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
July 5 (1954) — Elvis Presley makes his first commercial recording during a session held in the legendary Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tenn. The future King of Rock sings two covers of songs from the 1940s, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right (Mama)” and Monroe’s 1947 bluegrass chestnut “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Those will be the “A” and “B” sides of Presley’s first single release, which is a regional hit in some parts of the South, but sells only about 20,000 copies, fails to chart nationally and doesn’t crack Billboard magazine’s year-end Top 30. However, it ranks No. 113 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2010 “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.
July 11 (1959) — The first Newport Folk Festival is held in Newport, R.I. The fest in its early years will help a number of new artists reach a broader audience — Joan Baez performs unannounced at the first edition, and will bring Bob Dylan on the stage four years later; Jose Feliciano debuted there in 1964 — and will also be the site of Dylan’s first electrified performance. The non-profit festival will draw less interest in the later 1960s, and be discontinued in 1971, but will make a comeback in 1985 as a for-profit event.