October 20th: The Biggest Music Headlines

Scroll down the page to see all the music headlines, stories and events for October 20 throughout music history

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Tragic Plane Crash

On October 20, 1977, Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd boarded a chartered plane after playing a concert at Greenville Memorial Auditorium. The band was headed to Baton Rouge for a concert the following night, but the plane ran out of fuel and the pilots attempted an emergency landing that, tragically, failed. Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines were killed in the crash, as were backing singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), and the band’s assistant road manager, Dean Kilpatrick. The accident took place just three days after the release of the group’s fifth studio album, Street Survivors.

In 2003, Amy Winehouse released her debut album, Frank. The title of the album has a double meaning, both honoring one of Winehouse’s favorite singers, Frank Sinatra, and the vocalist’s penchant for honest lyricism.

In 1978, The Police kicked off their first North American tour at New York City’s CBGBs. On that same run of shows, the band performed at the famed Boston venue, The Rat, and at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, the same city in which “Roxanne” debuted on US radio.

In 1960, Roy Orbison scored his first UK No.1 hit with “Only The Lonely.” Originally, Orbison and his co-writer, Joe Melson, tried to sell the song to Elvis Presley and then to the Everly Brothers. Luckily for Orbison, both acts turned it down.

In 1983, famed country star Merle Travis died at the age of 65. Best known for his unique guitar technique (often referred to as “Travis picking”) and hits like “Sixteen Tons” and “Dark as a Dungeon,” Travis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977.

In 1969, The Who played the first of six nights at New York’s Fillmore East. The two-hour set found the British band performing multiple songs from their recently released rock opera, Tommy.

In 1976, the Led Zeppelin concert documentary, The Song Remains The Same, premiered in New York City. Filming took place during the summer of 1973, capturing three nights of shows at Madison Square Garden.

In 1962, Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers began a two-week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their enduring ghoulish hit, “Monster Mash.”

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Keep scrolling for all of the headlines for October 20.


1890: Jelly Roll Morton
1925: Tom Dowd (Producer)
1950: Tom Petty
1951: Alan Greenwood (Foreigner)
1965: Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub)
1971: Snoop Dogg
1978: Paul Wilson (Snow Patrol)

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Keep scrolling for all of our October 20 birthdays.

