Pianos.” A year later, her fascination with folk music caused her to switch to guitar.

1964: Jan and Dean recorded “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)” at United Western Recorders in Hollywood. The song had been inspired by a popular ad campaign by the Dodge automobile manufacturer, which featured actress Kathryn Minner as an elderly woman speeding down the street. The song later reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Canadian chart.

1964: After “I Want To Hold Your Hand” held the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, the Beatles continued their stay at the top spot when “She Loves You” started two weeks at #1. That was then followed by “Can’t Buy Me Love,” which extended their reign at the top for another five weeks. The band had three more singles reach #1 over the rest of the year.

1966: The Beach Boys released “Sloop John B,” the second lead single from their eleventh studio album, Pet Sounds. The song originated as a Bahamian folk song from Nassau, and a transcription by Richard Le Gallienne was published first in 1916.

1967: Al Green’s debut album, Back Up Train, was released by Hot Line Records, a label formed by two of Green’s high school friends, Palmer James and Curtis Rodgers.

1969: “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel was released. The lead single from their fifth and final studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, the song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the Cash Box chart, #6 in the UK, as well the top 10 in several other countries.

1970: The Who released “The Seeker.” The single reached #19 in the UK and #44 in the US.

1970: “American Woman” by the Guess Who entered the Billboard Hot 100. In May, the record became the group’s first #1 single in the US.

1970: The Beatles’ single “Let It Be” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #6the highest ever for a new entry. The song went to #1 three weeks later.

1970: First Step, the debut album by Faces, was released only a few months after the group had formed after the dissolution of Small Faces and the Jeff Beck Group. All North American issues of the album however, were still credited to Small Faces.

1972: The Grateful Dead played the first of seven nights at the Academy of Music in New York City. The concert series helped finance the Dead’s traveling expenses for a two-month, seven-country tour of Europe that began at the end of the month.

1974: Cat Stevens released his 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.

1976: California-based soul and funk duo The Brothers Johnson released their debut album, Look Out for #1. Ten weeks later, it went to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart.

1978: Elton John released the single “Ego.” It reached #34 in both the US and UK.

1981: “You Better You Bet,” the first single from the Who’s ninth studio album, Face Dances, was released. It was the group’s last song to reach the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, peaking at #18, as well as their last top 10 hit in the UK, where It peaked at #9.

1983: Pink Floyd’s twelfth studio album, The Final Cut, was released in the UK. Comprising unused material from the band’s previous album, The Wall, alongside new material recorded through 1982, it was the last Pink Floyd album to feature founding member Roger Waters and the group’s only album not to include keyboardist Richard Wright. The LP was later issued in the US in early April.

1987: U2’s fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, became their third #1 on the UK chart, where it spent a total of 156 weeks.

1988: Boston band Pixies released their debut studio album, Surfer Rosa.

1989: Bonnie Raitt released her tenth studio album, Nick of Time. Her first album with Capitol Records, it was a commercial breakthrough and won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.

1994: Yes released their fourteenth studio album, Talk.

1995: Stevie Wonder released his twenty-second album, Conversation Peace. After he was invited to visit Ghana by the country’s president, Wonder wrote about forty songs, and several of those compositions later became the album.

2000: Patti Smith released her eighth studio album, Gung Ho.

2006: Ben Harper released Both Sides of the Gun, a two-disc album that comprises a “white” disc of mostly acoustic, string-based songs and a “black” disc made up of the more rock and upbeat material.

2006: Three South African women whose father, Solomon Linda, had written “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in 1939, won a six-year court battle that gave them 25% of all past and future royalties from the song. Linda, who had been a cleaner at a Johannesburg record company when he wrote the song, received virtually nothing for his work and died in 1962.

Birthdays Today

Son House, legendary delta folk blues singer and guitarist, was born Edward James House, Jr. in Lyon, MS in 1902.

Otis Spann, blues pianist and longtime member of Muddy Waters’ band, was born in Belzoni, MS in 1924.

Solomon Burke, influential rhythm and blues singer, considered key figure in bridging R&B and soul music, was born James Solomon McDonald in Philadelphia, PA in 1940.

John Boylan, record producer and songwriter who worked with acts that include Ricky Nelson, The Association, Pure Praire League, Commander Cody, and Boston, in addition to managing Linda Ronstadt and producing children’s music albums and several film soundtracks, was born in New York City in 1941.

Keith Potger, singer-songwriter and founding member of Australian group The Seekers, was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1941.

Vivian Stanshall, singer-songwriter, musician, author, and poet known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, was born Victor Anthony Stanshallin Oxford, England in 1943.

David Lindley, multi-instrumentalist musician who founded rock band El Rayo-X and worked with many other performers including Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, Curtis Mayfield and Dolly Parton) was born in San Marino, CA in 1944.

Rose Stone, singer and keyboardist for Sly and the Family Stone, was born in Dallas, TX in 1945.

Ray Dorset, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and founder of Mungo Jerry, who composed most of group’s songs, was born in Ashford Middlesex, England in 1946.

Eddie Money, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, was born Edward Joseph Mahoney in New York City in 1949.

Roger Hodgson, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of Supertramp, was born Charles Roger Pomfret Hodgson in Oxford, England in 1950.

Russell Thompkins Jr., vocalist for The Stylistics, was born in 1951.

Conrad Lozano, bass player for Los Lobos, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1951.

Butch Norton, drummer, percussionist, and vocalist who has worked with Eels, Fiona Apple, Tracy Chapman, Lisa Germano, Aimee Mann, Michael Miller, Michael Penn, Rufus Wainwright, and Lucinda Williams, was born Jonathan Norton in Inglewood, CA in 1958.

Slim Jim Phantom, drummer for Stray Cats, was born James McDonnell in Brooklyn, NY in 1961.

Shawn Lane, guitarist who collaborated with musicians including Ringo Starr, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Joe Walsh, was born in Memphis, TN in 1963.

Andrew Copeland, rhythm guitarist and vocalist for Sister Hazel, was born in 1968.