Music History Monday: March 18

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 18, 2013 10:22am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to

Born on this day: March 18, 1941 - R&B vocal legend Wilson Pickett (born in Prattville, AL.) Happy Birthday to "The Wicked Pickett" on what would have been his 72nd Birthday.

Born on this day: March 18, 1963 - Singer/actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams (born Vanessa Lynn Williams in Tarrytown, NY). Happy 50th Birthday, Vanessa!!

On this day in music history: March 18, 1967 - "Penny Lane" by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. Written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon-McCartney), it is the 13th US number one single for the "Fab Four." The single is one of the first two songs (along with "Strawberry Fields Forever") to emerge from the sessions that will yield the band's landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is titled after a district near the Liverpool City Centre where Lennon had once lived as an art student. The idea for the song will come to McCartney in a dream. Recording sessions for the song will begin on December 29, 1966, with the final overdubs being recorded on January 17, 1967. Trumpet player David Mason will be hired to play the songs' signature piccolo trumpet solo after McCartney hears him playing the instrument during a television performance of Bach's 2nd Brandenburg Concerto. For both the US and UK releases of the single, it will come packaged with a picture sleeve that features a portrait of the band on the front with childhood photos of each member on the back. Released on February 13, 1967, it will enter the Hot 100 at #85 on February 25th, zooming to the top three weeks later. Surprisingly, the single will peak at #2 on the UK singles chart when it is held off the top by Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me." "Penny Lane" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. After the singles' release, it will be included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour in late 1967.

On this day in music history: March 18, 1972 - "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. Written by Neil Young,  it is the biggest hit for the Canadian born singer, songwriter, and musician. Young will be inspired to write the song during a period when he is in and out of the hospital being treated for a back injury. Forced to wear a back brace during much of the albums' recording, Young will be physically unable to play electric guitar, playing acoustic on many tracks instead. "Heart of Gold" will also feature background vocals from friends James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. "Heart Of Gold" is the first single from his fourth solo album Harvest. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on February 5, 1972, it will jump to the top of the chart six weeks later, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 18, 1972 - "I Gotcha" by Joe Tex hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for one week, also peaking at #2 for two weeks on the Hot 100 on May 6th. Written by Joe Tex, it is the biggest hit for the Texas-born soul singer born Joseph Arrington, Jr. The song is originally intended for R&B singer King Floyd ("Groove Me") when Tex writes it in 1968. When Floyd passes on the song, Tex will record a version of it himself in 1969. Unhappy with that version, he will record it again in 1971, and still isn't totally satisfied with his performance. Tex's producer and manager Buddy Killen will disagree. The song will first be released as the B-side of the track "A Mother's Prayer." DJ's will prefer "I Gotcha," initially breaking out of the south in Birmingham, Miami, Atlanta, and then spreading to New York before it goes national. Once it hits the charts in January of 1972, "I Gotcha" will shoot up the R&B and pop charts at the same time, selling nearly three million copies in the US. Right on the heels of the records' success, Joe Tex will abruptly retire from music to become a Muslim adapting the name Yusuf Hazziez, touring the country as a spiritual lecturer. He will return to performing in 1976 and score one more major hit with the million selling single "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" the following year.

On this day in music history: March 18, 1978 - "Night Fever" by The Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. Written by Barry, Robin, & Maurice Gibb, it is the sixth US chart topper for the British-born family trio. Written for the film Saturday Night Fever, the brothers will write and record the track at the Château d'Hérouville outside of Paris, France in the Spring of 1977. Released in late January of 1978, RSO Records will be forced to rush release the song as a single while the soundtrack albums' second single "Stayin' Alive" is still climbing the charts. Like its two predecessors, "Night Fever" will be another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on February 4th (on the same day that their previous single "Stayin' Alive" hits #1), it will rocket to the top six weeks later. The week it tops the pop singles chart, it will make further history as Barry Gibb is also the co-writer and producer of the songs in the #2, #3, and #5 spots on the chart which are the Bee Gees' own "Stayin' Alive", Samantha Sang's "Emotion," and Andy Gibb's "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water." One week later on March 25th, Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" also co-written by Barry Gibb, will enter the top 10 increasing the number to five singles in the top 10 at once. "Night Fever" will be certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA, making it The Bee Gees third consecutive single to sell over two million copies in the US.


On this day in music history: March 18, 1983 - The hip hop documentary film Wild Style is officially released in US theaters. Written, produced, and directed by Charlie Ahern and released through First Run Features, the film is one of the first to document the different aspects of New York underground Hip Hop/B-boy subculture including graffiti writing, MC'ing, DJ'ing, and breakdancing. It features a number of important and seminal figures to the scene including Fab 5 Freddy, The Cold Crush Brothers, The Rock Steady Crew, Grandmaster Flash, Busy Bee, Grandmixer DST (now known as DXT), and Lee Quinones. The accompanying soundtrack album (originally released on Animal/Chrysalis Records and produced by Ahern and Fab 5 Freddy) features many of the artists seen in the film (additional pieces by Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein of Blondie) and will become a musical cornerstone and often sampled part of rap in the years that follow. The original single LP will be reissued by Beyongolia Records in 1998 as a 2 LP set (with extra tracks) in a gatefold sleeve, and as a further expanded edition for its 25th anniversary in 2008 by Rhino Records. Rhino will also release the film on VHS and later on DVD. Wild Style will attain a major cult following over the years, and will be recognized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Institute of Contemporary Art of Boston, and the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame for its ongoing cultural importance and significance.

Relevant Tags

Wilson Pickett (2), Vanessa Williams (2), The Beatles (63), Neil Young (27), Joe Tex (1), The Bee Gees (7)