Today in Rock & Roll History: March 4th

1963: “Surfin’ USA,” the lead single and title track from the second studio album by The Beach Boys, was released. It later peaked at #3 on the Billboard and Cash Box pop charts. The song is a note-for-note copy of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with new lyrics by Brian Wilson, who at first was the only person credited on the record. Later issues of the record list Berry as the songwriter and further releases credit both Wilson and Berry. At the time of the song’s initial release, Brian’s father, Murry Wilson, was pressured by Berry’s publisher, Arc Music, to give them copyright, including Brian’s lyrics. The Beach Boys later ran into Chuck Berry in Europe, in which Berry told them that he loved the song.

1966: The Beatles’ John Lennon was quoted in London newspaper The Evening Standard as saying that the band had become more popular than Jesus. In August, following the publication of this remark in teen magazine Datebook, there were Beatles protests and record burnings in the Southern United States’ Bible Belt region. With a US tour looming, and with death threats being made against the group and their families, Lennon was eventually pressed into apologizing at a press conference in Chicago.

1967: The Rolling Stones went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their fourth American #1, “Ruby Tuesday.” “Lets Spend The Night Together” had been the record’s original A-side, but after radio stations banned the song, “Ruby Tuesday” became the A-side.

1967: Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin and the Steve Miller Blues Band both performed at a peace benefit titled “Journey to the End of Night” at the Steninger Auditorium at UCSF’s Medical Center in San Francisco.

1967: Steve Winwood and his brother Muff Winwood announced that they were leaving The Spencer Davis Group in April. Steve Winwood soon after formed Traffic with Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason, both previous members of Deep Feeling, along with former member of Locomotive, Chris Wood.

1971: The Rolling Stones kicked off a nine-date UK tour at Newcastle City Hall supported by The Groundhogs. On the same day, the Stones announced that they intended to flee to France and become the UK’s first rock and roll tax exiles. Guitarist Keith Richards soon after leased the Nellcôte villa in southern France, where the group moved their mobile recording studio to work on their next album, Exile on Main St.

1977: The Rolling Stones made their final recordings for their live album Love You Live during two unannounced performances at the El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Four tracks from the shows make up the double LP’s third side.

1996: “Real Love” from the Beatles’ Anthology 2 compilation album was released as a single. Both “Real Love” and “Free as a Bird,” which had been released in December of 1995 to promote Anthology 1, began as demos recorded in the late 1970s by John Lennon. The demos were then completed by Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Birthdays Today

Eric Allendale, songwriter, trombonist, and member of the Foundations as well as several other English Jazz groups, was born in Dominica, West Indies in 1936.

Bobby Womack, singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1944.

Chris Squire, musician, singer, songwriter, bassist and founding member of Yes, was born in Kingsbury, London, England in 1948.

Chris Rea, rock and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born in Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England in 1951.

Pete Haycock, lead guitarist, vocalist, and founding member of the Climax Blues Band and Electric Light Orchestra Part II, was born in Stafford, England in 1951.

Boon Gould, guitarist and founding member of Level 42, was born in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, England in 1955.

Evan Dando, frontman of the Lemonheads and a solo artist, was born in Essex, MA in 1967.

Fergal Lawler, drummer and co-founder of the Cranberries, was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1971.