Today in Rock & Roll History: November 2nd

1963: Peter, Paul and Mary held the top two spots on the Billboard album chart with their third album, In the Wind, which started its first of five weeks at #1, and the trio’s self-titled first album, and the previous occupant of the top spot, at #2.

1966: Cream had their first UK top 40 hit with “Wrapping Paper,” composed by bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce and with lyrics by poet Pete Brown. Drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton reportedly didn’t care much for the song.

1968: Glen Campbell entered the Billboard Hot 100 with the Jimmy Webb-penned song “Witchita Lineman.” Backed by famed Los Angeles session group, The Wrecking Crew, the song appeared on Campbell’s twelfth studio album of the same name.

1968: At Cream’s Madison Square Garden performance during their farewell tour, Atlantic Records co-founder and president Ahmet Ertegun and manager Robert Stigwood presented the band with a platinum disc commemorating American sales of their double album Wheels of Fire—the world’s first platinum-selling double LP.

1968: “Midnight Confessions” by the Grass Roots peaked at #5 on Billboard Hot 100, making it group’s most successful record.

1973: Ringo Starr released his third album, Ringo. It was his first rock album after releasing the standards tribute, Sentimental Journey, and the country and western LP, Beaucoups of Blues, both in 1970. The album also featured contributions from all three other former members of the Beatles, as well as from artists such as Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Steve Cropper, Marc Bolan, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson, David Bromberg, Harry Nilsson, and Martha Reeves. The self-titled LP peaked at #7 on the UK album chart and #2 in the US.

1973: Billy Joel’s single “Piano Man” was released. The song depicts a fictionalized retelling of Joel’s own experience as a piano-lounge singer for six months in 1972-73 at the now defunct Executive Room bar in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles. It became Joel’s first major hit and his signature song, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April of 1974.

1974: George Harrison became the first former member of the Beatles to go on tour as a solo artist when he began a 45-show North American tour with Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. Often referred to as the “Dark Horse Tour,” the concerts served as a launch for Harrison’s Dark Horse Records label. Harrison was also joined by a band of talented sidemen that included Billy Preston, Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark, Tom Scott, Chuck Findley, and Robben Ford.

1974: “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” by Stevie Wonder went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. His fourth #1 pop hit and tenth R&B #1, the song features backing vocals by the Jackson 5 and is one of Wonder’s angriest political statements, aimed squarely at President Richard Nixon, who had resigned two days after the record’s release.

1974: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were at #1 in the Billboard pop chart with their first compilation album, So Far. It was the group’s third straight LP to top the chart.

1985: Simple Minds scored their second #1 album in the UK with Once Upon a Time. In the US, the LP was their first and only to reach the top 50, peaking at #10.

1985: “Small Town” by John Mellencamp was issued as a single after its initial release as part of his eighth album, Scarecrow.

Birthdays Today

Phil Woods, jazz alto saxophonist, clarinetist, bandleader, and composer who contributed to songs by artists such as Billy Joel, Steely Dan, and Paul Simon, was born in Springfield, MA in 1931.

Earl “Speedo” Carroll, lead vocalist of 1950s doo-wop group the Cadillacs, who joined the Coasters in 1961, was born in New York City in 1937.

Jay Black, lead singer of Jay & the Americans, was born David Blatt in New York City in 1938.

Bruce Welch, guitarist, songwriter, producer, singer, and member of the Shadows, was born Bruce Cripps in Bognor Regis, Sussex, England in 1941.

Brian Poole, lead singer of the Tremeloes, was born in Dagenham, England in 1941.

Keith Emerson, songwriter, composer, producer, keyboardist with the Nice, and founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was born in Todmorden, Yorkshire, England in 1944.

J.D. Souther, singer and songwriter, was born John David Souther in Detroit, MI in 1945.

Len “Chip” Hawkes, bassist and vocalist for the Tremeloes, was born in London, England in 1946.

Dave Pegg, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and bassist with Fairport Convention, the Ian Campbell Folk Group, and Jethro Tull, was born in Acocks Green, Birmingham, England in 1947.

Maxine Nightingale, R&B and soul singer, was born in Wembley, London, England in 1952.

Alan Winstanley, record producer, songwriter, and audio engineer, who’s worked with artists and group’s including Madness, the Stranglers, Elvis Costello, Morrissey, They Might Be Giants, and Hothouse Flowers, was born in Fulham, London, England in 1952.

Carter Beauford, drummer and founding member of Dave Matthew Band, was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1957.

k.d. lang, singer-songwriter, was born Kathryn Dawn Lang in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1961.

Chris Walla, guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie, was born in Bothell, WA in 1975.