On this day in music history: November 21, 1960 – “Stay” by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on November 7, 1960. Written by Maurice Williams, it is the biggest hit for the doo wop vocal group from Lancaster, SC. Having existed in earlier incarnations as The Royal Charms and The Gladiolas, the group score their first hit in 1957 with “Little Darlin’” (#11 R&B). The success of their version on the pop chart is stunted by Canadian vocal group The Diamonds who cover the song and peak at #2 (for eight weeks) on the pop singles chart. Williams writes “Stay” in 1953 when he was only fifteen years old, inspired by a plea to his girlfriend not to go home when she was supposed to. The group record the song in a converted radio studio in Columbia, SC, then taking the finished recording back their label Herald Records in New York City. Released in September of 1960, “Stay” breaks on influential station CKLW in the Windsor, Ontario, Canada/Detroit, MI area. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on October 3, 1960, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. Clocking in at one minute and thirty-seven seconds (though original copies of the single lists the timing as 1:50), it also makes history as the shortest record to ever hit number one on the Billboard singles chart. The song is covered numerous times, included charted versions by The Four Seasons and Jackson Browne. “Stay” is also featured on the soundtrack to the film “Dirty Dancing” in 1987.
On this day in music history: November 21, 1955 – Elvis Presley officially signs with RCA Records. With his star on the rise after scoring hits with Memphis, TN based Sun Records, RCA comes forth with an offer to buy Presley out of his contract with Sun. RCA Records A&R man Steve Sholes sends Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker a letter (the original document is stored in Graceland’s archives) on October 27, 1955 expressing his desire to sign Presley. Parker rejects Sholes initial offer, and the pair negotiate back and forth over the next few weeks before a deal is finally reached on November 15, 1955. RCA buys Elvis’ contract from Sun for $35,000 (which includes a $10,000 signing bonus for Presley), with the singer signing his contract with the label on November 21, 1955. It marks the beginning of a historic alliance between the rock & roll icon and the record label that lasts until Presley’s death in August of 1977.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1995 – “Beatles Anthology 1” by The Beatles is released. Produced by Tony Meehan, George Martin and Jeff Lynne, it is recorded at Phillips’ Sound Recording Services, Liverpool, UK, 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton, Liverpool, UK, Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg, Germany, Decca Studios, BBC Maida Vale Studios, The London Palladium, Prince of Wales Theatre, IBC Studios and Abbey Road Studios in London, CBS Television Studio, The Dakota in New York City and The Mill Studios in Peasmarsh, East Sussex, UK from July 1958 – March 1994. The first of three double CD sets (also released as a three LP vinyl set), the sixty track compilation album is the audio accompaniment to the three part mini series on the history of the iconic rock band. It features outtakes, alternate versions and rare live performances of some of their best known songs and earliest recordings. Among the early recordings is the first made by the pre-Beatles era skiffle band The Quarrymen, which includes Lennon, McCartney and Harrison along with school mates John “Duff” Lowe and Colin Hanton. On July 12, 1958, the band record a cover of Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ “That’ll Be The Day” on with “In Spite Of All The Danger” (written by Paul and George), at Percy Phillips’ Phillips’ Sound Recording Services. The two songs are recorded directly on to a 78 RPM acetate disc, with the record being passed around to all of the group members to listen to. Eventually it ends up with “Duff” Lowe who holds on to the disc for nearly twenty five years, until Paul McCartney buys it back from him. The album also includes “Free As A Bird”, the first new song from The Beatles in twenty five years. It is constructed from a home cassette demo recorded by John Lennon in 1977, then completed by the surviving members (in February – March 1994). The single peaks at #6 on the Hot 100 on January 6, 1996, winning two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals and Best Shortform Video in 1997. “Anthology 1” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, spending three weeks at the top, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1984 – Pop superstar Michael Jackson is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Presented by then Hollywood, CA mayor Johnny Grant and Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce President Bill Welsh, Michael Jackson receives the 1793rd star on the walk of fame. The star is located at 6927 Hollywood Blvd in front of the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The singer is able to stay at the ceremony for only three minutes. With members of his family and more than 6,000 fans in attendance, it is one the largest crowds to show up for a star unveiling. Jackson’s safety becomes a major concern when the crowd begins to get out of hand after his arrival. It is actually the second time Jackson receives the honor, having been awarded a star as a member of The Jacksons in 1979. The event caps off an incredible year that seed Jackson sweep the 26th Annual Grammy Awards and earn a place in the Guinness World Book Of Records for having the largest selling album of all time for “Thriller”. After Jackson’s death in 2009, his star becomes one of the most visited by tourists and fans.