Today in Rock & Roll History: May 16th

1959: Chubby Checker debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “The Class,” in which he does imitations of Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, the Coasters, Cozy Cole, and the Chipmunks. Born Ernest Evans, he adopted the stage name Chubby Checker after his boss at the Produce Market and Cameo Parkway Records songwriter Kal Mann arranged for Evans to do a private recording for American Bandstand host Dick Clark. At the session, Evans performed an impression of Fats Domino and explained to Clark’s wife that his friends called him “Chubby,” to which she suggested “Chubby Checker” as a play on Fats Domino.

1960: “I’m Sorry” by 15-year-old Brenda Lee was released. Though it was the flip side of “That’s All You Gotta Do,” “I’m Sorry” became the bigger chart success, reaching #1 on the US pop charts and #4 on the Billboard R&B chart. The song also became a standard of the country genre. When the single issued in the UK, “I’m Sorry” was made the A-side.

1961: “Cupid” by Sam Cooke was released. It reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #20 on the R&B chart, but the single performed best in the UK, where it peaked at #7. Cooke’s producers initially asked Cooke to write a song for a girl they had seen perform on the Perry Como television show, but ultimately decided have Cooke record it himself.

1964: Motown Records celebrated its first #1 single when “My Guy” by Mary Wells reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, the record was Wells’ third and final #1 on the R&B charts and only top 5 hit on the pop charts.

1964: The Hollies debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Just One Look.”

1966: The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds, their eleventh studio album. The LP was met with lukewarm reception in the US compared to their previous albums, but was a commercial success in the UK, where it peaked at #2. Widely considered to be one of the most influential albums in music history, it was produced, arranged, and almost entirely written and composed by Brian Wilson between January and April 1966, a year after he had quit touring with the Beach Boys. According to Wilson, his goal was to create “the greatest rock album ever made.”

1966: The Shadows released their fifth album, Shadow Music.

1968: Tony Joe White recorded “Polk Salad Annie” at RCA Studios in Nashville. The record was later released as the second single from White’s debut album, Black and White.

1969: Elton John released his third single, “It’s Me That You Need.” The single failed to chart in the US and UK, but became a top 20 hit in Japan two years later.

1969: “Me and Bobby McGee,” written by Kris Kristopherson and Fred Foster, was first recorded by Roger Miller. The song was later recorded by many other artists including the Grateful Dead, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Gordon Lightfoot, and most famously by Janis Joplin.

1969: Tyrannosaurus Rex released their third album and last with founding member Steve Peregrin Took, Unicorn.

1969: Phil Ochs released his sixth album, Rehearsals for Retirement. It was recorded after Ochs had attended the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he claimed to have witnessed the symbolic “death of America.”

1970: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s first album as a quartet, Deja Vu, reached #1 on the Billboard pop chart. The album produced three top 40 hits and its popularity later contributed to the success of the four solo albums released by each of the group’s members: Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, Stephen Stills’ self-titled solo debut, David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, and Graham Nash’s Songs for Beginners.

1970: The Who’s first live album, Live at Leeds, was released in the US a week before it was issued in the UK. Recorded at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire three months earlier, it was the only live album recorded with the line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon, and has been cited by critics as one of the best live rock albums of all time.

1970: Lead guitarist Randy Bachman quit The Guess Who. He later formed and recorded two LPs with a new band called Brave Belt, which included his brother Robbie, former Guess Who bandmate Chad Allan, and later added bassist C.F. Turner. After sessions for Brave Belt’s second album, Allan left the group, and Bachman’s brother Tim joined as an additional guitarist. While preparing for their next album, the band’s new management convinced them to change their name, and they eventually settled on Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

1970: Pink Floyd played at the Warehouse in New Orleans with support from The Allman Brothers Band and Country Funk. That night, $40,000 worth of equipment was stolen from the band’s truck. After local police failed to be of any help, the band members bemoaned their troubles to a girl who worked at their hotel. Her father worked for the FBI and four hours later, their stolen equipment was found.

1974: Neil Young made an unannounced appearance at The Bottom Line in New York City and played an of acoustic set of mostly new material including several songs from his newest album, On The Beach.

1975: Wings released “Listen to What the Main Said,” the lead single from the group’s fourth studio album, Venus and Mars.

1975: “Jive Talkin’,” the first single from the Bee Gees’ thirteenth album, Main Course, was released as a single in the UK.

