Born on this day: April 8, 1963 - Singer, songwriter, and musician Julian Lennon (born John Charles Julian Lennon in Liverpool, UK). Happy 50th Birthday, Julian!!
On this day in music history: April 8, 1975 - Toys In The Attic, the third album by Aerosmith is released. Produced by Jack Douglas (Cheap Trick, John Lennon), it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City from January - March 1975. After working with Douglas on their previous album Get Your Wings, they will return to the studio with him in the Winter of 1975 to record the follow up. The end result will be the Boston-based rock bands' commercial breakthrough (and highest selling studio album) in the US, spinning off three singles including "Sweet Emotion" (#36 Pop) and "Walk This Way" (#10 Pop). "Walk" is initially issued as a single in August of 1975 and does not chart. It will be re-released in November of 1976 (following the successful Rocks album) and becomes their first top 10 hit. Toys In The Attic will peak at #11 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 8x Platinum by the RIAA.
Remembering "The Prince Of Motown," Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr. in Washington DC) - April 2, 1939 - April 1, 1984.
Born on this day: April 1, 1948 - Reggae music icon Jimmy Cliff(born James Chambers in Somerton District, St. James, Jamaica). Happy 65th Birthday, Jimmy!
Born on this day: April 1, 1949 - Singer/songwriter/author and poet Gil Scott-Heron (born Gilbert Scott-Heron in Chicago, IL). Happy Birthday to Gil on what would have been his 64th Birthday.
On this day in music history: April 1, 1978 - "The Closer I Get To You" by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for two weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on May 13th. Written by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, it is the second chart topper for the R&B vocal duo. Originally written as a solo for Roberta Flack, her manager David Franklin will suggest making the song a duo, calling on her old friend singer and musician Donny Hathaway to duet with her. The song will be the first collaboration between Flack and Hathaway since their Grammy winning duet "Where Is The Love" nearly six years earlier. Hathaway is actually hospitalized at the time (being treated for severe depression and often unpredictable mood swings) and must receive special permission to leave the facility and record his vocals. Released as the second single from Flack's album Blue Lights In The Basement, it is an immediate smash on both the R&B and pop singles charts. "The Closer I Get To You" will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, also driving the accompanying album to Gold status. The song will be revived by Luther Vandross and Beyonce Knowles in 2003, being included on their albums' Dance With My Father and Dangerously In Love. Their version of the duet will win them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 2004.
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, 1963 - Surfin' 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.
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.
Born on this day: March 11, 1957 - R&B singer/songwriter Cheryl Lynn (born Lynda Cheryl Smith in Los Angeles, CA). Happy 56th Birthday, Cheryl!!
On this day in music history: March 11, 1960 - "Because They're Young" by Duane Eddy is recorded. Written by Don Costa, Wally Gold, Aaron Schroeder, and produced by Lee Hazlewood (Nancy Sinatra, Sanford Clark), it is the theme song to the film starring Dick Clark, Tuesday Weld, Doug McClure, and James Darren. The film is about a high school teacher (played by Clark), who tries to make a difference in the lives of his students. Eddy will also have a cameo role in the film. Released as a single in May, the song will become the guitarists' biggest hit in the US, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 4th. Co-star James Darren will later record a vocal version of the originally instrumental theme after Duane Eddy's version becomes a hit.
On this day in music history: March 11, 1967 - "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" by The Supremes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, also topping the R&B singles chart for two weeks on the same date. Written by Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, it is the ninth pop and fourth R&B chart topper for the superstar Motown vocal trio. Songwriter and co-producer Eddie Holland will come up with the basic idea for the song, writing the lyrics about a relationship in the throes of breaking up. Impressed by Diana Ross' emotive speaking voice, HDH will structure the song with passages where she'll deliver brief lines of dialogue before breaking into the songs' chorus. The basic track will be one of the Motown singles of the period not to be cut at the label's main studio (dubbed "Studio A") in Detroit. The producers will have members of The Funk Brothers fly out to Hollywood where they are working with film composer Frank DeVol (The Brady Bunch) on music for the film The Happening (starring Anthony Quinn). Recorded on the scoring stage at Columbia Studios on August 12, 1966, the Motown rhythm section is augmented with a full orchestra (arranged by Gene Page) featuring bassist James Jamerson playing upright bass. Jamerson will later overdub an electric bass part on the track in Detroit on September 22nd, with The Supremes adding their vocals on November 13th. Issued as the follow up to the groups' previous chart topper "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on January 11, 1967, it is the second single from The Supremes Sing "Holland - Dozier - Holland. Entering the Hot 100 at #47 on January 28th, it will shoot to the top six weeks later.