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Sotd

Having recently defeated an English army at the Battle of Prestonpans, Bonnie Prince Charlie is crowned King of Scotland. Numerous songs have been inspired by Charlie's life and deeds, including Charlie Is My Darling, My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, The Skye Boat Song and Will Ye No Come Back Again.
A memorable horse race at The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland, is won by an eleven-year-old English gelding, Skewball, winning his owner many thousands of pounds. The race will inspire an enduringly popular folksong, known variously as Skewball or Stewball, which has been recorded by Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, The Hollies, Peter Paul And Mary, The Weavers, Lonnie Donegan and many others, often with significant changes in both the lyric and the melody.
A young housekeeper, Emily D. West, is held captive by Mexican soldiers during the battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle in the Texas Revolution in Texas, USA. Her story - extravagantly embellished - is widely believed to have inspired the words of the song The Yellow Rose Of Texas. The song has been recorded by Ernest Tubb, Elvis Presley, Mitch Miller and many others.
Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal plays at The Town Meadows, Rochdale, UK. One hundred and twenty four years later, while filming the promotional video for Strawberry Fields Forever in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK, John Lennon of The Beatles visits an antique shop and buys a circus poster advertising this performance. The text of the poster will, in due course, form the lyrics of Lennon's song Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.
Notorious outlaw Billy The Kid, aged 21, is shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory, USA. The tales of Billy's life and death will inspire several songs, including Billy The Kid [1944] by Woody Guthrie, Billy The Kid [1959] by Marty Robbins and The Ballad Of Billy The Kid [1976] by Billy Joel.
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.
President William McKinley dies a few days after being shot by assassin Leon Czolgosz during a meet and greet session in The Temple Of Music, at The Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York State, USA. The murder will inspire at least three songs. The first will be White House Blues by Charlie Poole And The North Carolina Ramblers in 1926, followed by the 1929 folk song McKinley's Rag by Riley Puckett. The story of the assassin, Czolgosz, will be told in the song The Ballad of Czolgosz which appears in the Broadway musical, Assassins, written by Stephen Sondheim.
Spanish City, a permanent funfair, is opened in Whitley Bay, England, UK. The place will become a favourite of guitarist and songwriter Mark Knopfler who will be inspired to immortalise it in his 1980 song Tunnel Of Love, recorded by his band Dire Straits.
Having taken on a five shilling bet the night before to write a new song in the space of a day, music hall entertainer Jack Judge is inspired to compose It's A Long Way To Tipperary, which he performs for the first time on this night at The Grand Theatre, Stalybridge, Manchester, UK. Five shillings, at that time, would have purchased a bottle of whiskey and over 70 cigarettes.
Eleanora Gough, better known to the world as jazz and blues vocalist Billie Holiday, is born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Holiday's music will transcend generations and cultures, making an impact on music-lovers across the globe. In 1988, U2 will release the single Angel Of Harlem, which is inspired by Holiday's voice and her life.
The Boston Molasses Disaster takes place in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, when a large molasses storage tank bursts, sending a wave of molasses through the streets at an estimated 35 mph, killing 21 and injuring 150. Some locals claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses. The incident will inspire the songs Molasses Flood by Jonathan Jay Babcock, The Great Molasses Flood by The Black Strap Molasses Family and Boston Molasses Flood by Zac Bauman.
Fourteen crew members are killed and two injured when the United States Navy dirigible airship Shenandoah, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, is wrecked in a storm near Caldwell, Ohio, USA, while flying from Lakehurst, New Jersey, to St. Louis. Later in the same year, popular singer Vernon Dalhart will tell the sorry tale in his recording of The Wreck Of The Shenandoah.
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.
Ralph Emory is born in McEwen, Tennessee, USA. He will find lasting success as a country music radio and tv host, but his encounter with The Byrds will result in Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons being inspired to write their vitriolic song Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man about his life, personality and career.
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After an intense, hours-long gun-battle with FBI agents who have surrounded her house at 13250 East Highway C-25, Ocklawaha, Florida, USA, gang leader Ma Barker is shot dead. She will be immortalised in song by Boney M's 1977 hit single Ma Baker - in which her name is slightly modified to make it easier to sing.
Boxer Joe Louis wins his World Heavyweight Championship rematch against Max Schmelling in Yankee Stadium, New York City, USA. The fight will inspire bluesman Bill Gaither to write and record his song Champ Joe Louis the following day.
Suffering from depression and believing herself to be going insane, modernist novelist Virginia Woolf puts on her overcoat, fills its pockets with stones, walks into the River Ouse near her home in Rodmell, Sussex, England, UK, Europe, and drowns herself. The 2011 hit single What The Water Gave Me by Florence And The Machine is inspired by Woolf's suicide.
