Today in Rock & Roll History: May 18th

1959: Wilbert Harrison’s recording of “Kansas City,” written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, rose to the top of the Billboard singles chart. It is the most success any artist has had with a recording of the song.

1963: Jimmy Soul topped the Billboard Hot 100 with with his only charting single, “If You Wanna Be Happy.” Two weeks later the record topped the R&B chart.

1964: The Animals recorded “The House of the Rising Sun.” The record was released a month later as the second single from the American version of the band’s debut album.

1966: The Hollies recorded “Bus Stop,” the title track from the group’s fourth studio album. The single reached #5 in the UK and became their first top 10 hit in the US, where it also reached #5 on the Billboard charts.

1966: 16-year-old Bruce Springsteen entered a recording studio for the first time as a member of the Castiles to record “That’s What You Get” at Mr. Music Inc. in Bricktown, New Jersey.

1967: The Beatles signed a contract to represent Britain on Our World, the first worldwide satellite television production scheduled for June 25th. The band agreed to be shown in the studio recording a song written especially for the occasion, and with the performance being broadcast to many non-English-speaking countries, the BBC asked the group to “keep it simple” and for the song to have a positive message. John Lennon wrote “All You Need is Love,” and unable to book space at EMI Studios on such short notice, the band assembled at Olympic Sound Studios to record the rhythm track.

1968: Tiny Tim’s signature single “Tiptoe Thru’ the Tulips” entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at #17 six weeks later. The song had originally topped the charts after it was introduced forty years earlier as part of the musical comedy film Gold Diggers of Broadway.

1968: Archie Bell and the Drells had their first and only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts with their debut single “Tighten Up.” At the time, Bell was resting in a West German hospital after suffering a leg wound he received while serving with the US army in Vietman.

1968: The Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Steve Miller Band, Country Joe and the Fish, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, The Youngbloods, The Electric Flag, Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal, and Ravi Shankar all appeared at The Northern California Rock Festival at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in California.

1968: The first Miami Pop Festival began at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida. The event was originally publicized as the “1968 Pop and Underground Festival,” and “The 1968 Pop Festival,” but due to Hallandale’s proximity to Miami, it became known colloquially as the “Miami Pop Festival.” The concert was not associated the actual Miami Pop Festival that took place later that year in December. The festival attracted an estimated 25,000 attendees, and featured acts including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Mothers of Invention, Blue Cheer, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Original scheduled as a two-day event, the second day’s concert was rained out, and inspired Jimi Hendrix to write “Rainy Day, Dream Away.” The festival was also promoted in part by Michael Lang, who became famous as promoter of the Woodstock festival in 1969.

1970: The Beatles’s final studio album Let It Be was issued in the US. At the time, the album had the highest number of advance orders for any album in the US record industry, with 3,700,000 orders placed.

1973: Roger McGuinn played his first solo show after the breakup of the Byrds at the New York Academy of Music.

1974: After its release in January, “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive entered the Billboard Hot 100. The single reached #12 and spent a total of twenty weeks on on the chart, longer than any other single by the band.

1976: Queen released “You’re My Best Friend,” the second single from their fourth LP, A Night at the Opera.

1985: Simple Minds made their breakthrough in North America when their single “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” reached #1 in the US. Featured in the critically acclaimed John Hughes film The Breakfast Club, the song also was a #1 hit in Canada, and it was the Scottish band’s first UK top 10 single, reaching #7.

1991: R.E.M. achieved their first #1 album in the US with with their seventh LP, Out of Time. It had become their first #1 on the UK chart in March and was a worldwide top 5 hit.

1998: Coldplay’s first public release, an EP titled Safety, was released by the band. Originally intended as a demo for record companies, only about fifty copies of the three-track EP made it to stores, as most were given away to record companies and their friends and families.

2005: Gordon Lightfoot made a triumphant return to the stage at Massey Hall in Toronto, a venue he had previously played on an off for the last 38 years. The last time Lightfoot had been there was in 2001, before having to cancel a series of dates due to an abdominal aneurysm. For nearly 20 months, fans wondered if he would survive the necessary operations or if he’d be able to play again. When he finally returned to perform at the theater, Lightfoot quipped “Sorry I’m late.”

Birthdays Today

Big Joe Turner, blues and R&B singer and rock pioneer known as the “Boss of the Blues,” was born in Kansas City, MO in 1911.

Jack Ashford, percussionist for Motown’s house band, the Funk Brothers, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1934.

Albert Hammond, singer, songwriter, and record producer who wrote commercially successful singles for artists including Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Chicago, and The Hollies, was born in London, England in 1944.

Bill Wallace, bassist for The Guess Who during the early 1970s and 2000s, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1949.

Rick Wakeman, songwriter, producer, keyboardist for Yes, a brief member of Strawbs, and a solo artist who early in his career contributed to recordings by artists that include David Bowie, T. Rex, Elton John, and Cat Stevens, was born in Perivale, London, England in 1949.

Mark Mothersbaugh, singer, songwriter, record producer, and co-founder and lead singer of Devo, was born in Akron, OH in 1950.

Jim Moginie, guitarist, keyboardist, lead songwriter, and founding member of Midnight Oil, was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1956.

Jack Johnson, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer, was born in North Shore, Oahu, HI in 1975.