1956: Elvis Presley’s second studio album, Elvis, was released. Like his debut LP, it later reached the top of Billboard’s Top Pop Albums chart, making Presley the first recording artist to have two consecutive albums go straight to number one in the same year.
1958: Brenda Lee recorded “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” The song had been written by Johnny Marks, who specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many holiday standards, including “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” and “Run Rudolph Run.”
1959: The Kingston Trio released Here We Go Again!. The LP spent eight weeks at #1 and was one of the four albums the group had simultaneously in Billboard’s top 10 during that year.
1959: Atlantic Records released Ray Charles’ sixth album with the label, What’d I Say.
1964: Simon & Garfunkel released their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which initially flopped upon its first release. Only after word of mouth led listeners to request airplay for the single “Sound of Silence” did the duo’s record company decide to re-release the album to coincide with the release of their second album Sounds of Silence in 1966, after which it reached #30 on the Billboard chart.
1964: The Beach Boys released their first live album, Beach Boys Concert. Recorded at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California, it was the group’s first of two chart-topping albums in the US, as well as the first live album to top pop music record charts.
1966: “(Come ‘Round Here) I’m the One You Need” was released as the last single by The Miracles before lead singer Smokey Robinson was given star billing on all of the group’s subsequent releases. Unlike most Miracles songs, which were written and produced by the group themselves, the record was written and produced by Motown’s main songwriting and production team Holland–Dozier–Holland.
1967: Inside Studio One at EMI’s studios in London, the Beatles held their second session for their single “Hello, Goodbye,” known then by its working title, “Hello Hello.” Two weeks and three more sessions later, the song was completed.
1967: “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles became the group’s third #1 on the R&B chart and their fourth top 10 pop hit, reaching #4.
1968: The lineup of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones performed their final stage show at Liverpool University as the “New Yardbirds.” Afterward, the group adopted the new name, “Led Zeppelin,” which had been inspired by a joke made by the Who’s Keith Moon during a recording sessions for “Beck’s Bolero” in May of 1966, which included Moon, John Entwhistle, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jeff Beck. Moon allegedly had said that the band would “go over like a lead balloon.”
1968: Immediately after the breakup of The Mamas and The Papas, Cass Elliot, billed as Mama Cass, released her debut studio album, Dream a Little Dream.
1970: Bob Dylan’s eleventh studio album, New Morning, was released. Issued just four months after Dylan’s controversial Self Portrait album, New Morning reached #7 in US and was his last #1 in the UK until Together Through Life in 2009.
1970: Neil Young released “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” The first single from his third studio album, After the Gold Rush, it became Young’s first top 40 hit as a solo artist, peaking at #33 in the US.
1970: “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed was released. Produced by Chet Atkins, the single became Reed’s first top 40 pop hit and highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #8.
1970: The Shadows released their eighth studio album, Shades of Rock. The LP features instrumental covers of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Ray Charles, and others.
1973: Mick Taylor performed his last live performance as a member of the Rolling Stones on the last date of band’s European tour at the Deutschlandhalle in West Berlin.
1973: America released their third studio album, Hat Trick.
1973: David Bowie released his seventh studio album, Pin Ups, which features covers of songs by British bands from the 1960s such as the Pretty Things, the Who, the Yardbirds, and Pink Floyd.
1973: The Wailers released their sixth studio album, Burnin’.
1974: “Nothing from Nothing” became Billy Preston’s second #1 single in the US when it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
1974: Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s third album, Not Fragile, became the group’s first #1 in both the US and Canada.
1974: “Wishing You Were Here” by Chicago entered the Billboard Hot 100. The Beach Boys were also at James Guercio’s Caribou Ranch recording studio when the single was being recorded, and Peter Cetera was joined in singing harmony vocals by Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson. The two bands continued collaborating the following year when the two groups teamed up for the “Beachago” tour.
1979: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their third studio album, Damn the Torpedoes. It became the group’s first top 20 hit on the Billboard pop chart, reaching #2.
1979: British ska revival band The Specials released their self-titled debut studio album. The album was produced by Elvis Costello and released on keyboardist Jerry Dammers’ 2 Tone label, which was backed by Chrysalis Records.
1979: Prince released his self-titled second studio album, which was written, arranged, composed, produced and performed entirely by him. It was a breakthrough success in the US, reaching #22 on the Billboard pop chart.
1981: INXS released their second studio album, Underneath the Colours.
1983: U2 founded their own record label, Mother Records. After its launch in August the following year, the exclusively released one-off singles by Irish artists such as The Hothouse Flowers, In Tua Nua, and Cactus World News. The label was relaunched in 1990 as an independent record company and subsequently issued material by artists that included The Golden Horde, The Sugarcubes, Björk, Gil Scott-Heron, and Tanita Tikaram. The label was ceased in operation in 2000.
1984: A-ha’s debut single, their original version of “Take On Me,” was released in Europe. The record was unsuccessful everywhere except the group’s home country of Norway. In 1985, a new version of the song, produced by Alan Tarney for their first album, Hunting High and Low, became the band’s only #1 hit in the US.
1985: A-ha become the first Norwegian band to top the Billboard Hot 100 when “Take On Me” went to #1.
1987: The Cars released “Strap Me In,” the second single from their sixth studio album, Door to Door.
1987: Melissa Etheridge began recording sessions for her self-titled debut album.
1992: Julian Cope released his eighth studio album, Jehovahkill.
1993: Jesse Colin Young released his first new album in six years, Makin’ It Real.
1998: A re-recording of “Sweetest Thing” by U2 was released as the lead single from the band’s greatest hits compilation album The Best of 1980-1990. The song was originally released as the B-side of “Where the Streets Have No Name” in 1987.
1999: Ringo Starr released his twelfth studio album and first Christmas album, I Wanna Be Santa Claus.
2004: Peter Cetera released You Just Gotta Love Christmas, his eighth solo studio album and last studio album before his retirement in 2019.
2010: The Union, a collaborative album by Elton John and Leon Russell, was released in the US. The LP reached #3 on the Billboard pop chart, making it John’s highest charting studio album since Blue Moves in 1976, as well as Russell’s highest charting album since 1972’s Carney. The album features appearances by Booker T. Jones, Neil Young, Robert Randolph, and Brian Wilson.
Dave Guard, folk singer, songwriter, arranger, and founding member of Kingston Trio, was born in San Francisco, CA in 1934.
Larry Chance, lead singer of 1960s doo wop group The Earls, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1940.
Peter Tosh, reggae singer-songwriter, solo artist, and core member of The Wailers, was born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Grange Hill, Jamaica in 1944.
George McCrea, soul and disco singer best known for his 1974 debut single, “Rock Me Baby,” was born in West Palm Beach, FL in 1944.
Keith Reid, lyricist for Procol Harum, was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England in 1946.
Wilbert Hart, R&B singer and co-founding member of The Delfonics, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1947.
Patrick Simmons, guitarist and vocalist with The Doobie Bros., who wrote many of the band’s songs, was born in Aberdeen, WA in 1948.
Karl Wallinger, musician, songwriter, record producer, keyboardist with the Waterboys from 1983-1985, and founder of World Party, was born in Prestatyn, Wales in 1957.
Dan Woodgate, musician, songwriter, composer, and record producer who came to prominence as a member of English ska band Madness, was born in Kensington, London, England in 1960.
Todd Park Mohr, singer, guitarist, and lyricist for Big Head Todd and the Monsters, was born in Denver, CO in 1965.