On this Day May 21
1955 – Rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry enters a Chicago sound studio and records his first single, “Ida Red.” During the session, his producer decides the track needs a new name: “Maybelline.” It becomes the first of Berry’s many hits.
1979 – Elton John becomes the first Western rock star to tour the Soviet Union. Over the course of eight days, he plays four concerts at the Great October Hall in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and four more at the exclusive Rossya Hotel in Moscow.
1983 – David Bowie grabs the top spot on the singles chart for a week with “Let’s Dance,” off the album of the same name. Coincidentally, that album was nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy but had the misfortune of competing against Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
1881 – After being around wounded soldiers during the Civil War and, later, the Franco-Prussian War overseas, nurse and educator Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters as well as to military personnel and their families.
1901 – Connecticut becomes the first state to impose a speed limit for motor vehicles (known then as “horseless carriages”). Motorists are required to keep it to 12 miles per hour in the city and 15 miles per hour on country roads. Speed limits were first enacted in Connecticut because horseless carriage manufacturers were springing up all across New England, and New Englanders were buying, and driving, their products.
1979 – Gay rights activists riot outside San Francisco City Hall following the conviction of Dan White for the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, an openly gay San Francisco supervisor. Protesters participating in the so-called White Night Riots contend that White’s sentence is too light.
1999 – Ninetheenth time’s the charm! After 18 straight years of being nominated for a Best Actress Daytime Emmy Award and never winning, Susan Lucci finally captures the coveted honor for her portrayal of Erica Kane in the popular ABC soap opera “All My Children.”
Own a Piece of This Day
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, and directed by Irvin Kershner
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Starring Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judge Reinhold, and directed by Amy Heckerling