It happened this week

This is the week that was in matters musical …

1956, The Coasters are signed to Atlantic records … the doo-wop act goes on to score 19 hits in the ensuing 15 years including such novelty smashes as "Charlie Brown" and "Poison Ivy" …

1958, The Champs release "Tequila" which will become one of the more successful one-word songs … two band members, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts will later form their own duo Seals & Crofts and score big hits in the ’70s with "Hummingbird" and "Summer Breeze" …

… also this week Little Richard announces that he is retiring from music at the peak of his popularity to become a minister … the pomaded rocker will flip-flop between his sacred and profane predilections in the coming years …

1959, the world of pop music takes a big hit when a small plane crashes into an Iowa cornfield killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson … the three pop stars, who were in the midst of a tour dubbed the Winter Dance Party, had chartered the plane to get to their next gig in Fargo, North Dakota, as an alternative to making the long haul in their tour bus with its defective heater …

1960, Jimmie Jones’ hit "Handy Man" enters the pop chart, ultimately rising to the #3 slot … in 1977 James Taylor resuscitates the tune taking it to #4 …

1961, Bob Dylan cuts his first record, “San Francisco Bay Blues” …

1964, Indiana’s governor declares that the party-favorite single “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen includes pornographic lyrics … the FCC launches an investigation and finds “the record is unintelligible at any speed we played it” … perhaps his honor’s pornograph is in need of a new cartridge …

1967, British pop producer Joe Meek, who developed many innovative recording techniques, fatally shoots his landlady in the back with a single-barrel shotgun following an argument, then turns the gun on himself with equally deadly results … Meek, an undeniable genius, paranoid, and dabbler in the occult, had predicted Buddy Holly’s death at a séance and warned the musician; Holly shrugged it off … Meek was off by exactly one year … Meek’s own death was on February 3, 1967, the eighth anniversary of Holly’s demise …

1969, The Beatles perform their famous rooftop concert atop the Apple corporate headquarters … it turns out to be the band’s last live appearance … after playing a set that includes "Don’t Let Me Down" and "Get Back," John Lennon announces, "I’d like to say thank you in behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition" …

1973, working those good old rock ’n’ roll changes, Elton John scores his first #1 hit in the U.S. with the infectiously hook-laden “Crocodile Rock” … not bad for the piano prodigy who won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11 … speaking of explosive keyboardists, Keith Emerson’s hands are injured when a piano that’s been rigged with pyrotechnics explodes prematurely during an Emerson, Lake and Palmer concert in San Francisco … NBC debuts TV’s first rock concert series, Midnight Special … DJ Wolfman Jack, whose voice sounds as though he gargles with gravel and washes it down with Liquid Plumr, will be the show’s announcer and occasional host through 1981 …

1977, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is released … the LP races to the #1 slot on the album chart where it remains for 31 weeks … it ultimately moves over 17 million platters …

1980, commemorating the first anniversary of Sid Vicious’ death, 1,000 punks stage a march in London … the dead Sex Pistol’s mother, Ann Beverly, had been slated to head the parade, but she’s in the hospital recovering from a drug overdose …

1988, 10 years after the release of their first album, The Cars finally run out of gas … the band, a driving force of the New Wave scene, announces its breakup …

1991, Irish singer Sinead O’Connor is nominated in four Grammy categories and announces that she won’t accept any awards, saying the show reflects “false and destructive, materialistic values” … one can only speculate if she refused her performance royalties as well …

1993, as part of a plea bargain for being busted with a concealed 9mm handgun at Kennedy Airport in New York, gangsta swing artist Harry “the chronic” Connick Jr. agrees to make a public service announcement at his own expense, discouraging folks from packing heat in the Big Apple …

2000, ABBA rejects an offer of $1 billion to reunite for a world tour … that’s right, one billion dollars … the group says it refused the offer because they did not want to let fans down … “It is a hell of a lot of money to say no to, but we decided it wasn’t for us,” band member Benny Andersson told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet … the offer is believed to have come from an American-British consortium that wanted the Swedish group to get back together for 100 concerts to cash in on the current international ABBA revival … said Andersson, “I know it sounds incredible, but all we could see was a disappointed audience. How could we live up to what we were? The stress wasn’t worth it.” … ABBA was the most commercially successful group of the 1970s, reportedly selling 350 million records around the world …

