Happy New Year! January might seem like a slow month for Classic rock happenings, but that’s not the case at all. Here’s a look at some of the biggest events in music – all of which occurred in January.
PINK FLOYD FINISH “DARK SIDE OF THE MOON” (January 1973)– The members of the underground English progressive rock band finished up recording their life-changing album at London’s Abbey Road Studios. The group had started recording the follow-up to the “Obscured By Clouds” soundtrack the previous May, formalizing in the studio the songs they’d been playing live for a year. The album became one of music’s true iconic releases once it came out in March of ’73.
THE BEATLES BEGIN THE “GET BACK” SESSIONS/ROOFTOP CONCERT (January 1969) – On January 2 the group began it’s ‘live-in-the-studio’ experiment to get back to the members’ roots as a rock and roll outfit. Known as the ‘Get Back’ sessions, the Beatles were constantly under the watchful eyes of cameras recording everything in the studio –for better or worse. Eventually becoming the “Let it Be” move and album, the project was produced under great duress and marked the unraveling of the band.
On January 30, the Beatles recorded and filmed their last public appearance on the rooftop of their Apple Headquarters in London.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN RELEASES DEBUT ALBUM (January 5, 1973) - The unknown New Jersey musician put out “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” The album was completed in the studio in a single week and featured the singles “Blinded By The Light” and “Spirit In The Night.” Neither made an impression on the charts and by year’s end the album had sold a mere 25,000 copies. Springsteen’s second album suffered a similar fate, but eventually after the third album “Born to Run” made the rocker a star, the initial pair of releases both flew into Platinum territory.
LED ZEPPELIN BANNED IN BOSTON (January 1975) – When tickets for an upcoming Led Zeppelin show at the Boston Garden were put on sale, rioting fans waiting for the ticket windows to open caused $30,000 to $50,000 in damage. Mayor Kevin White promptly canceled the concert by refusing to issue a performance license and banned the group from ever appearing in the city. In subsequent years, the group might have made an appeal to return, but it never happened. Once John Bonham passed in 1980, the opportunity disappeared forever.
DAVID BOWIE RELEASES “BLACKSTAR,” THEN DIES TWO DAYS LATER (January 8, 2016) – Just three years ago, David Bowie put out his twenty-fifth and final studio album “Blackstar.” The album coincided with his 69th birthday and came two days before his death from cancer. It became his first and only album to reach No.1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US. Always the consummate artist, it seemed that Bowie had actually choreographed even the occasion of his own death.
ERIC CLAPTON’S RAINBOW THEATER COMEBACK (January 13, 1973) – Following three years of crippling heroin addiction, Eric Clapton made his return to the stage at London’s Rainbow Theater. It was a huge deal at the time; EC was one of the world’s biggest stars after his success in Cream and Blind faith as well as a strong debut solo album, yet he’d been a veritable recluse. Pete Townshend organized the concert with friends Ronnie Wood, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and others. The two shows were recorded for “The Rainbow Concert” album and although the guitar God was a bit rusty on his chops, at least he showed up!
PAUL McCARTNEY BUSTED FOR POSSESSION IN JAPAN, WINGS FOLDS (January 1980) – The former Beatle and solo star was jailed for nine days in Tokyo for marijuana possession after being found with 219g on his arrival at Narita Airport. How could McCartney be so careless? He admitted later, “This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.” In the aftermath, McCartney broke up the band and continued as a solo act.
GLENN FREY DIES (January 18, 2016) – people had barely come to terms with David Bowie’s death two weeks earlier when news came of Glenn Frey’s passing at the age of 67 from rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and pneumonia. Frey co-founded the Eagles in 1971 and after that group’s breakup in 1980, became a successful solo artist. Despite Frey’s critical role in the Eagles, the reformed band would continue to play on without him.
PINK FLOYD’S “THE WALL” BEGINS HISTORIC RUN (January 19, 1980) - “The Wall” started a 15-week marathon at No.1 on the US album chart. The album went on to sell over 23 million copies in the US alone and spawned a film starring Bob Geldof.
OZZY BITES A BAT (January 20, 1982) - During an Ozzy concert in Des Moines, Iowa, a member of the audience threw a live bat onto the stage. Thinking it was a rubber toy, the singer picked it up and tried to bite its head off. The bat started flapping its wings like crazy and Ozzy immediately realized to his horror that he’d bitten into the real thing. After the show he was forced to head to the hospital for a series of painful rabies shots. The unplanned stunt, though, added immeasurably to Ozzy’s macabre notoriety.
ALLMAN BROTHERS CO-FOUNDER BUTCH TRUCKS DIES (January 24, 2017) - Drummer Butch Trucks died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 69. Apparently Trucks was distraught over money issues. He was in on the original jam session that led to the formation of one of America’s most famous rock bands in 1969 and was the uncle to guitar maestro Derek Trucks..