December 31st: The Biggest Music Headlines

Scroll down the page to see all the music headlines, stories and events for December 31 throughout music history

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney Makes Moves to Dissolve The Beatles

On this day in music, December 31, 1970, Paul McCartney filed a suit against the rest of The Beatles to dissolve their partnership. His reasons for doing so included the fact that the band was no longer performing together, as well as his bandmates’ choice to appoint business manager Allen Klein (without McCartney’s consent). The Beatles’ breakup had already been in motion, however, with John Lennon privately announcing his departure in 1969. The band made their final recordings together in August 1969, while the split was legally formalized in 1974.

In 2015, singer Natalie Cole died at the age of 65. The daughter of Nat King Cole, Natalie rose to fame in the mid-70s with hits like “This Will Be” and “Our Love,” but she found her greatest success with the 1991 album, Unforgettable… with Love. The album, which featured a virtual duet with her late father, sold more than seven million copies and earned the artist seven Grammy Awards.

In 1966, The Monkees began a seven-week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with the Neil Diamond-penned song, “I’m A Believer.”

In 1963, The Kinks made their live debut, playing a gig at the Lotus House Restaurant in London.

In 1961, The Beach Boys made their live debut using their now-famous name when they appeared at Long Beach Civic Auditorium in Southern California.

In 1973, AC/DC made their live debut, appearing at Chequers Bar in Sydney, Australia.

In 1984, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen suffered severe injuries in a car accident outside of Sheffield, England. While Allen lost his left arm in the accident, he remained the group’s drummer.

In 1982, legendary New York City venue Max’s Kansas City closed its doors. The club became an in-the-know gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists, politicians, and more in the 60s and 70s.

In 1996, Paul McCartney officially became Sir Paul McCartney after he was listed in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

In 1999, The Manic Street Preachers performed for 57,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The Guinness Book of Records confirmed that the concert set a new record as the biggest indoor show ever staged in Europe.

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Keep scrolling for all of the headlines for December 31.


1930: Odetta
1942: Andy Summers (The Police)
1943: John Denver
1947: Burton Cummings (The Guess Who)
1948: Donna Summer
1951: ​​Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith)
1960: Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)
1963: Scott Ian (Anthrax)
1972: Joey McIntrye (New Kids On The Block)
1977: Psy

Looking for more artists born on this day?
Keep scrolling for all of our December 31 birthdays.

