January 25 In Classic Rock: Beatles First US #1

The Beatles had their first #1 hit in the United States today in 1964 when I Want To Hold Your Hand hit the top spot on the charts. They would have 24 more.

David Bowie was at the Royal Ballroom in London’s Tottenham neighborhood today in 1972, at the last of a full week of rehearsals for his Ziggy Stardust tour that began in 4 days. His band featured the brilliant Mick Ronson on guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass, Mick “Woody” Woodmansey and later Aynsley Dunbar on drums, and among the 4 keyboard players he used was Procul Harum’s Matthew Fisher. They would play nearly everywhere in England, the Western half of the U.S. (including a stop at Seattle’s Paramount Theater on Nov. 1), back for more dates in England and Scotland, America’s East coast, Japan, and more England. 182 shows and at the end David was finally a major star.

Originally intended as Australia’s answer to Woodstock, held at the height of Summer down under on the Australia Day holiday weekend, the Sunbury Pop Festival had become the Sunbury Rock Festival by today in 1975, reflecting the decidedly less peace-and-love and more rock-and-roll tastes of Aussies. But this would be the last one, as promoters had promised the headliner Deep Purple $60,000 leaving nothing for the other performers, including up-and-coming locals AC/DC, who were scheduled to go on after Ritchie Blackmore and company. Deep Purple had brought their own lights and P.A. system and began to pack them up after their set, which led to AC/DC leaving without playing, but not before a brief fist fight between members of each bands road crew.

The highly influential Manchester England band Joy Division played for the first time there tonight in 1978.

Yoko Ono donated nearly half a million dollars to the Strawberry Field Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool today in 1984, It would finally close almost exactly 21 years later, to become the church prayer center and Beatles-Tour attraction it remains today.

Australia finally had another big Australia Day weekend festival again today in 1992 with the first-ever Big Day Out, with the headliner a band from Aberdeen Washington called Nirvana.

Bob Dylan was paid an undisclosed but no doubt quite large sum by lingerie maker Victoria’s Secret to fly to Venice Italy today in 2004 to film a TeeVee commercial with a scantily-clad “Angel“. Some Dylan fans were horrified and offended, while others empathized at the things we do for money, likely along gender lines.

A Canadian singer and former Miss Canada runner-up, 53 year old Mary Lu Zahalan-Kennedy became the world’s first person to earn a Master’s Degree in Beatles Studies today in 2011 from Liverpool Hope University.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Stig Anderson would be 86. He was the songwriter and manager of the blistering Swedish “rock” band ABBA, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, but Stig had passed in ’97.

The Tubes keyboard player Michael Cotton is 67.

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