Saturday, September 17, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 18

1954:  Elvis Presley was at Bellevue Park in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Note:  some websites claim the show was at the Eagle's Nest in Memphis.  According to the official website for guitarist Scotty Moore, Elvis played at Bellevue Park on this date.)
1957:  The Big Record debuted on CBS-TV, with Patti Page hosting.
1959:  The first Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour began with Paul Anka, the Coasters, Lloyd Price, Duane Eddy, the Coasters and Bobby Rydell at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
1960:  The Tab Hunter Show premiered on NBC-TV.
1960:  Frankie Avalon was given $600,000 on his 20th birthday as earnings accumulated when he was a minor.
1963:  The Patty Duke Show premiered on ABC-TV.  It would last three seasons.
1964:  The Beatles performed at Dallas Memorial Auditorium in Texas.
1965:  A new group was introduced to us as the Vogues first charted on this date with their first single "You're the One".
1965:  James Brown reigned on the R&B chart for the sixth week with "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag Part 1".
1965:  We Five were on top of the Adult chart for a third week with the great song "You Were On My Mind".

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part Five

Here are 10 more artists whose biggest hit of the Rock Era came with their first single release:


Another of the biggest One-Hit Wonders was this Swedish group from Jönköping.  "Lovefool" got a lot of airplay in 1997, but it was the first and only song from the Cardigans that ever got any attention.

Eric Carmen
"All By Myself"

Many of the artists featured in this series are One-Hit Wonders; they had that one big hit and then never came close to the Top 40 again.  This artist is one who first enjoyed success with the Raspberries with "Go All The Way" and "I Wanna' Be With You".  After leaving that act, Cleveland, Ohio's Eric Carmen began a solo career with a single release based on Rachmaninov's "Piano Concert No. 2".  In the album version of the song featured above, he plays a portion of that piece in the middle portion of the song.  The song rose to #2 for three weeks and went Gold.  

Carmen went on to release a slew of quality songs, some Top 10's ("Hungry Eyes" and "Make Me Lose Control", and several very underrated songs, such as "Never Gonna' Fall In Love Again", "Sunrise", "Nowhere To Hide", "Boats Against The Current", and others.

Cathy Carr
"Ivory Tower"

Carr hit #2 with "Ivory Tower" in 1956.  She landed in the Top 100 three other times, but the best she could do after her big hit was #42.

Vikki Carr
"It Must Be Him"

Vikki Carr was a regular on The Ray Anthony Show.  When she signed a recording contract with Liberty Records in 1962 and recorded "He's A Rebel", producer Phil Spector heard it and immediately had a song recorded billed to the Crystals which became the hit.  Carr first enjoyed success in 1967 with the #3 song "It Must Be Him".  

"Rhythm Of The Rain"

This group went to #3 with this great song, which was also a #1 Easy Listening hit.  They reached the Top 100 four other times, but none of those efforts came close to their first release.

Shaun Cassidy
"Da Doo Ron Ron"

The son of actor Jack Cassidy and actress Shirley Jones of the television show The Partridge Family also starred on The Hardy Boys.  His first single release, a remake of "Da Doo Ron Ron", reached #1 in 1977.  He did manage two more Top 10's--"That's Rock 'N' Roll" and "Hey Deanie", both written by Eric Carmen.

Peter Cetera
"Glory Of Love"

In 1986, the movie The Karate Kid Part II caught on, and Peter Cetera, former lead singer of Chicago, was invited to sing the theme for the movie.  He vaulted to #1 for two weeks.  Cetera's duet with Amy Grant, "The Next Time I Fall", also hit #1, but wasn't as big of a hit.  Cetera also scored Top 10 hits with "One Good Woman" and "After All", a duet with Cher.

Chairmen of the Board
"Give Me Just A Little More Time"

In 1970, this R&B act hit #3 with this great song.  After that, the best they could do was #13 with "Pay To The Piper".  General Norman Johnson, one of the members of this group, wrote "Patches", which Clarence Carter turned into a big hit in 1972. 

Chambers Brothers
"Time Has Come Today"

After playing at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, this group came into contact with Barbara Dane, among others.  Dane became a big fan of the group, inviting them on tour with her and introducing them to influential folk singer Pete Seeger.  Seeger in turn helped the Chambers Brothers land a spot in the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.  They were so impressive that it led to the release of their debut album.  Here's a highly-underrated #11 song from 1968 from the Chambers Brothers.  Their next-best release was a #37 song.


