Today in Rock & Roll History: October 15th

1957: RCA Victor released Elvis Presley’s third studio album and first Christmas album, Elvis’ Christmas Album. It was Presley’s first of two Christmas-themed albums and spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart.

1960: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr recorded music together for the first time. The four played in a session backing a solo recording for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes’ bassist Lou Walters at the public Akustik Studio in Hamburg, recording “Fever,” “September Song,” and “Summertime.” Beatles manager Allan Williams had asked Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison to play and provide harmonies for Walters. Original Beatles bassist Stu Sutcliffe was present at the recording but did not play, and drummer Pete Best was out buying drumsticks, so Hurricanes drummer Ringo Starr played drums. The Beatles had wanted to record some songs of their own, but Williams cut the session short so as not to be late for their start at the Kaiserkeller music club.

1960: “Shop Around” by The Miracles was issued nationally on Motown Records’ Tamla label. It was the second version of the song the group had recorded and had a much more pop-oriented sound compared the original, blues-influenced version that had been released only in the Detroit region in September. The re-recording became The Miracles first hit single, reaching #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart and #2 on the Hot 100. It was the first Motown record released in the UK.

1963: British newspaper The Daily Mirror used the term “Beatlemania” in a news story about the group’s concert the previous day in Cheltenham. A Scottish music promoter later claimed to have originated the term a week earlier.

1965: The Great Society made its live debut at the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco North Beach. Co-founded by Grace Slick, her then-husband Jerry Slick, and his brother Darby, the group had been inspired to form a rock band both by the Beatles and after seeing Jefferson Airplane perform their first live show at San Francisco nightclub the Matrix. The following year, Grace Slick joined Jefferson Airplane as their new female vocalist.

1965: Jimi Hendrix signed his first recording contract with producer and record executive Ed Chalpin. In the management agreement, Hendrix signed away most of the rights to the music he was obliged to write, perform, and record with R&B singer Curtis Knight for three years. In return, he received $1 and one percent of record sales. The agreement later caused continuous litigation problems when Hendrix was discovered by manager Chas Chandler and they left for England, unbeknownst to Chaplin or Curtis. Upon learning of Hendrix’s newfound success in Britain, Chaplin and Curtis issued hundreds of albums of the recordings with Hendrix, and Chaplin sued Hendrix and his new label, Reprise, before finally settling in 1968.

1966: The Monkees began recording “I’m a Believer.” Released almost a month later, the song hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart by the end of the year and remained there for seven weeks, becoming the last #1 hit of 1966 and later the biggest-selling record for all of 1967.

1966: The Four Tops had their last US #1 on the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts with “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” The single was also the group’s only UK chart-topper. Despite being their last #1, the group went on to have eleven more hits on the US pop chart, and seventeen on the R&B chart.

1966: Otis Redding released Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, his fifth studio album and last solo studio album released before his death.

1968: Stevie Wonder released what became the most successful version of “For Once In My Life,” a song written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden and originally released by singer and actor Jean DuShon as a slow ballad. Wonder’s uptempo arrangement entered Billboard’s Hot 100 chart the same week as Jackie Wilson’s recording of the same song. Wonder’s version won the cover battle, reaching #2 on the chart, with Wilson’s peaking at #70.

1968: Neil Diamond released his third studio album, Velvet Gloves and Spit.

1969: The self-titled debut album by Yes was released in the US after it had been issued in the UK in July.

1969: “Victoria” by the Kinks was released in the US. The third single from their seventh studio album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), it later released in the UK in December.

1970: The Supremes released “Stoned Love” from their second studio album, New Ways But Love Stays. It was the group’s last top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #7, as well as their last #1 R&B hit.

1970: The Jackson 5 released Jackson 5 Christmas album, their fourth studio album and first of Christmas music.

1971: During Rick Nelson’s performance at the seventh annual Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he thought he was being booed by the audience for not playing his old hits. Nelson took it personally and left the stage. He watched the rest of the concert from backstage and only reappeared for the finale. The experience served as the inspiration for his last top 10 hit, “Garden Party.” Some reports say that the booing was caused by the police’s escorting of agitators in the audience out of the concert.

1971: “Let’s See Action” by The Who was released as a single in the UK. It was the first of three non-album singles by the band that had been intended for the aborted science fiction rock opera titled Lifehouse.

1972: The Isley Brothers released “Work to Do” from their tenth studio album, Brother, Brother, Brother.

1973: Elton John released “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” the second single and title track from Elton John’s seventh studio album. The record peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Cash Box chart.

