Today in Rock & Roll History: September 12th

1956: Blues singer Jay Hawkins earns earned his “Screamin’” moniker after recording “I Put A Spell on You” for Columbia’s Okeh Records in New York. Hawkins first recorded the song as a refined ballad during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955, but that version was never released. The following year, during a drunken session, Hawkins re-recorded the song for Okeh Records. Despite being banned from radio for its outrageous style, the record still sold over a million copies. Said Hawkins, “I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.”

1963: Two weeks after its release, “She Loves You” by the Beatles hit #1 in the UK. The song remained on the chart for thirty-one consecutive weeks—eighteen of them in the top three.

1963: In addition to recording messages to promote their upcoming Australian tour the following June, the Beatles worked on recording four songs for their second LP: “Hold Me Tight,” “Little Child,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and George Harrison’s first composition, “Don’t Bother Me.”

1965: The most well-known version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was released. Originally written by Paul Simon over a period of several months during 1963-1964, Simon and Garfunkel originally recorded and released the song as part of their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM. The album’s commercial failure led to the duo splitting up. In the Spring of 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston and Florida, which inspired the song’s producer, Tom Wilson, to remix the track with overdubbed electric instrumentation. Simon and Garfunkel were not informed of the new remix until after its release. When the new version reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the first week in 1966, Simon and Garfunkel hastily reunited to record their second album, which Columbia Records titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on their hit single.

1966: The first episode of The Monkees’ television show aired on NBC.

1967: British band Traffic played one of their first live shows at the Konserthuset Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. Later known as Traffic Jam, the concert had occurred nine days after Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right.

1969: Promoter John Brower telephoned John Lennon at the Apple Records office to invite Lennon and Yoko Ono to the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival the following day. Lennon agreed on the condition that he could perform. The Beatles hadn’t toured since the summer of 1966, and there was little enthusiasm to perform live again. Lennon quickly assembled a new group, calling on Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Alan White. Not only was their appearance at the Toronto festival the live debut of the Plastic Ono Band, but before Lennon left for Canada, and on the way to the show, he told Beatles manager Allen Klein and his new bandmates that he had decided to leave the Beatles, telling them, “It’s over.”

1970: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles reached #1 in the UK with “Tears of a Clown.” Later in December, the song record went to #1 in the US on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.

1970: James Taylor debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Fire And Rain” from his second studio album, Sweet Baby James. It became his first major hit, reaching #3.

1970: Two years after the first tribute concert for Woody Guthrie in New York, 18,000 people attended the west coast tribute at the Hollywood Bowl in California. Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Odetta, Country Joe McDonald, Richie Havens, Earl Robinson and Pete Seeger performed. The house band included Ry Cooder and members of Swampwater.

1973: The Jackson 5 released their eighth studio album, Get It Together.

1975: Pink Floyd’s ninth studio album, Wish You Were Here, was released in the UK by Harvest Records. The following day it was issued in the US by Columbia. Recorded during numerous recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios in London, Roger Waters had come up with the idea to split the group’s 26-minute tribute for former band member Syd Barrett, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” into two parts that would bookend the album around three new compositions, with an overall concept linking them—an idea that the band had employed with great success on their previous album, The Dark Side of the Moon. The album later became the band’s second #1 in both the US and UK.

1975: George Harrison released “You,” the lead single from his sixth studio album, Extra Texture (Read All About It). Harrison had written the song in 1970 for Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, who recorded it in London in 1971 for a proposed solo album on the Beatles’ Apple record label, but the recording remained unissued. Four years later, Harrison utilized the same backing track, which features contributions from Leon Russell, Jim Gordon, and others, and added new overdubs that included saxophone solos by Jim Horn.

1975: Thin Lizzy released their fifth studio album, Fighting.

1976: Electric Light Orchestra released their sixth studio album, A New World Record. The LP became the group’s first to reach the top 10 on both the UK and US charts.