US bomber Enola Gay drops a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Asia. OMD [Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark will write their song Enola Gay about the incident. The Byrds song, I Come And Stand At Every Door, is about a child who died in the atomic blast of Hiroshima, and Todd Rundgren's Utopia will also record a song entitled Hiroshima. One of the earliest songs inspired by the atrocity was Atomic Power, recorded in 1946 by The Buchanan Brothers.
Webb Pierce records Teenage Boogie for Decca Records in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Many years later Marc Bolan will be inspired to write a near-identical song, I Love To Boogie (1976) for his band T.Rex.
Mary McCartney, mother of The Beatles' Paul McCartney, dies of cancer at the Northern Hospital, Liverpool, England, UK, Europe. Paul will pay tribute to her in his 1969 composition Let It Be with the words, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom".
Lloyd Price scores his first Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart hit in the USA, when Just Because enters the chart, where it will peak at No29 during a run of six weeks on the chart. The song's melody is inspired by A Little Word (1956) recorded by fellow New Orleans-based performers, Shirley And Lee. Looking further back, the melody of A Little Word is clearly derived from the aria Caro Nome in the 1851 opera Rigoletto by Verdi
The Dave Brubeck Quartet releases the album Time Out on Columbia Records in the USA. The album includes a track, Kathy's Waltz, which is widely believed to have influenced or inspired Paul McCartney of The Beatles in his writing of the song All My Loving.
Marvin Gaye records Hitch Hike for Tamla Records, in Detroit, Michigan, USA. The song's punchy intro will inspire both There She Goes Again by The Velvet Underground and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths.
British Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, resigns from government, admitting he lied to Parliament about his relationship with 21-year-old call girl Christine Keeler. The Profumo affair will inspire several songs, including Christine by Miss X [a pseudonym of Joyce Blair], Christine Keeler by Phil Ochs and High Heels In High Places by Adam Ant.
Young New York City folk singer Paul Simon arrives in the UK for a low-key tour, and plays his first gig at The Railway Inn, Brentwood. The girl taking tickets is called Kathleen Chitty. She will become Simon's girlfriend, and inspire such songs as Kathy's Song, Homeward Bound and America.
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Intelsat 1, aka Early Bird, the first commercial communications satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, into a geosynchronous orbit around the Earth. Record producer Joe Meek will compose a celebratory instrumental entitled Early Bird for The Tornados, hoping to repeat their earlier success with Telstar. Instead, it will peak at a disappointing No49 in the Melody Maker charts.
The New York Times publishes a feature reporting that two Russian scientists, Gnady Sholomitsky and Nikolai Kardashev, have concluded that radio emissions from the distant quasar CTA-102 might indicate the existence of intelligent life in that region of space. Inspired by this story, The Byrds will record the song CTA-102 in 1967, speculating on the possibility of life in outer space.
Trigger (real name Golden Cloud), the celebrated horse of movie singing cowboy Roy Rogers, dies aged 30 in Los Angeles, California, USA. The horse is stuffed by Everett Wilkensen of Bischoff's Taxidermy, and will be displayed in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Apple Valley, California, USA. Trigger's death will inspire the tribute song, The Day That Trigger Died, by Australian singer-songwriter Leighton B. Watts.
Sixteen-year-old Sylvia Marie Likens dies, having been tortured to death by her carers in a basement in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Her tragic story will inspire the 1990 song The Basement by The Pain Teens.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience play at The Hillside Social Club, Folkestone, UK and, later, attend a New Year's Eve party at bassist Noel Redding's mother's house nearby. It is a bitterly cold night, so Hendrix asks if he can stand next to the fire. Inspiration strikes and he will later use the line as the main vocal hook in his song Fire. [It's also said that the family's Great Dane was hogging the fire, which inspired the throwaway line, "Aw, move over, Rover, and let Jimi take over..." which Hendrix inserts just before the song's guitar solo.]
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Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles, California, USA, by Sirhan Sirhan. Shortly after, singer-songwriter Laura Nyro will write the song Save The Country about the assassination, and it will be covered by The 5th Dimension, Julie Driscoll and Roseanne Cash. Kennedy's death also provides the inspiration for Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals (aka The Young Rascals) to write their massive hit single, People Got To Be Free.
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John Lennon of The Beatles marries Yoko Ono in Gibraltar (near Spain), Europe. Their marriage and the events surrounding it will inspire Lennon to write the song The Ballad Of John And Yoko for The Beatles.
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Racially motivated disturbances erupt in Freehold, New Jersey, USA. This so-called riot will provide subject matter for Bruce Springsteen's 1985 hit single My Hometown.
A new Coca Cola tv commercial begins airing in the USA featuring the jingle I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke. Re-written as I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing, it will provide a massive international hit for The New Seekers.
