Today in Rock & Roll History: October 8th

1957: Jerry Lee Lewis recorded “Great Balls of Fire” at Sun Studio in Memphis. The single later reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart and became his second #1 on both the R&B and Country charts and his first #1 in the UK.

1962: After five years on the gospel music circuit, Little Richard made his return to rock and roll as he kicked off his first ever tour of the UK, sharing the bill with Sam Cooke, Jet Harris, The Jetblacks, Sounds Incorporated, and The Breakaways.

1964: At EMI’s studios in London, the Beatles recorded “She’s a Woman,” an attempt by Paul McCartney to imitate Little Richard’s vocal style. The song was later released as the B-side of their Christmas single, “I Feel Fine.”

1966: After switching to a freeform-based progressive rock format at the end of July, WOR-FM in New York City, under the leadership of disc jockey Murray “the K” Kaufman, finally had their first day of broadcast with disc jockeys after the AFTRA union resolved a pay dispute with parent company RKO. The freeform format was the first of its kind in New York City radio and other notable jockeys on the station at the time included Scott Muni and William “Rosko” Mercer.

1966: “Devil With a Blue Dress” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels entered the Billboard Hot 100, on its way to becoming their first and only top 5 hit.

1968: While still a member of the Jeff Beck Group, singer Rod Stewart signed a solo contract with Mercury Records.

1968: The Beatles recorded “I’m So Tired” and “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” for their self-titled LP known as the “White Album.”

1968: At the same time that the Mamas and the Papas were breaking up, Cass Elliot made her live debut as a solo artist at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Shortly before her first performance, however, Elliot became ill and was unable to rehearse with her band. The shows weren’t canceled, and what initially was planned to be three weeks of shows was over in one night after harsh reviews lead to the cancellation of all remaining performances, after which Elliot returned to Los Angeles.

1977: Following Peter Gabriel’s departure two years earlier, guitarist Steve Hackett announced that he was leaving Genesis to pursue a solo career.

1977: Bill Joel’s breakthrough fifth studio LP, The Stranger, entered the Billboard pop album chart on it’s way to #2 in February.

1983: “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the first track and single from Yes’ eleventh studio album, 90125, was released. The song later became the group’s first and only single to reach #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock charts.

1987: Hail! Hail ! Rock ‘n’ Roll, director Taylor Hackford’s documentary tribute to Chuck Berry, with Keith Richards as musical director, made its US theatrical debut, the same day that Berry was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1988: U2 had their first #1 single in the UK with “Desire.”

2000: Radiohead achieved their second #1 on the UK album chart with their fourth LP, Kid A. Two weeks later the album became the group’s first #1 in the US, debuting at the top of the Billboard chart.

Birthdays Today

Pete Drake, Nashville-based record producer, pedal steel guitar player, and one of the most sought-after backup musicians of the 1960s, who played on thousands of recordings and was the first to popularize use of the effects unit known as the talk box, was born Roddis Franklin Drake in Augusta, GA in 1932.

Doc Green, baritone member of the Drifters from 1958-1962, was born in 1934.

Fred Cash, soul singer and member of The Impressions, was born in Chattanooga, TN in 1940.

Ray Royer, original guitarist for Procol Harum who left after the group’s first single to co-found Freedom, was born in Essex, England in 1945.

Tony Wilson, songwriter, bassist for Hot Chocolate, and solo artist, was born in Trinidad in 1947.

Johnny Ramone, songwriter, guitarist, and founding member of the Ramones, was born John William Cummings in Forest Hills, NY in 1948.

Hamish Stuart, guitarist, bassist, singer, composer, record producer, and original member of Average White Band who later joined Paul McCartney’s band in 1989, Ringo Starr’s All-Star band in 2006, and has also worked with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, and Diana Ross, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1949.