This Week in Music History

Merle’s Makeover … Virgins Seized … Kid Rock’s EZ Money

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Historic Events that Rocked Music—The Week of December 28, 2015

Merle Haggard John Lennon Yoko Ono Kid Rock

1953: Hank Williams dies en route to a New Year’s Day show in Canton, Ohio, in the  back seat of his Caddy…his death at age 29 comes from a heart attack brought on by a lethal mix of alcohol, chloral hydrate and morphine…Williams’ funeral in Montgomery, Alabama will draw 25,000 mourners…Hank’s awesome legacy of landmark recordings and genre-defining songs place him in the first rank of country performers and American balladeers…

1956: Elvis Presley is on top of the music world this year with a record-setting 10 singles on the Top 100 chart…

1957: Fats Domino records the crossover hit “I’m Walkin’”...the song will score big on both the pop and R&B charts, at #4 and #1 respectively…there’s something about Fats and the act of walking…he’ll also register hits with 1959’s “I Want to Walk You Home” and “Walking to New Orleans” in 1960…

 

The lazy N’awlins rhythm in Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans” had dancers doing The Stroll coast to coast.

1960: Johnny Cash plays the first of many shows he will perform at San Quentin Prison…in the audience is a convict by the name of Merle Haggard who’ll credit the concert with helping him turn his life around…after release, Haggard dedicates himself to music instead of crime…

1961: At a New Year’s Eve Ritchie Valens memorial concert in Long Beach, California, the Beach Boys play for the first time under that name...they previously had been known as Kenny and the Cadets, The Pendletones, and Carl and The Passions…

1962: Singer Brenda Lee has a narrow escape, dashing into her burning Nashville home in an attempt to rescue her poodle Cee Cee...Lee is slightly injured but Cee Cee dies from smoke inhalation and the home is destroyed…

1964: British singer Cleo Sylvestre covers the 1958 Teddy Bears’ hit “To Know Him is to Love Him”...though the record sinks without a trace at the time, it has become highly collectible in recent years because the backing band is an unruly outfit called The Rolling Stones…

1965: Fender Guitars is bought by CBS for $13 million…used pre-CBS guitars, basses and amps begin commanding bigger prices as players see quality decline under the conglomerate’s ownership…the brand will stage a comeback after management buys the company back from CBS…

1967: The Doors’ self-titled debut album nails the #2 spot on the album chart while its most notable song “Light My Fire” sits atop the singles chart...in a mere eight months the band will issue its follow-up smash LP, Strange Days

1968: A shipment of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album Two Virgins is seized by U.S. customs authorities in New Jersey because the jacket sports a nude frontal photo of the pair that leaves nothing to imagine…

1970: Elvis drops in on FBI headquarters in D.C., and during a private tour offers his services as an undercover agent…

1971: The Beatles officially break up when Paul McCartney files in the London High Court for dissolution of the The Beatles Co. partnership…this same week, Fab Four fans are encouraged to binge-listen when Radio Luxembourg plays seven straight hours of Beatles songs, anticipating the era of binge-viewing by four decades…

1973: Pink Floyd wraps recording of Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road …initially a long-form musical piece, “Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics,”  it had first been performed live nearly a year earlier…the LP will become one of rock’s biggest sellers ever…

1974: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sign on with Fleetwood Mac completing the band’s transition from hard-core blues rockers to radio-ready popsters…this same week Bob Dylan hits the road with The Band on a 37-city U.S. tour…his first shows in seven years are a hot ticket with more than five million fans competing for 660,000 available seats…

1975: Elton John’s cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” goes to the top of the U.S. pop chart…the single includes John Lennon on guitar…

1976: Brilliant Texas blues guitarist Freddie King succumbs at age 42 from a hard-partying lifestyle that accompanied relentless touring…his style was an adventurous amalgam of Chicago and Texas guitar that exerted a strong influence on blues-rockers like Clapton and Beck…

 

Freddie King’s approach was a ferocious mashup of Chicago and Texas electric guitar styles.

1977: The Roxy opens on this first day of the year in London’s Covent Garden with The Clash as headliners….it will soon become the the leading venue for the fans and bands with torn tees, safety pins and grotty green teeth…

1978: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band play Cleveland on New Year’s Eve…the frontman gets his cheek torn open when someone tosses a firecracker at the stage…

1980: Following a third stroke Amos Milburn dies…the West Coast bluesman who played a big role in transforming jump blues into R&B had a rollicking boogie-woogie piano style and cut many popular instrumentals such as “Chicken Shack Boogie” …he’s remembered for a string of good-time party songs involving drinking, notably, “Bad, Bad Whiskey” and “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”…

1982: Steve Van Zandt marries Maureen Santora in Asbury Park, New Jersey...Bruce Springsteen is the best man, and Percy Sledge and Little Richard sing a duet of “When a Man Loves a Woman” at the reception…

1984: Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen loses his left arm in an auto accident in England but  the band saves his place on the drum throne...after recovering he adapts his kit and keeps on rockin’…

 

For his study in courage, Rick Allen gets big props at this 2012 Ireland show.

