Home Read Features Rewinding The Good Old Days | The Top Stories of January 2019

Rewinding The Good Old Days | The Top Stories of January 2019

All the triumphs, tragedies, brilliance and stupidity of the past 31 days.

Life moves fast these days. So fast that sometimes I can barely remember what happened yesterday, let alone a few weeks ago. With that in mind, here’s a look back at the good old days of January.

January 1
• Chicago rapper Noname birthed the musical equivalent of the New Year’s baby by releasing the first new music of the year: A single titled Song 31.


• Kanye West didn’t wait long to start running his mouth. “Trump all day,” he Tweeted, followed by, “They will not program me. Blacks are 90% Democrats. That sounds like control to me. One of my favorite of many things about what the Trump hat represents to me is that people can’t tell me what to do because I’m black … From now on I’m performing with my mutherfucking hat on.” Sigh.

• Pegi Young died at the age of 66 after a yearlong battle with cancer, “surrounded by friends and family in California,” according to a statement. She’s survived by her children with Neil Young — son Ben and daughter Amber — as well as ex-stepson Zeke and two grandchildren.

January 2
Daryl Dragon — a.k.a. the Captain of ’70s pop couple Captain & Tennille — died of renal failure at age 76, with former wife and musical partner Toni Tennille by his side. Also bowing out: Dean Ford, former frontman with Scottish guitar-pop group Marmalade, who died at age 72.

• Paul McCartney released the song Get Enough, an experimental ballad utilizing AutoTune. Nice to see he’s still right on the cutting edge. And Queen guitarist Brian May released a song dedicated to NASA’s New Horizons mission, which flew past Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day.

January 3
• The lineup for this year’s Coachella music festival was unveiled, with Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande headlining, along with Janelle Monae, The 1975, Solange, Weezer, Khalid and Aphex Twin.

• Steve Ripley, leader of Grammy-nominated country-rock band The Tractors, died Thursday at his Oklahoma home following a battle with cancer. He was 69.

January 4
Maynard James Keenan confirmed that he has finished recording his vocals for Tool’s long-awaited next album, adding the next step will be the “long process” of mixing. (Then again, maybe not; they said later in the month the album may come out in April.)

• Britney Spears indefinitely postponed her upcoming Las Vegas residency to care for her ailing father, who recently spent nearly a month in hospital after suffering a ruptured colon.

January 5
• Lifetime finished airing the six-part, three-night documentary Surviving R. Kelly, detailing the horrific allegations that have dogged the R&B singer for decades. Only two prominent entertainers took part: John Legend and Chance the Rapper, with the latter admitting that recording a song with Kelly was “a mistake.” Ya think?

• Marilyn Manson celebrated his 50th birthday by throwing a wild party in L.A. attended by Courtney Love, Karen O, Jonathan Davis, Billy Idol and, um, roast comedian Jeff Ross. If they didn’t get a JFK impersonator to sing Happy Birthday, an opportunity was missed.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips married his long-term girlfriend Katy Weaver in Oklahoma City — on a rooftop in a giant plastic bubble. Of course.

Alvin Fielder, an acclaimed free-jazz drummer and educator who was a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, died at 83.

Alan R. Pearlman, the man behind ARP synthesizers, passed away at age 93. Countless keyboardists unplugged patch cords in his honour.

January 6
Donny Osmond announced he has begun work on his 62nd album. Meanwhile, the Internet was abuzz because Axl Rose recently unveiled his first new song in 10 years — as part of a cartoon. And they wonder why people say rock is dead.

January 7
High on Fire canceled their upcoming tour due to frontman Matt Pike‘s battle with diabetes. The singer-guitarist had a partial toe amputation in the fall, and now risks losing his big toe. That’s awful. But amputation is still kind of metal, in a weird way.

• Backup singer Clydie King, whose earthy, gospel-rooted voice was heard on dozens of rock classics, including The Rolling StonesTumbling Dice and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama, died at 75.

January 8
Bonnaroo announced this year’s lineup, which will feature Post Malone, Cardi B, The Lumineers, multiple sets from Phish and, yes, Childish Gambino, the man who is quickly becoming this year’s Festival King.

• Canadians became aware of the existence of the singing competition Afghan Star and competitor Salam Maftoon, who bears a striking resemblance to Justin Trudeau. Either that or the PM is already trying out a new gig in advance of the next election.

Ryan Adams announced he plans to release three — count ’em, three — albums in 2019. And how are your New Year’s Resolutions working out?

January 9
• Because one cash-grabbing nostalgia fest is not enough, two promoters announced they would stage festivals to mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. One will be on the original site, the other at Watkins Glen. Both will stink of patchouli and Ben Gay.

