Today in Rock & Roll History: October 31st

1938: Sister Rosetta Tharpe made her first recording—four sides for Decca Records, backed by Lucky Millinder’s jazz orchestra. The first gospel songs ever recorded by Decca, “Rock Me,” “That’s All,” “My Man and I,” and “The Lonesome Road” were instant hits, establishing Tharpe as an overnight sensation and one of the first commercially successful gospel recording artists. She was also among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences and later became known as “the Godmother of rock and roll.”

1960: The Drifters had their last #1 single on Billboard’s R&B chart with “Save the Last Dance For Me,” the same week that it returned to the top spot on the Hot 100 after initially reaching #1 two weeks earlier. It was also the group’s last song to top the Hot 100, but the group did achieve one finale #1 single on Cash Box’s R&B chart in 1964 with “Under the Boardwalk.”

1963: Gerry and the Pacemakers were at #1 on the UK singles chart with “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the group’s third and final song to reach the top.

1963: The first wave of Beatlemania was set in motion when the Beatles returned from a tour of Sweden to find 50,000 screaming fans waiting for them at London Airport. The band initially thought the fans were waiting to see the Queen, but soon realized the extent of their popularity back home. By chance, American television host Ed Sullivan witnessed the crowd and asked “Who are those guys?” Having never heard them, Sullivan contacted Beatles manager Brian Epstein to book the band for three appearances on his CBS show early in 1964.

1963: The Supremes released “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” the second single from their second studio album, Where Did Our Love Go. It was the group’s first top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as their first produced by Motown songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland.

1963: The Miracles released “I Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying,” the second single from their seventh album, The Miracles Doin’ Mickey’s Monkey.

1964: The Supremes started four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Baby Love,” the group’s second of five successive #1 hits.

1965: Lead singer Wayne Fontana left his group, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, for a solo career. The group continued as the Mindbenders with Eric Stewart as lead vocalist.

1967: Iggy Pop and the Stooges made their live debut at a Halloween party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Early on, the Stooges had been billed as the “Psychedelic Stooges,” and had a far more experimental sound, incorporating household objects such as a vacuum cleaner and a blender into an intense wall of feedback.

1967: Phil Ochs released his fourth full-length album and first for A&M Records, Pleasures of the Harbor.

1969: David Bowie appeared at a Halloween gig at the General Gordon pub in Gravesend, England. In a performance that lasted fifteen minutes, Bowie sang “Space Oddity,” then dragged a stool on stage, from which he proceeded to read poetry before he was booed off stage.

1969: The Moody Blues released “Watching and Waiting,” the lead single from their fifth studio album, To Our Children’s Children.

1970: Led Zeppelin started four weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart with Led Zeppelin III, the band’s second LP to top the chart in the US.

1970: Matthews’ Southern Comfort went to #1 in the UK with their only charting single, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” The record also became their biggest hit in the US, peaking at #23 in May of 1971.

1971: Pink Floyd’s sixth studio album, Meddle, was released. The experimental LP included lyrical contributions from each member, and is considered to be a transitional album between the band’s earlier recordings influenced by original member Syd Barrett, and the unified, themed albums largely written by Roger Waters. While successful in the UK, lackluster publicity lead to poor sales in the States.

1972: Jethro Tull released the quasi-compilation collection Living in the Past in the US. The double album contains album tracks, out-takes, and non-album singles—many of which had never before been available in the American market.

1975: Queen released “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the lead single from their second album, A Night at the Opera. It became the band’s first #1 on the UK chart and eventually became the UK’s third best-selling single of all time. The record topped the charts in several other countries and peaked at #9 in the US in 1976. After the song was used in the 1992 film Wayne’s World, it reached a new peak of #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was also accompanied by an innovative and influential promotional video that helped make videos a critical tool in music marketing.

1981: The Human League had their first #1 on the UK album chart with their third LP, Dare. In the US, the album was their first to enter the charts and highest-charting overall, reaching #3.

1982: Hall & Oates released “Maneater,” the first single from their eleventh studio album, H2O. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for four weeks, more than any of the duo’s five other #1 hits.

1983: Genesis released Home by the Sea, the third single from their self-titled twelfth studio album.

1987: Fleetwood Mac scored their third #1 album in the UK with Tango in the Night.

1988: Paul McCartney released Сно́ва в СССР, also known as “the Russia album,” exclusively in the Soviet Union. Similar to John Lennon’s 1975 album, Rock ‘n’ Roll, the LP consists entirely of covers of rock and roll oldies. McCartney had originally wanted to release the album in the UK outside of regular distribution channels, therefore making it appear as if it had been smuggled in from the Soviet Union, but EMI turned down that idea. Nonetheless, McCartney’s manager had a batch of LPs pressed with Russian-language covers as a Christmas present to McCartney. This gave McCartney the idea to release the album in the Soviet Union as a gesture of peace in the spirit of glasnost. An agreement was reached with the Soviet government-run record company Melodiya to license 400,000 copies of the album for release in the Soviet Union only with no exports. The album was later released internationally in 1991.

1989: The Grateful Dead released their thirteenth and final studio album, Built to Last.

1989: The very first MTV Unplugged show was recorded in New York, featuring UK band Squeeze.

1989: The Psychedelic Furs released their sixth studio album, Book of Days.

1994: R.E.M. released “Bang and Blame,” the second single from their ninth studio album, Monster.

1994: Frank Zappa’s sixty-third album, Civilization Phaze III, was released posthumously as a double album. It was the first studio album of new material from Zappa since 1986’s Jazz from Hell.

1995: Julian Cope released his twelfth studio album, 20 Mothers.

2006: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, U2 and Green Day released a cover of Skids’ “The Saints Are Coming” to raise funds for Music Rising, a charity created by U2’s The Edge in order to bring instruments and music programs back to New Orleans.

Birthdays Today

Tom Paxton, folk singer-songwriter with a music career spanning more than fifty years, was born in Chicago, IL in 1937.

Ali Farka Touré, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and one of the African continent’s most internationally renowned musicians, was born in Tumbuktu Region, Mali in 1939.

John Geurin, percussionist, jazz-rock proponent, and prolific drummer who recorded and performed with Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, The Animals, Joni Mitchell, Them, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, and many others, was born in Hawaii in 1939.

Eric Griffiths, guitarist in the original lineup of The Quarrymen until he left the group in 1958, was born in Denbigh, North Wales in 1940.

Rik Kenton, bassist with Roxy Music in 1972 and co-founder of Savage Progress, was born in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England in 1945.

Russ Ballard, lead singer and guitarist for Argent, was born in Waltham Cross, Herfordshire, England in 1947.

Bob Siebenberg, drummer and percussionist for Supertramp, was born Robert Layne Siebenberg in Glendale, CA in 1949.

Bernard Edwards, bass player, singer, songwriter, and record producer, both as a member of the funk/disco band Chic and on his own projects, was born in Greenville, NC in 1952.

Larry Mullen Jr., drummer for U2, was born in Artane, Dublin, Ireland in 1961.

Johnny Marr, guitarist, composer, and songwriter for the Smiths, solo artist, and prolific session musician, was born John Martin Maher in Ardwick, Manchester, England in 1963.

Annabella Lwin, singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead singer of Bow Wow Wow, was born in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar) in 1966.

Adam Schlesinger, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of Fountains of Wayne, Ivy, and Tinted Windows, was born in New York City in 1967.

Alistair “Ally” McErlaine, guitarist best known for his work with Texas, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1968.

Rogers Stevens, guitarist for Blind Melon, was born in West Point, MS in 1970.