Category: rock

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

On this day in music history: July 16, 1966 – “Hanky Panky" by Tommy James & The Shondells hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is the first chart topping single for the Michigan based garage rock band fronted by lead singer Tommy James. The song is originally recorded in 1963 by songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich under the name The Raindrops, writing it in only twenty minutes when they need a B-side for another song they’ve recorded. The song is also recorded by the girl group The Summits on Harmon Records in late 1963. Tommy James and his band record their own version of the song the same year, and is released on Snap Records in the bands hometown of Niles, MI in February of 1964. The record becomes a minor regional hit in Michigan and the surrounding area before it is forgotten about. In late 1965, DJ “Mad Mike" Metro at WZUM in Pittsburgh, PA rediscovers the nearly two year old record and begins playing it on air, regenerating interest in the song. Someone bootlegs over 80,000 copies of the single and begin selling it in local record stores. With the original Shondells having broken up, James travels to Pittsburgh, to make appearances to promote the record. While there, he finds the local band The Raconteurs, who are hired to become the new Shondells. The buzz created by the sudden revival of the single encourages James to sell the master to Roulette Records, who pick it up for national release. Entering the Hot 100 at #78 on June 4, 1966, it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later, succeeding The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer”. “Hanky Panky” is the first of seven top ten and thirteen top 40 singles that the band enjoys over the next three and a half years. The song is later featured in the film and soundtrack for “Forrest Gump” in 1994. “Hanky Panky" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 15, 1983 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1983 – “The Crossing”, the debut album by Big Country is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at The Manor in Oxfordshire, UK and RAK Studios in London in May 1983. Formed in 1981, Big Country goes through a number of personnel changes before before their classic line up is in place in 1982. For their debut album, the band are paired with producer Steve Lillywhite, best known for his work with U2 and Peter Gabriel. The first release by the rock band from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland firmly establishes them and their trademark sound, a solid rhythm section with twin lead guitars played by Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson. The album spins off two hit singles including “In A Big Country” (#17 Pop) and “Fields Of Fire” (#52 Pop), and is the most successful album for the Scottish band. The original LP release is issued with three different color variations for its sleeve artwork, coming red, blue and green. It is first remastered and reissued in 2002, with the “Wonderland” EP included as bonus tracks on the CD. It is remastered again in 2012 as a two CD deluxe edition to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The first disc features the original ten track album, plus seven bonus tracks. The second disc features demos and outtakes.  The expanded edition is also reissued as a double vinyl set, also in 2012. “The Crossing” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 15, 1946 – Singer Linda…

Born on this day: July 15, 1946 – Singer Linda Ronstadt (born Linda Maria Ronstadt in Tucson, AZ). Happy 73rd Birthday, Linda!!

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Grace Slick photographed by Baron Wolman in Sa…

Grace Slick photographed by Baron Wolman in San Francisco, 1968.

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Duran Duran and John Barry, it is the second US chart topper for the Birmingham, UK based pop/rock band. The members of Duran Duran are invited to write the theme for the fourteenth James Bond film after bassist John Taylor meets Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli at a party. This encounter leads to the two sides talking seriously about composing the title song. Broccoli then introduces Duran Duran to score composer John Barry who co-writes and arranges the song with the band. Fresh off of working on The Power Station project, producer and musician Bernard Edwards of Chic produces the song. The track is recorded at CTS Studios and Maison Rouge in London, with Barry conducting a sixty-piece orchestra, augmenting Duran Duran’s instrumentation. The recording sessions become so contentious (particularly between Nick Rhodes and Andy Taylor), that the band members end up overdubbing their parts separately. Released in early May of 1985, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #43 on May 18, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “A View To A Kill” is the only Bond theme to top the US pop singles chart, and is the last Duran Duran single to feature all five original band members until they reunite in 2001. Prior to “Kill” reaching the summit, the two highest charting Bond themes are Wings’ “Live And Let Die” and Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (from “The Spy Who Loved Me”), both peaking at #2 on the Hot 100. On the same day the single hits number one, Duran Duran perform it at Live Aid in Philadelphia. Lead singer Simon LeBon unintentionally hits a bad note during the song on the live telecast. This faux pas leads to it being excised from the band’s set on the Live Aid DVD box set, and has not been rebroadcast since. After the original track is cut, Duran Duran along with Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero create an extended remix of “Kill” with the intent of issuing it along side the original single version. For reasons unknown, this version is shelved and remained unheard by the public for nearly thirty years. Mysteriously, it surfaces online on the Soundcloud  and YouTube websites in November of 2014. Since then it has been widely circulated among Duran Duran fans. To date, no official release of the 12" remix has been officially sanctioned by the band.  "A View To A Kill" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – The “Live Aid” concert is broadcast live via satellite worldwide. Organized by Bob Geldof, the two concerts held at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, consists of over 50 acts performing to over 172,000 fans (at the individual venues) and a TV viewing audience of 1.9 billion people. The event raises over $300 million for Ethiopian famine relief at the time of the original broadcast. An abridged edition of the historic concerts, featuring ten of the sixteen hours worth of performances originally broadcast, is released as a four disc DVD box set in November of 2004, eight months shy of the events 20th anniversary. The entire concert is not released due to video tapes of certain performances having gone missing over the years, with ABC (one the original US broadcast carriers) having erased their broadcast tapes of the event (at Bob Geldof’s request). However MTV did preserve their tapes as well as the BBC (though some performances were also lost). Other performers such as Led Zeppelin and Santana ask to have their performances omitted, feeling they are subpar. In lieu of their performances appearing on the box set, they donate money to the Band Aid Trust instead.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Revenge”, the sixth album by Eurythmics is released. Produced by David A. Stewart, it is recorded at Conny’s Studio in Cologne, Germany and Studio Grand Armee in Paris, France in Early 1986. Following the success their previous album “Be Yourself Tonight”, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox continue to move away from the synthesizer and drum machine based music of their previous work, towards a more band oriented pop/rock sound. The album features guest musicians such as drummer Clem Burke from Blondie, bassist Phil Chen (Rod Stewart) and arranger Michael Kamen. It spins off four singles including the first release “Missionary Man” (#14 Pop), which wins Eurythmics their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1987. The duo also undertake an extensive world tour to support it, also releasing a live concert video in 1987 titled “Eurythmics Live” (directed by Geoff Wonfor (“The Beatles Anthology”) filmed during the Australian leg of the tour. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005, with six additional bonus tracks added. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP on July 6, 2018. The reissue replicates the original LP packaging, and also includes an mp3 download card of the full album. “Revenge” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 12, 1943 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: July 12, 1943 – Singer, songwriter, and musician Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac (born Anne Christine Perfect in Bouth, Lancashire, UK). Happy 76th Birthday, Christine!!