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December 31st

On this day in music
31 Dec 2023
Taylor Swift surpassed Elvis Presley for the most No.1 weeks of any solo musician in music history. To date, Swift had logged 68 weeks with the No.1 album in America. That number tops Elvis’ previous record of 67 weeks at the top of the charts. Now, Swift sits behind only The Beatles, who spent 132 weeks at No.1 throughout their career.
31 Dec 2022
American singer-songwriter, Anita Pointer died from cancer at her home in Beverly Hills, California, aged 74. She is best known as a founding member of the Pointer Sisters and co-wrote and was the lead singer on their hit song ‘Fairytale’, which garnered them their first Grammy Award in 1975. Other hits include ‘Slow Hand’, and ‘I'm So Excited’ in the early 1980's.
31 Dec 2022
American rock drummer Jeremiah Green died from cancer, at the age of 45. He is best known as a founding member and drummer of the indie rock band Modest Mouse. The band achieved mainstream success with their fourth album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004), and it's singles ‘Float On’ and ‘Ocean Breathes Salty’.
31 Dec 2018
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show died age 81. With Dr. Hook the singer had the 1970s hits 'The Cover of Rolling Stone', 'A Little Bit More', 'When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman' and 'Sylvia's Mother'. He was a recognisable presence in the band owing to the eyepatch he wore after he lost his right eye in a 1967 automobile accident.
31 Dec 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', and the hits 'This Will Be', 'Inseparable', and 'Our Love'. In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards.
31 Dec 2012
A draft of a letter John Lennon written to Eric Clapton on Sept. 29, 1971 asking him to collaborate on a musical project sold for $35,000 at an auction. Still in pristine condition, the letter was originally estimated to fetch somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.
31 Dec 2009
Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi from Status Quo were both appointed OBEs for services to music and charity.
31 Dec 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. Michael had just finished the British leg of his Twentyfive tour which included a free concert for nurses in London.
31 Dec 2005
The John Lennon song Imagine was voted the nations favourite song a quarter of a century after his death. A UK radio station conducted the poll of 7,000 listeners. The Beatles were voted into second and third place with ‘Hey Jude’ and 'Let It Be.'
31 Dec 2005
According to official figures singer-songwriter James Blunt's 'Back To Bedlam' was the biggest selling UK album of 2005. The former soldier, who was virtually unknown this time last year, outsold Coldplay's album 'X&Y' which finished second and Robbie Williams came in third place with ‘Intensive Care’ album. The rest of the Top 10: No.4. Kaiser Chiefs - ‘Employment’, 5. Gorillaz - ‘Demon Days’, 6. Westlife - ‘Face To Face’, 7. KT Tunstall - ‘Eye To The Telescope’, 8. Kelly Clarkson - ‘Breakaway’, 9. Faithless - ‘Forever Faithless - The Greatest Hits’ and No.10, Eminem - ‘Curtain Call - The Hits’.
31 Dec 2004
Pete Waterman was awarded an OBE for his services to music. Once part of the Stock, Aitken & Waterman team he also booked the first ever tour for The Bay City Rollers, signed Musical Youth and Nik Kershaw during the 70’s and was promotion consultant for John Travolta. Waterman had written and produced more than 200 hit singles in 25 years for acts from Kylie Minogue to Steps.
31 Dec 2003
Kevin MacMichael, guitarist with Cutting Crew died of lung cancer aged 51. (1987 US No.1 & 1986 UK No.4 single 'I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight'). Also worked with Robert Plant and The Rankin Family.
31 Dec 2000
Janet Jackson's estranged husband filed a lawsuit against the singer claiming that Jackson, who had sold more than 40 million records, promised to share equally any assets acquired after their relationship began in 1987.
31 Dec 1999
The Manic Street Preachers performed to 57,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. The Guinness Book of Records confirmed that the concert set a new record as the biggest indoor show ever staged in Europe, tickets £30.
31 Dec 1996
Paul McCartney became a Sir after he was listed in the Queen's New Year's Honours List. When receiving the award McCartney dedicated his knighthood to fellow Beatles George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon and the people of Liverpool.
31 Dec 1991
Pearl Jam, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers all appeared on the same bill at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, California.
31 Dec 1985
Ricky Nelson was killed along with six others, when his charted light aircraft crashed in Texas. It's rumoured that freebasing cocaine caused an onboard explosion. Nelson had played himself on his parent's US TV The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet.' (1958 US No.1 'Poor Little Fool', 1961 UK No.2 single 'Hello Mary Lou' plus over 30 US Top 40 hit singles).
31 Dec 1984
Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen crashed his Corvette Stingray, on the A57 outside Sheffield, Allen lost his left arm in the accident. Allen was on his way to a New Year's Eve party at his family's home when a Jaguar passed him. The driver had been egging Allen on and would not allow him to pass. In his rage to pass this driver, he did not see a turn up ahead and lost control of his car. He was thrown from the car, with his left arm severed due to the seatbelt not being properly fastened.
31 Dec 1982
Max's Kansas City in New York City closed down. The venue had been a launching pad for such artists as The New York Dolls, Bruce Springsteen and The Velvet Underground.
31 Dec 1979
David Bowie performed an acoustic version of 'Space Oddity' on the UK TV 'Kenny Everett New Year's Show'. Bowie was also seen on the Dick Clark TV show in the US on this date, on his Salute To The Seventies.
31 Dec 1973
Australian band AC/DC made their live debut when they appeared at Chequers Bar in Sydney.
31 Dec 1970
Paul McCartney filed a suit against the rest of The Beatles to dissolve their partnership. According to the court documents, McCartney's main reason for wanting to legally break up the group stemmed from the decision taken by the others to to appoint Rolling Stones manager Allan Klein as their manager. McCartney didn't trust Klein and had wanted his new in-laws, Lee and John Eastman, to look after their affairs. The suit took more than four years of court hearings, with the group officially disbanding in January 1975.