Lady Gaga and Phoenix joined the ranks of artists apologizing for working with R. Kelly, while his own daughter reportedly called him a “monster.” Father’s Day is going to be awkward at somebody’s house.

• Avant-garde jazz musician and composer Joseph Jarman, an early member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, died at 81.

January 10
Dave Grohl fell off the stage (again) while chugging a fan’s beer during Foo Fighters’ show of the year in Las Vegas. At least he didn’t break his leg this time. But maybe it’s time to put some handrails up for the guy.

January 11
Faith No More leader Mike Patton said he would sing the anthem at an NFL playoff game. But just hours before kickoff, Patton backed out because he “woke up feeling horrible. No anthem today for me!” You want it all but you can’t have it!

January 12
Missy Elliott was the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, whose 2019 class also includes Cat Stevens, country-folk icon John Prine, Tom T. Hall, Jack Tempchin and Dallas Austin. Another glass ceiling shattered.

Photo by Alex Gaylon

Coachella was reportedly hours away from naming Kanye West as one of its headliners last week, when he balked because they wouldn’t build a giant dome where he could perform “in an in-the-round format, and the dome would be tricked out with high-tech production and immersive video.” Thankfully, Wayne Coyne and his bubble are still available.

• A report about feuding London neighbours Robbie Williams and Jimmy Page claims the former blasts music by Led Zeppelin rivals like Black Sabbath — and dresses up as frontman Robert Plant — to annoy the guitarist, who objects to his plan to build a pool and gym. This was in a British paper, so it’s probably not true, but it’s too great not to repeat.

Whitey Shafer, songwriter of All My Ex’s Live in Texas, along with hits for George Strait, Lefty Frizzell and others, died following a long illness. He was 84.

Dark Moon singer-songwriter and Dolton Records co-founder Bonnie Guitar died at age 95.

January 13
• Legendary punk fanzine Maximum Rocknroll announced it will cease print publication after 37 years. That seems fair — who wants to be a 40-year-old punk?

January 14
• Just moments after tying Glenn Close for Best Actress at the Critics Choice Awards, Lady Gaga left the ceremony to say goodbye to her dying horse Arabella.

The Who announced they’ll make their first new album in 13 years this year and go on a symphonic tour titled Moving On! So at least they haven’t lost their sense of irony.

Photo by Davidwbaker

• Namibian artist Max Siedentopf created an installation in the desert that plays Toto‘s Africa on an endless loop. Yeah, that’s what Africa needs.

Maxine Brown Russell, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015 as part of sibling trio The Browns, died in Little Rock.

January 15
Boogie Wit Da Hoodie‘s album Hoodie SZN topped the U.S. album chart with a record low of 823 sales. Don’t feel bad for him; feel bad for whoever came second.

Kim Kardashian announced she’s expecting a fourth child with Kanye West. Their baby shower is registered at Bed Bath and Beyond the Line.

Celine Dion joined Chance the Rapper and Lady Gaga by removing her R. Kelly duet from online services in the wake of Surviving R. Kelly. Proving once again that nobody believes anything until they see it on TV.

Rihanna sued her own father and his business partner for allegedly misusing her name to solicit millions from investors. At this rate, nobody’s having a good Father’s Day.

January 16
• Germs bassist Lorna Doom (born Teresa Ryan) died. Some initial reports gave her age as 50 — which would mean she was 10 when the band released GI, and six when they formed. Even punks can add better than that.

New Order, Depeche Mode, Moby, Liars, Yann Tiersen, Goldfrapp, Afghan Whigs, Cold Specks, Erasure, Lee Ranaldo and others were reported to be covering John Cage’s silent composition 4’33” for a box set. Please please please add Ariana Grande to this list so 10 million teenagers buy it.

January 17
David Bowie was named greatest entertainer of the 20th century by a BBC poll, over Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Billie Holiday. In other news, duh.

• The Rolling Stones, Katy Perry, Dave Matthews, Chris Stapleton, Santana, Al Green, Jimmy Buffett will all play this year’s New Orleans Jazz Festival, it was announced. Because everything in New Orleans is a con.

The Grammys announced that Post Malone, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Dan + Shay and Shawn Mendes will all perform at this year’s ceremony. Reportedly, this is supposed to make you want to watch.

• U.S. senators agonized on Twitter about whether to retweet Cardi B’s rant about the U.S. government shutdown. This is what politics has come to.

• Session guitarist Reggie Young died at 82 at his home outside Nashville. He had a seven-decade career, playing on records by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Sinead O’Connor, Elvis Presley, John Prine, J.J. Cale, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Cat Stevens and more.

January 18
Debi Martini, bassist and vocalist of Long Beach punk band Red Aunts, died. Bandmates referred to her death as “sudden and unexpected.”

