Today in rock history: on this date in 1961, Motown Records girl group The Marvelettes reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart with its debut single, "Please Mr. Postman." The single, which went to the top of the R&B charts as well, is notable in that it was the very first single released through Motown Records to reach No. 1 before future hit-makers like The Supremes, The Temptations or Smokey Robinson would do so. Hired studio musicians performed on this historic single including Marvin Gaye who, at 22 years of age, played drums on the track years before his own stream of hits on Motown Records would begin. The song again reached the top of the charts in 1975 when soft pop duo The Carpenters took its version to No. 1 as well. Other notable renditions of the classic song include a cover The Beatles committed to vinyl in 1963.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1964, Sam Cooke, arguably the greatest soul and pop singer of all time, was shot and killed amid questionable circumstances at a Los Angeles motel. While a motel manager claimed to shoot Cooke in self-defense, questions have always persisted regarding the validity of the account and the accompanying details. Cooke had gained a reputation as a smooth, classy crooner thanks to hits like "You Send Me," "Cupid" and "A Change Is Gonna Come," and he regularly enjoyed crossover success on both pop and R&B singles charts. Sam Cooke was only 33 years old at the time of his tragic death.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1961, Blue Hawaii, Elvis Presley's 14th album and the soundtrack for the film of the same name, started an astounding 20-week run at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's pop albums chart. One of the most successful films and accompanying film soundtracks of the singer's career, the album spent a total of 39 weeks on the top 10 of the Billboard charts and immediately became one of Presley's best loved soundtracks. The album featured Elvis's classic ballad "Can't Help Falling In Love" which made it as high as No. 2 on Billboard's pop singles chart and remained a mainstay on Presley's live concert setlists right up to his final tour in 1977, the year of his death.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1970, as the world was coping with the breakup of The Beatles, John Lennon released his debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Praised for its honesty and deeply personal nature, the album received an overwhelming amount of critical praise upon its release and has since been regarded as one of Lennon's finest solo works. After studying primal scream therapy and becoming more in touch with his own personal childhood traumas, Lennon assembled this deeply intimate and revealing piece of work with the assistance of his wife Yoko Ono and record producer Phil Spector. One single ("Mother") was released from the album, but the album also included Lennon classics "Isolation" and "Working Class Hero." The LP reached No. 6 on American sales charts, No. 8 in Lennon's native UK and quickly achieved gold sales status not long after its release. Followed by his next release, 1971's stellar Imagine album, Lennon quickly asserted himself as a capable solo artist and proved that there was life after The Beatles after all.