1977: Chicago released Chicago XI, the group’s ninth studio album, last to feature founding member Terry Kath, and last with producer James Guercio.

1980: David Bowie released Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), his fourteenth studio album and last with RCA Records.

1980: Simple Minds released their third studio album, Empires and Dance.

1980: Stevie Wonder released “Master Blaster (Jammin’),” the lead single from his nineteenth studio album, Hotter than July.

1980: XTC released their fourth studio album, Black Sea. The LP became the band’s most successful in the US, reaching #41, and second most successful in the UK, where it peaked at #16.

1981: Simple Minds released their fourth studio album, Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. The double LP became the group’s first to reach a wide international audience.

1983: UB40 released Labour of Love, their fourth studio album and first LP of cover versions.

1984: Talking Heads released Stop Making Sense, the soundtrack album to the concert film of the same name. The album spent over two years on the Billboard pop chart and was their first album to be distributed by EMI outside North America.

1984: The dB’s released Like This, their third studio album and first recorded as a trio following the departure of Chris Stamey.

1989: Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville’s duet version of “Don’t Know Much,” a song first recorded by its co-writer Barry Mann in 1980, was released as the lead single from Ronstadt’s album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. The record became an international hit, reaching the top 10 in several territories.

1992: Eric Clapton’s Unplugged LP entered the Billboard pop chart at #4. The following February, the album won a Grammy for Album of the Year. 26 weeks later—24 of them spent in the top 5—the album became Clapton’s first and only live album to reach #1. It has since become Clapton’s best-selling live album as well as one of the best-selling live albums in the US, with sales exceeding 10 million copies.

1995: Jethro Tull’s nineteenth studio album, Roots to Branches, was issued in the US following its release in the UK on September 4th.

2005: After years of neglect, the Grateful Dead’s newly restored original tour bus was placed on display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. Nicknamed “Sugar Magnolia,” the bus had been used by the band to travel across the country from 1967 to 1985.

2005: Simple Minds released their fourteenth studio album, Black & White 050505 in the UK.

2006: Peter Frampton released Fingerprints, his thirteenth studio album, first instrumental album, and first album with A&M Records in twenty-four years. The LP features guest appearances from artists including Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Warren Haynes, Hank Marvin, Matt Cameron, Mike McCready.

2006: Bob Seger released his sixteenth studio album, Face the Promise. Originally planned for release in 2004, it was Seger’s first studio album since It’s a Mystery in 1995 and his his first album not to be credited to “Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band” since Beautiful Loser in 1975.

Birthdays Today

Ella Mae Morse, pop singer whose 1940s and 1950s recordings mixing jazz, blues, and country styles influenced the development of rock and roll, was born in Mansfield, TX in 1924.

George Jones, country singer-songwriter, was born in Saratoga, TX in 1931.

Maria Muldaur, folk and blues singer and songwriter, was born Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D’Amato in Manhattan, NY in 1943.

Barry White, soul and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and composer, was born Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, TX in 1944.

Colin Young, lead vocalist with the Foundations, who joined in 1968 to replace Clem Curtis, was born in Barbados, West Indies in 1944.

Tony “T-Bone” Bellamy, lead guitarist, pianist and vocalist for Redbone, was born in Las Vegas, NV in 1946.

Dickie Peterson, musician and solo artist best known as the bassist and lead singer for Blue Cheer, was born in Grand Forks, ND in 1946.

Gerry Beckley, singer, songwriter, musician, and founding member of America, was born Robert Anthony Bellamy in Fort Worth, TX in 1952.

Barry Andrews, singer, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist for XTC and League of Gentlemen, co-founder of Shriekback, and collaborator with artists such as Brian Eno and Iggy Pop, was born in Lambeth, London, England in 1956.

Ben Folds, singer-songwriter, record producer, solo artist, and frontman of the Ben Folds Five, was born in Winston-Salem, NC in 1966.