1965 – American disc jockey Alan Freed is 43 years old when he dies from cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism. Freed, a 1986 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is credited with coining the term “rock ‘n’ roll.” His career was destroyed by the payola scandal that shook up the American broadcasting industry in the early 1960s.
1971 – “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye, is released and introduces fans to a different, more personal side of the Motown star in this anthem about social injustice. The song spends five weeks on top of the Hot Soul Singles chart before crossing over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it climbs to No. 2.
1988 – Mick Jagger presides as The Beatles are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Paul McCartney decides not to attend, issuing a statement citing ongoing business differences among The Beatles.
1996 – The Mariah Carey-Boyz II Men collaboration, “One Sweet Day,” is midway through a 16-week ride on top of the Billboard singles chart –the longest-running No. 1 song in the chart’s history at that time.
1937 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated as U.S. president for the second time. His first inauguration, in 1933, was held in March, but the 20th Amendment, passed later that year, made January 20 the official inauguration date for all future presidents.
1961 – President John F. Kennedy is sworn into office and delivers his inaugural address outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The speech concludes with his now-famous line: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
1980 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls for the 1980 Summer Olympics to be moved from the planned host city, Moscow, or canceled altogether if the Soviet Union fails to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within a month.
1993 – Actress, fashion icon and philanthropist Audrey Hepburn (“Roman Holiday,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “My Fair Lady”) dies of colon cancer at the age of 63. Hepburn remains among just a handful of performers who have won Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
2009 – On a freezing day in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th U.S. president. The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, Obama was the first African-American to win election to the nation’s highest office.
Own a Piece of This Day
Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal, and directed by Blake Edwards