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Music History

Tune in to Jon Hall weekday afternoons at 4:35 for the ‘Stuff That Happened Today’ (Oldies Music History) segment!


August 15-17, 1969

Woodstock attracted an audience of more than 400,000.
Billed as “an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in
Bethel, New York, 43 miles southwest of Woodstock.

May 1

1955 – Leonard Chess signs Chuck Berry to a recording contract based on a recommendation from blues great Muddy Waters.

1964 – The Beatles sign a $140,000 contract to allow their images to be placed on bubble gum cards in the USA.

1966 – The Beatles play a 15 minute live set on stage for the last time in the UK.

1967 – Elvis Presley (32) married Priscilla Beaulieu (21), who he met in 1959 when she was just 14 years old. When Elvis got out of the army in 1960, Beaulieu moved into Elvis Graceland mansion with her family’s blessing. The divorce was after only five years of marriage on October 9, 1973.

1955 – Leonard Chess signs Chuck Berry to a recording contract based on a recommendation from blues great Muddy Waters.

1964 – The Beatles sign a $140,000 contract to allow their images to be placed on bubble gum cards in the USA.

1966 – The Beatles play a 15 minute live set on stage for the last time in the UK.

1967 – Elvis Presley (32) married Priscilla Beaulieu (21), who he met in 1959 when she was just 14 years old. When Elvis got out of the army in 1960, Beaulieu moved into Elvis Graceland mansion with her family’s blessing. The divorce was after only five years of marriage on October 9, 1973.

1967 – The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson is F.B.I. arrested by the FBI for avoiding military draft and refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance. He was later released and joined the rest of the band which was already on tour.

1969 – The Who’s rock opera ‘Tommy’ is previewed before an invite audience in London.

1974 – The Carpenters perform at the White House as requested by President Nixon.

1979 – Elton John is the first major pop star to perform in Israel and becomes the first Western rocker to tour Russia.

1980 – South Africa bans the Pink Floyd song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ when it becomes a protest anthem for black children.

May 2

1963 – The Beatles song ‘From Me To You’ goes to #1 in the UK. It is their second UK #1. The song was inspired by a column in the New Musical Express newspaper. ‘From Me To You’ charted at #116 in the USA on August 6, 1963 and again at #41 in March 1964. It was the first USA charted song.

1989 – A Zales Jewelry store security guard in California alerts police of a man wearing a wig, fake moustache, and false teeth. Three squad cars arrive only to find Michael Jackson on a shopping trip in disguise!

May 3

1952 – Kitty Wells recorded ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’. Wells was disenchanted with her career prospects and was considering retirement, but agreed to the session because of the $125 union scale recording payment. ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ was an answer song to Hank Thompson’s ‘The Wild Side of Life’, and its lyrical treatment of seductive, wayward women. It was the first No.1 Billboard country hit for a solo female artist.

1968 – The Beach Boys opened their US tour on which the co-headliner was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The second half of the concert which featured the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, lectured the audience on “spiritual regeneration.” The reaction was so negative, more than half of the remaining tour dates were cancelled.

1976 – Paul McCartney made his first concert appearance in America in almost ten years when Wings kicked off their 31-date ‘Wings Over America’ tour in Fort Worth, Texas.

May 4

1956 – Gene Vincent recorded the classic rock ‘n roll song ‘Be Bop-A-Lula’. The song went on to be a US & UK Top 20 hit in this year. Vincent has said that he wrote the words to the song after being inspired by a comic strip called “Little Lulu”.

1964 – The Moody Blues formed in Birmingham, UK. The original members were Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Denny Laine, Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick. Hits include ‘Go Now‘, ‘Nights in White Satin‘, ‘Tuesday Afternoon‘, ‘Question‘, and ‘Your Wildest Dreams‘. They have sold 70 million albums and were nducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

1967 – The Young Rascals started a four week run at #1 with ‘Groovin.’ Atlantic Records head Jerry Wexler did not want to release the song. Disc jockey ‘Murray the K’ heard the track and encouraged Atlantic to release it.

1970 – Four students at Kent University were killed and eleven wounded by National Guard troops at Kent State University protesting the escalation of the Vietnam War. The incident inspired Neil Young to compose ‘Ohio’ which became a hit for Crosby Stills Nash & Young.

1973 – Led Zeppelin opened their 1973 North American tour, which was billed as the ‘biggest and most profitable rock & roll tour in the history of the United States’. The group would gross over $4 million, flying between gigs in ‘The Starship’, a Boeing 720 passenger jet, complete with bar, showers, TV and video in a 30′ lounge and a white fur bedroom.

May 5

1956 – Elvis Presley had his first #1 single and album when with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. ‘The song became his first million-seller, and was the best-selling single of 1956. The lyrics were based on a newspaper article about the suicide of a lonely man who jumped from a hotel window.

1962 – The soundtrack to West Side Story was a #1 on the album chart and would be at #1 for 54 weeks.

1966 – On a recommendation by George Harrison Dick Rowe Head of A&R at Decca records, (and the man who turned down The Beatles) went to see The Rolling Stones play at Crawdaddy Club, London. The band were signed to the label within a week.

1968 – Buffalo Springfield split up. Richie Furay formed Poco and Stephen Stills teamed up with David Crosby and Graham Nash in Crosby Stills & Nash.

1969 – The Beatles single ‘Get Back’ was released. John Lennon claimed in 1980 that ‘there’s some underlying thing about Yoko in there’, claiming that Paul McCartney looked at Yoko Ono in the studio every time he sang ‘Get back to where you once belonged.’

