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Colonists in the Port of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, dump 45 tons of tea in the harbour after raiding a number of British ships, as a protest against the oppressive British rule of America and, in particular, high taxation. The story of the incident is told by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in their song The Boston Tea Party.
Railway engineer George Stephenson's steam-powered engine The Rocket wins The Rainhill Trials in Liverpool, UK. In 2008, Stephenson's achievement will inspire UK band O Titus! to write Stephenson's Rocket, and a year later singer-songwriter John Standring will release his tribute song Rocket.

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).
The Battle Of The Alamo, a thirteen-day siege, begins at The Alamo Mission, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Mexican forces will overwhelm The Alamo on March 6, killing almost all of the defending force. The battle will be immortalised in Tennessee Ernie Ford's 1955 single The Ballad of Davy Crockett, which will spend 16 weeks on the country music charts in the USA, peaking at No4. Also, in 1960, Marty Robbins will release Ballad Of The Alamo, in the USA on Columbia Records which will peak at No34 on the pop chart. In 1965, folk-rock star Donovan joined the ranks of many [Tex Ritter, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash etc] who have recorded the Jane Bowers' composition Remember The Alamo. (1836)
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.
Richard Bentley of London, UK, publish a new book, The Whale, by Herman Melville. The book will find worldwide fame under the title Moby Dick, and Melville's great white whale will inspire numerous songs including Moby Book by Steve Goodman and Ahab by MC Lars. It's perhaps also worth noting that Led Zeppelin recorded a tiresome instrumental blues knock-off called Moby Dick and, for a fuller list of Moby Dick-related songs, visit http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/yradish/songs-inspired-by-herman-melvilles-moby-dick.html
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.
US President James Garfield dies, having been shot twice some weeks earlier by lawyer Charles Guiteau in the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The assassin's tale will be told in the song Charles Guiteau, recorded in 1927 by Kelly Harrell.
After several months of relatively minor volcanic activity the island of Krakatoa, in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, is destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption. The eruption will inspire the 1974 track Krakatoa by Styx, and the 1985 song Krakatoa by the English heavy metal band Saxon.
Outlaw gang leader Jesse James is killed aged 34 in St. Joseph, Missouri, USA, by Robert Ford, a member of the gang living in the James house, hoping to collect the substantial reward on James' head. Numerous songs will tell the story of James' life and death, including Jesse James [1944] by Woody Guthrie; Jesse James [1961] by The Kingston Trio; Frank And Jesse James [1976] by Warren Zevon, and as an analogy in I Feel Like a Bullet [In the Gun of Robert Ford] by Bernie Taupin and Elton John.
The ghost story novella The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James is published. The book will inspire the film The Innocents (1961), which will in turn inspire Kate Bush to write her 1980 song The Infant Kiss.
Eddie Foy is starring in the musical comedy Mr. Bluebeard at the Iroquois Theatre, Chicago, Ilinois, USA, when a fire breaks out, burning the theatre to the ground and killing 602 patrons. The theatre had previously been described as "the newest, the largest and as far as human power could make it, the safest theater in Chicago." Within a year, the disaster will inspire the songs The Iroquois On Fire [1904] by Zella Evans, The Iroquois Fire by Thomas Quigley [an amateur songwriter who witnessed the blaze], The Burning Iroquois [1904] by Mathew Goodwin and Edward Stanley, and The Burning Of The Iroquois [1904] by Thomas R. Confare and Morris S. Silver. More recently, Sheri Kling has composed I Burn For You (Chicago 1903) about the same incident.
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.
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.
Private William McBride of the Inniskilling Fusiliers is killed during the First World War in the trenches near Authuille, France, Europe. His death will inspire folk songwriter Eric Bogle to write the song No Man's Land aka The Green Fields Of France which has been recorded by, among others, The Fureys, The Dropkick Murphys and Joss Stone And Jeff Beck.
