Today in Rock & Roll History: September 14th

1955: On the second day of sessions for his debut album, Little Richard recorded “Tutti Frutti” at Cosimo Matassa’s J & M Studio in New Orleans with Fats Domino’s backing band and Robert “Bumps” Blackwell as producer. They found it difficult to capture Richards’ chaotic performance style on tape, and as sessions wore on, Richards became frustrated. During a lunch break, he began pounding a piano and singing a bawdy song he’d allegedly written while working as a janitor at a bus station and had polished in Southern clubs. Blackwell knew it would be a hit, but wanted to “purify” its suggestive lyrics, and hired songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie to revise the words. The became Richards’ first major hit record, reaching #21 on the Billboard pop chart and #2 on the R&B chart, and is credited as an early model for not only future Little Richard songs, but also for rock and roll, with its loud volume, powerful vocals, and distinctive beat.

1961: Columbia Records producer John Hammond met Bob Dylan at a rehearsal session for folk singer-songwriter Carolyn Hester at an apartment shared by Hester and her then-husband, folk singer Richard Fariña. Hester had invited Dylan to the session as a harmonica player and Hammond approved of him as a session player after hearing him rehearse. He decided to sign Dylan on the spot, and invited him to the Columbia offices for a formal audition recording.

1963: The O’Jays debuted on the US with “Lonely Drifter.”

1963: The Beach Boys’ single “Surfer Girl” peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single achieved gold status later that year in November.

1963: Martha & the Vandellas’ first top 10 hit, “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” went to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. The record peaked at #4 on both the Hot 100 and Cash Box pop charts.

1965: Marvin Gaye released “Ain’t That Peculiar,” the first single from his seventh studio album, Moods of Marvin Gaye. Produced by Smokey Robinson and written by Robinson the other members of the Miracles, the record became Gaye’s second US million-seller, successfully duplicating its predecessor, “I’ll Be Doggone.” It topped Billboard’s R&B chart later that year and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1969: Creedence Clearwater Revival scored their only #1 single in the UK with “Bad Moon Rising.”

1969: Genesis gave their first official live performance in Surrey, England at a teenager’s birthday party. It was the beginning of a series of shows in small venues across the UK, including a performance on BBC radio and at London’s Roundhouse.

1970: The Byrds released their ninth studio album, (Untitled). The album represented the first official release of any live recordings by the band, as well as the first appearance on a Byrds’ record of new recruit Skip Battin, who had replaced the band’s previous bass player, John York, in late 1969.

1970: Quicksilver Messenger Service released “Fresh Air,” the only single from the band’s fourth studio album, Just for Love. It became their most successful single, reaching #49 during its nine-week stay on the Billboard Hot 100.

1971: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas released “Bless You,” the first single from Black Magic, the group’s last studio album. The Jackson 5-esque record was their last to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and second to last to enter the R&B chart.

1974: Eric Clapton had his first #1 hit in the US with his cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” when it went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The single was Clapton’s first solo top 10 hit in both the US as well as the UK, where it peaked at #9.

1974: Stevie Wonder scored his second #1 on the Billboard pop chart with his seventeenth studio album, Fulfillingness’ First Finale.

1975: Supertramp released Crisis? What Crisis?, their fourth studio album and first to have recording done in the US.

1978: The Grateful Dead became the first Western rock and roll act to headline in Cairo, Egypt when they played the first of three nights at the Gizah Sound and Light Theater at the foot of the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Concert proceeds went to Egypt’s Department of Antiquities and a charity chosen by the country’s First Lady, Jehan Sadat. Costs were expected to be offset by the production of a triple-live album recorded during the final two days, but technical problems caused the project to be shelved. Selected tracks were later released in 2008 as the 30th anniversary album Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978.

1979: The film version of Quadrophenia, the Who’s 1973 rock opera about growing up mod in London, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, presented by Pete Townshend and three other screenwriters.

1979: Blondie released “Dreaming,” the lead single from the group’s fourth studio album, Eat to the Beat.

1979: XTC released “Making Plans for Nigel,” the opening track and lead single from their third studio album, Drums and Wires. The single marked the band’s commercial breakthrough, reaching the top 17 on the UK chart.

