Let’s take a look at what happened on February 20 in rock history. As always, this list doesn’t claim to be complete or objective.
1959: Jimi Hendrix gave his first public performance in the basement of this famous Jewish synagogue in Seattle. He only made it half-way through his first set when he was asked to stop. The audience couldn’t take the unorthodox style of the then-16-year-old high school student!
1965: According to the Beatles Bible, the Fab Four were in the studio that day to make mono mixes of If You’ve Got Trouble, Tell Me What You See, You’re Going to Lose That Girl and You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away. The last three songs were included on Help!, The Beatles’ soundtrack album for their second motion picture, which appeared in August that year. The Beatles also recorded and mixed That Means a Lot, a song that like If You’ve Got Trouble wasn’t released until 1996 as part of the Anthology 2 album.
1970: John Lennon’s Instant Karma! was released as a single in the U.S. Credited to Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band and produced by Phil Spector, it became the first solo single of a former Beatle to sell a million copies in America. It climbed all the way to no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 2 in Canada, and also reached the top 10 in various European charts, including no. 5 in the U.K. Here’s a cool clip of the song from a live performance of Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
1980: Bon Scott, the second lead singer of AC/DC, was pronounced dead at King’s College Hospital in London’s borough Southwalk, following a night of heavy drinking that led him to suffocate from vomit during his sleep. Scott provided his incredible voice on AC/DC’s first seven studio albums (counting the Australian and international versions of High Voltage separately). During the Scott era, some of the band’s classic tunes were released, such as T.N.T., It’s a Long Way to the Top, Whole Lotta Rosie and Highway to Hell. Here’s a great clip of Highway to Hell.
1991: At the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards, Bob Dylan received a lifetime achievement award from actor Jack Nicholson. Unlike last year’s ceremony for the Nobel Prizes, I understand Dylan showed, performed Masters of War from his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and even gave a short speech. Other recipients of the award that year included John Lennon, American classical singer Marian Anderson and trailblazer Kitty Wells, the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts in 1952 with It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.