On This Day, January 21 In Music History


On this day January 21 in 1957 – Chuck Berry recorded ‘School Days’, a song often referred to as the anthem of rock and roll. It was released as a single in March the same year and it reached No.5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while in the UK it peaked at No.24, his first appearance on the British chart.

1961 – Country music singer and songwriter Del Shannon recorded ‘Runaway’ which was released as a single on February 18. The song became a worldwide hit that year and it reached No.1 in six countries, including the US, UK, and Canada.

1966 – Paul McCartney was the best man at George Harrison‘s wedding with Patti Boyd on this day January 21. The couple stayed together until 1974 when Patti left George for his good friend Eric Clapton. She was later the inspiration for Clapton’s signature song ‘Layla’.

1978 – The Bee Gees started a record-breaking 24-week stint at No.1 on the US Billboard 200 with the soundtrack album to the film of the same name ‘Saturday Night Fever’. The soundtrack features many hit songs, including ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘Night Fever’, ‘How Deep is Your Love’ and ‘More Than a Woman’.

1983 – American musician Lamar Williams died on this day January 21 in music history, aged 34 of lung cancer. Best remembered for playing bass guitar with The Allman Brothers Band and Sea Level.

1984 – Influential R&B and soul music singer Jackie Wilson died at the age of 49 from complications of pneumonia. Best remembered for hit songs such as ‘Lonely Teardrops’, ‘A Woman, a Lover, a Friend’, ‘Baby Workout’, and ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’.

1984 – Hard rock band Bon Jovi released their eponymous debut studio album through Mercury Records on this day January 21.

1984 – Progressive rock band Yes hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for the first of two weeks with ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’. It’s their first and only chart-topper in the country.

1987 – Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Aretha Franklin, The Coasters, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson, Bi Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, and Jackie Wilson.

1989 – With ‘Two Hearts’Phil Collins scored his sixth solo number one single in the US on this day January 21 in music history. It also became a chart-topper in Canada, Denmark, and Japan that year.

1989 – Roy Orbison started a three-week run at No.1 in the UK with his greatest hits compilation album ‘The Legendary Roy Orbison’.

1989 – R&B singer Bobby Brown started a three-week stint at No.1 in the US on this day January 21 with his second studio album ‘Don’t Be Cruel’.

2002 – American jazz and pop music singer, songwriter, and composer Norma Deloris Egstrom also known professionally as Peggy Lee died at the age of 81.

2006 – The number one single in the United States on this day January 21 was ‘Grillz’ by the rappers Nelly, Paul Wall & Gipp.

2012 – With his debut studio album ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’, singer-songwriter Bruno Mars returned to No.1 in the UK.

2012 – Canadian singer Shawn Mendes started a two-week run at the top of the UK Singles chart with ‘Stitches’ on this day January 21 in music history.

2012 – English singer and songwriter Jessie J scored her second number one single in the United Kingdom with ‘Domino’.

Jessie J – Domino

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2016 – The number one album in the UK on this day January 21 was David Bowie‘s 26th and final studio release ‘Blackstar’.

10 Interesting Facts About David Bowie

2017 – With ‘Bad and Boujee’, hip hop group Migos featuring rapper Lil Uzi Vert topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

2017 – Canadian singer The Weeknd started a four-week stint at number one in the US on this day January 21 in music history with his third studio album ‘Starboy’.

2021 – With her debut single ‘Drivers License’Olivia Rodrigo hit number one in the UK for the first of nine consecutive weeks.

2021 – Barry Gibb went to No.1 in the UK on this day January 21 with his third solo album ‘Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol.1’.


1922 – American singer and actor Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas was born in New York City on this day January 21 in music history. Best known for his chart-topping rendition of the Bread song ‘If’.

1936 – American singer and guitarist Ford Eaglin Jr. was born on this day in New Orleans, Louisiana. He played a wide range of musical genres and had several stage names including Snooks EaglinFord Eaglin, “Lil” Snook, and Blind Guitar Ferd.

1938 – Disc jockey, musician, and radio personality renowned for his gravelly voice Robert Weston Smith also known as Wolfman Jack was born on this day January 21 in New York City.

1941 – Opera singer and conductor Placido Domingo was born in Madrid, Spain. Best known as a member of The Three Tenors alongside Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras.

1941 – American singer-songwriter and guitarist Richard “Richie” Havens was born on this day January 21 in Brooklyn, New York. Best known for releasing over 20 studio albums and for being the opening act at Woodstock.

1942 – Motown singer and songwriter Edwin Hatcher also known professionally as Edwin Starr was born in Nashville, Tennessee. In the 1970s he had the number one hit single ‘War’.

1942 – Country music singer and songwriter Morris Mac Davis was born in Lubbock, Texas on this day January 21 in music history. Besides his solo career, he’s also known for writing hit songs for Elvis Presley, most notably ‘In the Ghetto’, ‘Memories’ and ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’.

1945 – British rock and pop musician Peter Kircher was born in Folkestone, England. He came to prominence as the drummer of the rock band Status Quo in the mid-1980s.

1950 – R&B singer and songwriter Billy Ocean was born Leslie Sebastian Charles on this day January 21 in Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago.

1965 – British multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Robert Del Naja also known as 3D was born in Bristol, England. He rose to fame as the co-founder of the trip hop collective Massive Attack.

1965 – American rapper, DJ, and co-founder of the hip hop group Run-DMCJam Master Jay was born Jason William Mizell on this day January 21 in New York City.

1976 – English singer Emma Bunton was born in London. Best known as Baby Space from the best-selling girl group Spice Girls.

1981 – Co-founder and lead guitarist of the rock band Evanescence, Benjamin Moody was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on this day January 21 in music history.

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