Rick Nelson is booed during an oldies show at a Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA, when he plays some of his newer songs. Incensed by the crowd's response, he will pen the song Garden Party, which will go to No6 in the charts in the USA, heralding a new period of success for the former teen idol. [Other acts performing on this night are Chuck Berry, Bobby Rydell, Bo Diddley, The Shirelles, The Coasters and Gary 'US' Bonds.]
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Twenty-six unarmed civil-rights protesters and bystanders are shot by soldiers of the British Army during a protest in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, UK. The incident will become known as Bloody Sunday and will be recorded in the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday. Others who have written songs on this topic include John Lennon, Roy Harper, Christy Moore, The Wolfetones and Cruachan.
A somewhat dispirited Mott The Hoople break up for the first time following a show in Zurich, Switzerland, Europe. Inspired by this incident, the group's leader Ian Hunter will compose The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople [26th March 1972, Zurich], telling the story of the band and its first break up.
Radical Black Panther Mark Essex fatally shoots ten people with a .44-caliber Magnum rifle and wounds thirteen more at Howard Johnson's Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, before being shot dead by police officers. Essex's killing spree will inspire several songwriters to include references to him in their songs, including Loudon Wainwright III's 1973 track Clockwork Chartreuse on the album Attempted Mustache, and Japanese doom metal band Church of Misery's 2004 song Soul Discharge on their album The Second Coming. Essex is also mentioned at length in Gil Scott Heron's version of Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues.

Today's edition of Time magazine includes a feature about Pablo Picasso, which mentions that on the last night of his life he said to his friends, 'Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink anymore." He then went off to bed and died in his sleep. When, during dinner at McCartney's house in Montego Bay, Jamaica, actor Dustin Hoffman shows this feature to Paul McCartney and asks if he could write a song based on it, McCartney composes Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me), which will appear on the LP Band On The Run.
After years of serious alcohol abuse, country music singer and songwriter Lefty Frizzell, regarded as one of the first 'outlaw' country stars, dies aged 47 of a massive stroke, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Ten years later, George Strait will record the tribute song Lefty's Gone, written by Sanger D. Shafer, on his 1985 album Something Special.
An item in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals that a mouse at the Central Clearing House in Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, recently nibbled through an electrical cable, shut down the main computer and paralyzed all check clearing activities in the banks and the stock exchange in Buenos Aires. Reading the story, San Franciscan folk singer and songwriter Malvina Reynolds is inspired to write her song, The Little Mouse, a political parable about the ability of individuals - no matter how small - to screw up the capitalist system.
The Knack enter the Billboard Top Ten Singles Chart in the USA at No6 with My Sharona, a song inspired by elements of three previous hits. Knack frontman Doug Fieger acknowledged that Sharona's tom-tom drum rhythm is "just a rewrite" of Going To A Go-Go, a 1965 song by Smokey Robinson And The Miracles, while its stuttering vocal effects recall Roger Daltrey's vocals in the 1965 song My Generation by The Who. In addition, My Sharona's main melodic hook is similar to the main riff from the 1967 song Gimme Some Lovin', by the Spencer Davis Group.
New Year's Day by U2 is a song about the Solidarity movement in Poland.
Three days of riots begin in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. The riots will inspire the songs Handsworth Riot by Pato Banton and Handsworth Revolution by Steel Pulse.

A young girl suffering from memory loss is prevented from committing suicide by jumping from the Severn Bridge, Bristol, England, UK, Europe. A newspaper report of the incident will provoke Fish of UK prog-rock band Marillion to write the songs which will be released as the album Brave.
Serial killer and rapist Fred West hangs himself while on remand in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, UK. West and his wife Rosemary were being held in prison on eleven counts of murder. Their crimes will provide subject matter for the song Evil by Interpol.
Following a confrontation in Papa Joe's Texas Saloon, Lorena, Texas, USA, country music singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver shoots Billy Bryant Coker, in the face with a handgun. The incident will inspire Dale Watson to compose his song Where Do You Want It?, based on a remark said to have been made by Shaver prior to shooting Coker.
Multiple Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse is found dead at her flat in Camden, London, England, UK. The 2012 song Amy by Green Day will be inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong hearing of Winehouse's death.
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The book Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda by Brian Glyn Williams is published by Potomac Books in the USA and UK. When Matt Bellamy of Muse reads this book, he will be inspired to write the songs for the band's concept album Drones.
The divorce of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and actress Gwyneth Paltrow is finalised, with the pair agreeing to split their £120m fortune equally between them. Several of the songs on the Coldplay album Ghost Stories are considered to be about their relationship. The 2014 single True Love in particular is said to be about the divorce.
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