Today in Rock & Roll History: May 17th

1953: Ray Charles began recording his self-titled album which was released by Atlantic Records four years later.

1963: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Weavers, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger were the featured acts at the first Monterey Folk Festival, held over the course of three days in Monterey, California. Dylan, who was relatively unknown to the audience, was reportedly treated quite poorly by the festival’s attendees, so much so that Baez walked out unannounced to admonish the crowd. Baez told them that Dylan was singing about important issues, speaking for her and everyone who wanted a better world, and insisted that they listen. After Dylan and Baez together performed “With God on Our Side,” they both left the stage with audience members cheering.

1963: “Surf City” by Jan & Dean, from their third album, Surf City (and Other Swingin’ Cities), was released as a single. Written by Brian Wilson and Jan Berry, it was the first surf song to become a national #1 hit.

1963: The Hollies released their cover of “(Ain’t That) Just Like Me,” a song first recorded by the Coasters in 1961, as a single in the UK.

1965: Aretha Franklin’s seventh studio album Yeah!!! was released by Columbia Records. It was Franklin’s last collection of jazz recordings until the release of Soul ’69 in 1969.

1966: At a concert at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England, Bob Dylan attempted to placate longtime fans who didn’t approve of him going electric by beginning the show with an acoustic set, which was followed by a set of electric performances. Nonetheless, the show’s second set was met with heckling and boos, with one audience member shouting “Judas.” Dylan turned to his backing band the Hawks, later known as The Band, and instructed them to “play it loud” before launching into “Like a Rolling Stone.”

1967: Don’t Look Back, D.A. Pennebaker’s film chronicling Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of Britain, was shown publicly for the first time at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco.

1971: Paul McCartney’s second studio album Ram, made with his wife Linda, was released in the US four days before being issued in the UK. The LP became McCartney’s first post-Beatles #1 in the UK and reached #2 in the US. Three singles were issued from the album, including “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” which later became McCartney’s first #1 hit in America as a solo artist.

1972: The Hollies released “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” the first single from their eleventh UK album, Distant Light. The song was a modest success in the UK, where it reached #32, but became their biggest hit in the US, where it peaked at #2. It was also the band’s third and final single to reach #1 in Canada.

1973: Bachman-Turner Overdrive released their self-titled debut album. Originally intended to be titled Brave Belt III, while the group was still known as Brave Belt, the LP failed to produce a genuine hit but nonetheless managed to achieve gold status the following year after strong sales of the band’s two subsequent albums.

1975: “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it became the band’s first top 40 hit and highest-charting record in the US, peaking at #2. A month later, the single became the group’s second #1 single in the UK.

1975: Earth, Wind & Fire started three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart with That’s The Way Of The World, their sixth studio album and soundtrack to the film of the same name. It was the group’s first #1 on the pop chart and second to top the R&B chart.

1975: Two weeks before it was released, Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy, by Elton John was awarded a platinum record for sales of a million copies, making it the first album to be certified platinum on the day of its release.

1976: Following its release in the UK in late April, Jethro Tull’s ninth studio album, Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, was released in the US. It was the group’s first album to include bassist John Glascock and their last concept album.

1977: Thrillington, an album by Paul McCartney issued under the pseudonym Percey “Thrills” Thrillington, was released in the US after it was released in the UK at the end of April. It features instrumental cover versions of McCartney’s Ram album released, which was released exactly six years earlier. Even though McCartney’s name is only mentioned as a friend of Thrillington’s in the album’s liner notes, it was widely assumed to be McCartney’s creation. It wasn’t until a press conference in 1989 that McCartney revealed that he and his wife Linda were the album’s creators.

1978: Lou Reed began a week-long residency at New York’s Bottom Line club. The concerts were taped and released later that year as the live album Take No Prisoners.

1979: The Patti Smith Group released their fourth album Wave. The LP continued the band’s move towards a mainstream pop sound and was produced by Todd Rundgren.

1980: Blondie entered the Billboard Hot 100 with “Atomic,” the fourth and final single from their fourth studio album, Eat to the Beat.

1980: “All Night Long” by Joe Walsh entered the Billboard Hot 100. Featured in the soundtrack to the film Urban Cowboy, the song became one of Walsh’s best charting singles, reaching #19.

