Month: September 2014

Take the train from Casablanca going South

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

September 30

crosby stills nash1967: The Crosby, Stills & Nash LP goes gold. But it is a tragic time for David Crosby, whose “girlfriend/love of his life,” Christine Gail Hinton, is killed in a San Francisco auto accident. Crosby never gets over it. The LP has two Top 40 hits. Here they are:

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You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

September 29

Jerry Lee Lewis 41935: Jerry Lee Lewis is born in Ferriday, Louisiana.  He is one-quarter of Sun Records’ Million-Dollar Quartet (with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins) and the only one who is still performing. Jerry Lee’s Daddy believes in him: He mortgages the family home so he can buy Jerry Lee, 10 years old, a piano. Now 80, Jerry Lee opens at the Julie Rogers Theater in Beaumont, Texas next week. Happy birthday, Killer!

No, I won’t shed a tear

Rock the Day What a Date!

September 28: In 1963, Dylan’s second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, is released. Also in ’63, the Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe peaks at #15. This day in 1968, Hey Jude, a song inspired by John Lennon’s son Julian and mostly written by Paul McCartney, hits #1 and begins a nine-week run atop the charts. And in 1938, Benjamin Earl King is born in Henderson, N.C. By age 20 he is one of the principal voices of The Drifters and co-writes a string of hits including There Goes My Baby, This Magic Moment, Save the Last Dance for Me. In 1960, he leaves The Drifters, shortens his name to Ben E. King and begins a solo career that continues to this day. I always will be grateful for him for many reasons, chief among them: With Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller he is a writer of 1961’s Stand by Me.

The day you quit me honey, it’s coming home to you

Bessie SmithSteve Kline Ages of Rock

September 26

1937: Empress of the Blues Bessie Smith dies at age 43 after being injured in a traffic accident near Clarksdale, Mississippi. She is the superstar of 1920s and early 1930s blues, one of the highest paid entertainers of her time and a Columbia recording artist. Daughter of a Chattanooga, Tennessee Baptist minister, she will lose both parents by the time she is 12 years old. In 1912, when she is 16, she becomes a dancer/singer in the Moses Stokes show, where vocalist Ma Rainey takes her under her wing. Smith becomes a sensation on the vaudeville circuit and performs with James P. Johnson, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, among other jazz greats.

That’ll Be The Day

Rock the Day Immortal Line

September 25, 1957: That’ll Be The Day by The Crickets (fronted by Buddy Holly) is #1 on the pop chart. The song is inspired by the 1956 movie The Searchers, an American masterpiece of film-making. Shame on you if you have not seen it. In the film, the character played by John Wayne repeatedly utters the line, “That’ll be the day.” Here’s to wonderful movie- and music-making.

Ain’t got time to take a fast train

Rock the Day: THE Song of 1967

September 24, 1967: The Letter by the Box Tops is atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson writes The Letter after his father, who dabbles in songwriting, suggests that “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane” might be a good first line for a song. The track is recorded in 30 takes at American Sound Studio in Memphis. Producer Dan Penn coaches Box Tops vocalist Alex Chilton, insisting on the “air-oh-plane” pronunciation and growly sound. The Letter ends up as the overall #1 song for 1967. It hits charts all around the world.

And your friends, baby — they treat you like a guest

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Grace_Slick_1976September 22

1966: Vocalist Grace Slick quits the Great Society to join the electric folk group Jefferson Airplane. She brings with her two songs from Great Society: White Rabbit and Somebody to Love. Gracie gives me somebody to love. Both bands/both songs:

Every night I just sleep walk

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

September 21

sleep1959: Santo & Johnny hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with the dreamy instrumental Sleep Walk. Brooklyn-born brothers Santo and Johnny Farina’s Dad, stationed in Oklahoma with the Army during World War II, hears the steel guitar on the radio. He writes home to his wife that he’d like to have his sons learn how to play the instrument. After his discharge, the elder Farina sees to it that his sons become guitar masters. They play hometown gigs and become popular around Brooklyn and New York. Canadian American Records signs them to a contract and Sleep Walk is their first release on the label. They record it without the lyrics they’ve written and it is the last instrumental of the 1950s to chart at #1. Betsy Brye (Bette Anne Steele) does a cover with lyrics that does not crack the Top 100. While Santo is retired, Johnny performs to this day. Here’s the original and the cover: