A Groovy Kind of . . .
(This post has been edited since it first appeared.)
January 16, 1996: Jimmy Buffett and Bono, flying in Buffett's seaplane, are fired upon by Jamaican authorities, who think the plane belongs to a drug trafficker. Nobody was hurt. Bullet the blue sky, indeed.
January 16, 1992: Eric Clapton records his MTV Unplugged session. The most memorable bit from the show is his acoustic reworking of "Layla," which becomes a massive hit and swiftly burns out from overexposure. Weirdly, the original 1971 Derek and the Dominoes recording of "Layla" has yet to become similarly burnt.
January 16, 1987: Host Jools Holland is suspended from his British TV music show for using the phrase "groovy fuckers" on the air. On the same date in 1982, the group Bucks Fizz hits Number One on the British charts with "Land of Make Believe." I include both of these because I like the phrases "groovy fuckers" and "Bucks Fizz."
January 16, 1980: Paul McCartney is jailed in Japan and spends nine days locked up for marijuana possession. On the same date in 1984, Paul and Linda are busted for drug possession in Barbados. Kids, just say no.
January 16, 1973: Villanova University is distinctly underwhelmed by the appearance of an unknown singer who draws only 25 students to an appearance on campus. The singer's name: Bruce Springsteen.
R&B singer Aaliyah would be 26, had she not died in a plane crash in 2001. Name-dropper alert: I once worked with a woman who had been Aaliyah's tutor during a concert tour in the mid 1990s. She had to sign a confidentiality agreement, because apparently stuff happens to 17-year-old R&B singers on the road.
Country/pop singer Ronnie Milsap is 60. His dominance of the country charts was almost unparallelled. He had 34 Number One songs between 1973 and 1989, including a streak of 10 in a row in the early 80s--several of which ("No Gettin' Over Me," "Smokey Mountain Rain") crossed to the pop charts. Other essential tracks: "Why Don't You Spend the Night," "What a Difference You've Made in My Life," and "Stranger in My House," which has a backing track like a Foreigner record. Really.
Number One Songs on This Date:
2000: "What a Girl Wants"/Christina Aguilera. And they said the early 1960s was the age of the teen idols? Check this list of artists to hold the Number-One spot from January through April 2000: Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, N'Sync.
1978: "Baby Come Back"/Player. These guys aspired to be a rock band (listen to "Silver Lining" or the great "Prisoner of Your Love"), but they were L.A. popsters foremost, and "Baby Come Back" is an excellent example of that sound.
1977: "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"/Leo Sayer. Yes, at one time, this kind of thing sounded hip and contemporary, and thousands, nay millions, bought it. Sounds kind of silly now, but if you were there--and I was--it's still fun to hear.
1972: "American Pie"/Don McLean. Pop music's uber-epic, this has retained its popularity to an amazing degree so long after its release. In the mid 90s, I hosted an all-request show on a classic-rock station, and I could have played this twice a night if I'd wanted to.
1926: "The Prisoner's Song"/Vernon Dalhart. Another monumentally important recording that you have probably never heard. This was the first country recording to sell a million--actually five million, making it either the biggest-selling or second-biggest-selling non-holiday recording of the pre-1955 era. Only "My Blue Heaven" by Gene Austin, which I mentioned last week, is in the same league, and only "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby beats them both.