Today in Rock & Roll History: May 7th

1955: Ray Charles reached the top the Billboard R&B chart for the first time with his first of several hits with Atlantic Records, “I’ve Got a Woman.” Charles claimed he’d been performing the song for roughly a year before recording it in the studios of Georgia Tech radio station WGST. A re-recording of the song by Charles later made it to #79 on the Billboard pop chart ten years later in 1965.

1966: “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones was released in the US a week before it was issued in the UK. The song became their third #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, their sixth #1 in England, and the first #1 hit single in both the US and UK to feature a sitar.

1966: “I Am a Rock” by Simon & Garfunkel entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later peaked at #3 during its eleven-week chart run. Paul Simon originally released the song as part of his debut solo album The Paul Simon Songbook, which was issued exclusively in the UK during the summer of 1965. After American producer Tony Wilson had dubbed electric guitar, bass, and drums onto “The Sound of Silence” from Simon & Garfunkel’s commercially unsuccessful first LP, the success of the new version brought the duo back into the studio to record their second album. There they began sessions to match the electric sound created by Wilson with other songs written by Simon including “I Am a Rock,” which later served as the closing track of the duo’s second album, Sounds of Silence.

1966: Los Angeles group the Mamas and the Papas had their first #1 hit with “Monday, Monday,” which started three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

1966: Chicago-based band The Shadows of Knight had their only top 10 hit with their version of “Gloria,” a song written by Van Morrison and originally recorded by his band Them in 1964. The same week, the original version by Them was at #75 on the Hot 100, and peaked at #71 three weeks later.

1966: Percy Sledge’s first single “When a Man Loves a Woman” reached the top of the Billboard R&B chart. Three weeks later, the record also went to #1 on the Hot 100 pop chart. The song was Sledge’s biggest hit and only #1 on either chart.

1970: The Temptations released “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today).” The single later reached #2 on the Billboard R&B chart, #3 on the pop chart, and #7 in the UK.

1972: Reginald Dwight legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John. In 1967, he’d started going by the stage name “Elton John” in homage to fellow Bluesology members Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.

1973: George Harrison released “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” the lead single and opening track from his fourth solo studio album, Living in the Material World. Nearly eight weeks later, the song became Harrison’s second US #1.

1973: “Money,” the first single from Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon, was released in the US. The song reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on the Cash Box chart.

1974: Led Zeppelin threw a party celebrating the launch of their own record label, Swan Song Records, at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City. The band’s manager, Peter Grant, had struck a deal with Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegum to have the group work under their own imprint with an exclusive distribution deal given to Atlantic. Among the event’s guests were Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, and comedian Groucho Marx. The first act to sign the label was Scottish singer Maggie Bell. Swan Song later distributed recordings by Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, the Pretty Things, and Detective among others.

1975: Elvis Presley’s twenty-second studio album, Today, was released.

1977: Ten weeks after entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Hotel California” by the Eagles became the band’s fourth #1 hit in the US.

1983: Former Jam frontman Paul Weller debuted his new group The Style Council at “Festival for Peace,” an anti-nuclear benefit gig in London for the Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Teaming up with keyboardist Mick Talbot, a former member of Dexys Midnight Runners, the Bureau and the Merton Parkas, Weller took the new group in much more soulful direction compared his former band.

1984: The Cars released “Magic,” the second single from their fifth studio album, Heartbeat City.

1984: The Human League released their fourth studio album, Hysteria.

1986: Prince released “Mountains,” the second single from his eighth studio album, Parade.

1988: A month after it topped Billboard’s R&B chart, Terence Trent D’Arby’s biggest hit “Wishing Well” reached the top of the Hot 100 pop chart.

1991: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released Sugar Tax, their eighth studio album and first of three LPs recorded without co-founder Paul Humphreys.

1996: The Cure released their tenth studio album, Wild Mood Swings.

2002: Warren Zevon released his eleventh studio album, My Ride’s Here. Described by Zevon as “a meditation on death,” it was released several months before Zevon was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma.

2002: Tom Waits released his fifteenth studio album, Blood Money. It contains songs written for the musical Woyzeck, based on the play of the same name by Georg Büchner.

Birthdays Today

Jerry Chestnut, country songwriter who wrote hits recorded by artists including Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, and Elvis Costello, was born in Loyall, KY in 1931.

Derek Taylor, journalist, writer, record producer, publicist for the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Mamas and the Papas, press officer for the Beatles, and one of several individuals to earn the moniker “the Fifth Beatle,” was born in Wirral, England in 1932.

Jimmy Ruffin, soul singer and older brother of David Ruffin of The Temptations, was born in Collinsville, MS in 1936.

Johnny Maestro, original lead singer for The Crests and original member of the Brooklyn Bridge, was born John Mastrangelo in New York City in 1939.

Lorrie Collins, rockabilly singer and guitar who performed with her brother Larry as the Collins Kids, was born in Creek County, OK in 1942.

Rick West, guitarist and vocalist for the Tremeloes, was born Richard Westwood in Dagenham, Essex, England in 1943.

Cornelius Bumpus, woodwind, brass, and keyboard player who played with Bobby Freeman, The Doobie Brothers, Moby Grape, and Steely Dan, was born in Dallas, TX in 1945.

Bill Danoff, singer and songwriter best known for “Afternoon Delight,” which he wrote as a member of the Starland Vocal Band, and for co-writing hits for John Denver such as “Take Me Home, Country Road,” was born in Springfield, MA in 1946.

Bill Kreutzmann, drummer for the Grateful Dead and member of various groups with other members of the Dead, was born in Palo Alto, CA in 1946.

Arcelio Garcia, lead singer for Malo, was born in Peurto Rico in 1946.

Ray Monette, Motown session musician and songwriter who formed the bands The Abstract Reality and Scorpion and was a guitarist and vocalist for Rare Earth from 1971-2004, was born in Detroit, MI in 1946.

Jerry Nolan, drummer best known for his work with the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, was born in Williamsburg, NY in 1946.

Prairie Prince, drummer, founding member of Journey, member of the Tubes and Jefferson Starship, and session musician for many artists and bands, was born Charles Lempriere Prince in Charlotte, NC in 1950.

Carlos Alomar, guitarist, composer, and arranger best known for his work with David Bowie from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1951.

Steve Diggle, guitarist and vocalist for the Buzzcocks, was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England in 1955.

Marty Wilson-Piper, guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as a long-time member of The Church, was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England in 1958.

Matt Helders, drummer and founding member of the Arctic Monkeys, was born in Sheffield, England in 1986.