1973: The Band released their fifth studio album, Moondog Matinee. The LP consists entirely of cover material reflecting the group’s love of R&B and blues music, with the exception of their interpretation of the theme from the 1949 film The Third Man.

1973: Fleetwood Mac released Mystery to Me, their eighth studio album and last to feature guitarist Bob Weston.

1973: The Grateful Dead released Wake of the Flood, their sixth studio album and first on their own Grateful Dead Records label. It was also their first album without founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan following his death earlier that year, and the first to feature keyboardist Keith Godchaux’s wife Donna Jean Godchaux as a backing vocalist.

1977: “Slip Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it later peak at #5. The song had been recorded two years earlier for Simon’s album Still Crazy After All These Years, but was cut and was eventually released as one of two new tracks on his compilation album, Greatest Hits, Etc..

1978: Los Angeles band Toto released their self-titled debut album.

1982: Ultravox released their sixth studio album, Quartet. It was the group’s only album to enter the top 100 on the Billboard pop chart, peaking at #61.

1983: “Crumblin’ Down” by John Cougar Mellencamp entered the Billboard Hot 100 on its way to #9. It was the first single released by Mellencamp to include his real last name. Previous releases had been credited to “John Cougar.”

1983: Genesis’ self-titled twelfth studio album became their third consecutive #1 in the UK.

1984: The Cars released “Hello Again,” the fourth single from their fifth studio album, Heartbeat City.

1984: XTC released The Big Express, their seventh studio album and an autobiographical concept album inspired by the band’s hometown of Swindon and its railway system, the Swindon Works.

1984: Julian Lennon released his debut studio album, Valotte.

1986: Elton John released his twelfth studio album, Leather Jackets.

1987: After recovering from a diabetic coma, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead kicked off a two-week Broadway residency at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in Midtown, Manhattan, offering nightly performances by both the Jerry Garcia Band and the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band.

1988: UB40 topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the group’s first record to chart in the US, “Red Red Wine.” The song was written and first recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967.

1991: Warren Zevon released his eighth studio album, Mr. Bad Example.

1994: R.E.M.’s ninth studio album, Monster, debuted at #1 on the Billboard pop chart. It was the group’s second and final #1 album.

1996: The Monkees released their eleventh studio album, Justus. Recorded in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary, it was the group’s first to feature all four members since the their Head LP in 1968 and the last to feature contemporary recordings by Davy Jones.

1996: Counting Crows released their second studio album, Recovering the Satellites. It is the group’s highest-charting album in the US, reaching #1, as well as their highest-reaching album in the UK, where it peaked at #4.

1996: Phish released their sixth studio album, Billy Breathes. It became the band’s first top 10 album on the Billboard pop chart, reached #7, and has been credited with connecting the group with a more mainstream audience.

2002: Tracy Chapman released her sixth studio album, Let It Rain.

Birthdays Today

Mickey Baker, influential session guitarist who backed artists including Doc Pomus, The Drifters, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, and Big Joe Turner and formed the pop duo Mickey & Sylvia with one of his guitar students, Sylvia Robinson, was born MacHouston Baker in Louisville, KY in 1925.

Barry McGuire, singer-songwriter best known for his #1 single “Eve Of Destruction,” was born in Oklahoma City, OK in 1935.

Marv Johnson, R&B and soul singer who performed on the first record issued by Tamla Records, which later became Motown Records, was born in Detroit, MI in 1938.

Fela Kuti, multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, human rights activist, and Afrobeat pioneer, was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Colony of Nigeria in 1938.

Don Stevenson, singer, songwriter, and drummer for Moby Grape, was born in Seattle, WA in 1941.

Chris Andrews, singer-songwriter, record producer, and solo artist who wrote hits for Adam Faith, Sandie Shaw, and others, was born in Romford, Essex, England in 1942.

Richard Carpenter, musician, composer, arranger, lyricist, pianist, record producer, and half of the sibling duo the Carpenters, was born in New Haven, CT in 1946.

Lance Dickerson, drummer for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, was born in Livonia, MI in 1948.

Joe “Yo Yo” Jaramillo, original member of Cannibal & The Headhunters, was born in 1948.

Pete Bremy, bassist for Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, was born in Paterson, NJ in 1952.

Tito Jackson, singer, songwriter, guitarist, solo artist, and original member of the Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, was born Toriano Adaryll Jackson in Gary, IN in 1953.

Dave Stead, drummer for The Beautiful South, was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England in 1966.

Dougie Vipond, drummer and founding member of Deacon Blue, was born in Elderslie, Scotland in 1966.

Chris Geddes, keyboardist and co-founder of Belle & Sebastian, was born in Stroud, England in 1975.