1985: TV actor and teen pop star Ricky Nelson, who enjoyed a series of 1950s and early 1960s hits, perishes in a plane crash along with five members of his Stone Canyon Band …the DC 3 aircraft, which had been purchased from Jerry Lee Lewis, had a history of problems with a gasoline-fired heater that may have caused the smoke-inhalation fatalities…both pilots survived by escaping through cockpit windows after a crash landing…

1987: Aretha Franklin is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…she’s the first woman to be honored…

1990: Miami radio station WKRL debuts it new all-Zep-all-the-time format with “Stairway to Heaven” being played for 24 straight hours…that’ll put a bustle in your hedgerow…

1991: Ted Nugent supplies a Salvation Army soup kitchen in Detroit with 200 pounds of venison…his gift includes Ted’s holiday season sentiment: “I kill it, you grill it”…

1992: When Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” enters the charts it marks the twenty-third straight year in which he has enjoyed a Top 40 hit, a record equaled only by Elvis…

1997: Spirit guitarist Randy California is drowned in Hawaii while helping his son escape a rip tide…the boy survives…

1999: George Harrison and wife Olivia manage to subdue an intruder who has invaded their home...Harrison is stabbed several times in the process but will recover…

2000: Country music legend Kitty Wells, along with her husband Johnnie Wright, performs a farewell show before a capacity crowd at Nashville’s Nightlife Club...Wells is 81, Wright 86...in the house are such Nashville notables as Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith and Marty Stuart…

2003: Meat Puppets bass player Cris Kirkwood gets into a beef with a security guard over a parking spot at a Phoenix post office…during the tussle, Kirkwood grabs the guard’s baton and beats him…the guard shoots Kirkwood leading to a hospital stay followed by a prison stretch during which Kirkwood will kick a longstanding heroin habit…

2004: Ray Davies of The Kinks is shot in the thigh after he gives chase to a pair of muggers who snatched his female companion’s purse while they strolled on a quiet New Orleans street...some media report on the story with the headline “You Really Shot Me”...also this week, Quantegy, the last U.S. company to make magnetic recording tape, shuts down operations...in the wake of the announcement, eBay lists a sudden spate of tape offerings...panicky producers who relish the sound of oversaturated iron oxide start hoarding their reels…

2005: Reissue labels have a field day when European copyrights expire on a number of classic pop and rock ‘n’ roll songs recorded in 1954 and earlier…titles include Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", and "Only You" by The Platters...also this week, despite selling millions of records and touring the world as the leader of Everclear, Art Alexakis files for bankruptcy citing over $3 million in tax and credit card debt…

2006: Kid Rock gets to play DJ at Jet in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve...commenting on the gig, he chortles, “It was $200,000 to act crazy and go out of my f***ing mind.”...also this week, R&B singer Brandy is involved in a four-vehicle freeway crash in L.A. when her 2007 Land Rover plows into a Honda at an estimated 65 mph...one of the drivers involved is killed while Brandy emerges unscathed...the California Highway Patrol says alcohol and drugs are not involved and ultimately no charges are filed against the singer…

2008: Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is sued for his cover of the band Indio’s “Hard Sun” for the Into the Wild soundtrack…songwriter Gordon Peterson says that because Vedder changed some of the lyrics, he “eroded” the integrity of the composition…in 2010 a judge will rule that given Vedder’s very minor changes, Peterson is tripping…

 

When Eddie Vedder made a couple of tweaks to the lyrics for “Hard Sun,” it provoked a lawsuit.

2009: In the final hours of 2009, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell announces on Twitter that the band will reunite after more than a ten-year split…

2010: Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer confirms he has officially joined Red Hot Chili Peppers…

2011: Chuck Berry collapses mid-show at a Chicago concert…about an hour into a show that’s clearly faltering, Berry falls on a keyboard…after seemingly having recovered backstage, he unsuccessfully attempts to revive the show, apologizes to fans and leaves the stage with a hint of his signature duck walk…

This Week’s Births

December 28: jazz pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines (1903), Roebuck "Pops" Staples of The Staples Singers (1914), bandleader-drummer-producer and R&B innovator Johnny Otis (1921), rockabilly bassist Dorsey Burnette (1932), Obie Jessie aka Young Jessie of The Coasters (1936) Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers (1938), Edgar Winter (1946), Alex Chilton of Big Star and The Box Tops (1950), French pianist Richard Clayderman (1953), session singer-bassist Catherine Popper (1973), neo-soul singer-songwriter John Legend (1978)

December 29: flautist-singer Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues (1942), The Band bassist and singer Rick Danko (1942), singer Marianne Faithfull (1946), Whitesnake drummer Cozy Powell (1947), singer Yvonne Elliman (1951), Neil Giraldo of the Pat Benatar band (1955), Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain (1961), Happy Mondays guitarist Mark Day (1961), Alex Gifford of Propellerheads (1963), The Offspring singer-guitarist Bryan Holland (1966)

