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Mary Queen Of Scots is beheaded for treason at Fotheringhay Castle, near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England, UK. The story of Mary's 20 years of imprisonment before her death will inspire the 1969 song Fotheringay by English folk-rock band Fairport Convention.
Christopher Monck, the 2nd Duke of Albemarle, organises a boxing match between his butler and his butcher which has entered the annals of history as the first recorded boxing match in England, although boxing has a history which can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greek Olympics. Boxing matches, however, will inspire numerous songs including Who Killed Davey Moore? by Bob Dylan, about World Featherweight Champion Davey Moore, who died from injuries sustained in a 1963 bout with Sugar Ramos; Davey Moore by Phil Ochs about the same fight; In Zaire by Johnny Wakelin, which tells the story of the 1974 Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, Africa.
Controversial naval commander John Paul Jones is found dead of interstitial nephritis, aged 45, face-down on his bed in his third-floor apartment in Paris, France, Europe. The extraordinary events of his life will inspire the 1960 country song John Paul Jones by Johnny Horton.
Plans for the layout of the city of Chicago, Illinois, USA, are laid out and filed. This moment is considered to be the official recognition of a municipality known as Chicago. the city will inspire numerous songs, including Chicago (My Kind Of Town) and Chicago (That Toddlin' Town).
Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights is first published, under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell, by Thomas Cautley Newby of London, UK. Inspired by the novel, Kate Bush will release her debut single, Wuthering Heights in 1978. It will spend four weeks at No.1 on the UK singles chart.
John Brown, a revolutionary abolitionist, who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the United States, is hung for his 'crimes' in Charles Town, Virginia, USA. From this moment, his body begins a-mouldering, but his name will be immortalised in the song John Brown's Body.
Five members of a disreputable family known locally as The Black Donnellys is murdered by a vigilante-style mob in Biddulph Township, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada. The killers are never brought to justice. The song Justice In Ontario by Steve Earle tells the story of how the Donnellys died.
While attending a bar room fight in the Charles Starkes Saloon, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, police officer James Brady is shot dead. A man named Harry Duncan is arrested. Although protesting his innocence until the end, he will be convicted and hanged on July 27, 1894. It is said that the saloon owner, Charles Starkes confessed on his deathbed that it was he who had killed Brady. The incident will inspire the murder ballad Duncan And Brady, which has been recorded by Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Judy Henske, Tom Rush, Hoyt Axton, The New Riders of the Purple Sage and others.
Pioneering montain man, trapper and scout Jim Bridger dies, aged 77, on his farm near Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Popular accounts of Bridger's colourful life will inspire the 1960 country song Jim Bridger by Johnny Horton.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, linking Canada's populated centres with the vast potential of its relatively unpopulated West, is completed - six years ahead of schedule - when the last spike is driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia, Canada. The story is told in the song Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot.
Police Superintendent David Hennessey is shotgunned to death on Basin Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Hennessey's death will be related in an early blues song, The Downfall Of The Lion, written by Richard 'Rabbit' Brown, but never recorded. All that remains is a verse recalled by guitarist Lemon Nash, who played with Brown in the 1920's: "I'm gonna tell you racketeers, Something you can understand, Don't let your tongues say nothin', That your head can't stand." Hennessey's killing will also provide the basis of another song, The Hennessey Murder.
Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca, is premiered at the Teatro Costanzi, in Rome, Italy, Europe. One song from the opera, E lucevan le stele, will be 'adapted' for Al Jolson's 1920 hit Avalon. Puccini will sue for plagiarism and win.
A gas and coal dust explosion at The Fraterville Mine near Coal Creek, Tennessee, USA, kills 184 miners and other workers. This horrific incident will inspire the compositions Coal Creek March and Last Pay Day At Coal Creek, best-known in versions by noted banjo picker Pete Steele. Another song dealing with the same incident is Shut Up In Coal Creek Mine, recorded in 1929 by Green Bailey.
The Chevrolet Motor Car Company is founded in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and will become a serious competitor to the Ford Model T in the automobile market in the USA. Quickly nicknamed Chevy, the company's vehicles will become much-loved by drivers, and will inspire numerous references in song lyrics, perhaps most notably, "Drove my Chevy to the levee" in Don McLean's 1971 hit American Pie.
Early in the morning, the liner RMS Titanic, believed to be unsinkable, sinks in The Atlantic Ocean, with the loss of over 1,500 lives. The 1932 song Titanic Blues by blues musicians Hi Henry Brown and Charley Jordan will be inspired by the disaster. Other topical songs on the same theme are The Titanic by Ernest V. Stoneman and The Last Scene Of The Titanic by Frank Hutchison. The 1989 song Rest In Pieces (April 15 1912) by San Francisco band Metal Church is also about the sinking of The Titanic.
The Battle Of The Somme begins along the upper reaches of the River Somme in France, Europe. It will claim the lives of over 1m men in its five months of fighting. On the first day alone, 20,000 men lose their lives. The battle will inspire several songs including The Battle Of The Somme by The Dubliners (1970) and a different song with the same title by Martin Sweeney (2016).
A tropical storm of great intensity, known as The Okeechobee Hurricane, strikes San Felipe, Puerto Rico, Caribbean. 312 people die, 24,728 homes are destroyed and $50m worth of damage is done. Later in the year, The Carson Robison Trio will record The Porto Rico Storm, inspired by the disaster.
The Bently Boys record Down On Penny's Farm, in Johnson City, Tennessee, USA, for Columbia Records. Bob Dylan will adapt this song, using it as the basis of his song Hard Times in New York Town and he will also find some inspiration for his 1965 song Maggie's Farm.
At least 85 prominent conservative anti-Nazis and leading figures of the left-wing Strasserist faction of the Nazi Party, are murdered in Germany, Europe, as part of a political purge ordered by Adolf Hitler. The incident will become known as The Night Of The Long Knives. Folk singer and songwriter Al Stewart will write a song, The Last Day Of June 1934, telling the story of this massacre.
After a life of crime including numerous murders, Public Enemy No1 Pretty Boy Floyd is shot dead, aged 30, by police officers in East Liverpool, Ohio, USA. Floyd's life is romanicised in the 1939 Woody Guthrie song Pretty Boy Floyd, which has since been recorded in numerous versions by artists including Bob Dylan and The Byrds.
Eleanor Rigby, a 44-year-old woman, dies in Liverpool, England, UK, and will be buried soon after in Woolton Cemetery adjacent to St Peter's Church, where Paul McCartney and John Lennon of The Beatles first met. Many believe that she was the inspiration for The Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby. Plausible though the theory seems, Paul McCartney has always denied this explanation.
Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich is arrested at his home at 2am by the FBI, and taken to Ellis Island, where he will be held for over three weeks, because he is an immigrant with a communist background. Reich's work and beliefs will subsequently lead him into many conflicts with US authorities and he will eventually die in jail in 1957. Kate Bush's 1985 song Cloudbusting tells the story of Reich's arrest and incarceration through the eyes of his son, Peter.
The Colonial Sugar Refinery begins mining blue asbestos at Wittenoom Gorge, Pilbara, Western Australia. In the years since, over 2000 workers and residents of Wittenoom have died from asbestos-related diseases. As a result, operations at Wittenoom have come to be regarded as the worst industrial disaster in Australian history. The 1990 song Blue Sky Mine by Midnight Oil is inspired by the disaster.
Allied Forces land at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, Europe. Codenamed Operation Neptune and popularly known as D-Day, this marks the beginning of the Allied Forces' retaliation against Adolph Hitler and the forces of Nazism and Facism. The events of this day are the subject of the 2006 song The Longest Day by Iron Maiden.
Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto is born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America. In 1962, at the age of seventeen she will be seen walking down to Ipanema Beach by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and will inspire him to write the internationally successful bossa nova song The Girl From Ipanema.
