August in Music History

August 1st

2015…Rush played its last concert closing out their R40 Live tour with a show at The Forum near Los Angeles. It’s not announced as their farewell, but the band has hinted it might be. At the end of the show, drummer Neil Peart uncharacteristically comes to the front of the stage to take a bow with his bandmates.

2014…The BBC screens Elvis: That’s Alright Mama 60 Years On to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the recording of the song: July 5, 1954.

1996…Bill Buchanan, known for a songwriting partnership with Dickie Goodman that produced the 1956 hit “The Flying Saucer,” dies of cancer at age 81.

1994…The Rolling Stones politely refuse an invitation to play at the Bill Clinton White House, though they play his 60th birthday party in 2006.

1988…Cincinnati AM radio station WCVG changes its format, becoming the first US all-Elvis radio station. The burning love for the format dies out after a year, and on August 16, 1989, it switches to talk.

1987…MTV Europe makes its debut. The first video shown is Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” a song where Sting proclaims, “I want my MTV.”

1980…Def Leppard perform their first US live gig, opening for AC/DC in New York City.

1980…George Harrison forms a movie production company called Handmade Films, which produces the films Monty Python’s Life of BrianThe Long Good FridayTime Bandits, and Shanghai Surprise.

1976…Gladys Knight gives birth to her third child, Shanga-Ali.

1972…The Eagles release “Witchy Woman.”

1972…Elvis Presley releases “Burning Love.”+

1971…The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour, starring the popular duo, premieres on CBS.

1969…Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys is indicted in Los Angeles for failing to perform his required community service hours, which were imposed upon him after he refused to be drafted as a conscientious objector; rather than the janitorial duty he was sentenced to at LA County Hospital, Wilson taught music classes there instead.

1969…The Beatles record “Because.”

1964…With The Beatles’ album A Hard Day’s Night already at #1 in America, the title track also hits the top spot, where it stays for two weeks. The film of that name – the first Beatles movie – is released in America 10 days later.

1960…Chubby Checker releases “The Twist,” starting a dance craze that soon grips the nation.

August 2nd

2019…With a show in Hannover, Germany on the 246th date of his ÷ (Divide) tour, Ed Sheeran breaks the record for highest-grossing tour, surpassing the $735.3 million U2 earned on their 2009-2011 360 tour (they did it in just 110 shows). Sheeran finishes the tour August 26 with a final tally of $775.6 million

2009…Rockabilly musician Billy Lee Riley dies of colon cancer at age 75. Known for the 1957 hit “Red Hot.”

2004…Eric Clapton bails out Cordings clothing store in London, a favorite of his since his teenage years, by purchasing a 50 percent share in the retailer.

2001…Ron Townson (of The 5th Dimension) dies of renal failure as a result of kidney disease at age 68.

1998…The Beatles are named “Favourite Recording Artist Of All Time” in a poll conducted by the UK music magazine Mojo, beating out Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Queen, and Elton John in that order.

1987…David Martin (bass player for Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs and co-writer of “Wooly Bully“) dies of a heart attack at age 50.

1983…Motown bass player James Jamerson dies at age 47 from a host of ailments, including cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure. Unheralded during his lifetime (he had to buy a ticket to see the Motown 25 special, Jamerson is later recognized as an integral part of the Motown sound; in 2000 he is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1980…Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic,” from the Xanadu soundtrack, hits #1.

1978…Boston release their second album, Don’t Look Back, which like its predecessor was recorded mostly in group leader Tom Scholz’ basement studio.

1975…The Eagles’ “One Of These Nights” hits #1 in the US, where it stays for one week.

1973…”Papa” John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas files suit against his former label, Dunhill, alleging $60 million in unpaid royalties.

1972…Brian Cole (bass guitarist for The Association) dies of a heroin overdose at age 29.

1971…Now down to a trio and driven by infighting, Creedence Clearwater Revival embark on their last US tour with a gig at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Assembly Center.

