ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: MARCH 31

#1 R&B Song 1958:   “Tequila,” the Champs

 

Born:   Big Maceo Merriweather, 1905; Lowell Fulsom, 1921; Al Goodman (Ray, Goodman & Brown), 1947

 

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1945   Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra charted with “Tippin’ In,” reaching #1 R&B for six weeks.

 

1956   The Coasters had their first chart single under their own name when “Down In Mexico” reached the R&B list today, eventually hitting #8. Two of the members, Bobby Nunn and Carl Gardner, had previously been with the Robins of Smokey Joe’s Cafe fame.

 

1956   The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presly, was also the king of the R&B charts. . ..sort of. Presley had thirty-five R&B hits from 1956 through 1963 starting today with the debut of “Heartbreak Hotel,” which reached #3. He was the most successful White artist on the Black charts and was #35 among the Top 500 R&B artists of all time. James Brown was #1.

 

1961   The Brooklyn Fox’s Easter Extravaganza included performances by the Marcel, the Shirelles, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs, Carla Thomas, Ben E. King, the Olympics, Chuck Jackson, the Capris, the Isley Brothers, and Rosie, formerly of the Originals. All that for a couple of dollars.

 

1962   The Crystals’ “Uptown” charted (#13) and became their only single featuring six members, as Lala Brooks replaced a pregnant Merna Girard, who hung on long enough to record at the session. The song was originally intended for Tony Orlando until producer Phil Spector convinced the writers it needed a female touch.

 

 

 

1967   The Jimi Hendrix Experience began its first tour at the Astoria Theatre in London, but the debut was short-lived as Jimi was taken to a hospital for burns on his hands as a result of his new “gimmick” that included burning his guitar. The tour included American and British stars the Walker Brothers and Engelbert Humperdinck. Before the tour was over Jimi would be playing his guitar with his teeth along with his nightly burn-the-guitar ritual, which would have theater owners up in arms.

 

1973   New York City (a vocal group from guess where) charted with the Thom Bell-produced “I’m Doin’ Fine Now,” reaching #14 R&B and #17 pop.

 

1991   Whitney Houston performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Norfolk Naval Air Station for American soldiers returning from the Gulf  War. Her recording of the anthem sold more than 750,000 records in only nine days.

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