May 11 – ‘Happy Organ’, Beach Boys, ‘MacArthur Park’, The Cure

1959

Detroit’s Dave “Baby” Cortez (Clowney) tops the charts with the second US#1 instrumental, The Happy Organ. ▷Clock 1009▹

The guitarist is Wild Jimmy Spruill, heard on multiple hits of the era. Cortez has another top-10 in 1962 with Rinky Dink. (*)

Before ‘Organ’, in 1956 instrumental Honky Tonk had reached US#2. 1958 had brought further instrumental hits Rebel-Rouser (twang, US#6), Patricia (cha cha, first US#1, also organ lead ), (almost-instrumental US#1) Tequila (surf US#1), and Topsy Part 2 (an even rarer top-40 drum solo, US#3 ) to the world.

1959 found The Fireballs playing ‘Torquay’ ( quite like Tequila, no?)

1964

California pop band The Beach Boys releases I Get Around. It will become the group’s first US#1 hit.

Like the Beatles, they are appreciated by parents as well as teens; they create 36 US top-40 hits, becoming and remaining the top-selling US band.

Apart from the numbers, they ruled their era to an extent that’s hard to overestimate. Brian Wilson is among the first rock producers to incorporate electronic sounds; for example, in Good Vibrations.

The ‘boys’ are inducted into the Rock HoF in 1988.  ( Website

1968

Actor Richard Harris has a big hit — his only — with unusually long song MacArthur Park (US#2).

One of the most surreal top-10s, the overwrought track — originally composed by Jimmy Webb as part of a cantata — was longer at 7:21 than the radio version of Hey Jude (popular that fall). For a while it was everywhere as people tried to ‘figure it out’.

Donna Summer would turn out a disco version that hits US#1 in Nov. 1978. Many more covers strive for the same ‘heights’ … and then there’s Weird Al’s Jurassic Park.

1979

British rock band The Cure (formed in ’76 as Easy Cure post-Malice) releases debut album Three Imaginary Boys (UK#44).

Released on the indie Fiction Records label, it doesn’t include first, controversial single Killing an Arab. Their albums slowly climb in the UK charts — and become a definitive force in goth rock. 1984 fifth album The Top (UK#10,US#180,NL#12) squeaks into the US-200; then the gold albums start to flow. Much as the lines of lead guitarist Robert Smith rainbow from effects.

The band sees its commercial peak with May 2 1989’s Disintegration (UK#3,US#12, #326 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest) Lovesong (US#2) and Apr 21 1992’s Wish (UK#1,US#2). Friday I’m in Love (UK#6,US#18

The latest album, their 13th, is 2008’s 4:13 Dream; the band continues to tour.

( Website )