This Week in

Rock History

            Feb. 19 (1940) — William Robinson Jr. is born in Detroit, Mich. Smokey Robinson will become the founder and front man of the Miracles, one of the original acts signed by Motown Record Corp. The group will produce 25 Top 40 hits with Robinson as lead vocalist, principal songwriter and producer, including a 1970 No. 1, “The Tears of a Clown.”

            Feb. 19 (1966) — Lou Christie’s “Lightning Strikes” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart. A plea for a sexual double standard — “Listen to me, baby, it's hard to settle down/Am I asking too much for you to stick around” — it will remain atop the chart for only one week, and Christie won’t record another Top 10 hit.

            Feb. 25 (1957) — Buddy Holly and the Crickets record their first charting single, “That’ll Be the Day,” in a Clovis, N.M., studio. The song is a No. 1 hit, and is considered a rock classic — but is not the first version Holly and his band recorded.

This Week in

Rock History

      Jan. 19 (1935) — Augustus Owsley Stanley III is born in Kentucky, the grandson of a former governor of, and U.S. Senator for, that state. An engineering school dropout who was discharged early from the Air Force, he studies ballet and supports himself as a professional dancer in Los Angeles, Calif., before joining the psychedelic drug scene at the University of California-Berkeley. He begins manufacturing lysergic acid diethylamide in 1963, and became chemist/supplier to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and, later, the Grateful Dead. Stanley becomes the Dead’s live sound engineer in 1965, and serves the band in that and other capacities for nearly a decade, interrupted by stints in prison for drug manufacture and possession charges.

     Jan. 21 (1961) — In New York City’s Bell Sound Studios, Del Shannon and his band re-record “Runaway,” this time a version re-written at the suggestion of the Ann Arbor, Mich., disk jockey who had helped discover the former carpet salesman and truck driver. The lead instrument on the new version is the Musitron, an early music synthesizer invented by the band’s keyboard player, Max Crook, who had convinced DJ Ollie McLaughlin to listen to their recordings. “Runaway” is Shannon’s first and only No. 1, but he will also have a two other Top 10s — “Hats Off to Larry” and “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun)” — and four other Top 40 hits.