Today in Rock & Roll History: March 30th

1957: Buddy Knox became the first artist in the rock and roll era to write his own #1 hit when “Party Doll” topped the Billboard Best Sellers chart. Knox went on to have four more songs in the top 40 between 1957 and 1961.

1959: “A Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts was released. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, it became their first top 10 hit single, reaching #5.

1963: The Chiffons began four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their first single and only record to top the chart, “He’s So Fine.” Instrumentation for the record was provided by The Tokens, who also produced the song through their production company, Bright Tunes Corporation.

1963: 16-year-old Lesley Gore recorded her debut hit single “It’s My Party” at Bell Sound Studios in Manhattan. First recorded by The Chiffons in 1962 and Helen Shapiro in 1963, it was Gore’s version that eventually reached #1 in the following Summer (June 1). Gore later recalled that the song was one of roughly two hundred demos brought to her home by producer Quincy Jones, and out of the bunch, it was the only one the two found agreeable. The evening after Gore had finished her recording, Jones happened to meet producer Phil Spector at a Carnegie Hall concert, and learned that Spector had also intended to have the song recorded by The Crystals. Jones skipped the concert and spent the rest of the night pressing one hundred copies of the record to send out to radio programmers across the US. By the next weekend, Gore began hearing her record on the air. The official release came out later that month and rose to #1 a month later. Written by freelance songwriter Seymour Gottlieb, the song was based on actual events related to Gottlieb’s daughter’s 16th birthday party, before which she cried over the prospect of her grandparents being invited.

1967: The Beatles posed with a photographic collage and wax figures from Madame Tussaud’s wax museum for the cover artwork of their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album at photographer Michael Cooper’s Chelsea Manor Studio in London. The album’s cover was designed by pop artist Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, who started with Paul McCartney’s original idea of pictures of famous people surrounding the band and additional suggestions of what figures to include from John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

1967: Cindy Birdsong, formerly of Patti Labelle’s Bluebelles, was asked to fill in for Florence Ballard of The Supremes after Ballard missed a number of shows in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Montreal. Birdsong became a permanent member a few months later.

1968: “Tighten Up,” the debut single by Houston R&B vocal group Archie Bell & the Drells, entered the Billboard Hot 100 on its way to #1 seven weeks later.

1968: The Yardbirds, with Jimmy Page on guitar, were recorded live at the Anderson Theatre in New York City during their last American tour. The plan was to release the show as a live album but dissatisfied with the recording, the group objected to its release. Three years later, after Page had become famous as a member of Led Zeppelin, Epic Records released the Anderson Theatre recording as Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page. Page took legal action against Epic, halting further distribution. In 2017, Page discovered the concert tapes in his personal archive and remixed them and released them, along with contemporaneous demos, as the double album Yardbirds ‘68.

1969: The Bee Gees released their sixteenth studio album, Odessa.

1970: Miles Davis released the studio double album, Bitches Brew. The LP saw Davis depart from traditional jazz rhythms in favor of loose, rock-influenced arrangements based on improvisation. It became his highest-charting album on the US Billboard pop chart, peaking at #35.

1974: The Ramones played their first show at the band’s rehearsal space on Manhattan’s East 20th Street, then known as Performance Studios, before a small group of friends and associates, including future drummer Tommy Erdelyi, who, at the time, was acting as the band’s manager. The group’s lineup at the time consisted of future vocalist Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone) on drums, John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) on guitar, and Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone) playing bass and singing lead vocals. After several months of honing their sound, Joey took over from Dee Dee as lead singer, Erdelyi became their new drummer, and the band’s first real gig took place in mid-August at the CBGB club in the East Village.

1985: After going to the top of the UK chart, Phil Collins achieved his first solo #1 album in the US with his third LP, No Jacket Required. On the same day, Collins started two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the album’s lead single, “One More Night.” It was his second US chart-topper and reached #4 in the UK.

1987: Prince released his ninth studio album, Sign o’ the Time. The double LP was Prince’s first album after disbanding his backing group the Revolution and was assembled from songs largely recorded during 1986-1987 in sessions for releases that had been scrapped. Though not his most commercially successful album, Sign o’ the Times has since become Prince’s most acclaimed record and is regarded by many critics as his best.

1994: Pink Floyd played their first concert in over five years, opening the North American leg of their Division Bell Tour before more than 54,000 fans in Miami. It ended up being the band’s final tour.

Birthdays Today

Sonny Boy Williamson I, blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who was a pioneer of the blues harp as a solo instrument and played on hundreds of recordings by many pre-World War II blues artists, was born John Lee Curtis Williamson in Madison County, TN in 1914.

Graeme Edge, songwriter and drummer for The Moody Blues and leader of his own Graeme Edge Band, was born in Rocester, Staffordshire, England in 1941.

Jay Traynor, lead singer for the Mystics, co-founder of Jay and the Americans, and a solo artist, was born John Traynor in Brooklyn, NY in 1943.

Ken Forssi, bass player, late-period member of the Surfaris, and original member of Love, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1943.

Eric Clapton, blues and rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, solo artist, and member of the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluebreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes, was born in Ripley, Surrey, England in 1945.

Lena Lovich, new wave singer and songwriter best known for her hit single “Lucky Number,” was born in Detroit, MI in 1949.

Dave Ball, guitarist who briefly played with Procol Harum, replacing Robin Trower from 1971-72, played with Long John Baldry, and co-founded Bedlam, was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, England in 1950.

Re Styles, was born in vocalist with The Tubes in 1950.

Tracy Chapman, singer-songwriter, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1964.

Joey Castillo, drummer for Queens of the Stone Age, was born in Gardena, CA in 1966.

Norah Jones, singer, songwriter, pianist, and actress, was born Geetali Norah Shankar in Brooklyn, NY in 1979.