Well, here we are coming up on another fun year in Empire. Of course, that’s propaganda, but I can promise you one thing: It’ll be a fun year here in The Mermaid Lounge.
Here’s today’s lesson:
January 1, 1940: NBC begins regular FM transmission from New York’s Empire State Building on W2XDG. Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM (Frequency Modulation), first demonstrated the technology to RCA’s executives and engineers in 1933.
January 1, 1953: Hank Williams, only 29-years-old, died of heart failure, brought on by the abuse of pills and alcohol, on the way to a show in Canton, Ohio. Incredibly enough, Williams had the #1 song on the Country chart at the time. It was called I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.
January 1, 1956: RCA released Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel. In 1999, the song would be certified multi-platinum for a second time.
January 1, 1957: The Cavern Club in Liverpool opened its doors for the first time. It will forever be remembered as the place where The Beatles got their start.
January 1, 1960: Johnny Cash gave the first of many performances at San Quentin Prison. In the audience on this day was 19-year-old Merle Haggard who was serving 15 years for grand theft auto and armed robbery (he actually served just under three years).
January 1, 1961: Shop Around by The Miracles (soon to be Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) was #1 on the R & B chart.
January 1, 1962: The Beatles attend a New Year’s day audition for Decca Records where they record 15 songs. Decca would eventually reject the Beatles, telling Brian Epstein that guitar bands are “out.” Yeah. Kanye West is still saying that shit. Tell that to Eric Clapton, Mike Campbell, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, for starters.
January 1, 1964: The Beatles played two shows at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. They also received word from the U.S. that their first single, I Want To Hold Your Hand, was selling 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone. The rest, as they say, is history.
Also on this day, The Dave Clark Five (another great British invasion band) had the #1 single in the UK with Glad All Over.
And, as if all of this wasn’t enough, The British show Top of The Pops debuted with The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, and the Dave Clark Five.
January 1, 1965: The Beatles had three albums in the Top 10 on this day: Beatles ’65 at #1, A Hard Day’s Night at #6, and The Beatles Story peaking at #7.
January 1, 1966: Simon & Garfunkel hit #1 with Sounds of Silence.
January 1, 1967: The Rolling Stones release the great song, Ruby Tuesday.
January 1, 1969: Put this on the list of shows I wish I’d been at: Creedence Clearwater Revival and early Fleetwood Mac (before Nicks & Buckingham) at The Fillmore West in San Francisco.
January 1, 1971: George Harrison had the #1 album with All Things Must Pass and the #1 song with My Sweet Lord on this day.
Meanwhile, Radio Luxembourg aired over seven straight hours of continuous Beatles music (as a band and solo) in celebration of their 10th year in music.
January 1, 1972: Three Dog Night becomes the first rock band to appear on a Tournament of Roses Parade float.
January 1, 1975: Paul McCartney & Wings arrive in New Orleans to record the album Venus & Mars.
January 1, 1988: George Harrison hits #1 with the song Got My Mind Set On You.
January 1, 1997: Singer-songwriter, tortured poet, Townes Van Zandt dies at the age of 52. His music has been covered by Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and many others. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard both covered his amazing Pancho & Lefty and had #1’s. But hands down, the most beautiful version of that song was done by Emmylou Harris.
January 1, 2019: The Renton Highlands Post Office in Seattle, Washington, is renamed the James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office. (I love this shit. I wish I lived there.)
Born on This Day
January 1, 1937: Bob Bogle, guitarist with The Ventures, was born in Wagoner, Oklahoma.
And that is all, my friends!