Today in Rock & Roll History: May 11th

1959: Dave “Baby” Cortez topped the Billboard Hot 100 with his first and biggest hit, “The Happy Organ.”

1963: Lesley Gore debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with her first single, “It’s My Party.”

1963: The Righteous Brothers debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with their first single, “Little Latin Lupe Lu.”

1964: The Beach Boys’ single “I Get Around” backed with “Don’t Worry Baby” was released. On the 4th of July that year, it became the group’s first US #1. By the end of August, it also became their first top 10 hit in the UK, reaching #7.

1965: The Byrds made their first nationwide television appearance, singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” on NBC’s Hullabaloo. Four days later, the single entered the Billboard Hot 100 and became their first #1 in the US at the end of June. Nearly a month later, it also became their first #1 on the UK chart.

1966: Wilson Pickett recorded his version of Chris Kenner’s “Land of 1000 Dances” at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The single became his third #1 hit on the R&B charts, his first song to enter the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10, and his biggest pop hit, peaking at #6.

1966: The self-title debut album by Small Faces was released. It later rose to #3 on the UK chart and maintained the position for five straight weeks.

1967: Electric Music for the Mind and Body, the debut album by Country Joe and the Fish and one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco, was released by Vanguard Records.

1967: After seven weeks on the UK singles chart, guitarist Jeff Beck’s first solo single “Hi Ho Silver Lining” peaked at #14. Written by American songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss, the composition was first released in March by London band The Attack a few days before Beck’s version.

1968: Actor Richard Harris debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “MacArthur’s Park.” Written by Jim Webb initially for The Association, the song became Harris’ only top 40 single in the US, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100, and reached #1 in Australia and Canada.

1970: The live triple album of selected performances from the 1969 Woodstock festival was released on Atlantic’s Cotillion label. The album was certified gold within two weeks and a month later topped the Billboard pop chart for four straight weeks. A year later in 1971, a second Woodstock double album was released with additional recordings.

1970: The Beatles released their last single as a group, “The Long and Winding Road” backed with “For You Blue.” The record became their twentieth and final #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

1971: The Who recorded the “The Song Is Over” at Olympic Studios in London with Nicky Hopkins joining the session on piano. The song was originally intended for a science fiction rock opera titled Lifehouse as a follow-up to the band’s previous concept album, Tommy. The project was later abandoned in favor of creating the traditional rock album, Who’s Next.

1972: The Meters released their fourth studio album first with Reprise Records after leaving Josie Records, Cabbage Alley.

1973: Three Dog Night’s cover of B.W. Stevenson’s “Shambala” was released. The single was the group’s tenth top 10 hit in the US and peaked at #3.

1974: Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, and manager Peter Grant attended Elvis Presley’s evening concert at the Los Angeles Forum in Inglewood, California. After a shaky start on “Funny How Time Slips Away,” Presley halted the band, telling them “…we’ve got Led Zeppelin here… let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we do or not.” Led Zeppelin shared a promotional company with Presley and had accepted complementary tickets to see the show. Afterward the band got to meet Presley at his hotel room. Presley was likewise eager to meet the act that was selling tickets faster than he was.

1979: The Clash released The Cost of Living, a five-song EP that marked a transition from the intensity of the band’s earlier punk albums to the American influenced rock and roll present on their next album, London Calling. The EP’s opening track, a cover of Sonny Curtis’ “I Fought the Law,” became one of the definitive recordings of the song.

1979: George Harrison’s single “Loves Comes to Everyone” was released as single in US following its release in the UK in late April.

1981: “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison” was released in the US. The lead single from his “Somewhere in England” album, the song was written as a tribute to Harrison’s former Beatles bandmate John Lennon, who had been killed in 1980. Ringo Starr is featured on drums and Paul McCartney, along with Wings members Linda McCartney and Denny Laine, also provide backing vocals.

1981: Former Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin released his debut solo album, titled Balin.

1981: Jamaican singer Grace Jones released her fifth studio album, Nightclubbing.

1981: Frank Zappa released Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar, a series of three albums that all consist solely of instrumentals and improvised solos largely performed on electric guitar. The album series had been conceived by Zappa after shelving a proposed live album, Warts and All.

1987: Simples Minds released their first live album, Live in the City of Light. The album was recorded mainly on the last dates of the band’s “Once Upon a Time” world tour on August 12th and 13th at Le Zénith in Paris, France and reached #1 on the UK chart.

1989: Stevie Nicks released her fourth solo album, The Other Side of the Mirror.

1993: Former ‘Til Tuesday lead singer Aimee Mann released her debut solo album, Whatever.

Birthdays Today

Irving Berlin, composer and lyricist considered to be one of America’s greatest songwriters, who wrote over 1,500 songs during his 60-year career, many of which have been recorded by artists ranging from Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra, to Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Garcia, was born Israel Berlin in Tolochin, Vitebsk Governorate, Russian Empire in 1888.

Carla Bley, jazz composer and musician, was born Lovella May Borg in Oakland, CA in 1936.

Bruce Langhorne, folk musician and session guitarist in Greenwich Village during the 1950s and 1960s folk revival who played with such artists as Richie Havens, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary, Richard and Mimi Farina, Hugh Masekekla, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, was born in Tallahassee, FL in 1938.

Eric Burdon, singer, songwriter, and lead vocalist for the Animals and War, was born in Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England in 1941.

Les Chadwick, bassist for Gerry and the Pacemakers, was born in Aigburth, Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1943.

Arnie Silver, vocalist with the Dovells, was born Arnie Satin in Philadelphia, PA in 1943.

Butch Trucks, drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, was born Claude Hudson Trucks in Jacksonville, FL in 1947.