Bandcamp announced plans to open a record shop and performance space in Oakland. The store will feature a rotating selection of 99 records that showcase “the diversity and design” of the five million available on Bandcamp. Yeah, that should work.

Kanye West sued Universal Music Group and EMI Music Publishing in an apparent bid to exit his record deals. Wait; Kanye West still makes records?

January 19
Ozzy Osbourne revealed he sent terminally ill former drummer Lee Kerslake platinum records for his work on Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Hope Ozzy didn’t send the versions he had Kerslake erased from.

• Drummer Ted McKenna, who played with Rory Gallagher, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Ian Gillan and Michael Schenker, died during elective surgery at 68.

January 20
Suge Knight’s son claimed Tupac Shakur is in the studio, tweeting, “New music coming … This ain’t a joke.” Well, of course not. It’s clearly a lie, a drug-induced hallucination or part of an elaborate hoax.

• You can’t accuse Ozzy Osbourne of letting opportunity pass him by. As the Prince of Darkness tweeted: “Today marks the 37th Anniversary since I bit a head off a f*cking bat! Celebrate with this commemorative plush with detachable head.” Can’t wait to see what he does for the anniversary of that time he pissed on the Alamo.

• While performing in Las Vegas, Lady Gaga referred to Mike Pence and his mommy/wife as “the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.” Well, there’s two ticket sales down the drain.

Marilyn Manson joined Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings, Dennis Quaid, Tanya Tucker and others onstage to sing Kristofferson’s Why Me? in Los Angeles. This is what happens when you turn 50.

January 21
Spotify is reportedly adding a function that allows you to mute specific artists. It’s called Not Clicking The Play Button.

Carrie Underwood and her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher, welcomed their newborn son, Jacob Bryan Fisher. Wait; her married name is Carrie Fisher?

January 22
Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter will reunite with guitarist Ariel Bender and keyboardist Morgan Fisher for their first American tour in 45 years. Insert your own All the Old Dudes joke here.


• Keyboardist Edwin Birdsong, whose song Cola Bottle Baby was sampled in Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, died at age 77.

January 23
• One of Zimbabwe and Africa’s most iconic musicians, Oliver Mtukudzi, died at age 66.

January 24
• Crowdfunding site PledgeMusic came under from multiple artists who claimed they are owed money. Financial shenanigans in the music industry? Who could have imagined such a thing!

January 25
• Hooded thieves armed with angle grinders stole the Banksy mural painted on the emergency exit door of Paris’s Bataclan, the site of a 2015 terrorist attack that killed 90 people during an Eagles of Death Metal concert. Just when you thought people couldn’t get any worse.

January 26
• French composer Michel Legrand, who won three Oscars during a career spanning more than half a century, died at age 86.

January 28
Grammy organizers said a tweeted list of 2019’s alleged winners was fake. You could tell because it included the names of people who actually deserved to win.

• Two people were found hiding in the baggage compartment of Australian pop singer Amy Shark’s bus as she traveled from Belgium to the U.K. Good thing she wasn’t flying.

Paul Whaley, the drummer from influential San Francisco blues rock outfit Blue Cheer, died of heart failure at his home in Germany at age 72.

January 29
• Archivists discovered David Bowie’s first TV appearance as Ziggy Stardust – a 1972 performance that was thought to be long lost. Let all the children boogie.

• R&B singer James Ingram, won two Grammy Awards over his decades-long career, died at age 66.

R. Kelly has finished his new album and is looking for a new label to distribute it, according to reports. It’s called Trapped in Delusion.

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour will auction off 120 of his guitars for charity, including a 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster he played on The Wall, Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon. Insert your own Money reference here.

January 30
Ariana Grande got the title of her new single 7 Rings tattooed in Japanese on her hand. Too bad it actually meant “small charcoal grill.” And then she got it fixed — so it said “Japanese BBQ finger.” Hey, at least it doesn’t say “Pete Davidson forver.”

• Former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley called bassist Gene Simmons “an asshole and a sex addict” in a Facebook post. Yeah, and … ?

• Director Peter Jackson will make a documentary about The BeatlesLet It Be, using 55 hours of unseen footage. Going by Jackson’s previous movies, the running length will be 56 hours.

January 31
• Pledging to go vegan could help you win Beyonce and Jay-Z tickets for life in a new contest. Wouldn’t it be easier just to tell the President he can’t come?

Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist Harold Bradley, who played on hundreds of hit country records including Crazy, King of the Road and Crying and helped create The Nashville Sound with his brother Owen, died at age 93.

Miami Sound Machine bassist and Grammy Award winner Jorge Casas died in his sleep at age 68.