1979: Jethro Tull released Stormwatch, their twelfth studio album and last to feature the group’s “classic” 1970s lineup. Drummer Barriemore Barlow and keyboardists John Evan and Dee Palmer all left the band in the months after the Stormwatch tour concluded in April 1980, while bassist John Glascock died during the tour.

1981: Billy Joel released his first live album, Songs in the Attic, a collection of songs from early in his career—before his big breakthrough with The Stranger LP—that had been re-recorded by Joel and his band during his Glass Houses tour.

1982: Peter Gabriel released “Shock the Monkey,” the second single from his fourth self-titled studio album commonly referred to as “Security.” The song became Gabriel’s first top 40 hit in the US, reaching #29 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1987: Pink Floyd released “Learning to Fly,” the first single from the group’s thirteenth studio album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. David Gilmour later confirmed that the song’s lyrics are a metaphor for him taking over as the band’s new leader after the departure of Roger Waters.

1987: Belinda Carlisle released “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” the lead single from her second studio album, Heaven on Earth. It became her only #1 on the US and UK charts.

1987: Mick Jagger released his second solo album, Primitive Cool.

1987: Yes released “Love Will Find a Way,” the first single from their twelfth studio album, Big Generator. Guitarist and vocalist Trevor Rabin had originally written the song with singer Stevie Nicks in mind, but drummer Alan White convinced him to let Yes record it instead.

1992: Peter Gabriel released “Digging in the Dirt,” the lead single from this sixth studio album, “Us.”

1993: Counting Crows released their debut studio album, August and Everything After, which was produced by T Bone Burnett.

1993: Squeeze released their tenth studio album, Some Fantastic Place. It was the group’s first LP after the departure of drummer Gilson Lavis, featuring Pete Thomas in his place as well as the brief return of keyboardist and singer Paul Carrack.

1993: Earth, Wind & Fire released their sixteenth studio album, Millennium. The LP marked the band’s return to Warner Bros. Records after twenty-one years.

2004: Gov’t Mule released Déjà Voodoo, their sixth studio album and first with bassist Andy Hess and keyboardist Danny Louis.

2004: Tears for Fears released their sixth studio album and first in nine years, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. It was also the group’s first album to feature co-founder Curt Smith since 1989’s The Seeds of Love.

2009: Mark Knopfler released his sixth studio album, Get Lucky.

Birthdays Today

Mae Boren Axton, the “Queen Mother of Nashville” who co-wrote Elvis Presley’s hit “Heartbreak Hotel” and worked with artists such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Tillotson, Reba McEntire, and Eddy Arnold, was born in Bardwell, TX in 1914.

Cachao, influential composer and double bassist widely known as the co-creator of mambo, was born Israel López Valdés in Habana Vieja, La Habana, Cuba in 1918.

Guy Webster, photographer who shot album covers and magazine layouts for groups including The Rolling Stones, The Mamas and the Papas, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Doors, and Simon & Garfunkel, was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1939.

Tony Hooper, singer-songwriter, musician, and founding member of Strawbs, was born in Eastry, Kent, England in 1939.

Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, musician and singer best known as a member of Sha Na Na, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947.

Fred “Sonic” Smith, songwriter and guitarist best known as a member of MC5 and the husband of Patti Smith, was born Frederick Dewey Smith in West Virginia in 1948.

Ed King, guitarist for Strawberry Alarm Clock and bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, was born in Glendale, CA in 1949.

Steve Gaines, guitarist, singer, and songwriter for Lynyrd Skynyrd, was born in Seneca, MO in 1949.

Paul Kossoff, guitarist for Free and a solo artist, was born in Hampstead, London, England in 1950.

Steve Berlin, saxophonist, keyboardist, member of Los Lobos and The Blasters, and session musician and record producer who has worked with Crash Test Dummies, John Lee Hooker, R.E.M., the Go-Go’s, the Smithereens, Sheryl Crow, Rickie Lee Jones, Dandy Warhols, and many others, was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1955.

Morten Harket, lead singer for A-ha, was born in Kongsberg, Norway in 1959.

John Power, singer, songwriter, musician, solo artist, and member of The La’s and Cast, was born in Allerton, Liverpool, England in 1967.

Amy Winehouse, singer and songwriter, was born in Southgate, London, England in 1983.