On this Day August 12

Musical Milestones

1960 – The Silver Beatles become The Beatles, and on this day, the newly renamed band hires Pete Best as drummer. Two years later, he is fired and replaced by Ringo Starr.

1964 – The Beatles’ first film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” opens in 500 U.S. theaters to rave reviews.

1966 – The Beatles’ final U.S. tour begins with two performances at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago. During a pre-show press conference, reporters challenge John Lennon to explain his recent boast that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ.

1967 – The Doors close out three weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Light My Fire.” About a month later, the band performs the song before a national audience on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

1978 – “Three Times a Lady,” by the Commodores featuring Lionel Richie, is the No. 1 single.

1985 – Japanese singer-actor Kyu Sakamoto is killed at the age of 43 in the crash of a Japan Airlines jetliner outside Tokyo. Sakamoto was the first Asian recording artist to have a No. 1 hit in the U.S.: “Sukiyaki” in June of 1963, which sold more than 13 million copies worldwide.

1995 – TLC is in the midst of a seven-week domination of the singles chart with “Waterfalls.”

2000 – “Incomplete,” by Sisqó, begins a two-week run on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

2009 – Legendary guitarist Les Paul dies of pneumonia at age 94. Paul designed one of the first solid-body electric guitars, which went on sale in 1952 and was “instrumental” in the development of rock ‘n roll. He also pioneered other recording innovations such as multi-track recording and overdubbing.

History Highlights

30 B.C. – Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, takes her life following the defeat of her forces against Octavian, the future first emperor of Rome.

1851 – Business tycoon Isaac Merritt Singer patents the sewing machine.

1939 – “The Wizard of Oz,” starring Judy Garland and featuring words and music by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and Harold Arlen, makes its world premiere at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

1963 – The first 1964 Ford Thunderbird rolls off a Detroit assembly line. 

1977 – Space Shuttle Enterprise passes a critical test as it separates from the top of a 747 for its first free flight and makes a smooth landing in the Mojave Desert. 

1981 – IBM takes the wraps off the first personal computer (the IBM 5150) with a price tag starting at $1,565. That includes the system unit, a keyboard and color/graphics capability. It costs more for options including a display, a printer, two diskette drives, extra memory, a game adapter and application packages — including one for text processing. 

1990 – Digging on a cliff near Faith, South Dakota, paleontologist Susan Hendrickson unearths three huge bones that turn out to be part of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered — a 67 million-year-old specimen dubbed Sue, after its discoverer.

2014 – Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in “To Have and Have Not,” dies at the age of 89. Bacall made more than 40 films during a 70-year career, including “The Big Sleep,” “How to Marry a Millionaire” and “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”

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A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles

The Definitive Collection

The Commodores

Singer and the Sewing Machine: A Capitalist Romance

Ruth Brandon

Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond

Thomas J. Watson, Jr. and Peter Petre

Adventures in the Screen Trade

William Goldman

Neck and Neck

Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins

On this Day June 15

Musical Milestones

1963 – Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto begins a three-week domination of the U.S. pop chart with “Sukiyaki.” Two decades later, in 1981, the band A Taste of Honey — which gave us the disco hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie” — releases its English-language version of the song and takes it to No. 3 on the pop chart.

1965 – Bob Dylan records one of the defining songs of his career: “Like a Rolling Stone.” The track is credited with transforming Dylan’s image from folk singer to rock star, and is considered one of the most influential compositions in postwar popular music. “Rolling Stone” magazine named it the best song of all time.

1974 – One-hit wonder Bo Donaldson claims a two-week hold on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero.”

1985 – “Around the World in a Day,” by Prince and the Revolution, begins its third and final week atop the Billboard album chart. The album contains the hits “Paisley Park and “Raspberry Beret.”

1989 – Nirvana’s debut album, “Bleach,” is released in the U.S., but doesn’t gain much traction until after the grunge band’s “Nevermind” album is released three years later.

1996 – “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald, dies at the age of 79.  Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century, winning 13 Grammy awards and selling more than 40 million albums.

2002 – Ashanti’s debut single, “Foolish,” is in the midst of a 10-week run on top of the Billboard Hot 100. Her accompanying music video features actor Terrence Howard.

History Highlights

1215 – Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta (“Great Charter”). The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws.

1846 – Representatives of the United States and Great Britain sign the Oregon Treaty, establishing the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.

1877 – Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia, becomes the first black cadet to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

1917 – Two months after America formally enters World War I Congress passes the Espionage Act. The measure makes it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. armed forces’ prosecution of the war effort or to promote the success of the country’s enemies.

1934 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park is established, straddling North Carolina and Tennessee.

1955 – The Eisenhower administration stages the first Operation Alert (OPAL) exercise, an attempt to assess America’s preparations for a nuclear attack.

1969 – The variety show “Hee Haw” premieres on CBS and continues through 1971 before starting a 21-year run in syndication. The show centered around country music and rural culture.

1986 –  Auto racing legend Richard Petty makes the 1,000th start of his National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) career, becoming the first driver to do so.

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Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits

Bob Dylan

The Best of the Song Books

Ella Fitzgerald

Henry Ossian Flipper: West Point's First Black Graduate

Jane Eppinga

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Kevin Adams

As Good As It Gets

Starring Jack Nicholson, Helent Hunt and Greg Kinnear. and directed by James L. Brooks

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Anthony Anderson and Neil Patrick Harris, and directed by Danny Leiner