PC Sidney Miles is shot dead by the sixteen year old Christopher Craig in Croydon, London, England, UK. Tragically, his slow-witted burglary accomplice, Derek Bentley, is wrongly convicted and hanged for the crime. In 1982, Ralph McTell will write the song Bentley And Craig inspired by the incident.
The Army-McCarthy hearings, a congressional inquiry into alleged security lapses in the US Army, are broadcast live for the first time on tv from The Senate In Washington, DC, USA, on the ABC and DuMont networks. The hearings will be broadcast for 36 days to an estimated 80m people. The topical song Senator McCarthy Blues by Hal Block with the Tony Borrello Orchestra reveals the extent to which the hearings had a grip on the public imagination. At least two other songs, Point of Order by Stan Freberg and Daws Butler, and Joe McCarthy's Band by Joe Glazer, are also responses to the McCarthy-Army conflict.
Alan Turing, widely considered the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, commits suicide at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, UK. A post-mortem examination establishes the cause of death as cyanide poisoning. When his body was discovered, an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and this was believed to be the means by which the fatal poison was consumed. The song The Apple [2013] on the album The Big Other by Fiction, is about Turing, who had been horrifically persecuted for his homosexuality.
Fifty-six year old John Axon is driving a train from Buxton, Derbyshire, England, UK, to his home depot at Edgeley, when the automatic steam brake pipe fractures. The cab fills with scalding steam, but after telling his fireman to jump clear, Axon remains aboard to warn signal boxes along the route. Axon is killed when his engine crashes into another freight train, but his courage saves the lives of a train full of children. Folk singer and songwriter Ewan MacColl will immortalise Axon's heroism in his 1958 song The Ballad Of John Axon.
Eddie Cochran makes his UK singles chart debut with Summertime Blues, which will peak at No18. German-born rock'n'roll artist Heinz will be inspired to record the tribute song Just Like Eddie (1964), which opens on a bass lick very similar to the riff used in Summertime Blues.
Rich young Baltimore, Maryland, USA, farmer William Zantzinger is jailed for just six months for the murder of Hattie Carroll, a black barmaid. Zantzinger struck her with a walking cane and she died later the same day. When Bob Dylan reads news reports of the killing, he is so angered that he writes his song The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.
Hi-Heel Sneakers by Tommy Tucker enters the Billboard Top 40 Singles Chart in the USA where it will peak at No11 during an eight-week stay on the chart. Noel Gallagher of Oasis will be so 'inspired' by this song that his song Get Off Your High Horse Lady [2008] will use an identical melody and similar lyric structure.
See My Friend by The Kinks enters the UK singles chart where it will peak at No10. It is considered by some experts to heave been the first Western rock song to integrate Indian raga sounds. It will also directly inspire The Who's song The Good's Gone, recorded later in the year.
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The Detroit Race Riots [also known as the 12th Street Rioting] continue into a second day in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Over the five days of riots, 43 people will die. The Gordon Lightfoot song Black Day In July is about these riots.
Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia, South America. Within a year, avant-garde rock band The United States of America will be inspired to write Love Song For The Dead Che, but there will be many others to follow from artists including Judy Collins, The Levellers and Bill Laswell, to name only a few.
George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgoole and John Clutchette, all African-American inmates of Soledad Prison in California, USA, are charged with the murder of white prison guard John V. Mills, in retaliation for the killing of three black prisoners three days earlier. George Jackson will later be shot dead by guards at San Quentin prison. Soledad Brother, a book based on Jackson's latters while in prison, will inspire Bob Dylan to write the song George Jackson. Other songs about Jackson will be recorded by Steel Pulse, The Blue Scholars, The Dicks and others.
Palisades Amusement Park closes down after operating since 1898 on the cliffs at Cliffside Park-Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA. In 1962, the park had inspired the Billboard Top 10 US hit single Palisades Park by Freddy Cannon.
During a Frank Zappa concert at Montreux Casino in Switzerland, Europe, the venue burns down, inspiring Deep Purple to write their song Smoke On The Water.