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October 20th

On this day in music
20 Oct 2018
On what would have been Tom Petty's 68th birthday, the city of Gainesville renamed the former Northeast Park, a park where a young Petty had often visited, as Tom Petty Park.
20 Oct 2014
John Holt, reggae singer and songwriter who first found fame as a member of the Paragons, died aged 67. Holt penned 'The Tide Is High' made famous by Blondie.
20 Oct 2014
The childhood home of former Beatle George Harrison sold at an auction at The Cavern Club for £156,000, ($250,000). The three-bedroom mid-terrace home was where The Quarrymen held some of their first rehearsals before the band evolved into the The Beatles in 1960.
20 Oct 2011
US photographer Barry Feinstein, best known for taking enduring pictures of musicians such as Bob Dylan and George Harrison died aged 80. Feinstein was responsible for capturing more than 500 record sleeves, including Harrison's All Things Must Pass album and the cover photograph for Dylan's album The Times They Are A-Changin. The Rolling Stones sleeve for Beggars Banquet shot in a graffiti-covered toilet, was also Feinstein's work.
20 Oct 2007
Paul Raven, bassist with post-punk band Killing Joke, died of a suspected heart attack aged 46 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was recording. He left the band in 1987 before forming Murder Inc and joining Ministry, Prong and Mob Research.
20 Oct 2006
George Michael openly smoked a cannabis joint during an interview on a TV show. The singer was filmed backstage in Madrid, Spain where the drug is legal. Michael said ‘It’s the only drug I’ve ever thought worth taking, this stuff keeps me sane and happy. But it’s not very healthy.’
20 Oct 2005
Michael Jackson received a jury summons at his Neverland ranch in California four months after he was acquitted on child molestation charges. A spokesperson said it was likely he would be excused from serving due to the fact that he has lived in Bahrain since the trial.
20 Oct 2003
Amy Winehouse released her debut album Frank, (named after Frank Sinatra). The album has now sold over one million copies in the UK.
20 Oct 2003
A jury found Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy guilty of assaulting a nightclub worker. The singer was sentenced to complete 120 hours of unpaid community service and was ordered to pay her victim £500 compensation, plus £3,000 of prosecution costs. The singer had denied attacking toilet attendant Sophie Amogbokpa, saying she only punched her in self-defence. The charges stemmed from an incident at the Drink nightclub in Guildford, Surrey, on 11 January.
20 Oct 1984
Wham! started a three week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Freedom', the duo's second No.1. The song was used in a Japanese commercial for Maxell audio cassettes, with altered lyrics.
20 Oct 1983
American country and western singer, songwriter, Merle Travis died of a heart attack aged 65. Acknowledged as one of the most influential American guitarist's of the twentieth century. Wrote 'Sixteen Tons' 1955 US No.1 for Ernie Ford. He appeared in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity singing ‘Reenlistment Blues’.
20 Oct 1979
The Eagles started a nine week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'The Long Run', the bands fourth US No.1.
20 Oct 1978
The Police made their US debut at C.B.G.B.S, New York. The trio had flown on low cost tickets with Laker Airtrain from the UK, carrying their instruments as hand luggage.
20 Oct 1977
Siouxsie Sioux and Kenny Morris from The Banshees were arrested and held overnight at Holloway police station, London for causing an obstruction after a London gig, they were both fined £20.
20 Oct 1977
Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines from Lynyrd Skynyrd were all killed along with manager Dean Kilpatrick when their rented plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a densely wooded thicket in the middle of a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. The crash seriously injured the rest of the band and crew who were due to play at Louisiana University that evening.
20 Oct 1976
The Led Zeppelin film 'The Song Remains The Same', premiered in New York City. The charity night raised $25,000 for the save the children fund.
20 Oct 1973
The Rolling Stones went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Angie', the group's 7th US chart topper. A No.5 hit in the UK.
20 Oct 1969
The Who played the first of six nights at New York's Filmore East performing a two-hour show featuring the songs from 'Tommy.'
20 Oct 1967
Davy Jones of The Monkees opened his own 'Zilch', boutique in Greenwich Village, New York City.
20 Oct 1964
The Rolling Stones played their first live concert in France when they appeared at the Paris Olympia.
20 Oct 1962
Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt Kickers started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Monster Mash', it became a No.3 in the UK eleven years later in 1973. The song had been Banned by The BBC in the UK, deemed offensive.
20 Oct 1961
The Beatles played a lunchtime show at The Cavern Club, Liverpool and tonight they appeared at The Village Hall in Knotty Ash, Liverpool.
20 Oct 1960
Roy Orbison had his first UK No.1 single with 'Only The Lonely' and his first of 33 hits. The song was turned down by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley so Orbison decided to record the song himself.
20 Oct 1955
Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and his Comets both appeared at Brooklyn High School auditorium, Cleveland.
Born on this day in music
20 Oct 1992
Taz Taylor, American record producer, songwriter, and record executive, as well as the founder of the Internet Money collective and record label.
20 Oct 1989
Jess Glynne, British singer and songwriter, best known for featuring on Clean Bandit's single 'Rather Be' and Route 94's 'My Love', both of which reached No.1 on the UK Singles Chart in 2014.
20 Oct 1978
Paul Wilson, bassist from Northern Irish rock band Snow Patrol, who scored the 2006 UK No.1 album Eyes Open and the 2006 UK No.6 single ‘Chasing Cars’.
20 Oct 1977
Nicholas Hodgson, drummer, Kaiser Chiefs, (2005 UK No.3 album ‘Employment’, 2005 UK No.6 single 'Oh My God', 2007 UK No.1 single 'Ruby').
20 Oct 1971
Dannii Minogue, Australian singer, (1991 UK No.8 single 'Love And Kisses' plus 10 other UK Top 40 singles).
20 Oct 1971
Snoop Doggy Dogg, (Calvin Broadus), 1993 US No.1 album 'Doggy Style', 1996 UK No.12 single 'Snoop's Upside Your Head'.
20 Oct 1965
Norman Blake, guitar & vocals, Teenage Fanclub, (1992 UK No.31 single 'What You Do To Me').
20 Oct 1964
David Ryan, drummer, from American alternative rock band The Lemonheads. A cover of Simon And Garfunkel's 'Mrs. Robinson', became one of the band's most successful single in the early 90s.
20 Oct 1964
Jim Sonefild, drummer with American rock band Hootie & the Blowfish who had the 1995 US No.1 album Cracked Rear View which sold over 15m copies.
20 Oct 1958
English musician Mark King, lead singer and bassist from Level 42, who had the 1986 UK No.3 & US No.12 single 'Lessons In Love' & 19 other UK Top 40 hits.
20 Oct 1955
Mark Feltham, English harmonica player with UK R&B group Nine Below Zero. Feltham has also worked with Rory Gallagher, Roger Daltrey, Deacon Blue, Roy Harper, Annie Lennox, Oasis, Robbie Williams and many other artists.
20 Oct 1951
Alan Greenwood, keyboards, with English-American rock band Foreigner, who scored the 1985 UK & US No.1 single 'I Want To Know What Love Is'. They are one of the world's best-selling bands of all time with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records.
20 Oct 1950
Tom Petty, American singer and songwriter. He was the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a founding member of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had the 1977 single 'American Girl', the 1989 UK No.28 single 'I Won't Back Down', and the 1991 UK No.3 album 'Into The Great Wide Open'. With the Traveling Wilburys, the 1988 UK No. 21 single 'Handle With Care'. Petty has also released a string of solo albums, and Throughout his career and has sold over 60 million albums. Petty died on 2 October 2017.
20 Oct 1945
Ric Lee, drummer, Ten Years After, (UK rock group, 1970 UK No.10 single 'Love Like A Man').
20 Oct 1942
John Carter, who with the Ivy League had the 1965 UK No.3 single 'Tossing and Turning'.
20 Oct 1940
Kathy Kirby, UK singer, (1963 UK No.4 single 'Secret Love'). Died 19th May 2011.
20 Oct 1939
Ray Jones, Dakotas, (1963 UK No.18 single 'The Cruel Sea').
20 Oct 1939
Jay Siegel, from American male doo-wop-style vocal group The Tokens who had the 1961 US No.1 & UK No.11 single with its cover of Solomon Linda's 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'.
20 Oct 1925
American record producer Tom Dowd. He recorded albums by many artists including: Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, Dusty Springfield, The Drifters and Otis Redding. He died of emphysema on 27 October 2002.
20 Oct 1890
Jelly Roll Morton, US pianist, arranger, bandleader, the first great composer in jazz, died 10th July 1941.
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