December 4th: The Biggest Music Headlines

Scroll down the page to see all the music headlines, stories and events for December 4 throughout music history

Frank Zappa

Experimental Rock Star, Frank Zappa, Dies

On this day in music, December 4, 1993, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer Frank Zappa lost his battle with cancer. Bearing a musical virtuosity that rivaled few others, Zappa’s pioneering work was vast and varied – from his free-form improvisations inspired by avant-garde jazz, to sound experiments with non-traditional instruments, to his biting lyrical satire of modern society. Although Zappa divided critics and fans while he was alive, his influence on modern rock and experimental music is undeniable. Following his death, he was honored with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

In 2015, Justin Bieber scored his third UK No.1 hit with “Love Yourself,” which knocked his previous chart-topper, “Sorry,” to No.2.The last living act to achieve that particular feat on the UK chart was The Beatles, with 1963’s “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

In 1956, the so-called “Million Dollar Quartet” impromptu jam session took place at Memphis’s Sun Studios with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. These seminal, star-studded recordings were first released in Europe in 1981. More tracks were eventually discovered and the project was released in the US in 1990, under the title Elvis Presley – The Million Dollar Quartet.

In 1980, two months after the death of drummer John Bonham, Led Zeppelin announced their decision to break up. A press statement read, “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”

In 1988, Roy Orbison unknowingly performed his final concert, days before he passed away, at Cleveland’s Front Row Theater. The show was detailed in an interview with Rolling Stone, who had extensive access to the 52-year-old artist during the final months of his life.

In 1971, Led Zeppelin began a two-week run at the top of the UK album chart with Led Zeppelin IV. Featuring the eight-minute track “Stairway To Heaven,” the LP peaked at No.2 in the US but remained on the chart for nearly five years.

In 1964, The Beatles released their fourth studio album, Beatles For Sale. The LP went on to top the UK charts for 11 weeks.

In 1971, Switzerland’s Montreux Casino burnt to the ground during a Frank Zappa concert. The incident was immortalized by Deep Purple’s classic track, “Smoke On The Water.”

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1944: Chris Hillman (The Byrds)
1944: Dennis Wilson (The Beach Boys)
1947: Terry Woods (The Pogues)
1951: Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
1963: Danny Weinkauf (They Might Be Giants)
1969: Jay-Z
1992: Jin (BTS)