Furry Lewis records I Will Turn Your Money Green, Judge Harsh Blues and other tracks in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, for Victor Records. The first of those two songs includes the line "I been down so long, it seem like up to me" which, in 1966, will be adapted by Richard Farina as the title of his book Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. Then, in 1971, Jim Morrison of The Doors will record the song Been Down So Long on the album L.A. Woman, which borrows the 1966 Farina version of Furry Lewis's 1928 lyric as its opening line.
Lord Rochdale officially opens The Hoover Building in Perivale, London, UK. Designed by the architecture firm of Wallis, Gilbert And Partners, it was referred to in the press of the time as a 'Modern Palace of Industry', and its reputation as a building which beautifully combined art and functionality grew over the years. The building inspired the 1980 song The Hoover Factory by Elvis Costello.
Prohibition comes to an end in the USA with the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Introduced in 1919, Prohibition had made it illegal to sell, produce or transport alcohol. The ending of prohibition was generally greeted with delight by the American public, and the much-recorded 1934 song Cocktails For Two composed by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow, was inspired by the return of legal consumption of alcohol. A comedy version of the song, by Spike Jones And His City Slickers, is however, perhaps the best-remembered treatment.
Franklin D. Roosevelt wins re-election as President of The USA by a landslide, carrying 46 of the 48 states. Hillbilly musicians Bill Cox and Cliff Hobbs will be inspired to compose the song Roosevelt's Back Again for Melotone Records in the USA, praising Roosevelt for his stand against prohibition.
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappears over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra. Her life and achievements will be celebrated in the song Amelia Earhart's Last Flight by Yodelling Cowboy Red River Dave McEnery. This is thought to have been the first song ever performed on commercial television, at the 1939 World's Fair. In 1972, the British group Plainsong will release an LP entitled, In Search of Amelia Earhart, which includes the song The True Story Of Amelia Earhart. Joni Mitchel will include a tribute song, Amelia, on her 1976 album, Hejira. Songs inspired by Earhart will also be recorded by artists including Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Heather Nova, Deb Talan, Nemo, Tom McRae, John Mclaughlin and Bell XI.
The first edition of a new magazine, The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, shows the Doomsday Clock set at seven minutes to midnight. The Doomsday Clock is not a real clock, but it is a symbolic representation of how close the world has come to a man-made global catastrophe. It will inspire such songs as 2 Minutes To Midnight by Iron Maiden (1984) and Doomsday Clock by Smashing Pumpkins
Considered by many to be France's greatest boxer ever, Marcel Cerdan dies when a Lockheed L-749 Constellation crashes into Pico da Vara, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, killing all eleven crew members and 37 passengers on board. One of Edith Piaf's most famous songs, L'Hymne a l'amour (Hymn To Love), recorded the following year, is said to be about her unending love for Cerdan. The song has been recorded in English many times under the title If You Love Me [Really Love Me].
Innovative tap dancer Bill Robinson, who performed under the name Mr Bojangles, dies of heart disease, aged 71, in New York City, USA. His name and his achievements are immortalised in two popular songs. First is Bojangles Of Harlem, written by Jerome Kern for the 1936 Fred Astaire movie Swing Time. The second song is Mr Bojangles, written by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 and recorded by artists including Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
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.
In the first hours of the day, a flood swamps Canvey Island, Essex, UK, causing the deaths of 59 residents. The story is told in the 2008 song Canvey Island by British Sea Power.
When Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins play at The National Guard Armory in Armory, Mississippi, USA, Cash tells Perkins a story about a friend with distinctive footwear which will result in the writing of the song Blue Suede Shoes.
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Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon, an instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, USA, marches his platoon into Ribbon Creek, a swampy tidal creek. This action results in the deaths of six US Marine Corps recruits. McKeon will be found guilty of acting while under the influence of alcohol. The action will become known as The Ribbon Creek Incident, and will inspire Pete Seeger to write the song Waist Deep In The Big Muddy in 1967. It will come to be seen as a thinly veiled criticism of American actions during the Vietnam War, and will face censorship as a result.
