Category: 60’s

On this day in music history: May 22, 1961 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1961 – “Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K. Doe hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on April 24, 1961. Written and produced by Allen Toussaint, it is the biggest hit for the New Orleans born and raised singer. Doe (real name Ernest Kador, Jr.) actually rescues the song from the trash after Toussaint throws it away, feeling that it isn’t any good. The song is especially relatable to the singer since he is having problems with his own mother in law at the time. “Mother-In-Law” features fellow New Orleans R&B singer Benny Spellman (“Fortune Teller”, “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)”) singing the deep bass vocals on the track, and Allen Toussaint playing piano. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on March 27, 1961, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Mother-In-Law” is Ernie K. Doe’s only major hit, only scoring one more chart entry with “Popeye Joe” (#99 Pop) in January of 1962.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1966 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1966 – “If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears”, the debut album by The Mamas & The Papas hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Lou Adler, it is recorded at United/Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA in Late 1965 – Early 1966. The first album by the pop vocal group contains a mixture of original songs written by group members John & Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty as well as covers of The Beatles’ “I Call Your Name”, Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Wanna Dance”, Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem”, and Dobie Gray’s “The "In” Crowd". The album cover features a shot of the group taken by photographer Guy Webster (The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel), sitting in a bathtub with a toilet situated to the right. Shortly after its release, copies of the album with this cover are pulled from record stores, being deemed as indecent. The reprinted LP jackets feature the same shot with a white scroll covering the toilet, listing the inclusion of the song “California Dreamin’”. In addition, a third version of the album cover is printed with the photo cropped showing only the group members faces. The original cover becomes sought after collectors item years later. The original artwork for the album is restored on a 2010 vinyl LP reissue and limited edition CD in 2011(by Sundazed Records) which features the first release of the original (and superior) mono mix since going out of print in 1968. The album spins off three singles including “Go Where You Wanna Go”, “California Dreamin’” (#4 Pop) and, “Monday, Monday” (#1 Pop). “If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1964 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1964 – “Under The Boardwalk” by The Drifters is recorded. Written by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick, the song is written as a sequel to the groups’ hit “Up On The Roof” (#5 Pop, #4 R&B in February 1963) making reference to the previous song in its lyrics. Rudy Lewis, The Drifters lead singer at the time dies unexpectedly the night before the recording session (of a drug overdose) in his Harlem hotel room. Instead of rescheduling the session, producer Bert Berns has group member Johnny Moore handle lead vocals on the song. Released by Atlantic Records as a single in June, the song becomes an instant classic, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 22, 1964, selling over a million copies. Also noteworthy about the song are that the original mono 45 and stereo LP versions of Under The Boardwalk contain alternate vocal performances. The 45 version contains the vocal refrain “we’ll be falling in love, under the boardwalk” in the choruses. While the stereo LP version also contains the line “we’ll be making love, under the boardwalk”. “Under The Boardwalk” is also the last major hit for the pioneering R&B vocal group.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – “Respect” by Aretha Franklin hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 8 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on June 3, 1967. Written by Otis Redding, it is the second consecutive R&B chart topper for “The Queen Of Soul”. Written and originally recorded by R&B legend Otis Redding in 1965, Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect” features members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. It is one of the tracks cut during the week long sessions that produce Franklin’s debut album for Atlantic. Aretha’s version receives a dramatic rearrangement when it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City on February 14, 1967. One of the significant changes made on Franklin’s version is in the songs instrumental break. Saxophonist King Curtis plays the solo using the chord changes from Sam & Dave’s hit “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”. Aretha, along with her sisters Erma and Carolyn (also singing background vocals) come up with the signature “sock it to me” line as well as the refrain of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and the lines that follow including “take care, T-C-B” (street slang for “taking care of business”). Upon hearing Aretha’s version, Otis Redding is quoted as jokingly saying “That little girl done stole my song!”, recognizing that she had just recorded the definitive version of his song. The response to “Respect” is immediate when it begins receiving radio play as soon as the album “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” is released on March 10, 1967. With the title track holding down the top spot on the R&B singles chart for eight weeks and reaching the top 10 on the pop chart, Atlantic holds off just long enough for the other single to have its moment to unleash the follow up. Entering the Billboard R&B singles chart at #19 on May 6, 1967, it pole vaults up the chart to #5 then #1, just narrowly succeeding herself in the top spot by one week. “Respect” takes a similar ascent up the Hot 100, entering the chart at #50 on April 29, 1967, it rockets to the top five weeks later. Its upward chart movement is so strong, that it temporarily bumps The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’” from the number one spot for two weeks. “Respect” earns Aretha Franklin the first Grammy Award given for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1968. It is the first of eleven times Franklin wins the award over the years, receiving it eight years in a row consecutively, making her the undisputed champ in that category. In the wake of the records huge success, it not only is adapted as a feminist anthem, but also as a rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement. Regarded as Franklin’s signature song, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Respect” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, it