October 20 – Pickett, PPM, NIN

1962

Boris Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers’ novelty Halloween tune Monster Mash reaches US#1 with help from producer Gary S. Paxton and pianist Leon Russell.

1962

Folk music album Peter, Paul and Mary hits US#1 … an unheard-of rarity.

It spends 7 months in the top 10, with songs like 500 Miles, Lemon Tree, and Seeger hit Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.

Their recording of Pete Seeger and Lee Hays song If I Had a Hammer climbs to US#10 and is a double-winner at the Grammy Awards of 1963.

Hammer  500  Morning  Flowers 

1973

English rock band Rolling Stones finally manage a US#1 with a single, Angie.

Written by Keith Richards, it’s about the end of a romance – rumored to be about Angela Bowie.

1973

The Sydney Opera House is opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

1989
US industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails releases debut album Pretty Hate Machine.

A critical success, PHM only charts #75 … but eventually goes triple platinum. It’s top single song is Head Like a Hole. … A three-track version of this single was released in the UK, an 11-track version in the US!

1994 second album The Downward Spiral reaches US#2 (UK#9,CA#13); its singles Hurt and Closer make the USAlt top-10. Every album since has landed in the top-20.

NIN was founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor, previously a handyman and janitor at a studio! so determined that PHM sequencing was done using MOTU’s Digital Performer on a Mac Plus! Prior to that, Reznor says, ‘I had a Commodore 64 with, I think, the Sequential Circuitss Model 64 Sequencer Cartridge.’ (*) (*)

October 19 – Elgar, Godfrey, Chorus Line, Clerks

1901


Elgar, c.1900

Premiere performance of ‘March No. 1 in D major’ (the famous one) of a series of five marches called Pomp and Circumstance.

Elgar conducts, 1931 

They’re composed by England’s Edward Elgar between 1901 and 1930. Elgar later sets the famous tune as a patriotic song, by request of the King, called Land of Hope and Glory.

1953

An angry Arthur Godfrey, thought of as a ‘nice guy’, fires singer Julius LaRosa, live on his TV program … alienating many viewers.

1975

A musical about A Chorus Line opens on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre.

The show ends in 1990 after 6,137 performances, and after winning 9 Tony Awards. It re-opens in October, 2006!

A film version directed by Richard Attenborough is released on Dec. 10, 1985.

1994

Kevin Smith‘s hip slacker/stoner comedy film Clerks is released.

It’s shot for $27,000 (it earns that back in 2 theatres on its first weekend) … they spend more than that on the alt-rock Clerks soundtrack! which includes Soul Asylum‘s Can’t Even Tell  (MR#15) and Alice in Chains Got Me Wrong  (MR#7).

Grossing $3mil (short tail), the film TEARS UP the indie scene. Snoochie boochies!

October 18 – Moby Dick, Regency TR-1

1851

Novel Moby-Dick by American fiction author Hermann Melville is first published in London in 3 volumes as ‘The Whale’.

The immortal tale of the evil of vengeance and the power of nature is published in NY on Nov. 14. Its fictional ship Pequot is modelled on the real whaleship Essex, sunk by a whale in 1820. There was actually an albino sperm whale called Mocha Dick, named for the island off Chile.  ( Melville fansite

Based in a similar novel by Melville, the opera Billy Budd by English composer Benjamin Britten debuts in London’s Royal Opera House on Dec. 1, 1951; there are 17 curtain calls. Mutiny scene  ▷MusicWeb: Britten▹

The screenplay for the 1956 film adaptation of Moby Dick, directed by John Huston, is written by Ray Bradbury (‘his Fahrenheit 451‘ appeared in 1953). The association with Huston is not a pleasant experience for Bradbury. Likewise for Gregory Peck, who plays Ahab; later he says that Huston should have played Ahab. Huston commissions French-British violist, composer Philip Sainton (*) to write the filmscore. Film 

Finally, the instrumental, drum-solo track Moby Dick appears on British group Led Zeppelin‘s second album, released Oct. 22, 1969.  ( Led Zep site

1954

The first mass-market transistor radio (AM only!), the Regency TR-1, is announced.

Made in the USA (how weird is that!) by I.D.E.A. Inc., it fits in one hand, costs $50, has 4 transistors, and uses a 22-volt battery! Assembly 

First transistor, 1947

Regency TR-1 page

The personal gadget slowly becomes a fad, growing up with rock’n’roll. You can take it to the beach! By the early 60s owning a ‘transistor’ (sold for $10 or less), like the much later iPod, is a must for many.
MP3: How transistors revolutionized music
Roger McGuinn’s TR-1 

October 17 – Jailhouse Rock, Manfred, Hair

1957

Elvis Presley movie Jailhouse Rock premieres in a Memphis theatre.