1969…Bob Dylan makes a rare return to his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, to attend his 10-year high school reunion. Accompanied by his wife, Sara, he joins classmates at the local Moose lodge before the event, and it proves awkward. He never makes it to the reunion itself, and makes no more public visits to the town.

1962…Aretha Franklin makes her television debut, singing “Don’t Cry Baby” and “Try A Little Tenderness” on American Bandstand.

1962…Bob Dylan makes his name change official, legally saying adieu to his birth name, Robert Zimmerman.

August 3

2019…Henri Belolo, who co-founded The Village People and co-wrote many of their hits, dies at 82.

2016…Ricci Martin, youngest son of Dean Martin, is found dead in his Utah home at age 62.

Stevie Wonder
 announces that he will be divorcing Kai Millard Morris, his second wife of eleven years. The couple reveal that they’ve been living separately for two years and cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split.

2010…Bobby Hebb (“Sunny“) dies at 72.

1985…Tears For Fears’ “Shout” hits #1 in the US for the first of three weeks. It’s the English synthpop duo’s second chart-topper, following “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

1974…Guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter leaves Steely Dan to join The Doobie Brothers.

1974…Bad Company‘s Bad Company LP hits #1.

1971…Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” is certified Gold.

1968…The Doors hit #1 in America for the second (and last) time when “Hello, I Love You” reaches the top for the first of two weeks. Their first #1 was “Light My Fire” in 1967.

The Tymes’ “So Much in Love” hits #1, where it will stay for one week.

1963…The Beatles show up on a Billboard chart for the first time when “From Me to You” bubbles under on the Hot 100, reaching a peak of #116 the following week. Their US breakthrough doesn’t happen until January 1964, when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” rises up the chart, hitting #1 in February.

August 4

2007…Lee Hazlewood, who wrote Nancy Sinatra’s hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” dies of renal cancer at age 78.

2006…John Locke (keyboardist for Nazareth, Spirit) dies of cancer at age 62.

1973…Maureen McGovern’s “The Morning After (The Song From The Poseidon Adventure)” hits #1 in the US for the first of two weeks.

1970…The Doors‘ Jim Morrison is arrested in Los Angeles for public drunkenness after being found lying unconscious on a resident’s doorstep.

1970…Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson marries his second wife, Barbara Charren, in Los Angeles. They divorce four years later.

1968…The Newport Pop Festival attracts 100,000 with Jefferson AirplaneGrateful Dead, and The Animals.

1966…The Temptations release “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep.”

1964…The Kinks release “You Really Got Me” in the UK. With a distorted guitar sound accomplished by taking a razor blade to an amplifier, it becomes their first hit, spending two weeks at #1 UK in September.

1957…The Everly Brothers perform “Wake Up Little Susie” on the Ed Sullivan Show. It is one of the more controversial songs ever played on the show, as there are some questions as to what Susie and her date were doing before she fell asleep.

August 5

2016…There are spectacular fireworks, awe-inspiring acrobats, and sensational dancers at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Rio, but supermodel Gisele Bundchen gets the biggest reaction when she takes a long walk across the stage to “The Girl From Ipanema,” performed by the composer’s grandson, Daniel Jobim.

2009…Steven Tyler of Aerosmith falls off the stage at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, suffering injuries to his head and neck, which force the rest of the band’s tour to be canceled. Tyler falls when he is entertaining the crowd with a dance while a technical problem is being sorted.

1996…Soul singer Wilson Pickett checks into a court-ordered rehab for cocaine addiction.

1993…Bassist Randy Hobbs (of The McCoysEdgar Winter Group, and Montrose) dies of heart failure at age 45 in Dayton, Ohio.

1992…Jeff Porcaro (drummer for Toto) dies of a heart attack from cocaine-induced atherosclerosis at age 38 in Los Angeles, California.

1980…The Osmonds officially disband.

1978…The Rolling Stones’ disco-flavored “Miss You” hits #1 in America, where it stays for one week, knocking Andy Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing” from a seven-week run at the top.