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1976 – “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)” by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on January 8, 1977. Written by James Dean and John Glover, it is the biggest hit for the husband and wife duo. Having left The 5th Dimension in 1975, the duo are signed to their own deal with ABC Records. Paired with producer Don Davis (Johnnie Taylor), they begin work on their debut album “I Hope We Get to Love In Time”. The track is cut at ABC Studios in Los Angeles, and features a rhythm section that includes drummer James Gadson, and legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson playing on what is the final number one single of his career. Surprisingly, ABC decides to release the title track as the couple’s initial single in March of 1976. “I Hope We Get To Love In Time” though cracking the top ten on the Adult Contemporary chart (#9 AC), it stalls at #37 on the R&B chart and just scrapes the bottom of the pop chart at #91. “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)” released as the second single from the album in September of 1976. It proves to be a shrewd move, becoming an across the board smash on the R&B, pop and AC charts, as well as receiving significant play in discos at the time. The song is also a major hit internationally, hitting the top ten in Canada, the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. “You Don’t Have To Be A Star” wins McCoo & Davis a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1977. McCoo and Davis’ newly found success leads to them being offered their own Summer variety series by CBS. Premiering on June 15, 1977, the show also features comedian Jay Leno, and actors Tim Reid and Lewis Arquette as series regulars. Though it lasts for only six episodes, the duo make television history as the first African-American couple, to host a series on a major network. “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1971 – “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”, the fifth studio album by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA, Winnebago Mobile Studio and Home Studio – 783 Bel Air Road, Los Angeles, CA from Spring 1970 – Fall 1971. With Sly & The Family Stone’s enormous success during the previous two years, mounting pressure from their record company, along with drug abuse and deteriorating relationships within the band make the recording process a long and hard one. Amid the tense and acrimonious atmosphere surrounding them, bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico both leave the band during the sessions, leaving Sly to fill in their parts by playing bass himself on many tracks, and employing the use of the then new Maestro Rhythm King drum machine. The resulting album is darker, stripped down, and funkier than previous efforts. It spins off three singles including the chart topping “Family Affair”. It goes on to become one of the most influential R&B albums of all time, also being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. The album receives a long overdue remastering on CD in 2007 with four additional bonus tracks, noticeably improving upon the muddy and often noisy sounding original CD release of the album. Though with the better audio quality, the aural shortcomings of many tracks are the result of the original multi-track master tapes being repeatedly overdubbed on and erased, until the oxide has worn off. The reissue also restores the original “flag” cover artwork and photo collage on the back of the original release. Later issues of the album do away with the orginal cover artwork, instead using a cropped version of the live concert shot of Sly used on the inside of the LP gatefold. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Sundazed Music, also replicating the the “newspaper headline” hype sticker found on the first pressing. “Riot” is also released a high definition hybrid SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) by ORG Music in tandem with Sony Legacy in 2013. ORG also issues a limited edition double vinyl LP set, mastered at 45 RPM. Also in 2013, reissue label Get On Down Records releases the album as a limited edition gold CD boxed edition, featuring a hardbound book with rare photos, and an extended essay by A Scott Galloway. “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” spends two weeks at number one on both the Billboard Top 200 and the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1971 – “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on November 6, 1971. Written and produced by Isaac Hayes, it is the biggest hit for the Covington, TN born singer, songwriter and producer. Composed for the Gordon Parks directed film starring Richard Roundtree in the title role, the track features musical backing by The Movement, which feature Bar-Kays members James Alexander (bass) and Michael Toles (guitar), and female background vocalists Telma Hopkins, Pat Lewis, Rose Williams. The main rhythmic pulse of the song is held down by drummer Willie “Too Big” Hall and guitarist Charles “Skip” Pitts. The single and its accompanying soundtrack are huge critical and commercial successes, paving the way for the “blaxploitation” film phenomenon of the 70’s. “Theme From Shaft” wins Hayes two Grammy Awards, and becomes the first African American composer in history to win the Academy Award for “Best Original Song” in 1972. Held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA on April 10, 1972, one of the highlights 44th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is Isaac Hayes’ performance of the song on the live telecast. Wheeled out on stage behind the piano, the singer is an immediately striking presence, draped in thick gold chains, wearing dark shades and a vest made of gold chain mail. The performance becomes iconic, and lauded as one of the most memorable