This L.A. group was named after Gene Autry's horse, Champ.  Their first release was a monster #1 of five weeks, "Tequila".  After recording the song, their membership changed and included Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts (who later formed Seals & Crofts) and Glen Campbell.  Seven trips to the Top 100 after "Tequila" failed to match that smash, as most songs would.

Friday, September 16, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 17

1931:  RCA Records demonstrated the first players to play 33 1/3 records at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York City.
1955:  Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded "Sixteen Tons" at the Capitol Records Melrose Avenue Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.
1955:  "Maybellene" by Chuck Berry logged week #7 at the top of the R&B chart.
1962:  The Beatles, Billy Kramer, and the Coasters played the last of three Monday night gigs at the Queen's Hall in Widnes, Lancashire, England.  (Note:  Some sources claim that Rory Storm and the Hurricanes also played this night, when they only played the first two Beatles shows (September 3 and September 10, according to the websites 'Beatles Bible' and 'Liverpool Beat'.  Some sources also say the Beatles played in Widnes, Cheshire, England.  Widnes did not become part of the county of Cheshire until 1974, 12 years after the concert, so it is physically impossible for the Beatles to have played in Widnes, Cheshire.)  

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part Four

While this list is not all-encompassing, we showcase a lot of great music in this series.  Here are 10 more artists:

Brooklyn Bridge
"Worst That Could Happen"

Lead singer Johnny Maestro was previously with the Crests ("16 Candles" from 1959), and the group Brooklyn Bridge also included Patricia Van Dross (older sister of Luther Vandross), although Patricia left before this song.  They took this Jimmy Webb song to #3 and sold over one million copies, but the best they could do after that was #45.

Brothers Four

This group formed when its members were Phi Gamma Delta fraternity brothers at the University of Washington in Seattle.  They recorded this great cover of the song originally done by Terry Gilkyson & the Easy Riders and released it as their first single.  It went all the way to #2 in 1960 and remained there for four solid weeks.  But after "Greenfields", the best the Brothers Four could do was #32.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

This indeed was a crazy act, which in addition to Arthur Brown, also included drummer Carl Palmer, who went on to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia.  Brown had a vocal range that spanned four octaves, and one of his props was a burning metal helmet, which led to some problems.  For instance, at the Windsor Festival in 1967, Brown wore a colander on his head soaked with methanol.  The fuel poured over his head by accident and caught fire.  Fortunately for Brown, two bystanders poured beer on Brown's head, putting the flames out and preventing serious injury.  The group's only Top 100 song was "Fire", #2 in 1968.

"The Three Bells"

This vocal trio from Arkansas adapted the 1946 French song "Les Trois Cloches" into this #1 smash in 1959.  They never matched it, although they did reach #5 in 1960 with "The Old Lamplighter".

"Kind Of A Drag"

Here's an act from Chicago, Illinois that hit the top in 1967 with this song.  They would also reach the Top 10 with "Don't You Care" and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and had other good songs with "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)" and "Susan", but their first hit was their biggest.

Buffalo Springfield
"For What It's Worth"

As great as the musicians in this L.A. band were and as great as their first release is, they were a One-Hit Wonder.  Formed in 1966 by Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer, they released this classic song after observing unrest between young people protesting Sunset Strip curfew laws and the police.  On November 12 of 1966, several L.A. Rock radio stations announced that a rally would be held outside the Pandora's Box club.  As many as 1,000 young people demonstrated that night, including movie stars Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, who were both handcuffed by police.  But trouble broke out, and the unrest continued the next night and occasionally throughout the next two months.  Buffalo Springfield recorded the song on December 5, and it reached #7 early in 1967.  Although they released other worthy songs such as "Bluebird" and "Rock 'N' Roll Woman", the Springfield never reached the Top 40 again.

"Video Killed The Radio Star"

This British duo of Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn recorded the song that was the first video played on MTV, which back then stood for Music Television.  You'd never know it now, but MTV was once something "back in the day".  The Buggles never hit the Top 40 after that.  Both members joined a later reincarnation of Yes in 1980, while Downes was with the group Asia in 1981.  Horn also became a respected producer, winning a Grammy Award for Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" and also producing "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" for Yes, as well as Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Genesis, the Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Charlotte Church and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Bobby Caldwell
"What You Won't Do For Love"

This multi-instrumentalist was a percussionist with Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer and also wrote songs for the New Mickey Mouse Club television show, commercials, and in 1986, penned the #1 song "The Next Time I Fall" for Peter Cetera and Amy Grant.  He scored a #9 hit in 1978 with "What You Won't Do For Love", but never reached the Top 40 again.

