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Born on this day: March 31, 1935 - Musician and co-founder of A&M Records, Herb Alpert (born Herbert Alpert in Los Angeles, CA). Happy 79th Birthday, Herb!
On this day in music history: March 31, 1949 - RCA Victor Records releases the first commercially available 45 RPM record available for domestic sale. That first single is "Tekarkana Baby" by country music legend Eddy Arnold. Written by Fred Rose, Arnold's version of the song will top the Billboard Best Selling Retail Folk Records chart (existing prior to the Country & Western chart) for one week. The label will press the initial run of the single on clear green vinyl. RCA will develop the new format in response to Columbia Records introducing the 33 1/3 RPM long playing LP the previous year. Pressed on vinyl (or styrene, which is developed by Columbia) rather than the fragile shellac discs that 78's were manufactured from, the 7" discs will grow in popularity, eventually overtaking the 78 in sales by the mid 1950's and becoming the dominant physical single format until the end of the 1980's. Happy 65th Birthday to the 45!
On this day in music history: March 31, 1958 - "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry is released. Written by Chuck Berry in 1955, the semi autobiographical song will be partially inspired by his longtime piano player Johnnie Johnson, though pianist Lafayette Leake will play on the single and not Johnson. "Goode's" opening riff will be lifted from R&B pioneer Louis Jordan's 1946 hit "Ain't That Just Like A Woman." The track is recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago on January 6, 1958 and features Berry backed by musicians Willie Dixon (bass), Lafayette Leake (piano), and Fred Below (drums). Chuck Berry's version will peak at #2 on the Billboard R&B Best Sellers chart and #8 on the Pop Best Sellers chart in June of 1958. Regarded as one of the quintessential rock & roll songs, it will be covered numerous times over the years by dozens of artists. Berry's original version is included on the Voyager Golden Record (a gold plated titanium disc with messages and music recorded on it) attached to the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 representing rock & roll music. The song will also be featured in the film Back To The Future in 1985, where in a humorous plot twist Berry's fictional cousin Marvin Berry overhears the song being performed by actor Michael J. Fox (actually sung by Mark Campbell of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack) who calls his cousin to tell him he's just heard the "new sound" he's been looking for. The original single of "Johnny B. Goode" is backed with the Berry-penned "Around And Around," which will also become a rock & roll standard that is also widely covered, most notably by The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, The Animals, and David Bowie. Chuck Berry's original recording of "Johnny B. Goode" is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.