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I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing by The New Seekers reaches No1 in the UK Pop Singles chart. Re-written in 1994 by a suitably 'inspired' Noel Gallagher of Oasis as Shakermaker, it will get him successfully sued for plagiarism.
Gordon Sumner marries actress Frances Tomelty at Our Lady and St. Oswin's Chapel, Tynemouth, England, UK, Europe. Sumner will find fame as Sting of The Police, and will be inspired by the eventual ending of his relationship with Tomelty to write the huge hit single Every Breath You Take.
Campus policeman Terry Marker at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA, is injured when he opens a suspicious package addressed to materials engineering professor Buckley Crist. This will prove to be the first of many bombs sent by Ted Kaczynski, later known as The Unabomber. Over the next 17 years, Kaczynski will mail or hand-deliver a series of increasingly sophisticated explosive devices that will kill three people and injure 23 more. Kaczynski's bombings will provide inspiration for songs including I Wanna Be A Unabomber by The Donnas, Unabomber by The Acacia Strain and Killer Kaczynski by Mando Diao.
The Specials, The Bodysnatchers and The Swinging Cats play at The Apollo, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Europe. After Jerry Dammers of The Specials sees elderly women selling their possessions on the Glasgow streets, he is inspired to write the song Ghost Town. "It was unbelievable," he said later. "It was clear that something was very, very wrong."
Eight soldiers on ceremonial duty are killed in two IRA bomb blasts in central London, England, UK. The first blast, in Hyde Park, kills two soldiers of the Household Cavalry, plus seven horses. 23 other people are injured. The second explosion, less than two hours later, kills six soldiers and injures a further 24 people during a concert by the band of the Royal Green Jackets on a bandstand in Regent's Park. The Pink Floyd song The Gunner's Dream will be written as a comment on these atrocities.
Twisted Sister release a new single, We're Not Gonna Take It, in the USA. It will peak at No21 on the Billboard Top 40 Singles chart, but will achieve greater notoriety when selected for inclusion on the Parents Music Resource Center [PMRC]'s Filthy Fifteen list in 1985. It will thus become one of the most pivotal songs in the history of music censorship, and will be hotly debated in the US Senate.
Today's edition of Time Magazine includes a feature about President of the USA George H.W. Bush, illustrating his inability to clearly articulate his fundamental beliefs and policies by using an anecdote in which Bush refers to his approach to planning for the future as 'the vision thing.' The poorly-considered phrase will dog Bush for many years, and will inspire the bitterly acerbic 1990 song Vision Thing by The Sisters Of Mercy.
Jeremy Wade Delle, a student at Richardson High School, 1250 W. Belt Line Road, Dallas, Texas, USA, shoots himself in the head in front of his classmates. His tragic death will become the subject of the song Jeremy by Pearl Jam.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA, announces the purchase of its first painting by Jasper Johns, White Flag [1955], which carries an estimated price tag of $20m. Tied to the purchase is a promise by William S. Lieberman, chairman of the Met's department of 20th-century art, to give the museum a gift of Flag, a Johns work from 1957. The 2012 song Jasper Johns' Flag by Jason Collett will be inspired by the impact of Johns' artworks on contemporary culture.
Four bombs are detonated in a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks by terrorists in London, UK. Fifty-two people, including the four bombers, are killed and over 700 more are injured. The 2008 song, Days Of Fire by Nitin Sawhney, is described as his first-hand account of the London bombings.
The Beaconsfield Mine collapse occurs in Beaconsfield, Tasmania, Australia, Oceania. Of the seventeen people who were in the mine, one is killed, fourteen escape immediately following the collapse, but the remaining two are trapped underground. One of the pair, Brant Webb, requests that an iPod be sent down to them, filled with Foo Fighters songs. When Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters learns of this request, he will become inspired to write the acoustic instrumental composition Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners.
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Obeying his GPS navigation device without question, a Bavarian driver does a U-turn on a motorway and drives against the flow of traffic. As a result, he crashes into another car and injures an 11-year-old boy. Reading of this incident in a newspaper, Duran Duran will write the song Blame The Machines.