1975: The Kinks released their fourteenth studio album, Soap Opera. The concept album was originally developed for a Granada TV live teleplay titled Star Maker starring Ray Davies and June Ritichie. The project was later adapted to an audio presentation, and despite the fact that a theatrical tour was unrealized, the Kinks did perform the entire album while on tour in 1975.

1978: Joe Walsh released his fourth studio album, But Seriously, Folks…, which contains his biggest solo hit, “Life’s Been Good.” The album features contributions by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit, and Don Felder of the Eagles, which Walsh had joined two years earlier, as well as Jay Ferguson of Spirit and Joe Vitale from Walsh’s former band, Barnstorm.

1980: The Ramones released “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?,” the second single from their fifth studio album, End of the Century. Produced by Phil Spector, the song and album marked a change in the band’s sound, with more complex instrumentation and production, in an attempt to achieve greater commercial success.

1980: “Running from Paradise” by Hall & Oates was released as the second single from their eighth studio album, X-Static.

1980: Devo released their third album, Freedom of Choice. The LP became the group’s biggest success on the Billboard pop chart, reaching #22, and contains their biggest hit, “Whip It.”

1983: The television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Motown Records, aired on NBC. The program was taped before a live audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California and in addition to performances by The The Temptations, the Four Tops, and Marvin Gaye, the show featured a reunion of the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson’s reunion with The Miracles, Diana Ross’ reunion with the Supremes, and Michael Jackson’s first performance of the moonwalk dance.

1984: Prince released “When Doves Cry,” the lead single from his sixth studio album, Purple Rain. The song became a worldwide hit and his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1987: U2 started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “With Or Without You,” the group’s first US #1.

1989: 10,000 Maniacs released their fourth studio album, Blind Man’s Zoo.

1994: Pink Floyd released “Take It Back,” the first single from the group’s fourteenth studio album, The Division Bell.

1994: Erasure released their sixth studio album, I Say I Say I Say.

1999: The Pretenders released their seventh studio album, ¡Viva el Amor!.

2000: Pearl Jam released Binaural, the band’s sixth studio album.

2000: Phish released their ninth studio album, Farmhouse.

2000: Carly Simon released her twentieth studio album, The Bedroom Tapes. Despite a positive reception, the album quickly went out of print until it was re-released in 2015.

2000: Prince reclaimed the name “Prince” after the expiration of his contract with publishing company Warner/Chappell. He had officially adopted an unpronounceable symbol as his stage name in 1993 as a form of rebellion against Warner Bros. Records.

2006: The Raconteurs, whose members include Jack White, Brendan Benson, and Greenhornes members Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, released their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers.

Birthdays Today

Woody Herman, jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, singer, and band leader whose career spanned the 1930s to late 1980s, and whose bands often played music that was cutting edge and experimental at the time, was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1913.

Isaac “Redd” Holt, jazz and soul drummer and collaborator with Ramsey Lewis and Eldee Young, was born in Rosedale, MS in 1932.

Kripp Johnson, singer for The Del-Vikings, was born Corinthian Johnson in Cambridge, MD in 1933.

Billy Cobham, jazz fusion drummer and solo artist, best known for playing with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, who recorded with many artists including Mose Allison, James Brown, Bob Weir, Quincy Jones, Carly Simon, and Peter Gabriel, was born in Colón, Panama in 1944.

Nicky Chinn, songwriter and record producer who wrote several hit singles with Mike Chapman, was born in London, England in 1945.

Robert Fripp, guitarist, composer, record producer, and member of King Crimson who also worked with David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, and others, was born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England in 1946.

Roger Earl, drummer, member of Savoy Brown from 1968-1970, and founding member of Foghat, was born in London, England in 1946.

Barbara Lee Jones, member of The Chiffons, was born in The Bronx, NY in 1947.

Alto Reed, saxophonist and long-time member of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band who also played with The Blues Brothers, Little Feat, Dave Mason, The Ventures, and others, was born Thomas Neal Cartmell in Detroit, MI in 1948.

Jonathan Richman, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and founder of the Modern Lovers, was born in Natick, MA in 1951.

Richard Page, lead singer and bassist for Mr. Mister and songwriter and session player who’s worked with Chaka Khan, Celine Dion, Dionne Warwick, The Pointer Sisters, Hall & Oates, Patti LaBelle, and many others, was born in Keokuk, IA in 1953.

Boyd Tinsley, violinist and mandolinist for Dave Matthews Band, was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1964.