is the second chart topping single for the New York City based blue eyed soul/pop rock quartet. For the bands sixth single release, they venture into new musical territory. Taking an interest in Afro-Cuban music, keyboardist and lead vocalist Felix Cavaliere along with percussionist Eddie Brigati come up with a leisurely paced groove with that sound in mind, and begin crafting a song around it. Lyrically, it is about how the only time the two busy musicians could spend with their respective girlfriends were on Sundays. When they get into the studio to cut the track, they enlist the assistance of veteran studio bassist Chuck Rainey to play on the song. Once it’s completed, the band present the song to Atlantic Records, who at first are unsure of the songs commercial potential. Famed New York DJ Murray “The K”, convinces the label to release song after he expresses his enthusiasm for it. Released on April 10, 1967, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on April 22, 1967, it rockets to the top of the chart just four weeks later. “Groovin’” proves to have major staying power once it reaches the summit. After two weeks at the top, it is bumped from the number one spot by Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” for two weeks, then it returns to the top for an additional two weeks. The B-side of “Groovin” titled “Sueño”, is later sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, on the intro of their single ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo" in 1990. “Groovin’” is also sampled and interpolated by A Lighter Shade Of Brown on their single “On A Sunday Afternoon” in 1991. “Groovin’” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1969 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1969 – “Clouds”, the second album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell and Paul A. Rothchild, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – March 1969. Though her debut album “Song For A Seagull” charts and sells only modestly, Joni Mitchell finds her public profile growing rapidly during this time. With numerous artists covering her already significant catalog of songs, she is a consistent public presence, through touring extensively. Looking to take more control of her music in the studio, Mitchell is largely given free reign to produce her second album. Veteran producer Paul A. Rothchild (The Doors, Janis Joplin), produces only the track “Tin Angel”, with Mitchell producing the rest on her own. Recording engineer Henry Lewy provides valuable assistance in committing her musical ideas on tape. The project is the first of a long and productive collaboration between the pair, which lasts for a decade. Much like her first album, Joni’s sophomore effort is musically spare with the musician accompanying herself on guitar and or piano on many tracks. The only other musician who appears on the album is friend Stephen Stills, who contributes guitar and bass to some tracks. Full of vivid lyrical imagery buoyed by Mitchell’s soaring mezzo-soprano voice, listeners are immediately enchanted. Among the centerpiece tracks on “Clouds” are “Chelsea Morning”, which had been previously recorded by Judy Collins and Fairport Convention, and “Both Sides Now”, also recorded by Collins. Released in the Spring of 1969, it heightens Joni Mitchell’s profile significantly, earning the prolific singer/songwriter her first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance in 1970. Like its predecessor, “Clouds” features cover artwork painted by Mitchell herself, rendering a self portrait that becomes iconic in its own right. In time, the album becomes one of her most popular, marking the beginning of a string of musically innovative and influential albums, that Mitchell creates during the 70’s and beyond. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 2000, with HDCD encoding and restoring the original artwork and printed lyrics to the packaging. To date, the vinyl edition of the album has yet to be reissued. “Clouds” peaks at number thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1967 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1967 – “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” by Petula Clark is released. Written by Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch, it is the twenty ninth single release for the pop vocalist and actress from Epsom, Surrey, UK. By 1967, Petula Clark has scored nearly a dozen top 40 pop hits in the US, since breaking through with the smash “Downtown”. With many of those songs being written by producer Tony Hatch, either alone or with his wife Jackie Trent, the prolific writing team have played a key role in Clark’s international chart success. The song that evolves into “Don’t Sleep In The Sleep In The Subway”, comes from three incomplete song fragments that Hatch has lying around. Putting the various parts together, the producer realizes he’s come up with something unique. The narrative of “Subway” follows a couple who are having difficulties and arguing frequently. The rows between the pair cause the man to retreat into his own world, while the woman urges him to make up with her, rather than taking off into the night. The chorus has been a source of mystery and confusion, with many wondering why the man would go to the subway, let alone sleep there. In the UK, the “subway” does not refer to a mode of public transportation as it does in the US. It is actually a series of underground passages in London, that allow pedestrians to avoid the traffic above ground. Though Hatch states later that he was referring to the subway in New York City. The the song title is inspired by the musical “Subways Are For Sleeping”, co-written by Broadway legend Jules Styne (“Gypsy”, “Funny Girl”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”). While she too is unsure of its true meaning, Petula loves the melody, with its surprising key changes and tempo shifts. The song takes off quickly after its release. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #76 on June 3, 1967, it leaps up the chart, peaking at #5 five weeks later on July 8, 1967. The single also tops the Adult Contemporary chart for three weeks, beginning on July 15, 1967. It also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Song in 1968, but loses the award to “Up, Up and Away”. Surprisingly, “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” is Petula Clark’s last top ten hit in the US, and also marks the beginning of her decline on the UK charts, when it stalls at #12. The song is widely covered by other artists including Frank Sinatra, Patti Page and Matt Monro. “Subway” also becomes the subject of a gag on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The episode titled “Election Night Special”, features actor Michael Palin appearing as French historic figure Cardinal Richelieu, lip synching along with Clark’s version of the song. The song also later appears in an episode of the sitcom Malcolm In The Middle, when Lois (Jane Kaczmarek), blasts it out of a car radio.

