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 March 4

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1925 – The second inauguration of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge is the first to be nationally broadcast. More than 20 radio stations carry the event to an estimated 23 million listeners, including many children whose school auditoriums were specially equipped with speakers. 

1933 – During the height of the Great Depression, an estimated 150,000 spectators gather on the east grounds of the U.S. Capitol as Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president. FDR tells Americans, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

1933 – Newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor, making her the first female member of the U.S. cabinet.

1960 – Actress Lucille Ball divorces her husband and collaborator, Desi Arnaz, after 20 tumultuous years of marriage. The breakup of the couple, stars of the hit sitcom “I Love Lucy” and owners of Desilu Studios, becomes one of the highest-profile divorces in American history at that time.

1974 – People magazine makes its debut on American newsstands, featuring actress Mia Farrow on the cover.

1989 – Time, Inc. and Warner Communications announce plans to merge into the world’s largest media and entertainment conglomerate. 

1994 – Comedic actor John Candy (“Splash,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck,” “Home Alone”) dies of a heart attack at 43 while filming a movie in Mexico.

2005 – Billionaire mogul Martha Stewart is released from a federal prison in West Virginia after serving five months and paying a $30,000 fine for lying and obstructing justice in a 2001 stock sale. Stewart serves five months of home confinement at her Bedford, New York estate and then faces two years probation.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1963 – The Beach Boys release “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” which climbs as high as No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart. The The song features Brian Wilson’s lyrics set to the music of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

1966 – During an interview with the British newspaper London Evening Standard, John Lennon says of The Beatles: “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” The remark sets off an international furor when reprinted a few months later in an American teen magazine, with some radio stations refusing to play Beatles records and others burning them.

1967 – “Beggin’,” the 33rd hit single for Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, lands on the Billboard pop chart, eventually climbing to No. 16.

1967 – “Ruby Tuesday,” by The Rolling Stones, begins a week as the No. 1 single. Brian Jones plays recorder on the track while the double bass is played jointly by bassist Bill Wyman pressing the strings against the fingerboard and Keith Richards bowing the strings.

1978 – Andy Gibb sails to the top of the singles chart with “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.” The song remains at No. 1 for two weeks.

1989 – Debbie Gibson starts a three-week run at No. 1 on the singles chart with “Lost in Your Eyes.”

1995 – Madonna is in the midst of a seven-week ride at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Take a Bow,” off her “Bedtime Stories” album.

2000 – Nashville-based country music band Lonestar claims the top spot on the pop chart with “Amazed.” The single holds at No. 1 for two weeks.

2006 – “Check on It,” by Beyoncé featuring Slim Thug, begins its fifth and final week as a No. 1 single. 

On This Day January 23

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman physician in U.S. history when she earns a medical degree from the all-male Geneva Medical College in upstate New York, graduating at the top of her class at the age of 28. Blackwell devotes her life to advocating for women in the healthcare professions and, in 1868, opens a women’s medical college in New York City.

1957 – The Wham-O toy company introduces the first aerodynamic plastic disc known as the Frisbee, and forever changes outdoor recreation. The disc was the creation of Walter Frederick Morrison, who originally named it the Pluto Platter.

1968 – North Korea seizes the U.S. intelligence-gathering ship USS Pueblo claiming it had violated North Korean territorial waters while spying. 

1973 – President Richard Nixon announces that a peace accord had been reached in Paris to end the Vietnam War.

1975 – The ABC sitcom “Barney Miller” debuts. It’s about an NYPD precinct captain played by Hal Linden, and the shenanigans he endures with his detectives.

1976 – Singer, actor, athlete and civil rights activist Paul Robeson dies at the age of 77. 

1977 – The miniseries “Roots,” based on the book by Alex Haley, debuts. It runs for eight consecutive nights on ABC Television and becomes the single most-watched program in American history, drawing about 100 million viewers.

1997 – One day after her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Madeline Albright is sworn in as America’s first female Secretary of State by Vice President Al Gore.

On This Day November 24

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1950 – The musical comedy “Guys and Dolls” premieres on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre. Two years later, it spawns a film adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. 

1962 – The Four Seasons, featuring Frankie Valli, are in the second week of a five-week run as Billboard chart-toppers with “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”

1966 – The Beatles gather in a studio for the first time since wrapping up their U.S. summer concert tour and spend the entire day recording John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

1972 – Don Kirshner’s “Rock Concert” TV show debuts, featuring Chuck Berry, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Alice Cooper.

1973 – Ringo Starr’s “Photograph” begins a week as the No. 1 single.

1979 – The Barbra Streisand-Donna Summer duet “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” kicks off two weeks as a No. 1 single.

1984 – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” by Wham!, rules the Billboard Hot 100.

1991 – Queen frontman Freddie Mercury dies of complications from AIDS exactly one day after publicly disclosing that he is HIV positive. He was 45 years old.

1997 – Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols is the defendant in an episode of TV’s “Judge Judy.” The case is a wrongful termination suit brought on by his former drummer, which Rotten wins.