December 30: rock innovator Bo Diddley born Otha Ellas Bates (1928), session picker Red Rhodes (1930), pop/country singer Skeeter Davis born Mary Frances Penick (1931), singer-songwriter John Hartford (1937), Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary (1937), singer Del Shannon born Charles Weedon Westover (1939), Mountain bassist and Cream producer Felix Pappalardi (1939), Kenny Pentifallo of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (1940), Michael Nesmith of The Monkees (1942), guitarist Robert Quine (1942), Davy Jones of the Monkees (1945), singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith (1946), Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker (1946), Jeff Lynne of ELO and The Traveling Wilburys (1947), producer Bruce Fairbairn (1949), Jay Kay of Jamiroquai (1969), drummer Jon Theodore of The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age (1973), R&B singer Tyrese Gibson (1978), singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding (1986)

December 31: composer Jule Styne (1905), bandleader and label owner Jerry Blaine (1910), folk singer Odetta (Holmes) (1930), guitarist Andy Summers of The Police (1942), singer-songwriter John Denver born John Deutschendorf (1943), Pete Quaife of The Kinks (1943), Burton Cummings of The Guess Who (1947), disco diva Donna Summer born LaDonna Gaines (1948), bassist Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith (1951), George Thorogood (1952), guitarist Michael Hedges (1953), Paul Westerberg of The Replacements (1960), Scott Ian of Anthrax (1963), Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block (1972), Korean entertainer Psy born Park Jae-sang (1977), My Chemical Romance drummer Bob Bryar (1979)

January 1: country blues guitarist Frank Stokes (1888), bandleader Xavier Cugat (1900), jazz bassist Al McKibbon (1919), Country Joe McDonald (1942), Mott the Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher (1950), songwriter Diane Warren (1956), Furious Five DJ Grandmaster Flash born Joseph Saddler (1958),guitarist Allen “Boff” Whalley of Chumbawamba (1961), R&B star Melissa Missy Elliot (1971), R&B singer Shareefa, born Shareefah Faradah Cooper (1984), British songwriter-producer Shahid Khan AKA Naughty Boy (1985)

January 2: rumbling baritone jazz and R&B crooner Arthur Prysock (1929), country singer-songwriter Roger Miller (1936), keyboardist Chick Churchill of Ten Years After (1949), Parliament/Funkadelic singer-guitarist Glenn Goins (1954), Douglas Robb of Hoobastank (1975), Little Drummer Boy of Immature (1981) country star Little Jimmy Dickens (2015)

January 3: Beatles producer George Martin (1923), Chess Records singer-guitarist Danny Overbea (1926), pianist Carl McVoy (1931), musician-arranger-producer Van Dyke Parks (1941), Stephen Stills (1945), Led Zeppelin bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones (1946), Teenage Fanclub singer-guitarist Raymond McGinley (1964), Detroit jazz reed player James Carter (1969), Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk (1975), Chimaira guitarist Rob Arnold (1980)

This Week’s Deaths

December 28: monster blues guitarist Freddie King (1976), Chris Bell of The Box Tops (1978), Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan (2009)

December 29: swing bandleader Fletcher Henderson (1952), folk singer-songwriter Tim Hardin (1980), Elvis advocate Marion Keisker of Sun Studios (1989), French singer-songwriter Mireille (1996), conductor Takashi Asahina (2001) jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (2008), soul singer Bobby Purify born Robert Lee Dickey (2011)

December 30: Delta bluesman Willie Brown (1952), Broadway composer Richard Rodgers (1979), Richard Blandon of The Dubs (1991), lyricist Mack David (1993), The Ohio Players reed player Clarence G. Satchell (1995), Johnny Moore of The Drifters (1998), bandleader-clarinetist Artie Shaw (2004), bluesman "Weepin'" Willie Robinson (2007)

December 31: R&B songwriter-producer Bert Berns (1967), bluesman Robert Pete Williams (1980), singer Ricky Nelson and his backup band, bass guitarist Patrick Woodward, drummer Rick Intveld, keyboardist Andy Chapin, guitarist Bobby Neal, and road manager/soundman Donald Clark Russell (1985), Nashville pianist Floyd Cramer (1997), guitarist Eddie Shaver (2000), Cutting Crew guitarist Kevin MacMichael (2002), manager Gerry Tolman (2005), House of Freaks guitarist Bryan Harvey (2006)

January 1: country legend Hank Williams (1953), bluesman Ed Bell (1960), honky-tonk piano player and songwriter Moon Mullican (1967), British blues pioneer Alexis Korner (1984), R&B producer-manager-songwriter Buck Ram (1991), singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt (1997), Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves (2007), pop/jazz singer Patti Page (2013)

January 2: cowboy singer Tex Ritter (1974), R&B singer Larry Williams (1980), David Lynch of The Platters (1981), Randy California of Spirit (1997), Capitol Records producer Nik Venet (1998), bachelor-pad music icon (Juan Garcia) Esquivel (2002), jazz cornetist Nat Adderley (2000), singer Robert “Squirrel” Lester of The Chi-Lites (2010), Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt of Iron Butterfly (2012)

January 3: Beatles roadie Mal Evans (1973), West Coast bluesman Amos Milburn (1980), Nashville producer Felton Jarvis (1981), pianist Carl McVoy (1992), Fleetwood Mac guitarist and songwriter Bob Weston (2012), Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers (2013)

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