This is the week that was in matters musical . . .
1950, Sam Phillips opens the recording facility in Memphis that will later be named Sun Studio . . . considered by many to be the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, the studio will be the site of sessions by Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf and dozens of other rock and blues luminaries . . .
1953, Hank Williams dies on New Year’s Day of a drug and alcohol overdose . . . he was only 29 years old . . .
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 gone under the names Kenny and the Cadets, The Pendletons, and Carl and the Passions . . .
1962, Brenda Lee has a narrow escape from the flames, dashing into her burning Nashville home in an attempt to rescue her poodle Cee Cee . . . Lee is slightly injured, Cee Cee dies from smoke inhalation, and the home is destroyed . . .
1965, Leo Fender sells Fender Guitars to CBS for $13 million . . . he will continue as a consultant to CBS for several years before going on to form MusicMan and G&L . . .
1969, a shipment of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album Two Virgins is seized by authorities in New Jersey because the jacket sports a picture of the pair in the buff showing everything . . .
1974, Time in a Bottle goes gold . . . it is Jim Croce’s second gold record in a row since his death in a plane crash months earlier . . . “Time in a Bottle,” “Operator,” “I Got a Name,” “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” and “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues” will all be posthumous Top Ten hits . . .
1975, a whacked-out fan levels a loaded .44 at super-hunter Ted Nugent, but is brought down without incident by a combined force of security guards and fans . . .
1977, The Roxy opens in London’s Covent Garden with The Clash as headliners going against a general ban on punk music in London clubs . . . The Roxy will soon become the place for punk . . .
1978, Bruce Springsteen plays Cleveland on New Year’s Eve and gets his cheek torn open when someone-obviously not a big fan-throws a firecracker at the stage . . .
1982, Steven Van Zandt marries Maureen Santora in Asbury Park . . . Bruce Springsteen is the best man, and Percy Sledge and Little Richard duet on “When a Man Loves a Woman” at the reception . . .
1984, Rick Allen, drummer for Def Leppard, loses his left arm in an auto accident in England but keeps his place in the band . . . once he recovers, he adapts his kit and keeps on rockin’ . . .
1989, Marion Keisker loses her battle with lung cancer . . . the Memphis native was a popular radio personality at WREC who left to help Sam Phillips set up and operate Sun Records . . . Marion was working alone the day Elvis Presley came in to record a few songs for his Mom . . . she recorded him singing two songs and wrote a note to Sam, “Good ballad singer – hold” . . . she also recommended Elvis for several sessions afterwards, jump-starting his career . . . Elvis would repeatedly thank her over the years, informing friends, “Without her I wouldn’t even be here.” . . . . Marion also helped Sam set up WHER . . . the first all-girl radio station in the world, it used the slogan “1000 Beautiful Watts” . . . all the announcers, sales staff, management, record librarians, and copywriters were women . . .
1994, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes pleads guilty to an arson charge for setting fire to and destroying the million-dollar Atlanta mansion of her boyfriend, Atlanta Falcon Andre Rison . . . Lopes is sentenced to five years probation and a $10,000 fine . . . she and Rison will reconcile and fall out several times following the incident . . .
1997, Townes Van Zandt dies on New Year’s Day of a heart attack induced by a blood clot . . . he fell on Christmas Eve and injured his hip but didn’t visit a doctor until New Year’s Eve when it was discovered the hip was broken . . . he returned home after surgery to set the bone and insert a pin but didn’t make it through the day . . . Townes passed 44 years after his idol, country icon Hank Williams . . .
1999, George Harrison and wife Olivia manage to subdue an intruder who has invaded their home . . . Harrison is stabbed several times during the attack but will recover after a short visit to the hospital . . .
2000, country music legend Kitty Wells, along with her husband Johnny Wright, perform a farewell show before a capacity crowd at the Nashville Night Life Club . . . Wells is 81, Wright 86 . . . in the house are such Nashville notables as Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, and Marty Stuart . . .
