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Born on this day: September 23, 1926 - Jazz music icon John Coltrane (born John William Coltrane in Hamlet, NC). Happy Birthday to this jazz giant on what would have been his 87th Birthday.
Born on this day: September 23, 1930 - "The Genius" Ray Charles (born Ray Charles Robinson in Albany, GA). Happy Birthday to this musical icon on what would have been his 83rd Birthday.
Born on this day: September 23, 1949 - Rock music icon Bruce Springsteen (born Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen in Long Branch, NJ). Happy 64th Birthday to the Boss!
On this day in music history: September 23, 1967 - “The Letter” by The Box Tops hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Written by Wayne Carson Thompson, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the Memphis quintet fronted by lead singer Alex Chilton. Songwriter Thompson ("Always On My Mind") will be inspired to write "The Letter" when his father comes up with the lyric "give me a ticket for an aeroplane." Thompson will quickly write the rest of the lyrics and melody around that line. Once the song is complete, Thompson will take it to his friend, producer Chips Moman who also owns American Recording Studios in Memphis. Moman in turn will tell his songwriting partner Dan Penn about the song. Penn is working with a young rock band featuring a sixteen-year-old lead vocalist Alex Chilton. Penn will hear the song and decide that it is perfect for his young charges first release. Recorded in the spring of 1967, the band (with songwriter Thompson also playing guitar on the session) will cut the track in about eight hours, recording 30 takes to come up with the final master. For the final touch, Penn will overdub the sound of a airplane flying over toward the end of the song. When Moman objects to the addition, Penn will threaten to cut up the tape with a razor blade rather than remove the sound effect. Moman will allow it to remain on the finished record. At the time the band records the single, they do not have a name. One of the members will jokingly suggest that people “send in 50 cents and a box top” with their possible group name. From that, the band will be dubbed "The Box Tops." Released in July of 1967 on Bell Records' Mala imprint, “The Letter” will enter the Hot 100 at #85 on August 12, 1967, leaping to the top of the chart six weeks later. The song will be covered by a number of artists including The Arbors, The Ventures, and Don Fardon. Joe Cocker will have the second most successful recording of the song when his version hits #7 on the Hot 100 in June of 1970. The Box Tops' version of "The Letter" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.