Today in Rock & Roll History: May 13th

1965: “Do the Boomerang” by Junior Walker & the All Stars was released as the second single from first album, “Shotgun.” The follow-up to their first hit single and the album’s title track, it also reached the top 10 on the Billboard R&B chart.

1966: “She’d Rather Be With Me” by The Turtles was released. The song became an international hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 on the Cash Box chart, #4 in the UK, and #1 in Canada and South Africa.

1966: “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK after its release in the US nearly a week earlier.

1966: The Kinks recorded “Sunny Afternoon” at Pye Studios in London. The track was later released in June as the first single from the band’s fourth LP, Face to Face.

1967: The Supremes scored their tenth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “The Happening.” It was the group’s last single as The Supremes. Thereafter, the group became known as Diana Ross & the Supremes, which mimicked The Miracles’ name change to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles two years earlier.

1967: “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear a Flower in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie was released. Written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, it became McKenzie’s biggest hit—reaching #4 in the US and UK—as well as the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

1967: “Let’s Live for Today” by The Grass Roots was released. Written by David “Shel” Shapiro and Italian lyricist Mogol, the song, then titled “Piangi Con Me” (“Cry with Me”), was first recorded in Italian by English band the Rokes in 1966. Following its success on the Italian chart, the single was readied for release in the UK and the song was translated into English with the title “Passing Thru Grey.” UK publisher Dick James Music was displeased with the translated version and had staff writer Michael Julien compose English lyrics. Rather than translate the song’s Italian lyrics, he wrote new lyrics that transformed the song into “Let’s Live for Today.” Before the Rokes were able to record their version, British band the Living Daylights made their own recording of the song, but neither group’s version had any success on the UK chart. The Grass Roots’ version popularized the song in the US, where it became their first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #8, and eventually sold over two million copies. It also became the title track of the band’s second studio album.

1967: After its US release in January, the debut album by Cream, Fresh Cream, entered the Billboard chart, where it later peaked at #39. Compared to the UK version of the album, the band’s cover of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” was dropped, and the band’s first song, “I Feel Free,” was added to the top of the LP.

1968: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles released “Yester Love,” the second single from their Special Occasion album.

1968: Frank Zappa’s debut solo album, Lumpy Gravy, was released officially on MGM’s Verve Records label after an early version of the album was issued by Capitol Records on 4-track cartridge in August 1967. Recorded with a group of session musicians that Zappa dubbed he Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, the final version of the album consisted of two musique concrète pieces that combined elements from the original orchestral performance with elements of surf music, and the spoken word.

1969: Led Zeppelin became the first major British rock group to appear in Hawaii when they played at The Civic Auditorium in Honolulu.

1970: The world premiere of the Beatles film Let It Be took place in New York City days after the release of band’s final album of the same name. The film, originally planned as a television documentary, features the group’s unannounced rooftop concert, which was their last performance in public.

1971: James Brown recorded his three-part single “Hot Pants” at Starday-King Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. In August, the song reached #1 on the US R&B charts and went to #17 on the pop charts.

1977: The Clash released “Remote Control,” the second single from their self-titled debut studio album. The band largely disowned the song after their record label, CBS, decided to release it as a single without the band’s permission. Written by Mick Jones after their disastrous Anarchy Tour, the song’s lyrics are critical of civic hall bureaucrats, the police, big business, and especially record companies.

1977: Who lead singer Roger Daltrey released his third solo album, One of the Boys.

1977: David Byrne of the Talking Heads met musician Brian Eno at a Ramones concert where the Talking Headers were a supporting act. The next day, Eno invited Byrne to his apartment, where Byrne was introduced to the music of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, whose work later influenced future Talking Heads and David Byrne albums. Shortly after, it was announced that Eno was going to produce the Talking Head’s next album, starting a six-album collaboration between the two musicians.

1980: Elton John released his fourteenth studio album, 21 at 33. Including compilation albums, live albums, soundtracks, and EPs, it was John’s 21st official release, and was issued when he was 33 years old.

1984: The Bob Marley and the Wailers compilation album Legend, released to commemorate the third anniversary of Marley’s death, entered the UK album chart at #1 in its first of twelve weeks at the top spot. It is the group’s only #1 LP on the British chart and reached #5 in the US.

1985: The fifth studio album by Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms, was released by Vertigo Records internationally and by Warner Bros. Records in the US. The album reached #1 on charts around the world, became the band’s first #1 LP in the US, and has since become one of the world’s best-selling albums, having sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

1985: New Order released their third studio album, Low-Life. It was the group’s first album to chart in the US, where it reached #94.

1991: Bananarama released their fifth studio album, Pop Life. It is the group’s only LP to feature Jacquie O’Sullivan, who replaced Siobhan Fahey.

Birthdays Today

Gil Evans, jazz pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader known for his collaborations with Miles Davis who also played an important role in the development of cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, and jazz fusion, was born Ian Ernest Gilmore Green in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1912.

Fred Hellerman, folk singer, guitarist, producer, songwriter, and original member of The Weavers who also produced and played on several folk albums, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1927.

Barney Ales, leading figure and former president of Motown Records who is credited with successfully promoting the black-owned company in the wider white-dominated music industry, was born in Detroit, MI in 1934.

Teddy Randazzo, pop singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer, was born in New York City in 1935.

Frankie Smith, bass vocalist for The Monotones, was born in 1938.

Ritchie Valens, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and rock & roll pioneer, was born Richard Steven Valenzuela in Pacoima, CA in 1941.

Joe Brown, singer, guitarist, radio host, and actor, was born in Swarby, Lincolnshire, England in 1941.

Mary Wells, early Motown singer, was born in Detroit, MI in 1943.

Magic Dick, harmonica player for the J. Geils Band, was born Richard Salwitz in New London, CT in 1945.

Louis “Blue Lou” Marini Jr., saxophonist, arranger, composer, and member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Blues Brothers, and the Saturday Night Live house band who has also worked with Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Dionne Warwick, and others, was born in Charleston, SC in 1945.

Pete Overend Watts, bass player and founding member of Mott the Hoople, was born in Yardley, Birmingham, England in 1947.

Stevie Wonder, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist, was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, MI in 1950.

Danny Kirwan, singer, guitarist, and member of Fleetwood Mac from 1968-1972, was born in Brixton, London, England in 1950.

Paul Thompson, drummer for Roxy Music, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1951.

Lorraine McIntosh, singer with Deacon Blue, was born in Bridgeton, Glasgow, Scotland in 1964.

Darius Rucker, songwriter, solo artist, and lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish, was born in Charleston, SC in 1966.

Ana Popovic, blues guitarist and singer, was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1976.