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: English band Small Faces released their eponymous debut album. It peaked at #3 on the UK chart.

1967: Berkeley, California band Country Joe and the Fish released their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. The LP is considered to be one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco.

1967: After spending 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 Park.” The song was written by Jim Webb at the request of producer Bones Howe, who wanted a pop song with different movements and changing time signatures, but Webb’s composition was rejected by Howe and the Association, for whom it was intended. In late 1967, Webb ended up writing and producing Harris’ debut album, which was recorded with the Wrecking Crew session musicians. Among the tracks was “MacArthur Park,” which became Harris’ only top 40 single in the US, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100, and reached #1 in Australia and Canada.

1970: Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, the first live album featuring selected performances from the 1969 Woodstock counterculture festival, was released as a triple LP on Atlantic Records’ Cotillion label. It was certified gold within two weeks, and a month later topped the Billboard pop chart for four straight weeks. A second collection of recordings from the festival, Woodstock Two, was released a year later.

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: “You Gotta Have Love in Your Heart” by The Supremes and The Four Tops was released as a single from the two Motown groups’ second collaborative album, The Return of the Magnificent Seven.

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 and first with Reprise Records after leaving Josie Records, Cabbage Alley.

1973: Three Dog Night’s cover of B.W. Stevenson’s “Shambala” was released as the first single from their tenth studio album, Cyan. It became the group’s tenth top 10 hit in the US, peaking at #3.

1973: Bruce Springsteen released “Spirit in the Night,” the second single from his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J..

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: “Loves Comes to Everyone,” the second single from George Harrison’s self-titled eighth studio album, 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 ninth studio album, Somewhere in England, 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, Balin.

1981: 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.

1982: “Who Can It Be Now?,” the first single by Australian band Men at Work, was issued in the US following its release in Australia in 1981. Lyricist Colin Hay’s inspiration for the song came from living in an apartment next door to a drug dealer, who’s door was often mistaken for his.

1984: Following its release in the UK in March, “Borrowed Time” by John Lennon, from his sixth and final studio album with Yoko Ono, Milk and Honey, was released in the US.

1987: Simple 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.

2010: Jackson Browne released fourth live album, Love Is Strange: En Vivo Con Tion. The two-CD set documents a tour of Spain in March 2006 that Browne and David Lindley took part in with Spanish percussionist Tino di Geraldo.

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.

Wilbur “Kansas Joe” McCoy, Delta blues singer, musician and songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Ella Fitzgerald, Led Zeppelin, Benny Goodman, and others, was born in Raymond, MS in 1905.

Kit Lambert, record producer, co-founder of independent record label Track Records, and manager for The Who, was born Christian Sebastian Lambert in 1935.

Tony Barrow, journalist and press officer for the Beatles from 1962-1968 who coined the phrase “the Fab Four” and whose PR and management company represented many UK and American artists in the 1970s, was born in Crosby, Lancashire, England in 1936.

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.

J.J. Jeczalik, musician, producer, and co-founder of the Art of Noise who also worked with acts including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Yes, Stephen Duffy, and Pet Shop Boys, was born Jonathan Edward Stephen Jeczalik in Banbury, England in 1955.