2004, inspired by the $28,000 winning bid on a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the likeness of the Virgin Mary, Elvis fan Wade Jones auctions off about three tablespoons of water taken from a cup The King drank from during a 1977 concert . . . Jones received the cup from a policeman following the show and saved it in his freezer for years . . . the water proves not to be as valuable as the Madonna grilled cheese and fetches only $455 . . . 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 start hoarding the stuff . . .
2005, singer Tom Jones is knighted and thus joins the ranks of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, and Sir Mick Jagger . . .
And that was the week that was.
December 28: jazz pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines (1903), Roebuck “Pop” Staples of The Staple Singers (1915), Johnny Otis (1921), Leonard “Chick” Carbo (1927), rockabilly star Dorsey Burnette (1932), Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers (1938), Edgar Winter (1946)
December 29: Pablo Casals (1876), Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues (1941), Marianne Faithfull (1946), Cozy Powell of the Jeff Beck Group (1947), singer Yvonne Elliman (1951), Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket (1970)
December 30: Bo Diddley born Otha Ellis Bates (1928), session picker Red Rhodes (1930), Skeeter Davis born Mary Pennick (1931), singer-songwriter John Hartford (1937), Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary (1937), bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi (1939), Del Shannon born Charles Westover (1939), Michael Nesmith of the Monkees (1942), Davy Jones of the Monkees (1945), Jeff Lynne of ELO and The Traveling Wilburys (1947), producer Bruce Fairbairn (1949), Alex Chilton of The Box Tops and Big Star (1950), Jay Kay of Jamiroquai (1969), Tyrese (1978)
December 31: composer Jule Styne (1905), folk singer Odetta Holmes (1930), Andy Summers of The Police (1942), John Denver born John Deutschendorf (1943), Pete Quaife of The Kinks (1943), Patti Smith (1946), Burton Cummings of The Guess Who (1947), Donna Summer born LaDonna Gaines (1948), Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith (1951), George Thorogood (1952), guitarist Michael Hedges (1953), Scott Ian of Anthrax (1963), Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block (1972)
January 1: Xavier Cugat (1900), bassist Al McKibbon (1919), Country Joe McDonald (1942), Glenn Goins (1954), Grandmaster Flash (1956)
January 2: Arthur Prysock (1929), Roger Miller (1936), Ten Years After’s Chick Churchill (1949), Douglas Robb of Hoobastank (1975), Little Drummer Boy of Immature (1981)
January 3: Beatles producer George Martin (1926), Chess Records star Danny Overbea (1926), pianist Carl McVoy (1931), Van Dyke Parks (1941), Stephen Stills (1945), John Paul Jones (1946)
December 28: Dennis Wilson (1983), Chris Bell of Big Star (1978), Freddie King (1976)
December 29: conductor Takashi Asahina (2001), French singer-songwriter Mireille (1996), Marion Keisker (1989), bassist Steve Torbert (1982), Tim Hardin (1980)
December 30: bandleader Artie Shaw (2004), Johnny Moore of The Drifters (1998), Clarence G. Satchell (1995), Mack David (1993), Richard Blandon of The Dubs (1991), Broadway composer Richard Rodgers (1979)
December 31: guitarist Eddie Shaver (2000), Floyd Cramer (1997), Andy Chapin (1985), Rick Intveld (1985), Bobby Neal (1985), Ricky Nelson (1985), Patrick Woodward (1985), bluesman Robert Pete Williams (1980), R&B writer-producer Bert Berns (1967)
January 1: Townes Van Zandt (1997), singer-songwriter Ted Hawkins (1995), Buck Ram (1991), Brit blues pioneer Alexis Korner (1984), honky-tonk piano player Moon Mullican (1967), Hank Williams (1953)
January 2: Juan Garcia Esquivel creator of space-age bachelor-pad music (2002), Nat Adderly (2000), producer Nik Venet (1998), Randy California (1997), David Lynch of the Platters (1981), Larry Williams (1980), Tex Ritter (1974)
January 3: drummer Al Duncan (1993), pianist Carl McVoy (1992), producer Felton Jarvis (1981), West Coast bluesman Amos Milburn (1980), Beatles roadie Mal Evans (1976)