C & C Music Factory
"Gonna' Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"

One of the great songs of the early '90s was the first single release from this dance group.  Their Platinum song hit #1 on both the Popular and R&B charts.  They followed that smash up with the Top 10 songs "Here We Go" and "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...".

Captain & Tennille
"Love Will Keep Us Together"

This popular married duo met when both toured with the Beach Boys.  Their cover of the Neil Sedaka song "Love Will Keep Us Together" was a #1 song of four weeks in 1975.  They posted five other Top 10 songs, including the #1 "Do That To Me One More Time", but their biggest career hit was their first.

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part Three

We continue with the third part in a series featuring the artists who scored their biggest career hit with their first single:

Blue Swede
"Hooked On A Feeling"

This artist recorded a different arrangement of a B.J. Thomas hit and scored a big #1 hit in 1974 with it.  

Booker T. & the MG's
"Green Onions"

In 1962, this group of outstanding session musicians at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee formed their own group.   They largely helped launch the "Memphis sound" and influenced Southern Soul. They were the Stax house band for stars such as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and the Staple Singers. formed their own group.  Previously, keyboardist Booker T. Jones was in a band with his high school classmate, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire.  Guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn were in the Mar-Keys ("Last Night").  In 1962, the group debuted with this #1 R&B and #3 Popular smash.  For six years afterward, however, they were a One-Hit Wonder, until they rebounded in 1969 with the title song from the movie Hang 'Em High, and scored another Top 10 hit with "Time Is Tight" later in the year.  Al Jackson, Jr. was the drummer. 

 After disbanding, Jones earned a music degree at Indiana University, married Priscilla Coolidge (Rita's sister) and produced Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers, Willie Nelson and Eal Klugh.  Cropper wrote the songs "(Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay" for Otis Redding, "In The Midnight Hour" for Wilson Pickett and "Knock On Wood" for Eddie Floyd, and played guitar and produced for the Blues Brothers.

Debby Boone
"You Light Up My Life"

Here's another of the One-Hit Wonders, who by the way gave us the biggest hit of all-time by a One-Hit Wonder, the song above from 1977.  It went against heavy competition to reach #1 and held on to that spot for 10 weeks.  On the strength of that classic, she won three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist.  Remarkably, she never hit the Top 10 again, although her follow-up "California" is a worthy song.  She is the daughter of '50s superstar Pat Boone.

Box Tops
"The Letter"

Here's another Memphis group which scored an all-time classic out of the box, another of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, "The Letter".  They also earned the #2 song "Cry Like A Baby" as well as the notable songs "Soul Deep" and "Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March".

Brass Construction

This Brooklyn, New York band showed a lot of promise with this song, highly underrated at #14 overall but a #1 R&B hit.  But their next biggest hit was #51.   Lead singer and keyboardist Randy Muller went on to form the group Skyy ("When You Touch Me" and "Call Me").

"Make It With You"

This '70's supergroup of amazing musicians soared to #1 with their first release, a Gold record.  Some Bread fans would argue that "If" was a better song, and they hit #3 with "Baby I'm-A Want You" the next year.  But none of those reached #1 and there aren't near enough sales or airplay to rank "If" "ahead of Make It With You".  Bread finished with 13 hits, including six other Top 10 smashes.  

"Hands To Heaven"

Here's a London group that enjoyed three Top 10 hits in their brief career.  But they never topped their first one, a #2 smash in 1988.


This disco-jazz group from Atlanta enjoyed the #3 hit "Dazz", short for disco-jazz, in 1977.  They did hit #18 with their follow-up, "Dusic", but never came close to their first big hit.

Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians
"What I Am"

Here's another of the great One-Hit Wonders.  With their first release, the group showed tremendous promise, but their next best effort was the follow-up "Circle", a #48 song.  Brickell, whose father Eddie was a pro bowler, married superstar Paul Simon in 1992.