1980: After the disbanding of The Runaways, Joan Jett self-released her eponymous debut album. It was later re-issued by Boardwalk Records in 1981 as Bad Reputation.

1981: Frank Zappa released Tinsel Town Rebellion, a double live album conceived by Zappa after he scrapped the planned albums Warts and All and Crush All Boxes, which contains tracks that had been intended for those albums.

1987: A fire destroyed Tom Petty’s Los Angeles home and caused $1 million worth of damage. Without a home to stay in, Petty took his family out on an already planned tour with the Heartbreakers who were opening for and backing Bob Dylan. Investigators determined the blaze was the work of an arsonist. Afterward, Petty found it difficult to use the word “fire” in his lyrics, but the experience inspired the song “I Won’t Back Down,” which was later released as part of his debut solo album Full Moon Fever. Petty soon after built a new home on the same site, preserving the recording studio untouched by the fire.

1989: The Doobie Brothers released Cycles, their tenth studio album and first since breaking up in 1982. The band reverted to their early 1970s lineup, and it was the first time that members Tom Johnston, John Hartman, and Michael Hossack had been in the studio since 1977.

1993: Tears for Fears released “Break It Down Again,” the lead single from the fourth studio album attributed to the group, Elemental, which was essentially a solo effort by Roland Orzabal after the departure of Curt Smith in 1991.

1994: Oingo Boingo released their eighth and final studio album, Boingo.

1994: America released Hourglass, their thirteenth studio album and first in ten years.

1994: Van Morrison’s live album A Night in San Francisco was released. Compiled from performances at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco and the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, California, the album features contributions from guests that include Candy Dulfer, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells and Jimmy Witherspoon, James Hunter, Brian Kennedy, Georgie Fame, and Morrison’s daughter Shana.

1995: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino performed on stage together for the first time in Sheffield, England as part of a series of UK shows titled Born to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

2005: Magic Time by Van Morrison was released. The album debuted at #25 in the US and #3 in the UK, making it his best chart debut until Still on Top – The Greatest Hits debuted at #2 on the UK charts in 2007.

Birthdays Today

Bob Merrill, songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter who wrote a number of Broadway musicals as well as several songs that became pop hits such as “People” for Barbra Streisand, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” for Patti Page, and “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake” for Eileen Barton, was born in Atlantic City, NJ in 1921.

Pervis Jackson, R&B singer and bass vocalist for The Spinners, was born in New Orleans, LA in 1938.

Malcolm Hale, lead guitarist, trombone player, and vocalist for Spanky and Our Gang, was born in Butte, Montanta in 1941.

Taj Mahal, blues singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, was born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks in Harlem, NY in 1942.

Jesse Winchester, folk singer-songwriter, was born James Ridout Winchester Jr. in Bossier City, LA in 1944.

Bill Bruford, songwriter, producer, drummer, percussionist, and founding member of Yes who later played with King Crimson, Genesis, and his own band, Bruford, was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, England in 1949.

Keith, singer best known for his 1966 hit “98.6”, was born James Barry Keefer in Philadelphia, PA in 1949.

Howard Ashman, playwright, lyricist, and stage director who collaborated with composer Alan Menken and is widely known for his work on several Walt Disney animated films, was born in Baltimore, MD in 1950.

Roy Adams, drummer for Climax Blues Band, was born in Birmingham, England in 1952.

George “Lightnin’ Licks” Johnson, half of the funk and R&B duo The Brothers Johnson with his brother Louis, was born in 1953.

Alan Rankine, keyboardist, guitarist, producer, and co-founder of the Associates, was born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland in 1958.

Enya, singer, songwriter, record producer, and musician, was born Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland in 1961.

Tracey Bryn, co-lead vocalist for Voice of the Beehive, was born in Encino, CA in 1962.

Page McConnell, multi-instrumentalist best known as the keyboardist and a songwriter for Phish, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1963.

Trent Reznor, singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, composer, and founder of Nine Inch Nails, was born in New Castle, PA in 1965.

Simon Friend, guitarist for the Levellers, was born in London, England in 1967.

Josh Homme, singer, songwriter, producer, and founder of Queens of the Stone Age, was born in Joshua Tree, CA in 1973.