Today in Rock & Roll History: May 1st

1956: “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash was released. It became his first #1 single hit on Billboard charts.

1961: The debut album by Ben E. King, Spanish Harlem, was released by Atco Records.

1964: UK band The Yardbirds released their debut single, a cover of Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would.” The single features their cover of Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl” on the flip side, and was later issued in the US in August.

1965: Bob Dylan kicked off his first British tour at Sheffield City Hall promoting his new album, Bringing It All Back Home. The tour was widely documented by filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, who used footage of the tour in his documentary Don’t Look Back.

1965: “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits became the group’s first #1 single in the US when it started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The song was never released as a single in their native England. Originally written and recorded in 1963 as part of the British TV play The Lads, the band recorded it as an afterthought, never thinking it would be a hit, let alone a #1 in America. According to vocalist Peter Noone, the tune was well known to most British bands and was often performed at birthday parties.

1966: The Beatles played a fifteen-minute live set on stage for the last time in the UK when they appeared at the New Musical Express Poll Winners concert at Wembley Empire Pool in London, where they played to an audience of 10,000. Also on the bill were The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Spencer Davis Group, The Fortunes, Herman’s Hermits, Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard, The Seekers, The Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, and the Walker Brothers. The show was videotaped for later broadcast but The Beatles’ and The Stones’ segments were omitted because of union conflicts. The Beatles’ true final live performance was the unscheduled performance on top of the roof of the Apple Records building at the end of January in 1969.

1967: The Hollies recorded “Carrie Anne” in just two takes at EMI studios in London.

1969: Joni Mitchell released her second studio album, Clouds.

1969: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash taped the first segment of the premiere episode of The Johnny Cash Show for ABC TV at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennesee. Additional guests included Cash’s wife, June Carter, the Carter Family, Joni Mitchell, the Statler Brothers, and Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw. The episode aired in the US early the following month.

1971: The Jackson 5 scored their fifth #1 single on the Billboard R&B chart with “Never Can Say Goodbye.”

1972: May 1st, 1972 was declared “Marvin Gaye Day” in his hometown of Washington D.C.. The day started with a motorcade that took Gaye around the city, and ended with a performance at the Kennedy Center, which was his first live performance since the death of his duet partner Tammi Terrell.

1972: The Eagles’ first single “Take It Easy” was released by Asylum Records. Written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, the record entered the Billboard charts three weeks later and became their first hit, reaching #12, in July.

1972: The self-titled fourth and final album by the Jeff Beck Group was released. It was the group’s second album with the line up of Jeff Beck, Bobby Tench, Clive Chaman, Max Middleton and Cozy Powell, and was produced by Steve Cropper.

1975: James Taylor released his sixth studio album, Gorilla. The LP later rose to #6 on the Billboard pop chart.

1975: To promote their upcoming North American tour, the Rolling Stones performed on top of a flatbed truck as it drove down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

1975: “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees was released as the lead single from their thirteenth studio album, Main Course.

1976: Led Zeppelin started two weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart with Presence, the group’s seventh studio album and fifth to top the chart.

1977: The Police released their first single, “Fall Out.” Written by drummer Stewart Copeland, it was one of the first songs he presented to lead singer and bassist Sting when the band was forming. It is also the only Police recording to feature original guitarist Henry Padovani who, due to nervousness in the studio, only played the guitar solos for “Fall Out” and the record’s B-side, “Nothing Achieving.” Copeland played the other guitar parts.

1977: The Clash kicked off their White Riot Tour in Guildford, England. The Jam, the Slits, The Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, and The Prefects all joined in the chaotic tour that took the punk package across Europe.

1979: Elton John became the first pop star to perform in Israel, playing at the Philharmonic Hall in Jerusalem. In three weeks time he also became the first Western solo pop performer to tour Russia. John insisted the reason he was the first to perform behind the Iron Curtain was because he simply asked. He had wanted seek out places that he had never played before, locations other than those on the standard rock and roll circuits.

1980: Elton John released “Little Jeanie,” the lead single from his fourteenth studio album, 21 at 33. Written by John and Gary Osborne, the single peaked at #3 on the Billboard pop chart, making it his biggest US hit since 1976’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and his highest-charting solo hit since 1975 “Island Girl.”

1984: Tina Turner released what become her most successful single, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” When it reached #1 in the US by the end of the summer, Turner set a record for the longest length of time between an artist’s first song to chart and their first #1 hit—24 years.

1987: Scottish band Deacon Blue released their debut album, Raintown. It was later issued in the US in February the following year.

1987: The first studio album by Indigo Girls, Strange Fire, was released in Canada. It was later issued in the US in October 1989.

1995: The Rembrandts released “I’ll Be There for You,” the first single from their third studio album, L.P.. The song reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is best known as the theme song to the television sitcom Friends.

2000: Bob Dylan released “Things Have Changed.” The single was first released as part of the soundtrack to the film Wonder Boys and won that year’s Academy Award for Best Original Song.

2001: Stevie Nicks released her sixth studio album, Trouble in Shangri-La. It became her first solo album to enter the top 5 since The Wild Heart in 1983.

2001: Timothy B. Schmit released his fourth studio album, Feed the Fire.

2005: Coldplay became the first British band to have a new entry in the top 10 on the US pop charts since “Hey Jude” by The Beatles in 1968 with their single “Speed of Sound,” which entered the chart at #8.

Birthdays Today

Big Maybelle, rhythm and blues singer known for her early recording of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” was born Mabel Louise Smith in Jackson, TN in 1924.

Little Walter, blues musician, singer, and songwriter whose revolutionary approach to harmonica playing influenced future generations, was born Marion Walter Jacobs in Marksville, LA in 1930.

Judy Collins, singer and songwriter, was born in Seattle, WA in 1939.

Willie Ackerman, drummer who performed with Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Monkees, Keith O’Conner Murphy and many other, was born in Nashville, TN in 1939.

Rita Coolidge, singer, songwriter, and pianist, was born in Lafayette, TN in 1945.

Carson Whitsett, keyboardist, songwriter, record producer, and session musician for Stax and Malaco Records who played on recordings by Paul Simon, Anita Ward, Connie Francis, Paul Davis, Z.Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, and Tony Joe White and whose compositions have been recorded by several artists, was born in Jackson, MS in 1945.

Reather Dixon, singer and member of R&B girl group The Bobbettes, was born in New York City in 1945.

Nick Fortuna, singer, songwriter, and member of the Buckinghams, was born in Chicago, IL in 1946.

Jerry Weiss, trumpet player and original member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, was born in New York City in 1946.

Jim Clench, bassist, vocalist, and songwriter best known as a member of April Wine and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was born in Canada in 1949.

Glen Ballard, songwriter, lyricist, and record producer, was born in Natchez, MS in 1953.

Ray Parker Jr., singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer, was born in Detroit, MI in 1954.

Steve Farris, guitarist for Mr. Mister, was born in Fremont, NE in 1957.

Johnny Colt, bassist for the Black Crowes, was born Charles Brandt in Cherry Point, NC in 1966.

D’arcy Wretzky, original bass player for the Smashing Pumpkins, was born in South Haven, MI in 1968.