1959 – Johnny Cash played a free concert for the inmates of San Quentin Prison, California. One of the audience members was 19 year old Merle Haggard, who was in the midst of a 15 year sentence for grand theft auto & armed robbery.

1961 – Danny Williams was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘Moon River’, the Oscar winning song was from the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

1983 – Having made 2 successful dives below a friend’s yacht to find items he’d drunkenly thrown off his own boat three years before, ‘The Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson took one last dive into the Pacific & never returned from the boat moored in Marina Del Rey, California. With the help of President Reagan he was given a burial at sea, normally reserved for Naval personnel.

1986 – Jackie Wilson had the UK Christmas No.1 single with ‘Reet Petite’ 2 years after his death, following its use in a commercial for Levi’s. Written in 1957 by Berry Gordy & Tyran Carlo, the success of the song helped Gordy fund the launch of Motown Records.

1996 – Paul McCartney became a Sir after he was listed in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney

1999 – 3 ferrets named Beckham, Posh Spice & Baby Spice were used to lay power cables for a rock concert being held in Greenwich, London, England. Organizers found that rods could not push the cables through the tiny tunnels. The ferrets were eased into tiny nylon harnesses with wires which were then attached to a rope, the animals ran into a series of ducts which were under the stage like rabbit runs, leading the cables with them. The New Years Eve concert featured Simply Red, Eurythmics & Bryan Ferry. In the same year George Harrison & his wife Olivia were attacked when an intruder broke into their home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Olivia beat off the attacker with a poker & a heavy lamp. George who was stabbed in the chest was admitted to hospital & treated for a collapsed lung & various minor stab wounds. His wife, Olivia, was treated for cuts & bruises she had suffered in the struggle with the intruder. Police later arrested Michael Abram from Liverpool who had nursed an irrational obsession with The Beatles.

2004 – Pete Waterman was awarded an OBE for his services to music. Once part of the Stock, Aitken & Waterman team , he had written & produced more than 200 hit singles in 25 years for acts from Kylie Minogue to Steps.

2006 – George Michael was paid a reported £1.5m for an hour’s concert at a Russian billionaire’s New Year party. The unnamed businessman paid for Michael to entertain his 300 guests on his private estate 20 miles outside Moscow. George had just finished the British leg of his Twentyfive tour which included a free concert for nurses in London.

2009 – Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi from Status Quo were both appointed OBEs for services to music & charity.

2015 – American singer, songwriter Natalie Cole died aged 65 due to congestive heart failure. The daughter of Nat ‘King’ Cole, she had the 1989 UK No.2 single ‘Miss You Like Crazy’. In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable… with Love, which sold over seven million copies & also won her numerous Grammy Awards.