This Week in
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
April 7 (1915) — Eleanora Fagan is born in Philadelphia, Pa., the daughter of an unwed teenage couple. After a turbulent childhood — her father will abandon his family to pursue a career in jazz music, and she will take a job running errands in a brothel at age 12 — she will begin singing in nightclubs in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in her early teens. Taking her performing name from a favorite actress and her absent father, Billie Holliday will be influenced by early jazz artists like Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, develop a new style of vocal phrasing and tempo, and in turn influence jazz, pop, blues and rock vocalists. Alcohol and drug abuse will damage her voice, though, and she will die of cirrhosis of the liver at age 44.
April 10 (1970) — Paul McCartney announces that he is leaving the Beatles, making official the breakup of arguably the most influential rock group of the 1960s. McCartney’s songwriting partner, John Lennon, had informed the other members of the band the previous September that he was leaving, but there was no public announcement of the dissolution until McCartney left.