December 20, 1980 – Motörhead drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor accidentally breaks his neck after being lifted above the head of a friend in a test of strength, only to be dropped upon his head. Taylor continued to play in Motörhead with the aid of a neck brace, as is visible in the music video for “Ace of Spades”. As a result, Taylor had a prominent lump located on the back of his neck (affectionately referred to as his “knob”), thought to be a calcium deposit caused by his previous spinal trauma.
Classic Rock Birthdays
December 20, 1945 – Peter Criss (born George Peter John Criscuola), drums (Kiss)
December 20, 1966 – Chris Robinson, vocals, guitar (The Black Crowes)
December 20, 1940 – Larry Willis, keyboards (Blood, Sweat & Tears) (d. 2019)
December 20, 1944 – Bobby Colomby, drums (Blood, Sweat & Tears)
December 20, 1948 – Alan Parsons, vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar, flute (The Alan Parsons Project)
December 20, 2009 – James Gurley, guitar player for Big Brother and the Holding Company, dies of a heart attack in Palm Desert, California. He was 69. Hurley spent four years at Detroit’s Catholic Brothers of the Holy Cross, studying to be a priest, but instead embarked on a music career with Janis Joplin, with whom he later had an affair while married. Gurley’s wife forgave both him and Joplin (with whom she had a close friendship) and the band, along with their wives and children, all moved into a single house in Lagunitas, California in 1966. In 1969, Nancy Gurley died of a heroin overdose and Gurley was charged with her murder for injecting the drugs. He was later sentenced to probation.