January 20, 1982 – Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat at a show in Des Moines, Iowa, thinking it was a rubber bat thrown on the stage. In his memoir, he says, “Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine. I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin. Then the head in my mouth twitched.” After the show Ozzy was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital for rabies shots.
January 20, 1969 – Led Zeppelin allegedly play a live show at the Wheaton Youth Center in Wheaton, Maryland during their first North American tour. Some reports say only 55 fans attend the show, making it the smallest U.S. audience Zeppelin ever played for. Tickets were only sold at the door, fliers weren’t produced and no one can definitively prove that this did or did not happen as there are conflicting reports. It was also on the same night as Richard Nixon’s inauguration.
January 20, 1983 – Def Leppard release their third album Pyromania. It contains the hits “Photograph”, “Foolin'” and “Rock of Ages” and goes on to sell over ten million copies in the U.S.
January 20, 1988 – The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Les Paul are among the inductees at the third Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Mike Love of The Beach Boys gives a speech where he insults The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger. Of Jagger, he says, “I know Mick Jagger won’t be here tonight…because he’s always been chickenshit to get on stage with the Beach Boys.” Jagger was actually in the audience. Paul McCartney was a no-show, stating, “After 20 years, the Beatles still have some business differences, which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven’t been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion.”
Classic Rock Birthdays
January 20, 1952 – Paul Stanley (born Stanley Bert Eisen), guitar, vocals (Kiss)
January 20, 1966 – Tracii Guns (born Tracy Richard Irving Ulrich), guitar (L.A. Guns)
January 20, 1952 – Ian Hill, bass (Judas Priest)
January 20, 1945 – Eric Stewart, vocals, guitar (10cc)
January 20, 1947 – George Grantham, drums, vocals (Poco)
January 20, 1888 – Lead Belly (aka Leadbelly, born Huddi William Ledbetter), vocals, guitar, songwriter (“Midnight Special”, “Goodnight Irene”) (d. 1949)
January 20, 1965 – Alan Freed dies from uremia and cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism. He was 43. Freed coined the term “rock and roll” and was an American DJ who was extremely influential in the careers of early rock stars, in particular African-American artists. His career was destroyed by the payola scandal that hit the broadcasting industry in the early 1960s. He appeared in the movies Rock Around the Clock, Go, Johnny Go! and others. In 1986, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
January 20, 2012 – Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins) dies from complications of leukemia. She was 73. James is most often remembered for her signature song, “At Last,” but also won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. James dated B.B. King when she was a teenager, was discovered by Otis Redding, and was a heroin addict for over a decade.