31 Dec 1967
American songwriter and producer Bert Berns died of heart failure aged 38. He wrote many classic songs including 'Twist And Shout', 'Hang On Sloopy', ‘Here Comes the Night’, ‘I Want Candy’, ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’ and 'Brown Eyed Girl'.
31 Dec 1966
The Monkees started a 7-week run at No.1 on the US singles charts with the Neil Diamond song 'I'm A Believer'. Also No.1 in the UK in 1967.
31 Dec 1963
The Kinks made their live debut when they played at the Lotus House Restaurant, London. Now recognised as one of the most important and influential rock acts of the era, brothers Ray Davies and Dave Davies remained members throughout the group's 32-year run.
31 Dec 1962
During his first visit to the UK Bob Dylan played at the King And Queen pub in London. Dylan had arrived in the UK on 17th Dec after British TV director Philip Saville had heard Dylan perform in Greenwich Village, and had invited him to take part in a BBC television drama: The Madhouse On Castle Street.
31 Dec 1961
The Beach Boys made their live debut using their new name when they appeared at Long Beach Civic Auditorium, California.
Born on this day in music
31 Dec 1982
American multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and record producer Bryce Avary. He has released eight studio albums and several EPs as his solo project The Rocket Summer.
31 Dec 1979
Bob Bryar, drummer, with American rock band My Chemical Romance who had the 2006 UK No.1 single ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’, and the 2006 US No.2 album The Black Parade.
31 Dec 1977
South Korean singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, record producer and television personality, PSY, (born Park Jae-sang), who had the 2012 internationally hit single 'Gangnam Style.' By the end of 2012, 'Gangnam Style' had topped the music charts of more than 30 countries. On December 21, 2012, 'Gangnam Style' became the first YouTube video to reach a billion views. As of December 2023, the song's music video has more than 4.97 billion views.
31 Dec 1972
Joey McIntrye, from American boy band New Kids On The Block, who had the 1989 UK No.1 single 'You Got It, The Right Stuff', and the 1990 US No.1 single 'Step By Step'. They enjoyed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have sold more than 80 million records worldwide
31 Dec 1970
Danny McNamara, singer from English alternative rock band Embrace, who had the 2006 UK No. 2 single ‘Natures Law’, the 2006 UK No.1 album This New Day and two other UK No.1 albums.
31 Dec 1963
American musician Scott Ian best known as the rhythm guitarist, lyricist and co-founder of the thrash metal band Anthrax, of which he is the sole continuous member.
31 Dec 1961
Scott Taylor, guitarist with English rock band Then Jerico who had the 1989 UK No.13 single 'Big Area'. He died on 27 April 2020 at the age of 58 from a brain tumour.
31 Dec 1960
Paul Westerberg, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter from American rock band The Replacements, who released the 1984 album Let It Be. Initially a punk rock band, they are considered pioneers of alternative rock.
31 Dec 1951
Tom Hamilton, bassist with Aerosmith who scored the 1989 UK No.13 single 'Love In An Elevator', and their 1989 album Pump spent 53 weeks on the US charts They had the 1993 US No.1 & UK No.2 album Get A Grip and the 1998 US No.1 & UK No.4 single 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'. Aerosmith is the best-selling American hard rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
31 Dec 1951
Fermin Goytisolo, singer with American disco and funk group KC and the Sunshine Band who had the 1975 US No.1 single 'That's The Way, I Like It', and the 1983 UK No.1 single 'Give It Up'.
31 Dec 1948
US singer Donna Summer best known for the 1977 UK No.1 single 'I Feel Love' and the 1979 US No.1 & UK No.11 single 'Hot Stuff. Summer became the first act to be signed by David Geffen to his new Geffen record label. Summer amassed a total of 32 chart singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 in her lifetime, including 14 top-ten singles and four No.1 singles. She was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach the top of the US Billboard 200 chart. Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida at the age of 63. She was diagnosed with lung cancer not related to smoking.
31 Dec 1947
Burton Cummings singer and songwriter from Canadian rock band Guess Who who had the 1970 US No.1 & UK No.19 single 'American Woman'.
31 Dec 1943
American singer and songwriter John Denver, (Henry John Deutschendorf). He had the 1974 UK & US No.1 single 'Annie's Song'. Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he wrote himself. He had 33 albums and singles that were certified Gold and Platinum in the US with estimated sales of more than 33 million units. An avid pilot, Denver was killed on 12 October 1997 age 53 in a single-fatality crash while piloting a recently purchased light plane. Denver was not legally permitted to fly at the time of the crash. In previous years, he had been arrested several times for drunk driving.
31 Dec 1943
English musician Pete Quaife, the original bass guitarist for The Kinks from 1963 until 1969. Known for the 1964 UK No.1 & US No.7 single 'You Really Got Me', the 1967 UK No.2 single 'Waterloo Sunset'. He died on 23 June 2010, aged 66.
31 Dec 1942
English guitarist Andy Summers, The Police who scored the 1983 UK & US No.1 single 'Every Breath You Take', plus four other UK No.1 singles. Their second album Reggatta de Blanc became the first of five consecutive UK No. 1 albums and The Police won six Grammy Awards and two Brit Awards. Summers has composed music for films including 2010, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, The Wild Life and Weekend at Bernie's.
31 Dec 1930
American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a civil and human rights activist Odetta. She influenced many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. Time magazine included her song 'Take This Hammer' on its list of the 100 Greatest Popular Songs. Martin Luther King Jr. called her the queen of American folk music. Odetta died on 2 December 2008 age 77.
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