After his band The Quarrymen finishes a set at St Peter's Church fete in Woolton, Liverpool, UK, John Lennon meets Paul McCartney, his future partner in The Beatles. This meeting will inspire singer-songwriter Steve Forbert to write his song You'd See The Things That I See, which is an attempt to imagine what John Lennon might have been thinking after meeting Paul McCartney.
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Earl Hooker records Blue Guitar in Chicago, Illinois, USA, for Age Records. A little over a year later, Muddy Waters will release a new single, You Shook Me, on Chess Records, with a guitar part, chord changes and tempo very much inspired by, in fact near identical to, the Earl Hooker track. (Some say it is in fact the Hooker track with Muddy's vocal overdubbed on top.) Muddy's homage will be brought to a huge audience in 1969 via a version recorded by Led Zeppelin.
Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to land on Earth's Moon, aboard the Lunar Module of Apollo 11. Command Module Pilot Michael Collins remains in orbit, monitoring the mission. In 1969, The Byrds will record their brief electronic folk song, Amstrong, Aldrin And Collins about the achievement of Apollo 11. Also, Armstrong's famous quote, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind", will appear as a sample at the start of the Little Caesar cover version of The Whole Of The Moon, originally written and recorded by The Waterboys.
Marilyn Monroe is found dead in bed, with an empty bottle of Nembutal sleeping pills by her side, in her home in Los Angeles, California, USA. Bernie Taupin and Elton John will write Candle In The Wind about her life. In 1952, Ray Anthony And His Orchestra recorded the song Marilyn about her for Capitol Records.
Shirley Bassey enters the UK Singles Chart with What Now My Love for Columbia Records. It will peak at No5 in the chart during a 17-week run. The song will also provide inspiration for the Madness hit, Return Of The Los Palmas Seven
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At the Spinsters' Ball in The Emerson Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, wealthy tobacco farmer William Zantzinger insults black waitress Hattie Carroll, then strikes her. Eight hours later she dies. The incident will inspire Bob Dylan to write 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.
Charismatic actor Peter Lorre, who appeared in many Hollywood films including The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1942), dies of a stroke, aged 59, in Los Angeles, California, USA. His life and work will inspire such songs as Peter Lorre He's A Brick by The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy (1986) and I Want To Be Peter Lorre by Tom Smith (1991). Lorre also gets a prominent mention in Year Of The Cat by Al Stewart (1976).
Claudette Orbison, the wife of Roy Orbison, dies in a motorcyle crash in Gallatin, Tennessee, USA. Orbison will write It's Too Soon To Know about his feelings. He had previously written Claudette about her.
Guinness heir and socialite Tara Browne, a friend of The Beatles, is killed when his car crashes in West London, UK. The coroner's report of his death, in the Daily Mail on January 17, will inspire John Lennon to begin writing the song A Day In The Life.
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A news item in UK newspaper Daily Mail reports that, "There are 4000 holes in the road in Blackburn Lancashire, one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey. If Blackburn is typical then there are over two million holes in Britain's roads and 300,000 in London." The feature inspires the line about "4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire" in The Beatles song, A Day In The Life.
When The Who play at The Woodstock Festival, New York State, USA, the band's leader Pete Townshend is so horrified by the drugged state of the young people in the audience that he is inspired to write the song Baba O'Riley, which describes the view from the stage as a 'teenage wasteland'.
David Vetter, a child known to be suffering from a rare life-threatening genetic disease [severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID)], is born in Houston, Texas, USA. Less than ten seconds after being removed from his mother's womb, David is placed into a plastic germ-free environment which will be his home for most of the twelve years of his life. He will become internationally-famous as The Boy In The Bubble, and the phrase will inspire the title of a 1986 Paul Simon song to indicate the many and varied ways in which science interacts with contemporary society.
The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in a storm, resulting in the deaths of her entire crew of 29 men, on Lake Superior, 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan, USA. The story of the wreck will be immortalised in the popular song The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald by Canadian folk songer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.