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – “Still The One” by Orleans is released. Written by John and Johanna Hall, it is the sixth single release for the pop/rock band from Woodstock, NY. Formed in 1972 by John Hall (guitar, vocals), Wells Kelly (drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals), and brothers Lance (bass, vocal) and Larry Hoppen (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), the band are signed to ABC Records in 1973 after playing the club and college circuit. Their first two albums released (“Orleans” and “Orleans II”) fail to produce any hits, and are dropped. Their luck changes when they meet producer and engineer Chuck Plotkin (Bruce Springsteen) in late 1974, after playing at Max’s Kansas City. Then the head of A&R for Asylum Records, Plotkin signs Orleans to the label and produce them. Their third album “Let There Be Music” released in March 1975, features a re-recorded version of the song “Dance With Me” (#6 Pop), becoming their first major hit. For the follow up, they are joined by second drummer Jerry Marotta. While writing material for the bands fourth album, guitarist and songwriter John Hall along with his then wife Johanna write “Still The One”. The initial idea comes to Johanna while doing the couples laundry, meditating on the ups and downs of long term relationships, while emphasizing a strong and loving bond. Quickly grabbing the nearest piece of paper, she writes the lyrics on the back on an envelope. Later showing what she’s written to John, he writes chords for the song in only fifteen minutes. “Still” is recorded in the Spring of 1976 at the Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA (engineered by Val Garay and Greg Ladanyi). Released as the first single from “Waking And Dreaming”, it is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on July 31, 1976, it peaks at #5 on October 23, 1976, becoming Orleans biggest hit. After its run on the charts, the song receives another boost when ABC uses the song extensively in ads to promote their programming line ups in 1977 and 1979. With the departure of John Hall from Orleans in 1977, the band continue on, and manage to score one more top 40 single with “Love Takes Time” (#11 Pop) in 1979. In later years, the album cover of “Waking And Dreaming” taken by photographer Gary Heery (Frank Zappa, Eddie Money), is lampooned and frequently mentioned on “worst album covers of all time” lists. The image features the band posed shirtless and appearing to be totally nude (though the photo is cropped above the waist) with their arms around each other. Originally intended to symbolize the bands friendship and solidarity, it appears to many as unintentionally homoerotic and humorous. Becoming a US Congressman in the late 2000’s, John Hall publicly expresses his disapproval to George W. Bush and John McCain when both use “Still The One” during their Presidential campaigns without permission. “Still The One” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “California Girls” by The Beach Boys is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the fourteenth single release by the legendary pop/rock band from Hawthorne, CA. Following his retirement from The Beach Boys grueling touring schedule, Brian Wilson uses the time to explore and expand his creative genius, moving into one of the most prolific periods of his life. After taking LSD for the first time in early 1965, Wilson comes up with a chromatic run of chords while sitting at the piano, drawing inspiration from classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Quickly coming up with a melody, it evolves into what comes “California Girls”. Brian’s cousin and band mate Mike Love helps him complete the lyrics. The basic track featuring members of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine (drums), Al de Lory (organ), Leon Russell (piano) and Billy Strange (tambourine), is recorded at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 6, 1965. The songs orchestral prelude, initially discouraged by Brian’s father Murry as being “excessively complex” becomes one the most distinctive and most instantly recognizable parts of the composition. Another stand out feature of “California Girls” is its bass line, played by musician Carol Kaye on the session. The rest of The Beach Boys overdub their vocals on to the finished track, two months later on June 4, 1965 at CBS Columbia Square. Released in the mid-Summer of 1965, the song is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #72 on July 24, 1965, and peaking at #3 on August 28, 1965. “California Girls” breaks new musical ground for The Beach Boys. It becomes one of their best loved and popular songs, as well as becoming an early marker for Brian Wilson’s work on the landmark albums “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and the single masterpiece “Good Vibrations”. Nearly twenty years after the original recording, a cover version by Van Halen front man David Lee Roth (also featuring Carl Wilson on backing vocals), matches the peak position of The Beach Boys original, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on March 2, 1985. The Beach Boys recording of “California Girls” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2010.

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