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.”

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 September 18

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The Very Best of Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee

Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Route 66

Starring Martin Milner, George Maharis and Glenn Corbett

The New York Times: Front Pages, 1851-2016

The New York Times

Greta Garbo: A Divine Star

David Bret

The Nutty Professor

Starring Eddie MurphyJada Pinkett Smith andJames Coburn, and directed by Tom Shadyac