Category: pop

On this day in music history: July 18, 1953 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1953 – An eighteen year old truck driver named Elvis Presley makes his first recordings at the Memphis Recording Service (aka Sun Records). The 78 acetate disc contains the songs “My Happiness” and  "That’s When Your Heartaches Begin". The disc is recorded as a birthday gift for his mother Gladys. The receptionist Marion Keisker asks Presley what type of singer he is, which he replies “I sing all kinds”. Then after asking him what he sounds like , Elvis states “I don’t sound like nobody”. After the brief session, Keisker plays the recordings for her boss Sam Phillips, who calls Presley back to make more recordings in the following months. Phillips pairs Presley up with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, and the trio begin working together. The original acetate (the only surviving copy, since the tape was erased following the session) with Elvis’ first two recordings are officially released ten years after Presley’s death in 1987. For many years, the record has been in the possession of Presley’s high school friend Ed Leek. After numerous attempts to sell disc, it is finally purchased by rock musician Jack White in 2015 for $300,000. White then issues it on a limited basis on Record Store Day in April of 2015, as a 10 inch 78 RPM disc, even replicating the original typewritten labels on the original acetate.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1981 – “Escape” (aka E5C4P3), the seventh album by Journey is released. Produced by Mike Stone and Kevin Elson, it is recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from April – June 1981. Starting off the 80’s with the successful “Departure”, Journey follows it with the live album “Captured”. In between, they also record “Dream, After Dream”, the soundtrack for the Japanese film “Yume, Yume No Ato”. Shortly afterward, founding member Gregg Rolie leaves to pursue a solo career. Rolie recommends former Babys keyboardist Jonathan Cain as his replacement. Besides his excellent musicianship, Cain proves to be a highly valuable asset to the band for his songwriting abilities, especially in tandem with lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon. Co-writing all ten of the songs on the album, Cain establishes himself as another element in Journey’s success. Sporting instantly memorable songs, it quickly becomes their most successful studio album. Though some critics react unfavorably, accusing the band of selling out their progressive rock roots, the public and radio could care less, enthusiastically embracing the album. It spins off a total of five singles including “Who’s Crying Now” (#4 Pop), “Open Arms” (#2 Pop) and “Still They Ride” (#19 Pop). The second single “Don’t Stop Believin’” (#9 Pop), is released in October of 1981 as the follow up to “Who’s Crying Now”. Though successful at the time, it’s overshadowed by the two singles released before (“Crying”) and after (“Open Arms”), which are bigger chart and airplay hits. However, “Don’t Stop Believin’” builds in popularity, becoming a highlight of Journey’s live concerts. It becomes a staple on rock radio over the next two decades, and a huge karaoke favorite. Its greatest success comes in 2007 when featured in the final episode of the “The Sopranos”. Following the initial broadcast seen by nearly twelve million people, “Believin’” immediately surges to the top of the Apple iTunes digital download chart. To date it has sold over 6.5 million digital downloads, making it one of the largest selling digital singles released in the pre-digital era. It also becomes an anthem at sporting events, being adapted as a rallying cry by fans of the San Francisco Giants during their World Series victories. The success of “Escape” inspires the video game “Journey Escape”, created by California based video game company Data Age for the Atari 2600 game console in 1982. The albums now iconic cover artwork of their trademark scarab crashing out of a glass orb, is painted by famed Bay Area based artist Stanley Mouse. One of the first titles released on CD by CBS Records in 1982, it is remastered and reissued in 2006 with four additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Friday Music in 2010. “Escape” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 9x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, songwriter and musician Phoebe Snow (born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York, NY). Happy Birthday to this wonderfully talented lady on what would have been her 69th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1968 – The Beatles third film “Yellow Submarine” has its world premiere at the London Pavillion Theater in London. Directed by George Dunning and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn, and Erich Segal (“Love Story”), the animated feature is a joint venture between King Features Syndicate, United Artists Pictures and The Beatles company Apple Corps. The band contribute four new songs to the films soundtrack (in addition to eleven previously released songs) is not released until January of 1969. The films US release does not take place until November 13, 1968. “Yellow Submarine” is well received upon its release, and is regarded as a classic today. When The Beatles company Apple Corps regains ownership of “Yellow Submarine”, the film undergoes a major restoration in 1999 and is released on DVD for the first time. It is digitally enhanced and receives further restoration work before it is reissued a second time on DVD, and on Blu-Ray for the first time in 2012. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the film is re-released for a brief theatrical run in various major cities. Apple Records also releases a limited edition 7″ picture disc of “Yellow Submarine” b/w “Eleanor Rigby” on July 6, 2018.

