2005-Roger Daltrey of The Who is made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.
2004-Alex Lifeson of Rush is arrested for aggravated battery, resisting an officer and disorderly intoxication after an altercation with police at a New Year’s Eve party at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Naples, Florida.
2002-Eric Clapton, 66, marries 25-year-old Melia McEnery at a private ceremony near his home in England.
2000-Guitarist-singer Mark Knopfler, formerly of Dire Straits, receives an OBE from England’s Queen Elizabeth.
1984-Van Halen ring in the new year with the release of their 1984 album.
1975-Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks join John and Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood to form Fleetwood Mac‘s most successful lineup.
1972-T. Rex releases “Bang a Gong” in the US. It will become the only Stateside success for the British glam rockers, who are in the middle of a run of 11 straight Top 10 hits back home. The Turtles‘ Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman sing backup on “Bang a Gong.”
1966-Simon & Garfunkel top the Billboard singles chart with “Sounds of Silence.”
1964-The Rolling Stones are on the debut episode of the weekly British prime-time rock and roll show Top of the Pops. The Dave Clark Five and Dusty Springfield (whose “I Only Want to Be With You” opens the show) also appear.
1962-The Beatles fail an audition for Decca Records in London. Performing “Please Please Me” and covers of “Please Mister Postman” and “Till There Was You,” they don’t impress label executive Mike Smith. In words he’ll come to regret, the Decca A-&-R man tells manager Brian Epstein that guitar groups “are on the way out” and decides to sign The Tremeloes instead of the soon-to-be-Fab Four.
1958-Johnny Cash performs his first free concert at San Quentin Prison. Merle Haggard is one of the inmates in the audience.
1953-Country music legend and future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Hank Williams, 29, dies of heart failure in the back of his white Cadillac en route to a show in Ohio. Alcohol and pills are blamed in his death.
Lou Pardini – 65 years old
Chicago singer-keyboardist (since 2009). Born 1952.
Morgan Fisher – 67 years old
Ex-Mott the Hoople keyboardist. Born 1950.
Barry Goldberg – 76 years old
The Chicago-born blues keyboardist was in Bob Dylan‘s band for his initial electric performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. He played on the Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels hit “Devil With a Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly,” and later co-founded The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield after their joint album titled Two Jews Blues. His discography includes close to a dozen albums made under his own name. Born 1941.