Alicia Bridges
"I Love The Nightlife (Disco 'Round)"

The singer who gave us this Top 5 smash in 1978 only reached #86 with a follow-up and was never heard from again.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 16

1960:  Johnny Burnette recorded "You're Sixteen".
1963:  "She Loves You" by the Beatles was released by Swan Records in the United States and, despite being #1 in the U.K., was ignored until 1964 when the Beatles' invasion was well underway.
1964:  The Everly Brothers, the Righteous Brothers, Sam Cooke, Bobby Sherman, the Wellingtons and comedian Alan Sues helped premiere the series Shindig! on ABC-TV.
1965:  The Dean Martin Show premiered on ABC-TV.  It would last 10 years.
1965:  The Rolling Stones, the Everly Brothers, the Byrds and the McCoys opened the second season of Shindig!
1966:  Bassist Pete Quaife left the Kinks temporarily after suffering severe injuries in a car crash.  Quaife left the group for good in 1969.
1967:  The Beatles recorded "Your Mother Should Know" at EMI Studios, the third of four recordings of the song.  The version was not used at the time on the Magical Mystery Tour album, but was later included on the compilation Anthology 2.

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part Two

We continue with our look at the many artists who exploded on the scene with a great song, but were unable to match that first release after that.  Before most people hear of an artist, they have labored for years in dimly lit nightclubs as they honed their craft.  These artists spent countless hours writing songs in the hopes of becoming a recording artist.  Once they made it, we see the difficulty that even these recording artists had of matching their first big hit.  The list contains the biggest One Hit Wonders of the Rock Era*, but some much more successful artists who hit it big with their first single which wound up being their greatest.

Toni Basil

This woman is better known as one of the great choreographers of the Rock Era, working on the movie American Grafitti and the television shows Shindig and Hullabaloo.  She enlisted the help of the 1981 Dorsey High School cheerleaders for the video which helped take her first release go to #1.  Basil's next best effort was the #77 song "Shoppin' From A To Z".

Shirley Bassey

This artist from Wales gave us what many call the best James Bond theme ever, the #8 song "Goldfinger".  Although she continued to have success in England, she never matched her first great song, and never hit the Top 40 again in America.

Bay City Rollers
"Saturday Night"

In 1975, the latest in a long line of acts aiming to emulate the teen appeal that the Beatles had.  They all, of course, fell painfully short.  Although this Scottish group did have some other good songs and two other Top 10's, they never came close to this #1 song again.

Archie Bell & the Drells
"Tighten Up"

This act from Houston, Texas gave us this #1 smash in 1968.  Their follow up, "I Can't Stop Dancing", reached #9, but they never hit the Top 10 again.

Mr. Acker Bilk
"Stranger On The Shore"

This great instrumental from English clarinetist Mr. Acker Bilk reached #1 in 1962, but he never came close to the Top 40 again.

Marcy Blane
"Bobby's Girl"

One of the big hits of 1962 was this song from this artist from Brooklyn, New York.  Her only other hit was a #82 song.

"Natural High"

This soul act scored a Gold record with this #10 song in 1973, but never came close to it after that.

Blue Oyster Cult
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper

Great song here from Blue Oyster Cult.  They put out some great hard rock in the '70s and '80s, and a song that should have been a bigger hit, "Burnin' For You", but never came close to matching this.

Blues Image
"Ride Captain Ride"

The lead singer and guitarist of this group, Mike Pinera, joined Iron Butterfly after the demise of this group and was Alice Cooper's guitarist for two years as well.  Blues Image showed great potential but alas, is another One Hit Wonder.

Blues Magoos
"(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet"

Here's another great song from the '60s that leaves one scratching their head when they find out that this group never had another Top 40 hit afterwards.

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part One

Although some artists on this list have managed to continue their success long after their first big smash, the list shows the difference between potential and greatness.  Many names on this list had that one big hit and could never come close after that.  (Note:  this is not an all-encompassing list; rather, it includes some of the biggest first releases of the Rock Era.)

Gregory Abbott
"Shake You Down"

This artist from New York scored a monster hit in 1986 when his first release when Platinum, #1 on the Popular chart, and became one of the biggest R&B songs of the '80s.  Although he continued to be successful R&B, he never hit the Top 40 again.

"How Long"

Paul Carrack is recognized as one of the most underrated lead singers of the Rock Era.  His group Ace hit the Top 5 with this one in 1975.  Carrack went on to become successful with Squeeze and Mike + the Mechanics, but Ace was a One Hit Wonder.

"More Than Words Can Say"

This act had plenty of potential, when former Sheriff ("When I'm With You" lead singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi teamed with former Heart members Roger Fisher (guitar), Steve Fossen (bass) and Mike Derosier (drums).  They landed just one spot away from #1 with this huge hit in 1990, but never reached the Top 10 again.

"A Horse With No Name"

America released this classic in 1972.  Unlike most of the artists on this list, they became superstars, and nearly matched their initial release with the #1 "Sister Golden Hair" three years later.  They had 17 hits in their career, including 7 in the Top 10.

