Today in Rock & Roll History: May 19th

1956: After launching the skiffle craze in Britain, Lonnie Donegan kicked off a tour of the US with an appearance on The Perry Como Show on NBC, performing his debut single, “Rock Island Line.” Two weeks later, the song went to #1 on the Billboard singles charts as well #1 in Canada and the UK.

1958: The Everly Brother’s recording of Boudleaux Bryant’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream” reached the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart. The record was the duo’s second #1 in the US and on July 4th became their first #1 on the UK chart.

1958: Atco Records released “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin. The song was the first 8-track recording released on record and became Darin’s first hit single, reaching #3 on the US pop charts, #2 in Canada, and #1 on the US R&B charts.

1958: Dion and the Belmonts debuted on the Billboard pop singles chart with “I Wonder Why.”

1958: Ritchie Valens recorded his first single, the self-penned “Come On, Let’s Go” for Del-Fi Records in Los Angeles. By the time the song peaked at #42 on the Billboard singles chart the following autumn, the demands of Valens’ career had forced him to drop out of high school.

1958: Peggy Lee recorded “Fever” at Capitol Records’ studios in Hollywood. Lee’s version features significantly rewritten lyrics compared to the original recording of the song by Little Willie John in 1956, which have since been included in most subsequent covers of the song. The record was Lee’s last top 10 single in the US, peaking at #8.

1958: Jan & Dean, then credited as Jan & Arnie, debuted on the Billboard pop singles chart with their first single, “Jennie Lee.”

1967: Los Angeles-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock released their first single, “Incense and Peppermints.” It became the group’s only top 10 hit, and by the end of November, the song reached the top of both the Billboard and Cash Box singles charts.

1967: The Beatles held a launch party for their eighth studio album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the London home of their manager, Brian Epstein.

1972: Elton John released his fifth studio album, Honkey Château. The LP had been titled after Château d’Hérouville, the 18th century French chateau where it was recorded. In June, (15) the album became John’s first #1 in the US and the first of six consecutive studio albums to top the US charts.

1973: Wizzard had its first UK #1 with its second single, “See My Baby Jive,” written and produced by lead singer Roy Wood.

1973: Stevie Wonder went to #1 on Billboard Hot 100 with “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” his third #1, and second single from his Talking Book LP. The song made it to #3 on the R&B chart.

1973: “Kodachrome,” the lead single from Paul Simon’s third solo album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, entered the Hot 100, where it later reached #2.

1975: Elton John’s ninth studio album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was released. The album is an autobiographical account of the early musical careers of Elton John and his long-term lyricist Bernie Taupin, and reached #1 on the Billboard chart in its first week of release.

1975: “One of These Nights” by The Eagles was released. The lead single title track from their fourth studio album, it became the band’s second US #1 and first song to chart in the UK.

1978: Dire Straits released their first major label single “Sultans Of Swing” on Warner Bros.’ Vertigo Records. It wasn’t until the song was re-release the following year that it became the band’s first hit, reaching #4 in the US and Canada and #8 in Britain.

1979: Eric Clapton held a party at his Surrey house celebrating his recent marriage to Patti Boyd, with guests that included the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman, Elton John, David Bowie, Denny Laine, and Clapton’s former Cream bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Clapton had set-up a small stage in the garden and as the evening progressed, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr staged a partial Beatles reunion. The group jammed together with Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Mick Jagger, performing boozy renditions of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Get Back,” and a selection of Little Richard and Eddie Cochran songs.

1979: Supertramp went to #1 on the Billboard pop chart for the first of four weeks with Breakfast In America, the group’s sixth studio album and only LP to top the US charts. The album produced four hit singles, won two Grammy Awards in 1980, and became the group’s biggest-selling LP.

1983: “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks was released. The record became one of her biggest solo singles, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became a staple of Nicks’ live shows both solo and with Fleetwood Mac.

1985: Dire Straits’ fifth studio LP Brothers in Arms began its first of fourteen non-consecutive weeks at the top of the UK chart. The album became the best-selling LP of the decade and became the band’s first #1 in the US in August.

1986: Genesis released “Invisible Touch,” the title track and lead single from the group’s thirteenth studio album.

Birthdays Today

Herbie Flowers, one of Britain’s best-known session bassists, having played with artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, Lou Reed, Harry Nilsson, and T. Rex, was born in Isleworth, Middlesex, England in 1938.

Mickey Newbury, songwriter who wrote hits recorded by Kenny Rogers and First Edition, Andy Williams, Solomon Burke, Eddy Arnold, and Tom Jones, was born in Houston, TX in 1940.

Pete Townshend, singer, lead guitarist, principal songwriter for the Who, and a solo artist, was born Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend in Chiswick, London, England in 1945.

Gregory Herbert, jazz saxophonist and flute player, and brief member of Blood, Sweat and Tears from 1977-78, was born in 1947.

Jerry Hyman, trombone player for Blood, Sweat and Tears from 1968-1970, was born in 1947.

Tom Scott, saxophonist, composer, arranger, member of The Blues Brothers, and leader of fusion group L.A. Express, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1948.

Grace Jones, singer, songwriter, supermodel, record producer, and actress, was born in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, British Jamaica in 1948.

Dusty Hill, bassist, vocalist, and keyboardist for ZZ Top, was born Joseph Michael Hill in Dallas, TX in 1949.

Joey Ramone, singer-songwriter and lead vocalist for the Ramones, was born Jeffrey Ross Hyman in Queens, NY in 1951.

Martyn Ware, musician, composer, arranger, record producer, and founding member of The Human League, was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in 1952.

Iain Harvie, guitarist and songwriter for Del Amitri, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1962.