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January 1979








Following a New Year's Eve concert featuring the Blues Brothers, the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Grateful Dead, Bill Graham closes San Francisco's Winterland Theater. The Dead had performed there a record forty-eight times.

At a New Year's Eve concert in Cleveland,
Bruce Springsteen's cheek is ripped open by a fire-cracker thrown onstage from the audience.
The trial of ex-Sex Pistol Sid Vicious for the October 1978 murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen opens in New York City. Vicious will not live to hear a verdict, but will die shortly of a heroin overdose.
One of the giants of modern jazz music, bassist/pianist/ composer/arranger Charles Mingus dies in Cuernavaca, Mexico, at age fifty-six of a heart attack brought on by his long battle with the so-called Lou Gehrig's Disease -- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Among Mingus' best-known compositions are "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting," "Haitian Fight Song," "Better Git It in Your Soul," "Fables of Faubus," "Itchecanthropus Erectus," "Lord Don't You Drop That Atom Bomb on Me" and "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Are Just a Pair of Jive-Ass Slippers." His final project was a collaboration with Joni Mitchell, still in progress at the time of his death, which would be realized on her album Mingus. It would include a version of "Goobye Pork Pie Hat" (also covered by rock guitarist Jeff Beck).

With Beatlemania continuing unabated around the world, the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, where the
Beatles gained a lot of early experience in the early Sixties, reopens.
The Blues Brothers -- actually TV comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd -- come under some fire for their tongue-in-cheek renderings of vintage soul tunes, but some of their biggest supporters are the covered artists themselves. Briefcase Full of Blues goes to Number One and goes platinum on this date, and gives the Sam and Dave classic "Soul Man" a new life. Interestingly, the duo approves of Belushi and Aykroyd, and why not? Their own career is temporarily revived.
The Top Five
1. "Too Much Heaven" - Bee Gees
2. "Le Freak" - Chic
3. "My Life" - Billy Joel
4. "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" - Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond
5. "I Love the Night Life" - Alicia Bridges

Canadian rock band Rush are named the country's official "Ambassadors of Music" by the Canadian government.

With direct Vietnamese military support, the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation replaces Prime Minister Pol Pot and forms a new Cambodian government.

A benefit concert titled A Gift of Song -- the Music for UNICEF Concert is held at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. It is taped by NBC-TV for broadcast the following night. Such acts as Olivia Newton-John, the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Abba, Donna Summer, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge and Earth, Wind and Fire raise about half a million dollars for the world-hunger organization.
Superman - The Movie, starring Christopher Reeve, is the movie box-office leader.
Soul-pop singer Donny Hathaway, perhaps best known for such duets with Roberta Flack as "Where Is the Love?," dies at age thirty-four after jumping (or being pushed -- police could not reach a conclusive decision) from a fifteenth floor hotel room in New York City. He was working on the album Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway at the time. For the past few years, according to his record-company (Atlantic) spokesman, Hathaway had been having psychological problems and hadn't done much in the way of music; his most recent hit, with Flack, was 1978's #2 gold hit "The Closer I Get To You." Hathaway recorded a total of four solo albums. He had also recently been working as a house producer and songwriter for Atlantic, a function he'd also fulfilled earlier on a freelance basis for such labels as Chess, Kapp, Uni and Stax. Hathaway also scored the film Come Back Charleston Blue and sang the theme song of the TV show Maude.

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) files a libel suit against the Village People for their single "Y.M.C.A." The suit will be dropped.

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi departs Iran on "vacation" as his government begins to crumble, and exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini predicts his own Iranian Revolutionary Council's rise to power. As violence between demonstrators and the army continues, Khomeini will return to Iran on Feb. 1. Ten days later, Khomeini supporters will overthrow the remnants of the Shah's government, and by May 9, 200 political executions will help secure Khomeini's power.
Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton jointly announce that, after spending a week together talking, they will record an album together. Parton describes their decision-making period as "a week-long slumber party." A number of tracks are recorded and eventually released on Parton's 1987 LP Trio, her most successful album to date.
Former attorney general John Mitchell is released from prison, the last of the Watergate conspirators to go free.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, to become the first football team to win three Super Bowls.
The Clash's first American single, their version of the Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law," is released in the U.S. on Epic Records. Though it will garner lots of paly in new wave dance-rock clubs and on college radio stations, it will not be a hit on the pop chart.
The Cars win the Rolling Stone annual readers' poll as best new band of the year.

Rolling Stone quotes soul singer Al Green on Talking Heads' success with their cover version of Green's "Take Me to the River": "I think it's fantastic. And I'm looking forward to covering some Talking Heads material."

Pope John Paul II begins his first papal visits outside Italy, to the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas, through February 1. In Mexico from January 28-31, he attends the Third General Latin American Episcopal Conference in Puebla.

Former vice president and New York State governor Nelson A. Rockefeller dies in flagrante delicto (while in the arms of his secretary Megan Marshack).
San Diego teenager Brenda Spencer makes national headlines when she suddenly begins shooting at people with a gun at school. She kills two, and when later asked why she did it, answers, "I don't like Mondays." That line will subsequently become the title of a hit single by Irish band the Boomtown Rats, which shoots to No. 1 in the UK and many other countries, but in the U.S. reaches only No. 73 after many stations refuse to play it. Spencer is convicted in 1980 and given an indeterminate sentence. Previously an unheard of and unimagined horror, the lethal youthful rampage sadly proves to be the first of many. "With every school shooting," Spencer says later, "I feel partially responsible. What if they got their idea from what I did?"

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