He’d once worked as an usher in the same theatre. In his first film for MGM, he plays Vince Everett, an ex-convict working in the music industry. His co-star Julie Tyler is killed in a car accident a few weeks after the film was completed; Elvis refuses to view it.

The title song, released as a 45-rpm single, is a US #1 hit for 7 weeks. It’s a UK#1 for 3 weeks the following year, and on re-issue in 2005 again reaches UK#1! After 2 years in the military, needless to say, the same Elvis did not return.

1964

British group Manfred Mann have a US#1 single (UK#1 in August) with Do Wah Diddy Diddy … previously released by US group The Exciters.
Manfred  Exciters 

The song is heard in the 1981 film Stripes by Bill Murray and Harold Ramis.

1960
Ben E. King leads The Drifters to a US#1 with Leiber and Stoller megahit Save The Last Dance For Me. 1970
The Jackson 5 score their fourth straight US#1 single with I’ll Be There. 1987
The Bee Gees have their first UK#1 since 1979 with You Win Again.

1967

STREAMING FLAXEN WAXEN

Rado, Ragni and MacDermot’s
american tribal love-rock musical
Hair
premieres off-Broadway

for a six week run.

 Gimme head with hair 
 Long beautiful hair 
 Shining, gleaming, 
 Streaming, flaxen, waxen 
 Give me down to there hair 
 Shoulder length or longer 
 Here baby, there mama 
 Everywhere daddy daddy 

It opens on Broadway in April 1968 for 1750 performances, then for 1,997 performances (enjoying the new Theatres Act 1968) in London. ( Website
 ~ doubtit 

October 16 – Hendrix ‘Ladyland’, Hayes ‘Shaft’ , Wonder ‘Key of Life’, Rough Trade

1968

The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases third, double album Electric Ladyland, which finally carries Jimi’s music to US#1.
 
Manager Chas Chandler‘s departure had a clear impact on the artistic direction that the recording took. Deviating from standard popsong format, it includes modern electronic effects. The album includes singles Crosstown Traffic , Dylan cover All Along the Watchtower (US#20,UK#5) , and Voodoo Child (UK#1 in 1970) . Another track Voodoo Chile is a 15-minute jam.
 ( Website

1971

Isaac Hayes releases Theme from Shaft, which becomes a US#1 hit.
 
It’s recorded for the movie Shaft, released July 2 by Gordon Parks … so-called blaxploitation film about a private eye.
 ( Website

1976

Stevie Wonder releases double-LP album Songs in the Key of Life, which includes #1 hits Sir Duke and I Wish.
 
The album is a US#1, UK#2 and wins Wonder several Grammies, including Best Album, Best Producer, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
 ( Website

1976
Umbrella UMB DD1

Billboard Magazine reports that an LP is being released by Toronto rock band Rough Trade.
 
Rough Trade Live! (*) is ‘The first rock album to be recorded live direct-to-disc‘ … direct to a master rather than magnetic tape. Four jackets exist.
 ( Fansite Birds of a Feather 
 
Other artists who tried it out: Thelma Houston, Randy Sharp (‘First in Line’), Robert Goulet.

October 14 – Xanadu, Everlys, Orbison

1797

English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes to John Thelwall about a poem he’s writing called Kubla Khan about Xanadu, a Chinese emperor’s summer palace.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Sam suspends disbelief long enough for 54 lines, but sadly, it’s never finished.

In the 20th century the title Xanadu excites many works, such as Citizen Kane’s mansion (and Bill Gates’), and the title of several pop songs (*) (*) , a 1980 film and a Broadway musical  that opens July 10, 2007.

1920

At Union College in Schenectady, NY, student operators of 640-AM radio station 2ADD make the first college radio experimental broadcasts.

The station begins broadcasting the ‘top 40′.
(*) ▷College Radio’s Hidden History▹

See also: Radio History (Detroit: 8MK, et.al.), Early Years of Radio  Chronology of AM Radio 1900-1960 

1957

The Everly Brothers, the most successful duo on the Hot 100, get their first US#1 with the banned-in-Boston song Wake Up Little Susie.

The action takes place at the drive-in movie … remember?

We both fell sound asleep
Wake up little Susie and weep
The movie’s over
It’s four o’clock
And we’re in trouble deep
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie
We gotta go home

Like most of their hits, it is written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Simon and Garfunkel, who cite the Everlys as a strong influence on their act, will cover the song.

1963

US crooner Roy Orbison gets his second of four Irish#1 hits with Blue Bayou.

It only reaches #29 in the US until Linda Ronstadt sings it to US#3 in late 1977.  ~ Roy Orbison