January 26 in Classic Rock: Ringo With Princess Leia

The Rolling Stones were on their first trip “Down Under” tonight in 1965 with a show in Brisbane Australia at the town hall. Where their first trip to America a year earlier was decidedly less successful…Bill Wyman noted that they didn’t have a hit record or anyone showing up…tonight’s was packed, and 50 fans stormed the stage and ripped Keith Richard’s shirt off.

Though you can’t really hear him on it, future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had his first #1 hit in America today in 1965, when a song he’d played on as a session musician, Downtown by Petula Clark topped the charts.

Pink Floyd played their first show without founding guitarist Syd Barrett tonight in 1968 at Southampton University, with opening act Tyrannosaurus Rex, at the time a “psychedelic folk” act that would later become Marc Bolan’s more glam T Rex. Floyd had been playing as a five piece since December, adding Barrett’s old schoolmate David Gilmour to cover for Syd’s increasingly erratic behavior…he would sometimes intentionally detune his guitar, stare off into space, or even walk off stage altogether… and on the way to tonight’s show David noticed him missing and had asked if they were going to pick up Syd on the way, and the others had replied in unison, “Nah, let’s not bother”.

Ringo Starr had his second American #1 hit today in 1974 with a cover of the old Johnny Burnette song You’re Sixteen. His first, from the previous year was written for him by his old Beatle-mate George Harrison, and since his death Photograph has taken on a whole new meaning for Ringo. The video he made for You’re Sixteen in 1978 featured a then 22 year old actress we lost just after Christmas, Carrie Fisher, who at the time had recently achieved fame as Princess Leia in Star Wars.

Despite writing That Smell about bandmate Gary Rossington doing the same thing some years earlier, Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and songwriter Allen Collins crashed his car today in 1986, killing his girlfriend Debra Jean Watts instantly, paralyzing himself from the waist down and limiting the use of his arms and hands to the point where he was never been able to perform on stage again, but as part of his plea deal to charges of vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving, served as Skynyrd’s “musical director” when they officially reunited the next year, and was required by the court to address the audience at each show with an explanation of what had happened and a warning on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He died in 1990 of pneumonia brought on by his paralysis.

Former Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. frontman John “Rotten” Lydon was one of 10 contestants on the British “Reality” show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here, the 3rd season of which premiered to 11 million viewers tonight in 2004. Johnny was paid £25,000 to do the show, shot in the Australian Outback, but after the first episode in which he was covered in bird seed and pecked by Ostriches, he walked off after only 4 days of filming.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Canadian drummer Corky Laing of Mountain who later joined with that band’s guitarist Leslie West and Cream bass player Jack Bruce to form West, Bruce, and Laing is 69.

Country-rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lucinda Williams, who’s worked with Bob Dylan, David Crosby, The Allman Brothers, and Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers, is 64.

Van Halen guitarist Edward Lodewijk Van Halen is 62, but you can call him “Eddie“. He’s #8 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, but perhaps the greatest measure of a guitarist’s legacy and influence is being parodied in the interweb’s “Shreds” series.

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