On this day in music history: July 17, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1967 – “With A Lot O’ Soul”, the fifth studio album by The Temptations is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Frank Wilson and Ivy Jo Hunter, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from Fall 1966 – Spring 1967. Released during the period when the legendary Motown vocal group is reaching the peak of their commercial success, the album is the most successful of the groups’ “Classic 5” era line up. It spins off four hit singles including the top 10 hits “(I Know) I’m Losing You (#1 R&B, #8 Pop), "All I Need (#2 R&B, #8 Pop), ”(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need" (#3 R&B, #14 Pop), and “You’re My Everything” (#3 R&B, #6 Pop). Over the years, outtakes from the sessions that produce this album surface on compilations such as The Temptations “Emperors Of Soul” box set in 1994, and “Lost and Found: You’ve Got To Earn It (1962-1968)” in 1999. The album is remastered and reissued in 1998 with the original cover artwork restored. “With A Lot O’ Soul” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, and peaking at number seven on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1958 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1958 – “Hard Headed Woman" by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Claude Demetrius, it is the tenth chart topping single for Presley. The song is written for and included in his fourth film “King Creole”, directed by Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”, “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”, “Angels With Dirty Faces”) and co-starring Carolyn Jones (“The Addams Family”) and Walter Matthau. Recorded on January 10, 1958, Presley records the soundtrack and stars in the film just prior to being inducted into the Army. He receives a deferment from the US Government from January to March, to allow him time to complete his work on the film. Presley receives his best reviews yet for his performance, and sites it as his personal favorite among the thirty one films he makes between 1956 and 1969. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #15 on June 26, 1958, it streaks to the top of the chart three weeks later. “Hard Headed Woman” is Elvis’ third single to be officially certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 2008 – …

On this day in music history: July 16, 2008 – Billy Joel plays the first of two concerts at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, New York. The legendary sports venue which has been the home of the New York Mets since opening in 1964, is scheduled to be demolished before years end to make way for its replacement Citi Field. Joel plays to over 110,000 fans over two nights (July 16-18), and features him with a number of guest musicians including Tony Bennett, Don Henley, John Mayer, John Mellencamp, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney. The concerts are released as the documentary film “Last Play At Shea” in 2010, and as the album and concert video “Live At Shea Stadium” in March of 2011.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 1988 – …

On this day in music history: July 16, 1988 – “Roses Are Red” by The Mac Band Featuring The McCampbell Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week. Written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, it is the biggest hit for the R&B band from Flint, MI. Formed in the mid 80’s by brothers Ray, Derrick, Charles and Kelvin McCampbell, The Mac Band features band members Ray Flippin (bass), Rodney Frazier (keyboards), Mark Harper (guitar) and Slye Fuller (drums). The band comes together after the McCampbell Brothers relocate from their hometown of Flint, MI to Dallas, TX, where the meet the other four members. Signed to MCA Records in 1987, The Mac Band are paired with two pairs of top R&B songwriters and producers, David and Wayne Lewis of Atlantic Starr and L.A. Reid and Babyface of The Deele. L.A. and Face wind up writing and producing three of the nine tracks featured on the bands self titled debut album. Among those is the hooky and infectious “Roses Are Red”, which the duo base on the poem whose origin dates back to 16th century English poet Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”. The producers actually record the track themselves in Los Angeles, then take it to Dallas for the rest of the band to add their vocals. Released as a single in April of 1988, “Roses Are Red” quickly becomes a smash on the R&B chart. The song is also a hit overseas, cracking the top ten on the UK singles chart, peaking at #6. Shortly after the chart topping success of “Roses”, The Mac Band are featured in a television commercial for fast food chain McDonalds, with the band singing a version of “Roses Are Red” with re-written lyrics. In spite of receiving a major hand up from two of the hottest producers in the music business, The Mac Band are unable to maintain the career momentum of their chart topping debut. Subsequent follow up singles including “Stuck” (#25 R&B), “That’s The Way I Look At Love” (#70 R&B) and “Got To Get Over You” fail to make much of an impact. The bands second album “Love U 2 The Limit” released in 1990, and is largely self produced, also with contributions from R&B band Surface and producer Vassal Benford, it does not produce any hits, and the band are dropped by MCA Records. The Mac Band record and release one final album for local Dallas label Ultrax Records (run by former Vanilla Ice manager Tommy Quon) in 1991, which is not successful and the band split up. In later years, original lead singer Derrick “D-Mac” MacCampbell runs a basketball camp for kids in his local church in his home of McKinney, TX.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 1977 – …

On this day in music history: July 16, 1977 – “Easy” by The Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on August 27, 1977. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the third R&B chart topper for the band from Tuskegee, AL. Born and raised in Alabama, songwriter and musician Lionel Richie grows up influenced by many different genres of music including R&B, pop and country music. All three musical styles come together when Richie writes the song “Easy”, about a man coming to terms with the end of a relationship. “Easy” is released on March 18, 1977 in advance of The Commodores self-titled fifth album. The pop/soul ballad becomes a multi-format smash, becoming their third number one R&B hit and their biggest pop single to date. The million selling “Easy” takes The Commodores to the next level of success in their career, helping drive sales of the “Commodores” album to 2x Platinum status. Over the years it is covered numerous times by pop, rock and country artists including Clarence Carter, Faith No More and Boyz II Men. Lionel Richie himself covers “Easy” in 2012 with country music icon Willie Nelson, on the duets album “Tuskegee”.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 1966 – …

On this day in music history: July 16, 1966 – The legendary rock band Cream officially forms in London, UK. Drummer Ginger Baker asks guitarist Eric Clapton to join his new group after seeing him play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Clapton agrees to join only if Baker hires his former band mate bassist Jack Bruce. Baker and Bruce were known to have had a very volatile relationship, having had on stage fist fights (in their previous band Powerhouse) with Baker even pulling a knife on Bruce, which drives him out of that band. The two put their differences aside when they realize the immediate chemistry between the three when they play together. The band play their first gig thirteen days later at The Twisted Wheel in Manchester. Within a couple of weeks, Cream enter the recording studio to begin work on their debut album “Fresh Cream” which is released in December of 1966 in the UK, and January of 1967 in the US.

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