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1968 – &…

On this day in music history: May 18, 1968 – “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & The Drells hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 2 weeks on the same date. Written by Archie Bell and Billy Butler, it is the biggest hit for the Houston, TX based R&B vocal group. Archie Bell and Billy Butler originally write the beginnings of what becomes their biggest hit in 1964, and forget about it until nearly three years later. Bell receives notice that he has been drafted into the army, and is scheduled to be shipped off to Vietnam. Archie’s friend and band mate Billy Butler, notices his friend is depressed and tries to cheer him by doing a dance. Amused, Bell asks Butler what the dance is that he’s doing, and Billy responds “it’s called the Tighten Up”. Re-vamping their old demo with a new arrangement and lyrics, the group record the song at the Jones Town Studio in October of 1967. Bell’s spoken intro announcing that he and the group were from Houston, is inspired by a comment he hears a DJ make after JFK’s assassination in Dallas in 1963. The person in question states that “nothing good ever came out of Texas”. A proud Texas native, Archie Bell responds to the remark on “Tighten Up”, wanting people to know where his group was from, stating “we were from Texas and we were good”. Originally released on the small independent label Ovide Records, the song becomes a regional hit in Texas, before attracting the attention of Atlantic Records who pick up the single for national distribution, re-releasing it in February of 1968. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on March 30, 1968, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. At the time, Bell is serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, is wounded and recovering in a hospital from his injuries. With the group unable to make personal appearances to promote the record, numerous fake groups claiming to be the real Archie Bell & The Drells begin surfacing to take advantage of the groups’ inactivity by using the groups name, including nine white men out of Nashville, TN!! “Tighten Up” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1963 – &…

On this day in music history: May 18, 1963 – “If You Wanna Be Happy” by Jimmy Soul hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on June 1, 1963. Written by Frank Guida, Carmela Guida and Joseph Royster, it is the biggest hit for the Weldon, NC born R&B singer. Based on the calypso song “Ugly Woman”, it is originally recorded by Trinidadian singer Roaring Lion in 1933. Jimmy Soul’s version also includes a brief dialogue similar to Bo Diddley’s novelty hit “Say Man”. After the record is released, some stations actually ban it from airplay feeling that the line “ugly girl/woman” is offensive. In spite of this, the single quickly becomes a smash, and later appears in films such as “Mermaids” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. The song is also quoted by actor Ted Danson in a 1984 episode of “Cheers” titled “Sam Turns The Other Cheek”, when Danson’s character Sam Malone is confronted by the angry husband (armed with a gun) of a woman he’s been fooling around with. Sam manages to disarm the man, tucking the gun in his back pocket, which goes off accidentally, shooting himself in the behind. In spite of the huge success of “If You Wanna Be Happy”, Jimmy Soul does not have another chart hit (having only one other charted single with “Twistin’ Matilda” (#22 Pop) one year before in May of 1962). Soul passes away from a heart attack on June 25, 1988 at the age of 45.

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On this day in music history: May 17, 1969 – “…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1969 – “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”, the fourth studio album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, Chips Moman, Tommy Cogbill and Neil Diamond, it is recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis, TN from Late 1968 – Early 1969. Diamond records the album with the studios famed rhythm section led by musician and producer Chips Moman who is also working with Elvis Presley at the time. The albums big hit single “Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)” (#4 Pop), is actually recorded after the album is completed and released. The singles great popularity leads Uni Records to add the song to subsequent pressings of the album, which is also re-titled “Sweet Caroline”, and reissued with different cover artwork. Following Neil Diamond’s hit version, the song is covered by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Goldsboro, Bobby Womack, The Ventures, and Waylon Jennings to name a few. In later years, “Caroline” becomes an anthem both at Diamond’s live concerts, and as a sing-a-long at sporting events. Diamond’s original recording is selected for preservation, by the National Recording Registry of the Library Of Congress in 2019. “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” peaks at number eighty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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