Bernhard Hugo Goetz shoots four alleged teenage muggers on a No. 2 subway train in Manhattan, New York City, USA. He will be arrested and convicted - but only for illegal possession of a firearm, and will come to symbolize New Yorkers' frustrations with the high crime rates of the early 1980s. The incident will spark a nationwide debate on race and crime in major cities, and will also inspire numerous songs. In 1986, British prog-rock band Pallas will release the song The Executioner [Bernie Goetz A Gun] on their album The Wedge. He will also be listed in the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start the Fire, in Hold On by Lou Reed, Stop That Train by the Beastie Boys, Subway Vigilante by Ronny And The Urban Watchdogs, The Saga of Bernhard Goetz by Otto von Wernherr, and Shoot His Load by Agnostic Front.
Robert Emmet Chambers, Jr., later nicknamed the 'Preppie Killer', murders 18-year-old Jennifer Levin in Central Park, New York City, USA. The murder and subsequent events will provoke a huge media circus, and will become the subject matter for such songs as Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine by The Killers and Eliminator Jr. by Sonic Youth.
An aeroplane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down as it prepares to land in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa. This action will set in motion 100 days of mass murder which have come to be known as the Rwandan Genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsi people will die at the hands of Hutu tribesmen. According to co-writer Isaac Slade, The Rwandan Genocide inspired the storyline of the song Heartbeat by his band The Fray.
Fragments of an object designated as Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 are colliding spectacularly with the planet Jupiter. This is the first collision of two solar system bodies ever to have been observed. The Cure's 1996 song Jupiter Crash is about a couple watching the crash from earth and the effect it has on them.
At French President Francois Mitterrand's Funeral in Jarnac, France, Europe, his wife and his long term mistress stood side-by-side at the grave, accompanied by their respective legitimate and illegitimate children. Some years later, when Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand reads about the funeral, he will be inspired to write the song Goodbye Lovers And Friends.
A new reality tv series, Survivor, makes its debut on CBS in the USA. In the show, a group of strangers must fend for themselves on a desert island and, each week, one of the contestants is voted off. Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child will write the song Survivor, after being struck by how closely the show mirrored the changing line-up of the group.
A series of four co-ordinated suicide attacks on the USA, usually referred to as The 9/11 Attacks, take place in New York City and Washington, D.C. Terrorists from the Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda hijack four passenger jets and deliberately crash two of them, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Another plane, American Airlines Flight 77, is crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth jet, United Airlines Flight 93, crashes into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers attempt to take control before it can reach its intended target in Washington, D.C. Nearly 3,000 people die in the attacks. Several songs will be written about the attacks including The Rising by Bruce Springsteen, Let's Roll by Neil Youn, Wall Street by Van Dyke Parks and This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag by Charlie Daniels. The track 9-11-01 by Soulfly consists of one minute of silence. Several songs on Trouble Is Real, the debut LP by Johnathan Rice, are about the attacks, including City On Fire, Put Me In Your Holy War, and Salvation Day.
Hurricane Katrina makes landfall at Grand Isle, approximately 90km south of New Orleans, Louisana, USA. In the days that follow, New Orleans will be devastated with at least 1,836 people dying in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928. Total property damage will be estimated at $81bn. The 2006 song Wide Awake by Audioslave will be one of the first musical responses to the disaster, but others include Missin' Mississippi by Van Dyke Parks, Hurricane Katrina [The Ghosts of New Orleans] by Frances Donnelly, Katrina by Anders Osbourne, Hell No, We Ain't Alright by Public Enemy, Gov Did Nothin' by The John Butler Trio and Midnight In The City Of Destruction by The Nightwatchman.
Influential rocker Alex Chilton, famed for his work with The Box Tops and Big Star, dies of a heart attack in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, aged 59. Affected by the news of Chilton's death, Maura Kennedy of The Kennedys will be inspired to write Big Star Song for their 2012 album Closer Than You Know. The earlier song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements is also, it hardly needs saying, about Chilton.
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