2003, Courtney Love raises a ruckus on a Virgin Air flight, refusing to sit down and fasten her seatbelt … she is arrested upon touchdown in London … smells like some sort of spirit other than “teen” is involved …

2005, Emmy-winning makeup artist Kylie M. Bell files suit against Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and ABC-TV owner Walt Disney seeking $25 million in damages stemming from an alleged rape by the rapper and four members of his entourage following the taping of the talk show in 2003 … the case will later be settled “amicably” out of court … it is announced that Guns n’ Roses frontman Axl Rose has entered into a $20 million publishing deal with Sanctuary Music Group … former band members Slash and Duff McKagan argue through their attorneys that Rose had no right to cut the deal … meanwhile, there is still no sign of the long-awaited Chinese Democracy … it would eventually be released, but not for three more years …

2006, the management firm representing singer Avril Lavigne provides defense money for an Arlington, TX, man who has been sued by the recording industry for sharing downloaded music … among the songs involved is Lavigne’s own “Sk8er Boi” … Lavigne is one of a number of outspoken artists who believe that nothing good can come of an industry suing its own customers … also this week, hardcore punk outfit Champion announces it will disband after playing a May 1 date …

2007, Van Halen announces they’ll be touring for the first time since 1984 with David Lee Roth … Prince keeps his costume intact while delivering a well-received halftime show at the Super Bowl …

2008, Green Day frontman Billy Joe Armstrong plays a five-date mini-tour with his side project Pinhead Gunpowder at the Troubador club in West L.A. … faced with an arsenal of fans pointing their cell-phone cameras at him, Armstrong tells the crowd to put the cameras away … "YouTube can’t own everything. There’s also something called memories." …

… and that was the week that was in matters musical.

Arrivals:

January 29: Huddie Ledbetter AKA Lead Belly (1889), Chicago bluesman Eddie Taylor (1923), masterful Motown bassist James Jamerson (1936), jazz pianist Bobby Scott (1937), Peter Cowap of Herman’s Hermits (1944), David Byron of Uriah Heep (1947), Tommy Ramone of the Ramones (1949), Louie Perez of Los Lobos (1953), rapper Mitch McDowell of General Kane (1954), Eddie Jackson of Queensryche (1961)

January 30: R&B singer Ruth Brown (1928), Mississippi bluesman Big Jack Johnson (1940), Joe Terry of Danny & the Juniors (1941), Marty Balin of The Jefferson Airplane (1942), Sandy Yaguda of Jay & the Americans (1943), Steve Marriott of Small Faces and Humble Pie (1947), William King of the Commodores (1949), Mary Ross of Quarterflash (1951), Steve Bartek of OingoBoingo (1952), Shalamar’s Jody Watley (1959), Jonny Lang (1981)

January 31: Chuck Willis, R&B and rock singer-songwriter (1928), Paul deLay, Portland-based blues harp player and singer (1952)

February 1: rock music critic Lillian Roxon (1932), Bob Shane of The Kingston Trio (1934), Don Everly of The Everly Brothers (1937), Dr. Hook’s Ray Sawyer (1937), Jimmy Carl Black of The Mothers of Invention (1938), Rick James (1952), Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1954), Lisa Marie Presley (1968), Patrick Wilson of Weezer (1969), Outkast’s Big Boi (1975)

February 2: bluesman Walter Vinson (1901), saxophonist Red Prysock (1926), Stan Getz (1927), Skip Battin of The Byrds (1934), Clarence Quick of the Dell Vikings (1937), Graham Nash (1942), Ronnie Goodson, who became lead singer of Ronnie and the Hi-Lites at age 12 (1945), Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers (1946), Peter Lucia of Tommy James and The Shondells (1947), Alan McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire (1948), Journey’s Ross Valory (1949), jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson (1951), Jeff Healy Band drummer Tom Stephen (1955), Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots (1966), Ben Mize of Counting Crows (1971), Shakira (1977)

