Music History Monday: March 25

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 25, 2013 10:50am | Post a Comment

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Born on this day: March 25, 1942 - R&B vocal icon Aretha Franklin (born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, TN). Happy 71st Birthday to The Queen of Soul! We ♥ you!

Born on this day: March 25, 1947 - Singer, songwriter, musician, and pop music icon Sir Elton John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex, UK). Happy 66th Birthday, Sir Elton!

On this day in music history: March 25, 1963Surfin' USA, the second album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by Nick Venet, it is recorded at the Capitol Tower and Western Recorders in Hollywood from June 13, 1962 - February 12, 1963. Issued as the follow up to their debut "Surfin' Surfari, it will see Brian Wilson becoming a considerable force creatively as he writes or co-writes eight of the albums' 12 songs. He will also be responsible for most of the actual production on the album, though the credit is given to the band's A&R man Nick Venet. It will spin off two singles including "Shut Down" (#23 Pop) and the title track (#3 Pop). The title track will be the subject of a lawsuit between Brian Wilson's publisher Sea of Tunes and Arc Music, the publisher of Chuck Berry's song "Sweet Little Sixteen." The suit will claim that The Beach Boys song plagiarizes Berry's song almost note for note. The matter will be settled with Berry receiving a writing credit and royalties for the song. Surfin' USA will peak at number two on the Billboard Top 20, and is certified Gold in the US by RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1967 - "Happy Together" by The Turtles hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Written by Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, it will be the biggest hit for the L.A.-based band. Written while members of a band called The Magicians, Bonner and Gordon will play their song for numerous publishers trying to generate interest but will be rejected over a dozen times. The Turtles will first hear the song via a worn out acetate demo recording received from the songwriters. The Turtles will create their own arrangement of the song, and begin performing it live before cutting it with producer Joe Wissert and engineer Bruce Botnick (The Doors) in Studio 1 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood in January of 1967. Recorded on the very first 3M 8-track tape machine ever manufactured by the company (the second unit is shipped to Abbey Road Studios in England and first used by The Beatles), the basic rhythm track (guitars, bass, and drums) is recorded live across the first three tracks, with the lead and background vocals, keyboards, and brass overdubs are recorded over the remaining tracks. Released in late January, the single is an immediate smash. "Happy Together" will enter the Hot 100 at #79 on February 11, 1967, reaching the top of the chart just six weeks later. "Happy Together" will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1967 - "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" by Aretha Franklin hits number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart for seven weeks, also peaking at number nine on the Hot 100 on April 15th. Written by Ronnie Shannon, it is the first chart topping single for the "Queen Of Soul." It is recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL on January 24, 1967. Producer Jerry Wexler had original intended for Franklin to record her entire first album for Atlantic in Muscle Shoals, but after Aretha's husband Ted White gets into a drunken argument with one of the horn players, the sessions will be aborted after only one day. Three weeks after the session, producer Wexler will have acetates of the song sent to key DJ's around the country with the reaction being immediate and overwhelmingly positive. With the song on the radio and no completed B-side ready for commercial release, Wexler will have to track down Aretha and bring her to New York so she can record her lead vocal for the flipside "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man." Completed at last, it is rush released by Atlantic on February 10, 1967. The single will rocket to the top of the R&B chart in just six weeks, immediately crossing over to the pop chart. "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1968 - The 58th and final episode of The Monkees TV series airs on the NBC television network. Titled "Mijacogeo - The Frodis Caper," the episode is co-written and directed by Micky Dolenz. The plot involves the band matching wits against the insane wizard Glick (played by comedic actor Rip Taylor), who is out to control the minds of television viewers throughout the world. The episode also features a cameo by folk musician Tim Buckley (father of singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley) at the end of the program. The show features the song "Zor and Zam" from The Birds The Bees & The Monkees album.  Growing dissent between The Monkees and Screen Gems over creative control, combined with declining ratings will lead NBC to pull the plug on the series in spite of it having won two Emmy Awards the previous year including Outstanding Comedy Series.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1970Band of Gypsys by Jimi Hendrix & The Band of Gypsys is released (UK release date is on June 12th). Produced by Heaven Research (aka Hendrix), it is recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York City on December 31, 1969 - January 1, 1970. It features Hendrix with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles performing as The Band of Gypsys, formed in the wake of The Jimi Hendrix Experience's dissolution. The legendary live set will feature mostly new material and is originally released through Capitol Records to fulfill an old contractual obligation. However, the band will be short lived, breaking up after a gig at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1970 that goes awry with Hendrix leaving the stage after playing only two songs. An expanded 2 CD version of the album will be released in 1999 along with a documentary film titled "Band of Gypsys: Live at the Fillmore East" featuring the original black and white video footage shot by a fan in the audience. Band of Gypsys will peak at #5 on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1972 - "A Horse With No Name" by America hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Written by Dewey Bunnell, it is the first chart topping single