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 February 15

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1879 – President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

1898 – The battleship USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana (Cuba) Harbor, killing more than 260 crewmen. The incident prompts the U.S. to declare war on Spain. 

1903 – The first teddy bear, named for U.S. President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, goes on sale. Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window after personally getting Roosevelt’s permission to name them after him.

1933 – Two weeks before his inauguration, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt is fired upon by a would-be assassin after giving a speech in Miami. FDR is unharmed, but a bullet strikes Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who dies three weeks later.

1965 – A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner. 

1978 – Leon Spinks takes the heavyweight boxing champion title away from defending champ Muhammad Ali in a split decision in Las Vegas. 

1985 – “The Breakfast Club” opens in U.S. theaters. Directed by John Hughes and starring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy — members of the so-called “Brat Pack” — it becomes an ’80s movie classic. In 2016, the film is selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by The Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

1998 – Racing great Dale Earnhardt, Sr. wins his first Daytona 500, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) season opener and an event dubbed the “Super Bowl of stock car racing.”

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1964 – “Meet The Beatles!” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, becoming The Beatles’ first chart-topping album in the U.S. It holds the top spot for eleven weeks and sells more than four million copies by the end of that year.

1965 – The Beatles record “Another Girl” and “Ticket to Ride” for the “Help!” album. Earlier that day, John Lennon earns a personal ticket to ride by passing his driving test. 

1965 – Entertainer Nat King Cole (“Unforgettable,” “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer,” “The Christmas Song,” “Mona Lisa”), who earned early acclaim as a jazz pianist and became the first African American performer to host a network TV variety show, dies of lung cancer at the age of 45.

1969 – Sly & the Family Stone rule the Billboard singles chart with “Everyday People,” which remains at No. 1 for four weeks.

1975 – “You’re No Good,” by Linda Ronstadt, is the No. 1 single.

1984 – Beloved actress-singer Ethel Merman, best known for her rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” dies at the age of 75.

1986 – “How Will I Know,” by Whitney Houston, becomes the most popular single in the U.S. for two weeks.

1992 – One-hit-wonder Right Said Fred is in the middle of three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “I’m Too Sexy.”

2003 – “All I Have,” by Jennifer Lopez featuring LL Cool J, is midway through a four-week run at No. 1 on the singles chart.