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December 4th

On this day in music
4 Dec 2021
American country music singer and musician Stonewall Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 89. His breakthrough came in the country Top 40 in late 1958, with a song written by a young George Jones, ‘Life to Go’.
4 Dec 2016
Wayne Duncan, bassist with Australian rock band Daddy Cool died following a stroke. Their debut 1971 single 'Eagle Rock' stayed at No.1 on the Australian singles chart for ten weeks. Their debut July 1971 LP Daddy Who? Daddy Cool also reached No.1 and became the first Australian album to sell more than 100,000 copies.
4 Dec 2015
Justin Bieber scored his third UK No.1 single with 'Love Yourself', which knocked his previous chart topper, 'Sorry', to No.2.The last living artists to achieve the feat were The Beatles in 1963 with 'She Loves You' and 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'.
4 Dec 2015
A new statue of The Beatles was unveiled in Liverpool - 50 years after their last show in Merseyside. The bronze sculpture, by Andy Edwards which weighed 1.2 tonnes, had been given to the city by The Cavern Club the venue synonymous with the Fab Four in the 1960s.
4 Dec 2012
Randy Blythe, the frontman of US metal band Lamb of God, was charged over the death of a fan at a concert in Prague in 2010. The singer was accused of pushing the fan off stage during a show in the Czech Republic. The fan hit his head when he fell to the concrete floor and died of his injuries 14 days later. The 41-year-old singer faced five to 10 years in prison if convicted.
4 Dec 2006
Yahoo revealed that Britney Spears was the most searched for term of 2006 with more online searches done about Spears than any other topic or person. Female celebrities dominated the top 10 overall search list, with Shakira at number three, Jessica Simpson at number four and Paris Hilton at number five.
4 Dec 2002
Whitney Houston admitted in an US TV interview that drink and drugs nearly killed her. Bobby Brown's missus also admitted to being addicted to sex. She said her business is sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, and got into the lifestyle after missing out on partying when her career kicked off aged 18.
4 Dec 1999
Rapper Jay-Z was released on $50,000 bail, after being accused of attacking Lance Rivera when a fight broke out at a party for rapper Q-Tip at a Manhattan Club. Police declined to say what caused the dispute.
4 Dec 1993
Multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer, Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer. Zappa recorded many albums with The Mothers Of Invention as well a solo recordings including the 1969 album 'Hot Rats' and 1974 album 'Apostrophe'. Zappa recorded one of the first concept albums, 'Freak Out' released in 1966, it was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music (although Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde preceded it by a week). He married Adelaide Gail Sloatman, in 1967, they had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
4 Dec 1988
Roy Orbison played his final ever gig when he appeared in Cleveland, Ohio. Orbison died of a heart attack two days later.
4 Dec 1982
The Jam were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Beat Surrender', the group's fourth UK No.1 and final single. They split in 1983 and leader Paul Weller later formed the Style Council before launching a solo career.
4 Dec 1980
Prince played the first night on his 31 date Dirty Mind North American tour at Shea’s in Buffalo, New York. After being told by his managers he couldn't wear spandex pants without any underwear, Prince began performing in a long trench coat, black high heeled boots and leggings, and bikini brief trunks.
4 Dec 1980
Two months after the tragic death of drummer John Bonham Led Zeppelin made decision to break up. The surviving members decided that it was not right to tamper with their legacy by bringing someone else in to play drums. In a statement, the band explained their decision: "We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
4 Dec 1979
U2 appeared at The Hope and Anchor, Islington, London. Misnamed ‘The U2s’, they played to only nine people and the show ended abruptly after The Edge broke a guitar string.
4 Dec 1976
American guitarist Tommy Bolin died from a heroin overdose aged 25 the day after opening a show for Jeff Beck in Miami, Florida. Bolin was a member of Zephyr (1969 to 1971), The James Gang (1973 to 1974) and Deep Purple (1975 to 1976).
4 Dec 1976
Workers at EMI records went on strike, refusing to package The Sex Pistols single 'Anarchy In The UK.'
4 Dec 1971
The Montreux Casino in Switzerland burnt to the ground during a gig by Frank Zappa. The incident is immortalized by Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water'. In 1967 the Casino became the venue for the Montreux Jazz Festival, which was the brainchild of music promoter Claude Nobs. On the night of the blaze, Nobs saved several young people who, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames, had hidden in the casino from the blaze. A recording of the outbreak and fire announcement can be found on a Frank Zappa Bootleg album titled Swiss Cheese / Fire.
4 Dec 1971
Led Zeppelin started a two-week run at No.1 on the UK chart with the Four Symbols album, otherwise known as Led Zeppelin IV. Featuring the 8-minute track 'Stairway To Heaven', the album stayed on the US chart for one week short of five years, selling over 23 million copies in the US alone.
4 Dec 1967