May 6

1965 – In their Clearwater, Florida hotel room, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards worked out the opening guitar riff of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ following Richard’s purchase of a Gibson fuzz-box earlier that day. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine placed ‘Satisfaction’ at the #2 spot on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

1972 – The Tyrannosaurus Rex double album ‘Prophets, Seers And Sages And The Angels Of The Ages / My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair But Now Their Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows’ went to #1 in the UK, the longest title of an album ever at the time! T. Rex’s best-known song in the US was ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’.

1973 – Paul Simon started his first solo tour with The Jesse Dixon Singers as back-up. Simon’s tour of America and Europe was released as ‘Live Rhymin’.

May 7

1966 – The Mamas & the Papas started a three week run at #1 with ‘Monday Monday’. The group was reported, as saying they all hated the song except for its writer John Phillips. The Mamas & the Papas won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song.

1967 – The Pearls Before Swine song, ‘Miss Morse’, was banned in New York when it was discovered that lead singer Tom Rapp was singing F-U-C-K in Morse code. After disc jockey Murray The K played the record on the air, local Boy Scouts interpreted the chorus and phoned in a complaint!

1972 – The Rolling Stones released Exile On Main Street, with the hit singles, ‘Tumbling Dice’ and ‘Happy’. In 2003, the album was ranked #7 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

1977 – The Eagles went to #1 with ‘Hotel California‘. It was their fourth #1 . They won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for the song. ‘Hotel California’ is about the Eagles interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles. In the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, Henley said that the song was about ‘a journey from innocence to experience… that’s all…’

May 8

1964 – The Beatles were at #1 on the singles chart for 14 weeks with three #1’s in succession. ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ for seven weeks, ‘She Loves You’ for two weeks and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, for five weeks.

1970 – The Beatles twelfth and final album, Let It Be was released, (it was recorded before the Abbey Road album, and was originally to be called ‘Get Back’). The album came in a deluxe-boxed edition with a ‘Get Back’ book.

1976 – It’s a tough life: BBC Radio 1 DJ Johnny Walker announced he was leaving after being told he must pretend to like the Bay City Rollers!

May 9

1964 – Louis Armstrong went to #1 with ‘Hello Dolly‘ making him the oldest artist to hit #1 at the age of 62. In 2011, 85 year-old Tony Bennett broke this record when his Duets II album topped the album chart.

1965 – During a UK tour Bob Dylan played at London’s Royal Albert Hall. All four members of The Beatles were in the audience.

1966 – The Doors played at Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood auditioning for the position of the venue’s house band.

1970 – The Guess Who went to #1 with ‘American Woman‘. The song was born by accident when guitarist Randy Bachman was playing a heavy riff on stage after he had broken a string and the whole band joined the jam. A fan in the audience recorded the gig and presented it to the group. With that, The Guess Who developed the Jam into a full song.

1973 – Mick Jagger added $150,000 of his own money to the $350,000 raised by the Rolling Stones January benefit concert for victims of the Nicaraguan earthquake.

1974 – Bonnie Raitt played at Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as the opening act. Rolling Stone critic John Landau saw Springsteen and wrote ‘I have seen rock & roll’s future and his name is Bruce Springsteen’.

May 10

1960 – The Silver Beetles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Tommy Moore) auditioned for promoter Larry Parnes. The Silver Beetles were selected as backing group for UK singer Johnny Gentle. The group had changed its name from ‘The Beatals’ to ‘The Silver Beetles’ after Brian Casser remarked that the name ‘Beatals’ was ‘ridiculous’. He suggested they use the name ‘Long John and the Silver Beetles’, but John Lennon refused to be referred to as ‘Long John’!

1963 – The Rolling Stones recorded the Chuck Berry song ‘Come On’. This the bands first release was issued on the June 7, 1963 by Decca Records.

1965 – The Rolling Stones recorded a version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ at Chess Studios in Chicago, with Brian Jones on harmonica. The group re-recorded it two days later at RCA Studios in Hollywood, with a different beat and the Gibson Maestro fuzzbox that Keith Richards had recently acquired, adding sustain to the sound of the guitar riff.

1969 – The Turtles gave a special performance at the White House as guests of Tricia Nixon. Stories circulate concerning members of the group allegedly snorted cocaine on Abraham Lincoln’s desk.

May 11

1963 – The Beatles started a 30 week run at #1 on the UK album charts with their debut album ‘Please Please Me’, making it the longest running #1 album by a group ever. The bands follow up ‘With The Beatles’ replaced it at the top of the charts on December 7, 1963 and stayed there for 21 weeks.

1965 – Roger Miller was at #1 on the Country charts with ‘King Of The Road‘. It was also a Top 10 song in many countries and a a #4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has been covered by many other major artists.

1970 – The triple soundtrack Woodstock album was released, going gold in two weeks. The album featured tracks by; Canned Heat, Richie Havens, Country Joe McDonald, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Santana and others. The couple on the album cover are Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline. They fell in love an are still married today!

1972 – John Lennon appeared on the ‘Dick Cavett Show’, claiming he was under surveillance from the FBI.

1974 – Led Zeppelin attended an Elvis Presley show at the Los Angeles Forum in California. After a shaky start to the show, Elvis stopped the band and jokingly said: ‘Wait a minute, if we can start together fellas, because we’ve got Led Zeppelin out there, lets try to look like we know what we’re doing.’ All 4 members of Zeppelin met with Elvis after the show, spending over 2 hours backstage. Elvis asked for all the group’s autographs for his daughter Lisa Marie.

Credits: Content is in large part from the UK website with notable modifications for the US and oldies audience. The header art background image art is by Rudy and Peter Skitterians. The cat is from an 1896 poster and was provided by Inspired Images. Elvis is by Karen Arnold. These people are contributors to the free stock photo website