On this day in music history: May 24, 1988 - “OU812”, the eighth studio album by Van Halen is released. Produced by Van Halen and Donn Landee, it is recorded at 5150 Studios in Hollywood, CA from September 1987 - April 1988. After the multi-platinum chart topping success of “5150”, their first release with new lead singer Sammy Hagar, they will return to the studio in the Fall of 1987 after taking break following their extensive US tour which will also yield the concert video “Live Without A Net”. The new album’s title is a humorous conjunction of the phrase “Oh You Ate One Too”, featuring a stark black & white band photo shot in a similar style to The Beatles “With The Beatles/Meet The Beatles” cover. The album will be dedicated to the memory of Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s father Jan who will pass away in December of 1986. Well received by fans but receiving a mixed response from critics, it will spin off four singles including “When It’s Love” (#5 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), “Finish What Ya Started” (#13 Pop, #2 Mainstream Rock), and “Black & Blue” (#34 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock). “OU812” will spend 4 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 24, 1969 - “Get Back” by The Beatles With Billy Preston hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks. Written by Paul McCartney (credited to “Lennon - McCartney”), it is the seventeenth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The single will be the first music to emerge from the recording sessions that produce the “Let It Be” album and documentary film. The “hit single version” of the track is recorded at Apple Studios in London on January 27, 1969, after weeks of rehearsing and recording various takes of the song. At the invitation of George Harrison, musician Billy Preston will play keyboards (mainly electric piano and organ) during the sessions for two weeks. The Beatles enjoy his playing and affable personality so much that they will give him co-billing on the single when it is released (the only time another musician is credited along side the band). “Get Back” will also be The Beatles first single to be issued in stereo in the US (mono in the UK). An alternate, shorter take of the song will appear on the “Let It Be” album when it is released a year later in May 1970. It is released the UK the Friday before Easter Sunday on April 11, 1969, with the US release date being on May 5th. The delay being caused by Paul McCartney deciding to remix the track again days before its scheduled release in the UK, with US release date also being pushed back. In spite of this, the single will be an immediate smash. The Beatles will tie their own previous record for the highest ever chart debut on the Hot 100 (set by “Hey Jude” eight months earlier) when “Get Back” enters the chart at #10 on May 10, 1969, leapfrogging to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Get Back” will be certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: May 24, 1941 - Singer, songwriter, and musician Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, MN. Happy 72nd Birthday, Bob!!
On this day in music history: May 24, 1968 - “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones is released (US release date is on June 1st). Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Jagger and Richards will write the song at Keith’s estate Redlands in West Wittering, Sussex, UK in early 1968. Jagger will be inspired to write the lyrics when he is awoken one morning by the sound of Richards’ gardener Jack Dyer walking past his window. When Mick asks who it is, Keith will reply, ‘Oh that’s Jack, jumpin’ jack”. The track will be recorded at Olympic Studios in London on April 20, 1968 during sessions for the band’s next album “Beggar’s Banquet”. Keith Richards will achieve the tracks’ unique guitar sound by using a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar tuned to an open D chord, then placing a capo on the neck. He then records the guitar (actually two guitars, with the second tuned to a higher octave) with a Philips cassette recorder using the players external condenser mic, then bouncing it back to multitrack tape. Issued as a stand alone single, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” will mark the Stones return to their trademark blues rooted sound after experimenting with psychedelic music on their two previous albums. In time, it will be regarded as one of the band’s greatest and most often covered songs. At the time of the single’s release, it will be accompanied by a promotional film directed by Michael Lindsey-Hogg (“Let It Be”), in which The Rolling Stones perform the song with Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts appearing with painted faces and heavy makeup. The song’s title will also become the basis of a Penny Marshall directed comedy in 1986 starring Whoopi Goldberg. Aretha Franklin will record a cover of the song produced by Keith Richards, who will also play guitar on the track. The Rolling Stones original version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” will hit #1 on the UK singles chart, #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1968, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 23, 1975 - “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy”, the ninth studio album by Elton John is released. Produced by Gus Dudgeon, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO from June - July 1974. After the successful “Caribou” album, the prolific musician will return to the Caribou Ranch in the Colorado Rockies to record his next release. The concept album is an autobiographical account of Elton John and Bernie Taupin and the struggles they faced at the beginning of their musical careers. The single “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” (#4 Pop), is about John’s half hearted suicide attempt while he’s engaged to a woman, faced with choosing her over his music career (and still struggling with his sexuality at the time). His friend and former bandmate Long John Baldry will convince him to break off the engagement. The album will also mark the last time that John records with drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray until the “Too Low For Zero” album in 1983. “Captain Fantastic will make history when it becomes the first album to ever enter the Billboard Top 200 at #1. For the original LP release, a limited number of promotional copies will be pressed on translucent brown vinyl, with each album jacket autographed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy” will spend 7 weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 23, 1969 - “Tommy”, the fourth studio album by The Who is released. Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from September 19, 1968 - March 7, 1969. The 24-track double album is a rock opera composed by Pete Townshend (with contributions from John Entwistle and Keith Moon) about a deaf, blind and mute boy who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, whose followers eventually turn on him in the end. Townshend will take inspiration from the teachings of Indian mystic Meher Baba, and the spiritual enlightenment he has found during the period he begins composing the songs. Musically, it will be more sophisticated and complex than anything that the band has previously attempted, augmenting their traditional instrumentation with horns, keyboards, orchestral percussion, and intricate vocal harmonies. Recording sessions will begin in the Fall of 1968, though they will be constantly be interrupted as the band’s then perilous financial state will force them to go on the road to pay the bills. The original LP release will be packaged in a tri-fold jacket with cover artwork by pop artist Mike McInnerney, also being packaged with a booklet containing the song lyrics. The album will be regarded as a watershed moment in the bands’ history and is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It will spin off three singles including “Pinball Wizard” (#4 UK, #19 US Pop), “I’m Free” (#37 US Pop) and “See Me, Feel Me” (#12 US Pop). “Tommy” will peak at #2 on the UK album chart, #4 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA. The album will be inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.
On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 - “Silly Love Songs” by Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks (non-consecutive), also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on May 29th. Written and produced by Paul McCartney, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the former Beatle. McCartney will write the song in response to critics who have frequently chided him in the press, feeling that his solo work is “lightweight” in comparison to his Beatles era material. Released on April 1, 1976, it is issued as the first single from Wings’ fifth studio album “Wings At The Speed Of Sound”, becoming an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on April 10, 1976, it will shoot to the top of the singles chart just six weeks later. After one week on top, it will be temporarily bumped from the top spot by Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” for two weeks. The single will then rebound, and return to the top for four more weeks. “Silly Love Songs” will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 - “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the eighth number one single in the US for “The Fab Four”. Written primarily by John Lennon, the song will carry a dual meaning. In part, it will be a play on the phrase “ticket to Ryde”, meaning a British Railways ticket to the town of Ryde on the Isle Of Wight in England. Lennon will also make it a sly reference to The Beatles days of performing in Hamburg, Germany. In this case, the “tickets” being cards carried by prostitutes indicating they had been given a clean bill of health, with “ride or riding” being a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The track will be recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London on February 15, 1965, and features Paul McCartney playing lead guitar on a Beatles single for the first time. He will also be instrumental in arranging the song’s unique rhythm pattern, suggesting it to Ringo Starr. Released on April 9, 1965, it is the first release from the band’s second film “Help!”, set to be released in July. However, when the record is released in the US, Capitol Records will erroneously print on the label that the song is from the film “Eight Arms To Hold You” which is the original working title of the film while it is in production. The single will also be backed with the initially non-LP B-side “Yes It Is”, recorded the day after “Ride” on February 16th. The song will be added to the US album “Beatles VI” in June of 1965, though in the UK it will not surface on an album until the release of the compilation “Love Songs” in 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on April 24, 1965, “Ticket To Ride” will zoom to the top of the chart four weeks later.
On this day in music history: May 21, 1976 - “Agents Of Fortune”, the fourth studio album by Blue Öyster Cult is released. Produced by Murray Krugman, Sandy Pearlman, and David Lucas, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City in Late 1975 - Early 1976. Following their their first Gold selling album, the live On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, the Long Island, NY based band will return to the studio in late 1975 to record their next full length. “Agents Of Fortune” will become BÖCs most successful album, and yields their biggest hit single “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (#12 Pop). Besides becoming an FM rock radio staple, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” will later become the subject of a comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live (featuring actor Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell) spoofing the recording session that produces the song. “Agents Of Fortune” will peak at #29 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.