Lynn Anderson
"Rose Garden"

Anderson was a respected equestrian prior to recording, named the California Horse Show Queen in 1966.  Her first release is one of the top Country crossovers in history, yet after this song, she never sniffed the Top 40 again.

"The House Of The Rising Sun"

We have another of the few supergroups in this category.  This legendary song landed at #1 for three weeks in 1964.  They finished their career with 19 hits, including not only three more Top 10 songs, but many underrated songs that in hindsight should have made the Top 10.

Heat Of The Moment"

This group had loads of potential when Yes guitarist Steve Howe joined Carl Palmer, drummer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes of the Buggles and vocalist and bassist John Wetton, previously with King Crimson and Uriah Heap.  Thanks to being one of the most-played songs on MTV (which used to stand for Music Television before they became Mundane Teleevision), Asis reached #4 with this great song.  They had some other good songs, but could never come close, although they did reach #10 with "Don't Cry".

Average White Band
"Pick Up The Pieces"

This group of Scottish natives formed a group in 1972 and promptly hit #1 with this instrumental.  They did follow it up with the #10 song "Cut The Cake", but never came close to #1 the rest of their career.

Bad Company
"Can't Get Enough"

This great British group has tons of Top Tracks* that are very worthy of listening by most Rock Era fans.  Lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke were previously in the group Free, while guitarist Mick Ralphs is a Mott The Hoople alum and bassist "Boz" Burrell was previously a member of King Crimson.  They scored another Top 10 with "Feel Like Makin' Love", underrated at #10.  But they never came close to matching their first release.

Merril Bainbridge

Bainbridge, from Melbourne, Australia, is another One Hit Wonder.  She scored the Top 5 song "Mouth", but never reached the Top 100 again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 15

1956:  Elvis Presley's monumental double-sided hit "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" was the #1 song on the R&B chart.
1961:  The Pendletones of Hawthorne, California recorded the song "Surfin'" at Hite and Dorinda Morgan's recording studio in Los Angeles.  The song would have a big influence on their career as the Beach Boys, as they were later known.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 14

1955:  Little Richard recorded "Tutti Frutti" at J&M Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana.

1959:  Sandy Nelson made a huge leap, jumping from 84 to 28, with "Teen Beat".
1959:  "The Three Bells" from the Browns was #1 for the fourth week in a row.  The instrumental "Sleep Walk" by Santo & Johnny came in #2 followed by Lloyd Price and "I'm Gonna' Get Married".  Phil Phillips had the original "Sea Of Love" (he also co-wrote the song) and the Everly Brothers were fifth with "('Til) I Kissed You".  The rest of the Top 10:  "Red River Rock", another instrumental, was #6 from Johnny & the Hurricanes, "Broken-Hearted Melody" from Sarah Vaughan, Fats Domino with "I Want To Walk You Home", Bobby Darin's "Mack The Knife" moved from 24-9 while Jan & Dean entered the list with "Baby Talk".
1963:  Although most of us wouldn't know them until their hit "Back Stabbers" nine years later, the O'Jays first charted on this date with the single "Lonely Drifter".

Featured Unknown/Underrated Song*: Genesis, with "Turn It On Again"

Great song in the spotlight from Genesis:

Turn It On Again

Written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford

All I need is a TV show, that and the radio
Down on my luck again, down on my luck again
I can show you I can show you some of the people in my life
I can show you I can show you some of the people in my life
It's driving me mad just another way of passing the day
I, I get so lonely when she's not there
I, I, I...

You're just another face that I know from the TV show
I have known you for so very long I feel you like a friend
Can't you do anything for me, can I touch you for a while
Can I meet you another day and we will fly away

I can show you I can show you some of the people in my life
I can show you I can show you some of the people in my life
It's driving me mad it's just another way of passing the day
I, I get so lonely when she's not there
I, I, I...

Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on again
Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on again (I can see another face)
Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on again (I can see another face)
Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on again

Monday, September 12, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 13

1958:  Cliff Richard made his British television debut singing "Move It" on the program Oh Boy.
1959:  Elvis Presley met Priscilla Beaulieu while he was in the United States Army in West Germany. 
1962:  Elvis Presley collected his 12th U.K. #1 with "She's Not You".

Sunday, September 11, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 12

1960:  The song had only been out nine weeks and five of those were at #1 for Elvis Presley--"It's Now Or Never".  Waiting in the runner-up position was "The Twist" from Chubby Checker.
1963:  The Beatles reached #1 in the U.K. with "She Loves You".