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 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 had originally released the song as part of his debut solo album The Paul Simon Songbook, which had been 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,” 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 LP, Living in the Material World. Nearly eight weeks later, the song became Harrison’s second US #1.

1973: The first single from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album, “Money,” 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: Paul Weller unveiled his new group The Style Council at an anti-nuclear benefit gig in London.

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

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.

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.

Birthdays Today

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.

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

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.

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.

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