Music History Monday: May 21

Posted by Jeff Harris, May 21, 2012 05:40pm | Post a Comment
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On this day in music history: May 21, 1955 - "Maybellene," the debut single by Chuck Berry is recorded. Cut at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, Berry bases the tune on the traditional country song "Ida Red." Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess feels the name is "too rural" sounding and suggests changing the title to "Maybellene." The song's then unusual hybrid of country & western and rhythm & blues supported by a big back beat along with its lyrical themes of fast cars and love gone wrong is instantly appealing to black and white audiences alike. Released in July, the single will be a huge hit right out of the gate, spending 11 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart and peaking at #5 on the Pop Best Sellers chart. "Maybellene" will go on to become one of the most influential songs in the history of rock & roll, inspiring dozens of cover versions with Berry's original recording being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1988.

On this day in music history: May 21, 1963Recorded Live: The 12-Year Old Genius, the third album by (Little) Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, it is recorded at the Regal Theater in Chicago in June of 1962. Following the less than enthusiatic response to the young singer/musicians first two studio albums, Motown Records founder Gordy decides to capture Wonder in all of his excitement live on stage. One of the highlights of the performance is the song "Fingertips." Running at over six and a half minutes, it will be split into two parts for single release when it is issued in tandem with the album. DJ's will prefer Part II of the single, featuring the electrifying call and response between Stevie and the audience along with his virtuoso harmonica playing.  "Fingertips Pt. II" will hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and six weeks on the R&B chart. The "Genius" album will hit #1 on the Top 200 on August 24th, making Wonder (at 13) the youngest artist in history to have a #1 album and single.