Today in Rock & Roll History: May 20th

1954: “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets was released as the B-side of “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town).” The song was only a moderate success until it was re-released after it was featured in the film Blackboard Jungle the following year, after which it rose to the top of Billboard’s Most Played and Best Sellers charts.

1957: The Everly Brothers debuted on the US singles charts with “Bye Bye Love.”

1960: The Silver Beetles, whose lineup comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Tommy Moore, played their first tour as a backing group for Johnny Gentle on a tour of Scotland.

1966: Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of the Who grew tired of waiting for John Entwistle and Keith Moon to arrive for their gig at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, England. The band had been hosting Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys, who Moon had taken to a taping of British pop music program Ready Steady Go!. Townshend and Daltrey took to the stage with the rhythm section of the local band that opened the show. Moon and Entwistle showed up two hours late and took over their respective roles over halfway through the set. The show proceeded, and during Moon’s destruction of his drum kit during the finale, a cymbal hit Townshend’s leg. Townshend then swung his guitar at a speaker, but missed and hit the drummer in the head. An all-out brawl ensued, with Bruce Johnston watching in amazement as the club’s announcer assured the audience that it was “all a part of the show.” News of the fight spread fast, along with Moon and Entwistle announcing they were leaving the band. They soon reconciled however, with Entwistle returning for a gig the next day, and Moon rejoining a week later. During his week away from the Who, Moon had pursued the possibilities of joining other groups, including the Animals and Small Faces.

1967: The Young Rascals scored their second of their three Billboard #1 singles with “Groovin’.” As with their previous chart-toppers, the song reached #1 on the Billboard, Cash Box, and Canadian charts, and was also the group’s first top 10 hit in the UK, reaching #8.

1967: The Beatles’ new album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had a special preview on disc jockey Kenny Everett’s radio show Where It’s At, broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. In addition to pre-recorded interviews, excerpts were played from every track from the album, except “A Day In The Life,” which the BBC had banned the day before, saying it “promoted a permissive attitude towards drug use.”

1968: Having prepared several new songs after their visit to India, the Beatles met at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s home in Esher, Surrey, England where they taped 23 new songs on Harrison’s 4-track recorder, many of which ended up on the band’s next two albums, their self-titled “White Album” and Abbey Road. Demos that were recorded include “Cry Baby Cry,” “Revolution,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Blackbird,” and “Child of Nature,” a John Lennon song that later became “Jealous Guy.”

1969: Led Zeppelin started three days of recording and mixing at A&R Studios in New York City, which included the recording of “Heartbreaker” and various other parts of new tracks for the group’s second album.

1974: The first single from Elton John’s Caribou album, “Don’t Le the Sun Go Down on Me,” was released.

1975: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention joined Captain Beefheart for the first of two nights at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas to record the live LP Bongo Fury. The album was the last to feature most of Zappa’s early 1970s band and the first appearance of drummer Terry Bozzio.

1977: Blondie performed their first concert in England at the Village Bowl in Bournemouth two days before joining fellow New York band Television on their British tour.

1977: Polydor Records release the debut album by British mod revival band the Jam, In the City.

1978: Paul McCartney and Wings went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “With A Little Luck,” McCartney’s sixth solo US chart-topper.

1981: Elton John released his fifteenth studio album, The Fox. It became one of John’s poorest-selling albums in the US.

1989: “Ferry Cross The Mersey” by Liverpool artists The Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, and Stock Aitken Waterman started three weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart. The song had been recorded to raise funds for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

1991: Bonnie Raitt released “Something to Talk About,” the lead single from her eleventh studio album, Luck of the Draw.

1997: John Fogerty released his fifth solo album, Blue Moon Swamp.

1997: James Taylor released Hourglass, his fourteenth studio album and first studio LP in six years.

2001: R.E.M.’s twelfth studio album Reveal debuted at #1 on the UK chart. The same week, the LP entered the Billboard pop chart at its peak position of #6.

2016: Mudcrutch released their second and final album, 2. It was the last recorded studio material recorded by Tom Petty before his death in 2017.

2016: Eric Clapton released his twentieth studio album, I Still Do.

2016: Bob Dylan released his thirty-seventh studio album, Fallen Angels. Like his previous album, Shadows in the Night, the LP consists of covers by a variety of writers that had all been previously recorded by Frank Sinatra.

Birthdays Today

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, influential singer and songwriter who is among the first popular recording artists to use electric guitar distortion, and whose pioneering guitar techniques had a profound impact on the development of early rock and roll and British blues, was born in Cotton Plant, AR in 1915.

Shorty Long, soul singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, was born in Birmingham, AL in 1940.

Joe Cocker, singer, was born John Robert Cocker in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, was born in 1944.

Cher, singer and actress, was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, CA in 1946.

Steve Currie, bass player for T. Rex from 1971-1973, was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England in 1947.

Jane Wiedlin, singer-songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the Go-Gos, was born in Oconomowoc, WI in 1958.

Susan Cowsill, vocalist, songwriter, and member of the Cowsills and the Continental Drifters, was born in Canton, OH in 1959.

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, singer, lyricist, and musician, was born in Honolulu, HI in 1959.

Brian “Nasher” Nash, guitarist for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, was born in Liverpool, England in 1963.