2007 – Jay-Z climbs to the top of the Billboard album chart with “American Gangster,” his 10th chart-topping album. This ties the rapper to 2nd place with Elvis Presley for the most No. 1 albums. Only The Beatles have had more, with 19. 

On This Day November 19

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On This Day October 29

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On This Day October 18

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1867 – The U.S. formally takes possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre.

1898 – One year after Spain grants Puerto Rico self-rule, American troops raise the U.S. flag over the Caribbean nation, formalizing U.S. authority over the island’s one million inhabitants.

1931 – Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, dies from complications of diabetes in his West Orange, New Jersey home at the age of 84. Edison is most famous for inventing the phonograph, motion picture camera and the incandescent light bulb.

1954 – Music, information and sports become portable as Texas Instruments and the Regency division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates introduce the transistor radio. Marketed as the “world’s first pocket radio,” the Regency Model TR-1 retails for $49.95.

1961 – “West Side Story” opens in theaters, featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The movie musical captures 10 Academy Awards.

1967 – “The Jungle Book” opens at the box office. It’s the last animated feature personally produced by Walt Disney, who died during production.

1968 – The U.S. Olympic Committee suspends two African American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, for giving a “Black Power” salute during their medal ceremony at the Mexico City games.

1988 – The sitcom “Roseanne” premieres on ABC, starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1968 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono are arrested after cannabis is discovered in their London flat. Lennon pleads guilty for fear that Ono would be deported.

1969 – “I Can’t Get Next to You” becomes the second chart-topping single for Motown titans, The Temptations. The track holds the No. 1 spot for two weeks.

1975 – John Denver’s “Windsong” is No. 1 on the U.S. album chart. It contains the hits “I’m Sorry” and “Calypso.”

1980 – Queen enters its third and final week on top of the pop chart with “Another One Bites the Dust.”

1986 – Janet Jackson starts the second and final week on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “When I Think of You,” from her “Control” album.

1997 – Elton John’s tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales is the No. 1 single. It is a rewritten and rerecorded version of his 1974 song, “Candle in the Wind.”

2003 – “Baby Boy, by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul, is in the middle of a nine-week marathon on top of the Billboard Hot 100. The track is from Beyoncé’s debut solo album, “Dangerously in Love.”

2005 – A photo of a naked John Lennon wrapped around a fully clothed Yoko Ono, taken by acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz, is voted best magazine cover of the past 40 years by a panel of magazine editors. The photo was snapped on December 8, 1980, just hours before Lennon was shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment building. It appeared on the cover of the January 22, 1981 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

On This Day October 8

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1871 – One of the most disastrous forest fires in history leaves more than 1,200 dead in Wisconsin as flames scorch six counties.

1871 – The Great Chicago Fire breaks out, according to legend, when Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicks over a lantern in her barn on DeKoven Street. The blaze quickly spreads, leveling 3.5 miles, killing 250 people and leaving 100,000 homeless.

1919 – America’s first transcontinental air race begins, featuring 63 planes, piloted by U.S. Army aviators, competing in the round-trip aerial derby between California and New York. As 15 planes departed the Presidio in San Francisco, 48 planes left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York.

1956 – New York Yankees right-hander Don Larsen pitches the first no-hitter in World Series history. It’s a perfect game: no runs, no hits, no errors and no batter reaches first base.

1970 – Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize for literature. His first publication, “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” (1963), was widely read in both Russia and the West. Its harsh criticism of Stalinist repression provided a dramatic insight into the Soviet system.

2001 – The U.S. Office of Homeland Security is founded less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It is charged with preventing terror attacks, border security, immigration and customs, disaster relief and prevention and related tasks.

2014 –  The first person diagnosed with a case of Ebola in the U.S. dies in a Dallas, Texas hospital. Shortly before his death, the 42-year-old male patient, who lived in Liberia, had traveled to America from West Africa, which was in the throes of the largest outbreak of the often-fatal disease since its 1976 discovery.

On this Day June 7

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On this Day May 21

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History Highlights
History Highlights

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.

1917 – The Great Atlanta Fire destroys much of that city’s Fourth Ward, including nearly 2,000 homes and businesses. Ten thousand people—nearly one tenth of the city’s population—are left homeless.

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.

1980 – A new installment to George Lucas’ “Star Wars” film saga opens in U.S. theaters: “The Empire Strikes Back.”

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.”

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

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.

1968 – “Tighten Up,” by Archie Bell & The Drells from Houston, Texas, is in the middle of a two-week run as the No. 1 single.

1971 – Marvin Gaye releases his eleventh studio album, “What’s Going On,” which becomes Motown Records’ best-selling album to date. It serves as a musical commentary on the Vietnam War. The title track soars to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becomes one of Gaye’s signature songs.

1977 – His musical tribute to jazz legend Duke Ellington, “Sir Duke,” puts Stevie Wonder on top of the singles chart.

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.”

1994 – “I Swear,” by All-4-One, begins an 11-week domination of the pop chart.

2011 – Adele kicks off seven weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Rolling in the Deep,” which goes on to capture Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Short Form Music Video Grammys.