for the soft rock/pop trio. Band members Bunnell, Gerry Beckley, and Dan Peek, who are all the sons of American military officials stationed in London, will meet each other in Bushey Park, London while attending high school. Originally titled "Desert Song," Dewey Bunnell will write the song while the band are staying at the home studio of musician Arthur Brown (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) in Puddletown, Dorset. Bunnell will be inspired by a painting by Salvador DalĂ­, the image of a horse he sees in a picture by Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, as well as his own childhood memories of living in Arizona and in the New Mexico desert. Upon the song's release, some people will mistakenly think it is actually Neil Young. In a highly ironic twist, America's single will replace Young's "Heart Of Gold" at #1 on the US pop singles chart. Even stranger still, some US radio stations will ban the record from airplay, erroneously believing that the "horse" in the song is a thinly veiled drug reference. The success of "A Horse With No Name" will also send their debut album to the top of the Billboard Top 200, and will win American the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1973.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1972 - "In The Rain" by The Dramatics hits number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at number five on the Hot 100 on April 22nd. Written and produced by Tony Hester, it is the biggest hit for the Detroit based R&B vocal group fronted by lead singers Ron Banks and William "Wee Gee" Howard. The track is cut at United Sound in Detroit in mid 1971, and features musicians such as Michael Henderson (bass), and Funk Brothers' Dennis Coffey (guitar), Johnny Griffith (piano), and Uriel Jones (drums) playing on the rhythm track. Released as the follow up to their first major hit "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get," "In The Rain" will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, becoming The Dramatics second million selling single.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1974Open Our Eyes, the fifth studio album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO in August 1973. After making significant in roads with their previous album, the Gold-selling Head To The Sky,  Earth, Wind & Fire's third album for Columbia Records will mark the beginning of their breakthrough into the mainstream. Choosing the relative solitude of the Caribou Ranch up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the band will be intensely focused on their work, completing the recording in just a few short weeks. The album will spin off their first US top 40 single "Mighty, Mighty" (#4 R&B, #29 Pop), as well as the classic "Devotion" (#23 R&B, #33 Pop), and "Kalimba Story" (#6 R&B, #55 Pop). Open Our Eyes will hit #1 on the Billboard R&B album chart (for one week), #15 on the Top 200, and will be certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1976Wings At The Speed of Sound, the fifth album by Wings is released. Produced by Paul McCartney, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from January - February 1976. Unlike the  previous four Wings albums that feature material written entirely by Paul McCartney, the other members of the band are asked to write and sing songs on the next album. This is done in part as a response to critics that feel that Wings is merely a vehicle for McCartney alone, with the other members acting as just sidemen and is not a "democratic" band. Issued just 10 months after their previous album Venus And Mars, Wings will mount an extensive world tour in support of its release. In spite of tepid reviews from critics, it will be another huge commercial success. It will spin off two singles including "Silly Love Songs" (#1 Pop) and "Let 'Em In" (#3 Pop). Wings At The Speed Of Sound will spend seven weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1978 - "Bootzilla" by Bootsy's Rubber Band hits number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart for one week. Written and produced by George Clinton and William "Bootsy" Collins, it is the biggest for the Cincinnati, OH-based R&B/Funk band led and fronted by bassist and vocalist Bootsy Collins. Bootsy will write the song after he gives the song "Flash Light" away to friend George Clinton for Parliament to record after he decides it's not right for his own band. Inspired by his own outlandish sense of humor and his larger than life flashy image, "Bootzilla" will be the nick name he gives himself after his fellow musicians call him "a monster" for his musical prowess. The basic track will be recorded at United Sound in Detroit, with Collins playing bass and drums himself. It is released as the first single from Bootsy's third album Bootsy? Player of The Year. In an interestingly ironic twist, "Bootzilla" will replace Parliament's "Flash Light" at the top of the R&B singles chart.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1983 - The television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever is taped at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA. Produced by Suzanne de Passe and hosted by Richard Pryor, the two hour special celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Motown Records honoring founder Berry Gordy, Jr.. Featuring appearances by Motown legends such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson, the programs' highlight will be a reunion performance by The Jackson 5 capped off by Michael Jackson's legendary performance of "Billie Jean." "Motown 25" will air on NBC on May 16, 1983, coming in at the top of the Nielsen ratings for that week. The special will win a primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, Or Comedy Series and also a Peabody Award for Outstanding Individual Broadcast. Michael Jackson will also receive an Emmy nomination for his individual performance on the program.

On this day in music history: March 25, 1985 - Prince wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for "Purple Rain" at the 57th Annual Academy Awards. The awards ceremony is held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles with the award being presented by actors Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. When he is announced as the winner, Prince is accompanied on stage by Revolution bandmates Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. The shy and soft spoken musician will graciously accept the honor, thanking the Academy, "Purple Rain" director Albert Magnoli, his managers, the members of his band, and God.