Monday, January 31, 2005

Another Birthday Day

Lots of rock and roll birthdays today. Here's the list:

John Lydon, better known to the world as Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols, is 49 today. I wrote briefly about the Pistols and punk rock last fall; their abortive 1978 tour of America, buried with Lydon's famous epitaph, "Ever had the feeling that you've been cheated?" was one of the most phenomenal bad hypes of the 1970s.

Phil Collins, Phil Manzanera, and Harry Casey are all 54 today, and a more diverse trio you couldn't imagine. Collins, a onetime child actor who appeared briefly in A Hard Day's Night, answered a newspaper ad to land the drummer gig with Genesis. His term as the band's lead vocalist corresponded with its most successful stretch during the first half of the 80s. Collins also launched a staggeringly successful solo career that lasted into the 90s before slipping into the purgatory that comes when you write songs for a Disney movie. (See also Elton John.) Manzanera was best known for playing guitar in Roxy Music, a band far more successful in England than over here, where their only significant hits were "Love Is the Drug" in 1976 and "Dance Away" in 1979. (I also dug "Virginia Plain," from earlier in the 1970s.) Casey is best known as "K.C.," as in K.C. and the Sunshine Band, purveyors of brain-dead guilty pleasure since 1975.

Terry Kath of Chicago would be only 59 were it not for his self-inflicted, Johnny-Ace style death in 1978.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1981: "The Tide Is High"/Blondie.
Nowhere more popular than on the campus of the University of Alabama.

1970: "I Want You Back"/Jackson Five. Their first hit. What a difference 35 years would make.

1964: "There! I've Said It Again"/Bobby Vinton. The last of an old world. January 31, 1964 would be the last day of this record's four-week run at Number One. On February 1, it would be dethroned by "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

1958: "At the Hop"/Danny and the Juniors. One of the fastest and most furious of the early rock classics. Worth listening to again this week, what with the Happy Days reunion on TV Thursday night.

1951: "The Tennessee Waltz"/Patti Page.
One of the most popular records of all time, this did 13 weeks at Number One, and the odds are good that even if you can't remember the tune as you read this, you'd know it if I played it for you.

This blog is now going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. I shall return. Eventually. I hope.


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