1976…NBC airs the 15th anniversary Beach Boys special It’s OK, featuring cameos by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

1975…Stevie Wonder signs the largest contract for a single artist in history: $13 million over seven years for seven albums with Tamla/Motown.

August 6th

2004…R&B superstar Rick James dies from a culmination of health problems – including heart issues, diabetes and stroke – at age 56 in Los Angeles, California.

1996…At a show in Hollywood, the Ramones play their final concert.

1994…Singer/actor Domenico Modugno dies of a heart attack at age 66 in Lampedusa, Sicily, Italy.

1988…More than a year after it was released, Guns N’ Roses‘ debut album, Appetite For Destruction, goes to #1 in America.

1988…Thanks to its inclusion on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, the Contours’ 1962 hit “Do You Love Me” makes another chart run, peaking at #11.

1981…Stevie Nicks releases her first solo album, Bella Donna.

1973…After a devastating car accident Stevie Wonder temporarily loses smell and taste after the vehicle he’s riding in runs into the back of a logging truck, and a log hits him in the face. He is in a coma for four days, but makes a strong recovery and returns to the studio in a few weeks.

1972…Procol Harum records “Conquistador” (live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra).

1960…Chubby Checker performs “The Twist” for the first time on TV when he does it on American Bandstand. The song goes to #1 and starts a huge dance craze.

August 7

2012…Grayson County, Texas, police respond to a call and discover country singer Randy Travis lying naked in the road and smelling of alcohol. Travis had crashed his vehicle into a construction zone just previously. In fact, there was an earlier call the same day from a convenience store owner, who said Travis had entered his store – still naked – and tried to buy cigarettes, but left when he realized he had no money. Travis is booked for DWI and resisting arrest, tying on another in a string of run-ins with the law.

2007…The Isley Brothers‘ Ron Isley begins serving a 37-month sentence for tax evasion. His request for a reduced sentence because of his health issues doesn’t fly with a judge who calls him a “serial tax avoider.” The IRS claims that Isley failed to pay $3.1 million in taxes.

2005…”Walking In Memphis” singer Marc Cohn is shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in Denver, Colorado. Miraculously, he survives.

2003…The Osmonds are awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

1997…Garth Brooks plays a free show in New York’s Central Park. It’s the last Central Park show to benefit from highly inflated crowd estimates, which are stated at over 100,000. Hand counts at future shows prove that crowds at these concerts usually top out at 50,000.

1996…A federal appeals court overturns the ruling that original Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers members Jimmy Merchant and Herman Santiago co-wrote the group’s biggest hit, 1955’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?,” ruling that copyright claims must be filed within three years of the song’s publication.

1984…R&B singer Esther Phillips dies of drug-induced liver and kidney failure at age 48 in Carson, California. Known for comeback country tune “Release Me.”

1981…It’s “Wolverton Mountain Day” in Arkansas in honor of the Claude King song “Wolverton Mountain,” which is named after a real mountain in the state.

1976…Elton John & Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” hits #1 in America for the first of four weeks.

1974…J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf marries movie star Faye Dunaway in a Beverly Hills courtroom. The couple divorce in 1979.

1973…The film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar is released, based on the 1971 Broadway rock opera of the same name.

1971…The Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” hits #1 for the first of four weeks.

1965…Herman’s Hermits knock “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” from the top spot in America with “I’m Henry The VIII, I Am,” a “second verse, same as the first” cover of a music hall song from 1910.

1957…The Quarrymen (minus new member Paul McCartney, away at Scout camp) make their debut at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. Manager Alan Sytner instructs them not to play Rock and Roll, but midway through their skiffle performance, John lights into a version of Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel,” which the crowd loves. The group, of course, becomes The Beatles.

1957… Paul Anka makes his US television debut, singing “Diana” on American Bandstand.

1957…The Crew-Cuts’ cover of “Sh-Boom” hits #1 in America.