On This Day January 20

Musical Milestones

1964 – The British Invasion is on as Capitol Records releases “Meet the Beatles!,” the band’s second album in the U.S.

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.

1968 – “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses),” a parody of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” puts John Fred and his Playboy Band at No. 1 on the singles chart for two weeks. 

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.

1973 – Carly Simon begins her third and final week on top of the singles chart with “You’re So Vain.” After years of speculation, Simon eventually admits that the song refers to actor Warren Beatty.

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.

1990 – Michael Bolton rules the Billboard Hot 100 with “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” The single holds the No. 1 spot for three weeks.

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.

2007 – “Irreplaceable,” Beyoncé, is in its sixth week on top of the Billboard Hot 100. The track remains there for another four weeks and clinches a Record of the Year Grammy nomination.

History Highlights

1841 – During the First Opium War, China cedes the island of Hong Kong to the British with the signing of the Chuenpi Convention — an agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict.

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.

1981 – Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th U.S. president, 52 American captives held at the American embassy in Teheran, Iran, are released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis. 

1984 – Hungarian-born Olympic gold medal swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in the movies, dies at the age of 79. 

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.

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Meet The Beatles (The U.S. Album)

The Beatles

Anthology: The Best Of Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam

Mark Bowden

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Starring Audrey HepburnGeorge PeppardPatricia Neal, and directed by Blake Edwards

I Love Her, That's Why!

George Burns

Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Boxed Edition (Complete Series)

Starring Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean and directed by David Lynch

On this Day August 27

History Highlights

1883 – The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history jolts Krakatoa (also known as Krakatau), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia. The resulting explosions and tsunamis kill an estimated 36,000 people.

1953 – “Roman Holiday,” featuring Audrey Hepburn in her first starring movie role, premieres in New York City.

1955 – The first edition of “The Guinness Book of Records” is published in England as a resource for pub patrons to settle friendly disputes. By that Christmas, it becomes a British best-seller. Today, it is the leading international authority for certifying every conceivable world record, from longest mustache to most tattooed woman, and everything in between.

1962 – NASA launches the Mariner 2 space probe on a mission to fly by Venus and return data on the planet’s atmosphere, magnetic field, charged particle environment and mass.

1964 – Gracie Allen, who kept radio and TV audiences laughing for decades with comedy partner and husband George Burns, dies at age 69.

1966 – Sixty-five-year-old Francis Chichester sets sail from Plymouth, England aboard his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV, on the first solo around-the-world trip by sea. He completes the voyage nine months and one day later with only a single stop in Sydney, Australia, and is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

1984 – President Ronald Reagan announces the Teacher in Space Project to inspire students, honor teachers and spur interest in mathematics, science and space exploration. New Hampshire social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe is eventually selected out of 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. Sadly, she is killed along with all her fellow crew members in the January 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger 73 seconds after liftoff.

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The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

Vivek J. Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson

Ten

Pearl Jam

Roman Holiday

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert, and directed by William Wyler

Guinness World Records Celebrating 60 Years

Guinness World Records

The Best of Captain & Tennille: The Millennium Collection

Captain & Tennille

Once Upon a Time in America

Starring Robert De Niro, James Woods, Joe Pesci, Elizabeth McGovern, Danny Aiello and Tuesday Weld and directed by Sergio Leone

On this Day May 4

Musical Milestones

1959 – The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents the first Grammy Awards with ceremonies held simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles. Among the awards handed out, “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” (better known as “Volare”) wins both song and record of the year for composer Domenico Modugno.

1968 – Bobby Goldsboro is in the middle of a five-week run on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Honey.”

1973 – Led Zeppelin opens its 1973 North American tour in Atlanta. Billed as “the biggest and most profitable rock & roll tour in the history of the United States,” the group would gross more than $4 million from it.

1974 – The soundtrack to the motion picture “The Sting,” featuring Marvin Hamlisch’s interpretation of ragtime music by Scott Joplin, begins a five-week run at No. 1 on the album chart.

1974 – Grand Funk Railroad chugs its way to the top of the Billboard singles chart with “The Loco-Motion.”

1985 – “We Are The World,” the musical collaboration produced under the baton of Quincy Jones as a fundraiser for African famine relief, begins its fourth and final week as a chart-topper.

1990 – Madonna kicks off the North American leg of her 57-date Blond Ambition World Tour with a performance in Houston, Texas at The Summit (now Lakewood Church). Years later, Rolling Stone magazine would call the tour “the Greatest Concert of the 1990s.”

2002 – Ashanti has the No. 1 single in the U.S. with “Foolish.” The single remains on top of the pop chart for 10 weeks.

History Highlights

1932 – Mobster Al Capone begins serving an 11-year sentence for income tax evasion in a federal prison in Atlanta.

1961 – Civil rights activists calling themselves the “Freedom Riders” decide to test a recent Supreme Court decision prohibiting racial segregation in interstate travel. They set out on a dangerous journey aboard buses from Washington, D.C. through the Deep South to New Orleans, defying segregated restrooms, restaurants and bus station waiting areas along the way.

1970 – Four students are killed, nine others wounded when National Guard troops open fire during a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Guardsmen fire 67 rounds in 13 seconds. The tragedy sends shockwaves across the U.S. and around the world.

1977 – British journalist David Frost sits down with former President Richard Nixon for the first of four revealing television interviews. Nixon apologizes for putting “the American people through two years of needless agony” during the Watergate scandal.

1979 – Britain’s Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, becomes that nation’s first female prime minister.

2008 – The term “May the 4th be with you,” a tribute to the popular Star Wars phrase, “May the force be with you,” becomes a part of pop culture as it begins to be used among members of Star Wars-related Facebook groups that turn it into a celebration of the beloved sci-fi franchise. In 2011 and 2012, Star Wars Day is observed by fans in Toronto during a festival that draws significant media coverage. In 2013, just months after purchasing Lucasfilm, Disney officially recognizes May 4 as Star Wars Day, and its marketing of new movies, TV shows and merchandise continues to explode today.

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Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same

Starring Led Zeppelin, and directed by Peter Clifton and Joe Massot

Madonna

Madonna

American Gangsters: The Life and Legacy of Al Capone

Charles River Editors

67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence

Howard Means

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal and directed by Blake Edwards

The Shape of Water

Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins, and directed by Guillermo Del Toro