On This Day March 31

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1943 – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premieres on Broadway. In 1955, the musical is produced as a motion picture starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (in her film debut).

1958 – Chess Records releases “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry. The song climbs as high as No. 8 on the pop chart and goes on to become a rock and roll classic.

1962 – Connie Francis claims the top spot on the pop chart for a week with “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You”

1967 – Jimi Hendrix suffers minor burns to his hands when he sets his guitar on fire during a performance at Finsbury Park in London. Nevertheless, he goes on to torch guitars several times during his short career.

1973 – Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” returns to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a fifth week after The O’Jays interrupted her for a week with their hit, “Love Train.”

1979 – “Tragedy,” by the Bee Gees, dominates the singles chart for a second and final week.

1984 – Kenny Loggins kicks off a three-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Footloose,” from the movie of the same name.

1987 – Prince releases his ninth studio album, “Sign o’ the Times,” which spawns three Top 10 hit singles: “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “U Got the Look,” (with Sheena Easton) and the title track. 

1995 – Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known as the “Mexican Madonna,” is shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club. Selena was the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy, in the Best Mexican-American album category, for her 1993 album “Selena Live!” At the time of her murder, at age 23, Selena was on the brink of international fame, recording her first English language album.

2007 – “Glamorous,” by Fergie featuring Ludacris, enters its second and final week as the No. 1 single.

On This Day January 31

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1865 – The U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The measure is ratified by the states that December.

1949 – The first daytime soap opera premieres on NBC. It’s called “These Are My Children” and it runs just 15 minutes in length, airing weekdays at 5 p.m.

1950 – President Harry S. Truman announces plans to develop the hydrogen bomb. Two-and-a-half years later, the U.S. tests its first H-bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the South Pacific. It generates a blast a thousand times stronger than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II.

1958 – The first American satellite, Explorer I, launches into space.

1968 – As part of the Tet Offensive, a squad of Viet Cong guerillas attacks the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

1971 – Apollo 14, piloted by astronauts Alan Shepard Jr., Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa, successfully launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a manned mission to the moon.

1988 – “The Wonder Years” premieres on prime time TV. The coming-of-age tale set in the 1960s and 70s, stars Fred Savage. The last episode airs in the fall of 1993.

1990 – Los Angeles prosecutors announce that they will retry teacher Raymond Buckey, who was accused of molesting children at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. The McMartin trials had already taken six years and cost more than $13.5 million without a single guilty verdict.

1990 – The first McDonald’s restaurant opens in Moscow.

On This Day December 31

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1781 – The first bank in the U.S. opens under the name The Bank of North America.

1862 – Nine months after engaging in the most famous naval battles in American history, the ironclad warship USS Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Sixteen crewmen are killed. The Monitor had dueled to a standstill with another ironclad, the CSS Virginia (originally the CSS Merrimack), off Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 9, 1862.

1879 – Inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his incandescent light bulb to the public for the first time.

1904 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in New York’s Times Square — known then as Longacre Square — at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan. Three years later, in 1907, the tradition of the dropping ball is introduced.

1946 – President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.

1984 – Bernhard Goetz, the white man known as the “subway vigilante” after he shot four young black men on a New York City subway train, turns himself in to authorities in New Hampshire.

1999 – Days after Mikhail Gorbachev is re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, stuns his country and the world by announcing his resignation six months before the end of his term. He turns control over to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, undercutting Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together. 

1999 – The United States officially turns control of the Panama Canal over to Panamanian authorities for the first time.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1966 – The Monkees swing to the top of the singles chart with “I’m a Believer” and hold on for seven weeks, finally yielding to The Buckinghams’ “Kind of a Drag” in mid-February.

1970 – Eight months after the The Beatles’ breakup and subsequent release of their last album, “Let It Be,” Paul McCartney files suit against bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to officially dissolve their partnership.

1972 – Dick Clark begins a new holiday tradition as his first “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” concert is broadcast on ABC-TV, featuring performances by Three Dog Night and Al Green. Clark hosts the annual event for the next 32 years before turning the reins over to Ryan Seacrest.

1977 – “How Deep Is Your Love,” by the Bee Gees, is in the middle of three weeks as the No. 1 single. The song is part of the “Saturday Night Fever” movie soundtrack.

1983 – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson are in the middle of a six-week domination of the pop chart with “Say Say Say.”

1985 – Former teen idol Ricky Nelson and six others are killed when their chartered plane crashes in Texas.

1988 – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” by Poison, is in the midst of a three-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard single chart.

2005 – Mariah Carey begins a two-week hold on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Forget About Us.”

2015 – Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter Natalie Cole (“This Will Be,” “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” “Miss You Like Crazy,” “Unforgettable”), daughter of legendary crooner and jazz pianist Nat King Cole, dies of congestive heart failure at the age of 65.

On This Day October 31

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On this Day August 31

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On this Day July 31

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On this Day May 31

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1790 – The first U.S. copyright law is enacted to protect books, maps and other original materials.

1889 – Heavy rains cause the South Fork Dam to collapse, sending 20 million tons of water into Johnstown, Pennsylvania and claiming the lives of more than 2,200 people.

1911 – An estimated 100,000 people gather in Belfast, Ireland for the launch of the RMS Titanic into the River Lagan. The ill-fated passenger liner, still missing its distinctive smokestacks, is towed to a berth where its engines, stacks and superstructure are installed and the interior is fitted out. Less than a year later, in one of the world’s greatest disasters, the ship sinks on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 passengers are crew are killed.

1921 – In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a White mob begins a horrific two-day attack on Black residents of the city’s thriving Greenwood district, burning homes and businesses to the ground and killing at least 300 Black Americans. Long misrepresented as a race riot rather than mass murder, the Tulsa Race Massacre becomes one of the bloodiest incidents of racial violence in American history.

1962 – The architect of the Holocaust is executed in Israel. Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” hangs for his crimes against humanity.

1977 – The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is completed. Built after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States, it is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world.

1996 – Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is narrowly defeated in national elections by Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.