Today in Rock & Roll History: May 22nd

1959: English businessman Chris Blackwell formed Island Records in Jamaica. Blackwell was among the first to record the Jamaican popular music that eventually became known as ska, and Island Records later promoted acts such as Traffic, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, Free, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Melissa Etheridge, The Cranberries, U2, Robert Palmer, Grace Jones, Bob Marley, and many others.

1961: On its fifth week at the top of Billboard’s R&B chart, “Mother-in-Law” by Ernie K-Doe reached #1 on the Hot 100. It was his only top 10 hit on the R&B chart and his only single to enter the top 40 on the pop charts.

1965: The Beatles scored their eighth US #1 hit with “Ticket to Ride” one month after the record reached #1 on the UK singles chart.

1965: Marvin Gaye achieved his first #1 single on the Billboard R&B chart with “I’ll Be Doggone.” On the Hot 100 pop chart, the record became his second top 10 hit, reaching #8.

1966: The Incredible String Band recorded their self-titled debut album for Elektra at the Sound Techniques studio in Chelsea, London in a single afternoon. It is the only one of the band’s albums to feature the original trio line-up of Clive Palmer, Robin Williamson, and Mike Heron.

1967: The Monkees released their third LP, Headquarters. It was the first of the group’s albums with substantial songwriting and instrumental performances by the group’s own members rather than session musicians and professional songwriters—something their record company had previously forbidden. A month later, it went to #1 in the US.

1972: The Who recorded the single “Join Together” at Olympic Studios in London. It was one of a handful of songs that had been intended for the group’s Lifehouse project, which later became Who’s Next.

1976: Wings scored their fifth #1 single in the US with “Silly Love Songs.”

1976: Elvin Bishop’s highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” peaked at #3.

1979: Motown Records released Smokey Robinson’s solo album Where There’s Smoke…. It became his third top 10 album on the R&B charts and first top 20 LP on the Billboard pop chart.

1980: Motown released Diana Ross’ tenth studio album, Diana. Ross had approached producer Nile Rodgers about collaborating on an album, and it became the biggest-selling studio album of her career, selling over ten million copies worldwide.

1989: After forming in 1988, Tin Machine, fronted by David Bowie, released their self-titled debut album. The formation of the band had been inspired by Bowie’s sessions with guitarist Reeves Gabrels. The groups other members were Hunt Sales and Tony Fox Sales, who both had previously worked with Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop, as well as Kevin Armstrong, who’d previously worked with Iggy Pop and Morrissey.

1992: Ringo Starr’s tenth solo LP Time Takes Time was released in the US. It was Starr’s first studio album since Old Wave in 1983, followed a successful 1989-90 tour with his All-Starr Band, and featured several guest including Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, Peter Asher, and Jeff Lynne.

1997: Fleetwood Mac reuinted at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California to perform a mix of old and new songs at the first of two live MTV Unplugged specials which were taped to air later that summer. The second show was released a week after the MTV special as The Dance, the band’s first album in ten years and it later became their fourth #1 LP in the US.

Birthdays Today

Sun Ra, experimental jazz composer, piano and synthesizer player, poet, and leader of the music ensemble known as “The Arkestra”, was born Herman Poole Blount in Birmingham, AL in 1914.

Ian Underwood, woodwind and keyboards player best known for his work with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, was born in New York City in 1939.

Bruce Rowland, prolific session drummer and member of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band and Fairport Convention, was born in Park Royal, Middlesex, England in 1941.

Calvin Simon, vocalist and member of Parliament and Funkadelic, was born in Beckley, West Virginia in 1942.

Bill Lordan, drummer and member of several band including The Mystics, Gypsy, Robin Trower Band, and Sly & The Family Stone, was born in Minneapolis, MN in 1947.

Doug Gray, founding member and lead vocalist of The Marshall Tucker Band, was born in Spartansburg, SC in 1948.

Bernie Taupin, lyricist who and long-term collaborator with Elton John, was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England in 1950.

Iva Davies, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and lead vocalist for Icehouse, was born in Wauchope, New South Wales, Australia in 1955.

Jimmy Lyon, guitarist for Eddie Money, was born in 1955.

Morrissey, songwriter, lead singer and lyricist for The Smiths, and a solo artist, was born Steven Patrick Morrissey in Davyhulme, Lancashire, England in 1959.

Jesse Valenzuela, guitarist and vocalist for Gin Blossoms, was born in 1962.

Catie Curtis, singer-songwriter, was born in Saco, ME in 1965.

Dan Roberts, bassist for Crash Test Dummies, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1967.