Today in Rock & Roll History: November 17th

1957: Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps made their US television debut performing “Lotta Lovin” and “Dance to the Bop” on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1958: “Tom Dooley” by the Kingston Trio became the group’s first and only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

1958: “Lonely Teardrops” by Jackie Wilson was released. The song later became his first top 10 hit on the Billboard pop chart and first #1 on the R&B chart.

1958: “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by The Chipmunks and David Seville was released by Liberty Records. Ross Bagdasarian, under the stage name David Seville, sang and recorded the song, using varying tape speed to produce high-pitched voices, but credited the vocals to his cartoon band, The Chipmunks. Later that year the record won three Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Performance, Best Children’s Recording, and Best Engineered Record (non-classical).

1962: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Season hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The follow-up to their first major hit and first #1 record earlier that year, “Sherry,” it was the group’s second of three straight #1 pop hits after signing with the Vee Jay Records label.

1963: Backstage at the British ITV music program Thank Your Lucky Stars, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards presented Gene Pitney with one of their first original songs, “My Only Girl.” Re-titled “That Girl Belongs To Yesterday,” it was later a hit for Pitney, the first Jagger/Richards composition to make the US charts, and the first UK hit for the pair as songwriters.

1966: “Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats was released in their home country of Australia. It became their first international hit, reaching #1 in Australia, #6 in the UK, #16 in the US, entered the charts in several other countries.

1966: “Good Vibrations” became the Beach Boys’ first single to reach #1 on the UK chart.

1970: Elton John played a live set to a studio audience on New York City radio station WABC. The recording was later released on LP as his first live album, titled 11-17-70. According to John, it was never intended to be released, but the popularity of the broadcast with bootleggers prompted his record label to put out an album. Of the thirteen songs Elton and his band performed, six were included in the initial release, with the remaining tracks released in 1996 and 2017. According to longtime New York City radio personality Dave Herman, who can be heard at the beginning and end of the album, John had cut his hand at some point during the performance, and by the end of the show, the piano keys were covered with blood.

1971: The Faces released their third album and second LP of 1971, A Nod’s As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse. Bolstered by Rod Stewart’s recent solo success, it was the group’s most successful album worldwide, peaking at #6 in the US and #2 in the UK. It also contains their biggest US hit, “Stay with Me.”

1971: Laura Nyro released her fifth studio album, Gonna Take a Miracle. The album is Nyro’s only all-covers album, featuring interpretations mainly of 1950s and 1960s soul and R&B standards with vocal trio Labelle providing backing vocals.

1971: The Byrds released their eleventh studio album, Farther Along. Recorded over the course of five days in July, it was largely self-produced and was quickly released as a reaction to the commercial failure of the band’s previous album, Byrdmaniax.

1973: Billy Preston scored his second of two #1 hits on the Billboard R&B chart with “Space Race.”

1975: The Kinks released their fifteenth studio album, Schoolboys in Disgrace. Considered the last album in the band’s “theatrical period,” it was also their final release with RCA Records before transitioning to Arista Records.

1978: Led Zeppelin recorded “All of My Love” at Polar Studios in Sweden during sessions for the band’s final album, In Through the Out Door. Written by singer Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones, the song was written in honor of Plant’s son Karac, who had died while Led Zeppelin was on their 1977 North American tour.

1978: The Doors released An American Prayer, their ninth and final studio album. Released after the death of lead singer Jim Morrison, it features spoken-word poetry by Morrison paired with backing tracks by the band’s remaining members.

1980: John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy album was released by Geffen Records. It was Lennon’s seventh and final studio album released before his death three weeks later.

1982: Chaka Khan released her eponymous fourth solo studio album.

1986: The Kinks released their twenty-second studio album, Think Visual.

1986: The The released their second studio album, Infected. It became their first LP to chart in the US, where it reached #89.

1986: Robert Cray released his fifth studio album, Strong Persuader.

1987: U2 released “In God’s Country,” the fourth single from their fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree.

1994: Bob Dylan began taping his episode of MTV Unplugged at New York’s Sony Studios. The recordings was released as an album the following spring and gave Dylan his best sales in years, reaching #23 in the US and going gold as well as hitting #10 in the UK.

1997: Originally recorded for a promotional campaign for BBC Radio and Television, a version of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” recorded by several artists including Reed, Bono, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Elton John, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Robert Cray, Joan Armatrading, and Tom Jones, was released as a charity single for the BBC’s Children in Need organization. The record raised over two million pounds, went to #1 in the UK chart, and Reed said that he had “never been more impressed with a performance of one of [his] songs.”

2007: The Eagles’ first studio album in 28 years, Long Road Out of Eden, debuted at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

2017: Bob Seger released his eighteenth studio album, I Knew You When.

Birthdays Today

Gerry McGee, lead guitarist and songwriter for The Ventures, was born in Eunice, LA in 1937.

Gordon Lightfoot, folk singer-songwriter, was born in Orillia, Ontario, Canada in 1938.

Luke Kelly, folk musician and founding member of the Dubliners, was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1940.

Bob Gaudio, singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, keyboardist, and backing vocalist with The Four Seasons, was born in the Bronx, NY in 1942.

Gene Clark, singer-songwriter, solo artist, and member of the New Christy Minstrels, the Byrds, Dillard & Clark, and McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, was born Harold Eugene Clark in Tipton, MO in 1944.

Martin Barre, multi-instrumentalist and guitarist for Jethro Tull, was born in Kings Heath, Birmingham, England in 1946.

Rod Clements, guitarist, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and co-founder of Lindisfarne, was born in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England in 1947.

Robert “Stewkey” Antoni, keyboardist and singer for the Nazz, was born in Newport, RI in 1947.

Iain Sutherland, vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist in the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver band, was born in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1948.

Peter Cox, singer-songwriter, lead singer for Go West, and member of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, was born in Kingston, England in 1955.

Jim Babjak, lead guitarist and co-founder of the Smithereens, was born in Carteret, NJ in 1957.

Jeff Buckley, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and son of 1960s artist Tim Buckley, was born in Orange, CA in 1966.

Ben Wilson, keyboardist for Blues Traveler, was born in Chicago, IL in 1967.