January 23, 2004 – David Palmer, former keyboardist for Jethro Tull, announces he has had a sex change and is now known as Dee Palmer. Palmer was born with genital ambiguity, assigned male at birth, and said her desire to change sex had been an “open secret” in the music business for many years. She did not have her sex change operation until the death of wife Margaret. Palmer was also a highly-regarded orchestral arranger before joining Jethro Tull, orchestrating the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
January 23, 1977 – Patti Smith falls off the stage during a concert in Tampa opening for Bob Seger. The incident leaves her with a fractured spine and broken vertebrae in her neck, 22 stitches and requires months of physiotherapy to recover. She later blames members of Seger’s road crew for leaving her too little space on stage to perform.
January 23, 1982 – The Allman Brothers Band make their first and only appearance on Saturday Night Live where they perform “Midnight Rider,” “Southbound” and “One Way Out.”
January 23, 1986 – The first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include Elvis Presley (inducted by Julian and Sean Lennon), Chuck Berry (inducted by Keith Richards), Jerry Lee Lewis (inducted by Hank Williams, Jr.), James Brown (inducted by Steve Winwood), The Everly Brothers (inducted by Neil Young) and Buddy Holly (inducted by John Fogerty). The induction ceremony took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City with more than 1,000 in the audience. At the time, it was not determined where the Rock Hall of Fame would be built.
January 23, 1991 – John Sebastian, owner and general manager of radio station KLSK in Albuquerque, New Mexico, plays Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway To Heaven” for twenty-four solid hours as a publicity stunt, as the station switches to a Classic Rock format. Police show up at the station with guns drawn after a listener reports that the DJ has apparently suffered a heart attack, and later because of suspicion that, this being eight days into the Gulf War, the radio station has been taken hostage by terrorists.
Classic Rock Birthdays
January 23, 1990 – Allen Collins (born Larkin Allen Collins, Jr.), guitarist from Lynyrd Skynyrd, dies of pneumonia in Florida. He was 37. Collins was one of the founding members of the band and also co-wrote several of the band’s biggest songs, including “Free Bird,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “That Smell,” with late front man Ronnie Van Zant. He survived the infamous plane crash in 1977 but was behind the wheel in a car accident in 1986 that killed his girlfriend and left him paralyzed from the waist down. He later pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter as well as driving under the influence of alcohol.
January 23, 1978 – Terry Kath, guitarist with Chicago, accidentally shoots himself in the head while playing around with what he believes is an unloaded gun. He was 31. Kath was an original founder of the band and contributed not only memorable guitar licks (25 or 6 to 4), but lead vocals as well (“Colour My World” and “Make Me Smile.”) In 2016, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band.
January 23, 2016 – Jimmy Bain, bassist with Rainbow and Dio, dies unexpectedly on Def Leppard‘s “Hysteria on the High Seas” cruise. He was 68. Although he was battling what he thought was pneumonia, Bain was set to perform with his Dio tribute group Last In Line the following day on the cruise. Eventually, his cause of death was determined to be lung cancer, for which he had never been diagnosed.
January 23, 1990 – Pieter Sweval, founding bassist of Looking Glass, dies of undisclosed causes. He was 41. In 1972, “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” became a #1 song. After Looking Glass broke up in 1974, Sweval and drummer Jeff Grob formed Starz, a band revered by glam rockers like Poison and Mötley Crüe. They had one hit, “Cherry Baby.”