February 3: romantic-era composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809), jazz saxophonist John Handy (1933), Varetta Dillard, a fixture at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, who became known for her tribute songs to fallen heroes (1933), Johnny “Guitar” Watson (1935), David Lerchey of the Dell-Vikings (1937), Angelo D’Aleo of Dion & The Belmonts (1940), Neil Bogart, singer who founded Casablanca Records (1941), Eric Haydock of the Hollies (1943), Dennis Edwards of The Temptations (1943), Johnny Cymbal (1945), Dave Davies of The Kinks (1947), pop singer Melanie “Look What They’ve Done To My Song” Safka (1947), Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth (1956), Tony Butler of Big Country (1957), Lol Tolhurst of The Cure (1959)

February 4: Bernie West of the Five Keys (1930), The Animals’ John Steel (1941), Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension (1944), sax man John Stubblefield (1945), Alice Cooper AKA Vincent Furnier (1948), Phil Ehart of Kansas (1951), Humble Pie’s Jerry Shirley (1952), country music singer-songwriter Clint Black (1962), Natalie Imbruglia (1975), Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World (1975), Cam’ron (1976)

Departures:

January 29: founder of the Quarrymen Eric Griffiths (2005), David Lerchey of The Dell-Vikings (2005), seminal blues bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon (1992), Herman “Sunny” Chaney of The Jaguars (1989), Sir Edward Lewis (1980), one-man-band Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller (1976)

January 30: songwriter Julius Dixon (2004), jazz producer Bob Thiele (1996), bluesman Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins (1982), influential New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair, born Henry Roeland Byrd (1980), rockabilly singer Warren Smith (1980), songster Mance Lipscomb (1976)

January 31: Barbara Cowsill, mother of The Cowsills (1985), saxophonist Gregory Herbert, member of the 1978 incarnation of Blood, Sweat & Tears (1978), R&B singer-songwriter Buster Brown (1976), swamp bluesman Slim Harpo (1970)

February 1: songwriter John Jarrad (2001), Julius Wechter of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and The Baja Marimba Band (1999), Delta slide-guitarist Johnny Littlejohn (1994), Paul Robi, baritone singer with The Platters (1989), Dick James, publisher of Lennon and McCartney and Elton John (1986), Ulysses “Ronnie” Hicks, member of The Five Keys (1955)

February 2: Billy Henderson of the Spinners (2007), Eric von Schmidt, blues and folk singer who influenced Bob Dylan (2007), Joe Hunter, pianist with The Funk Brothers, Motown’s in-house studio band (2007), James Blackwood, known as the “Frank Sinatra of Gospel,” released more than 200 albums and won nine Grammys (2002), songwriter Hal Blair (2001), David McComb of The Triffids (1999), jazz drummer and bandleader Mel Lewis (1990), Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion (1987), bluesman Sam Chatmon (1983), Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (1979)

February 3: saxman Cornelius Bumpus (2004), jazz trombonist James Louis “J.J.” Johnson (2001), R&B legend and dancer Gwen Guthrie (1999), session guitarist “Wild” Jimmy Spruill (1996), Max Yasgur, the dairy farmer who hosted the Woodstock festival (1973), Scottish rock singer Alex Harvey (1982), British pop producer Joe Meek (1967), Buddy Holly (1959), Ritchie Valens of “La Bamba” fame (1959), J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (1959)

February 4: Barbara McNair, pioneering black singer-actress (2007), pioneer of stochastic music, composer Iannis Xenakis (2001), Australian techno-pop star Falco (1998), mandolinist Jethro Burns of Homer and Jethro (1989), leader of Atomic Rooster Vincent Crane (1989), Australian singer-songwriter Trevor Lucas of Fotheringay (1989), flamboyant pianist Liberace (1987), Paul Gardiner, bassist with Gary Numan’s The Tubeway Army (1984), Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters (1983), saxophonist-singer-bandleader Louis Jordan (1975), Cecil Gant, singer-pianist who had a hit with “I Wonder” (1951), saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax (1894)

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