This was the penultimate night of a 16-date UK package tour, on which Pink Floyd joined The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Move, The Nice, The Eire Apparent, The Outer Limits and Amen Corner to play at the City Hall, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Jimi Hendrix was having equipment problems and in his frustration rammed his Gibson Flying V into his speaker cabinets. Like an enormous arrow, the guitar became stuck in the amplifier, which the audience greeted as all was part of the act.
4 Dec 1965
The Byrds started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' the group's second No.1. A No.26 hit in the UK. Unlike their first chart topper, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, the entire band was allowed to play on the recording, instead of studio musicians.
4 Dec 1964
The Beatles released their fourth album 'Beatles For Sale'. The album featured: ‘No Reply’, ‘I'm a Loser’, ‘Baby's in Black’, ‘Rock and Roll Music’, ‘I'll Follow the Sun’, ‘Mr. Moonlight’, ‘Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey’, ‘Eight Days a Week’, ‘Words of Love’, ‘Honey Don't’, ‘Every Little Thing’, ‘I Don't Want to Spoil the Party’, ‘What You're Doing’, and ‘Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby’. It spent 11 weeks as the UK No.1 album.
4 Dec 1962
The Beatles made their London-area debut on television when they appeared in a live broadcast from Wembley on Tuesday Rendezvous, on ITV station Rediffusion. The Beatles performed live, doing lip-sync performances of 'Love Me Do' and 45 seconds of ‘P.S. I Love You.’
4 Dec 1960
The Crickets released the single 'I Fought the Law' on Coral Records. Written by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets, a remake by the Bobby Fuller Four became a top-ten hit for the band in 1966 and was also recorded by The Clash in 1979 after Joe Strummer and guitarist Mick Jones heard the song on a jukebox in San Francisco.
4 Dec 1956
The so-called 'Million Dollar Quartet' impromptu jam session took place at Sun Studios in Memphis with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.
Born on this day in music
4 Dec 1992
Kim Seok-jin, South Korean singer, songwriter, with the boy band BTS. They became the first Korean act to top the US Billboard chart with their studio album Love Yourself: Tear (2018). BTS also became the fastest group since The Beatles to earn four US No.1 albums, doing so in less than two years. They became the first Asian act to chart a No.1 song in the US since Kyu Sakamoto with ‘Sukiyaki’ (1963).
4 Dec 1973
Kate Rusby, UK folk singer, songwriter. 2007 No.2 indie album Awkward Annie.
4 Dec 1972
Justin Welch, drums, Elastica, (1995 UK No.13 single 'Waking Up'), Me Me Me, (1996 UK No.19 single 'Hanging Around').
4 Dec 1969
American singer, songwriter Dionne Farris. She was featured on the hip hop group Arrested Development 1992 hit single ‘Tennessee’. Farris rose to fame with the release of her debut album, Wild Seed - Wild Flower released in 1994 which featured the Top 40 single, ‘I Know’.
4 Dec 1969
Jay-Z, (Shawn Carter), 1998 UK No.2 single 'Hard Knock Life' 1999 UK No. 10 single with Mariah Carey, 'Heartbreaker' 2001 US No.1 album 'The Blueprint'. Jay-Z married singer Beyoncé in 2008 and as a couple, they have an estimated combined net worth of $1.16 billion.
4 Dec 1967
Adamski, (Adam Tinley, 1990 UK No.1 single 'Killer').
4 Dec 1963
Danny Weinkauf, bassist from American alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, who scored the 1990 UK No.6 single, 'Birdhouse In Your Soul'. The band has won two Grammy Awards, one in 2002 for their song 'Boss of Me, and in 2009 for 'Here Come the 123s'.
4 Dec 1951
Gary Rossington, American musician best known as a founder of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd who had the 1974 US No. 8 single 'Sweet Home Alabama' the 1977 US No. 5 album Street Survivors and the 1982 UK No.21 single 'Freebird'. Rossington died at his home in Milton, Georgia, on 5 March 2023, age 71.
4 Dec 1948
Southside Johnny, vocals, harmonica, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, (1978 album 'Hearts Of Stone').
4 Dec 1947
Terry Woods, from Irish-British Celtic punk band The Pogues who scored the 1987 UK No.8 single 'The Irish Rover'.
4 Dec 1944
Jamaican guitarist Hux Brown. He featured on many successful rocksteady and reggae records in the 60s and 70s, and was later a member of Toots and the Maytals. He died on 18 June 2020 in Oakland, California, aged 75.
4 Dec 1944
American musician Chris Hillman, who with The Byrds had the 1965 UK & US No.1 single 'Mr Tambourine Man'. He was also a member of Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Souther, Hillman, Furay Band. Hillman was a key figure in the development of country rock.
4 Dec 1944
American musician, singer, and songwriter Dennis Wilson who co-founded The Beach Boys. He is best remembered as their drummer and as the middle brother of bandmates Brian and Carl Wilson. (1966 UK & US No.1 single 'Good Vibrations', plus over 25 other UK Top 40 singles). Wilson drowned while swimming from his boat moored in Marina Del Rey, California on 28th December 1983 after a heavy day's drinking.
4 Dec 1942
Bob Mosley, from American psychedelic rock group Moby Grape, known for their debut album Moby Grape (1967).
4 Dec 1940
Freddy Cannon, singer, (1959 US & UK No.3 single, 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans').
4 Dec 1932
Tommy Morgan, American harmonicist and session musician. He is considered one of the most heard harmonica players in the world, and has worked with many artists including, Randy Newman, Carpenters, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.
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