in Oscar history. When he graciously accepts his award, Hayes dedicates it his grandmother, the woman who raised him after the death of his mother and his father abandoned the family while he was still a child. The song as well as Hayes himself become 70’s icons in the wake of the soundtrack albums’ success. “Shaft is covered by a wide variety of artists including Sammy Davis, Jr., Maynard Ferguson, to UK modern rock bands Cabaret Voltaire and The Wedding Present. It is also sampled by Young MC on the track "Know How” in 1988 and by Jay-Z on “Reservoir Dogs” in 1998. It is also parodied numerous television shows including The Wire, Sesame Street, Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and in films including UHF and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. “Theme From Shaft” is also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1971 – “Have You Seen Her” by The Chi-Lites hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on December 11, 1971. Written by Eugene Record and Barbara Acklin, it is the biggest hit for the Chicago, IL based R&B vocal group led by lead singer Eugene Record. The track is recorded at South Market Recording in Chicago and is engineered by Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones). The song is initially overlooked by the group and their label Brunswick Records, while three other singles are released in the interim. Its release finally comes after DJ’s at several radio stations begin spinning the five minute plus cut off of the album. To everyone’s great surprise and delight, the single takes off immediately after its release in October of 1971, climbing the R&B and pop singles chart simultaneously. “Have You Seen Her” also becomes a big hit internationally, reaching #3 on the UK singles chart shortly after its success in the US. The song is also revived by rapper MC Hammer when his cover version peaks at #4 on the both the Hot 100 and R&B singles charts in September of 1990.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1970 – “Come To My Garden”, the debut solo album by Minnie Riperton is released. Produced by Charles Stepney, it is recorded at Ter Mar Studios in Chicago, IL from November 24 – 26, 1969. Following her departure from the psychedelic soul/jazz fusion band The Rotary Connection, singer Minnie Riperton begins work on her solo debut in late 1969. It features all original material written by Stepney and Riperton’s husband Richard Rudolph as well as musical backing by Maurice White (drums), Phil Upchurch (guitar) and Ramsey Lewis (keyboards).It is released in the Fall following the financial collapse of Chess Records and issued on GRT Records (who acquires Chess), after being originally scheduled for release in the Spring of 1970. The album receives virtually no promotion from the label and quickly disappears from public notice. A few years after its release, it attracts the attention of Stevie Wonder, who finds Minnie living in Clearwater, FL with her husband and two children. He convinces her to come out of “retirement” from the music business to join his band Wonderlove. After joining up with Wonder and then recording the album “Perfect Angel”, it revives interest in her long dormant debut release. Though it does not fare much better commercially on the second go around in the mid 70’s, it is widely praised by music critics and Riperton’s fans as “a masterpiece”. Though it has been reissued on CD and vinyl several times since the early 90’s and 2000’s, those releases have been sourced from needle drops of the original vinyl LP. The original master tapes have been lost for years, and are believed to no longer exist. Tracks from “Garden” have been sampled numerous times over the years. “Rainy Day in Centerville” is sampled by Nas on “Where Y’all At”“. Smif-N-Wesson sample "Only When I’m Dreaming” on their song “Hellucination”. The opening track “Les Fleur” has been featured in the Paul Thomas Anderson (the long term partner of Riperton’s daughter Maya Rudolph) film “Inherent Vice” and Jordan Peele’s “Us”. It’s also featured in a television commercial for the clothing store H&M in 2019. “Come To My Garden” belatedly charts in 1974, peaking at number one hundred sixty on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 20, 1965 – “Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds”, the second album by The Yardbirds is released. Produced by Giorgio Gomelsky, it is recorded at Kingsway Studios in London, Chess Studios in Chicago, IL, Sun Studios in Memphis, TN and Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from March 1964 – September 1965. The album is mixture of US only released singles and the UK EP “Five Live Yardbirds”, four of which include guitarist Eric Clapton (though is not pictured on the LP cover, having left the band in March 1965), who is replaced by Jeff Beck. It spins off two singles including “Heart Full Of Soul” (#9 Pop) and “I’m A Man” (#17 Pop). The album also contains bands’ version of the blues standard “Train’ Kept A-Rollin’”, which is later covered by Aerosmith. The Yardbirds perform a revamped version of the song with new lyrics, re-titled “Stoll On” in Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “Blow Up”. “Rave Up” is regarded as one of the bands’ finest albums, and a seminal British blues/rock classic. Out of print in any form since the mid 80’s, it is finally remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 by UK label Repertoire Records. The CD includes the original ten song album, with eleven additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued on vinyl by Get Back Records in 1999, on standard black vinyl and as a limited edition on red vinyl (both containing six additional bonus tracks). “Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds” peaks at number fifty three on the Billboard Top 200.