Stop, Look, and Listen
January 4, 2004: Britney Spears has her 55-hour marriage to Jason Alexander annulled. (No, not that Jason Alexander.) Her lawyers argued that she "lacked understanding of her actions to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to the marriage." Jello shots will do that.
January 4, 2001: In London, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum reports its list of the most hated characters amongst its exhibits. Number one: Adolf Hitler. Number two: Slobodan Milosevic. Number three: Liam Gallagher of the British group Oasis. Because the success of Oasis hasn't translated here, most Americans have no idea how polarizing a figure Gallagher is, which is probably OK because we've got enough polarizing figures of our own.
January 4, 1969: Jazz bassist Paul Chambers dies. He played in the classic Miles Davis group of the 1950s for several years, and is heard on Kind of Blue. Later, he played with John Coltrane on Giant Steps, among others. Like many jazz musicians of the era, he lived hard and died young--age 33.
January 4, 1954: On his second visit to the Memphis Recording Service to make vanity recordings, Elvis Presley meets Sam Phillips for the first time.
David Glasper of the group Breathe is 41. Allmusic.com describes their best-known hits, "Hands to Heaven" and "How Can I Fall," (both 1987) as the aural equivalent of Harlequin romance novels, so if you don't remember them, I'm not surprised. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean a deluxe boxed-set release featuring rare and unreleased tracks can't be ruled out.
Michael Stipe of REM is 46. In a stunning reversal of digits, jazz-rock fusion guitarist John McLaughlin is 64.
Number One Songs on This Date:
1996: "One Sweet Day"/Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. If you accept chart guru Joel Whitburn's contention that the top songs of all time are the ones that have spent the most weeks at Number One, "One Sweet Day" is the top song of the rock era, 1955 to the present, with 16 weeks at the top. (Francis Craig's "Near You," which topped the charts for 17 weeks in 1947, is the all-time title-holder.)
1993: "I Will Always Love You"/Whitney Houston. The top song of all time before "One Sweet Day," it took the crown away from "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men. Oddly enough, "I Will Always Love You" began its run at the top only two weeks after "End of the Road" dropped out of the top spot.
1987: "Walk Like an Egyptian"/Bangles. At this point, you'd have bet that the Bangles would become major stars and enjoy a long and glorious career. But you'd have been wrong.
1980: "Escape (the Pina Colada Song)"/Rupert Holmes. The last number-one song of the 1970s, on its last day at the top. Not that things were going to change drastically right away--on January 5, a quintessential 70s act, KC and the Sunshine Band, would reach the top with "Please Don't Go."
1936: "Stop, Look, and Listen"/Joe Venuti. This was the first song to top Billboard's first record chart that was based on national sales data, which published for the first time on this date.