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Sotd

Dominic of Osma is canonized (made into a Saint) by Pope Gregory IX at Rieti, Italy, Europe. In 1963, under the name The Singing Nun, Dominican nun Sister Luc-Gabriel (real name Jeannine Deckers), will score a world-wide hit with her composition, Dominique about the life of Saint Dominic.
William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims land on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA. Songwriter Cole Porter will make reference to the landing in his 1934 song Anything Goes, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys will ruminate on the impact of that landing in his song Plymouth Rock And Roll Over, co-written with Van Dyke Parks.
Astronomer Sir Edmund Halley first sees the celestial voyager which will come to be known as Halley's Comet. Songs inspired by Halley's Comet include Halley's Comet by Phish, Second Chance by Shinedown, and Halley's Comet by Gathering Time.
It is said that on this day, Bendictine monk Dom Perignon was making wine and could not rid it of bubbles. He tasted his accidental creation and exclaimed, "Come quickly! I am drinking the stars!" Thus, according to legend, champagne was invented. This moment was the inspiration for the Fredericke Loew song The Night They Invented Champagne which was introduced to the world at large via the movie musical Gigi in 1958, sung by Gigi (Leslie Caron), her grandmother, Mamita (Hermione Gingold) and Gaston (Louis Jourdan)
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.
Physician and chemist Sir James Jay invents the first modern invisible ink, one which could only be revealed by a unique, specially formulated reagent. This was his solution to a major problem - the need of the USA to transmit messages which could not be read by the British during the Revolutionary War. Artists including Aimee Mann, Marillion, Verbose, Chateau Berber and Blowsight have all been inspired by Sir James' invention to write songs entitled Invisible Ink.
The town of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is incorporated as a city. The City of Boston will inspire the numerous songs including Boston by The Byrds, Boston Tea Party by Alex Harvey, Boston Rag by Steely Dan, Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers and Boston (Ladies of Cambridge) by Vampire Weekend.
The SS Great Eastern, designed by legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is launched on the River Thames, London, England, UK, Europe. The largest ship ever built, it was designed to be able able to circumnavigate the globe carrying four thousand passengers without refueling. The song Oh Wot A Big One! (1975) by Jonathan Hodge, tells the story of The SS Great Eastern.
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.
While experimenting with his technique called "harmonic telegraph", Alexander Graham Bell discovers that he can hear plucking sounds being transmitted along a wire. This discovery will lead to his invention of the telephone. Inspired by the life and work of the great inventor, The Sweet will record Alexander Graham Bell in 1971, and Richard Thompson will explore the great man's life in some detail in his song Alexander Graham Bell.
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.
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.
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is premiered at The Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, Europe. March Of The Wooden Soldiers, from this suite, will inspire the rockin' 1962 instrumental smash, Nut Rocker, by B. Bumble And The Stingers.
American industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller becomes the world's first billionaire. The Rockefeller name will pass into popular culture as an icon of fabulous wealth and will provide inspiration for countless songwriters. One early example is I Will Turn Your Money Green [1928] by bluesman Furry Lewis, and Puttin' On The Ritz by Irving Berlin followed a year later. More recent songs including Rockefeller Square [1971] by Jimmy Buffett [1971], Mr. Rockefeller by Bette Midler [1976] and I'm No Rockefeller [2003] by Modern Talking have continued to build on the Rockefeller legend.

A serial killer known as The Axeman Of New Orleans commits the first of many gruesome murders when he kills Italian grocer Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine. The Axeman will commit at least ten other murders and will never be caught. His exploits will be recorded in the 1919 song The Mysterious Axman's Jazz [Don't Scare Me Papa] by Joseph John Davilla. Later songs on the same theme include, Axeman Of New Orleans by The Tombstones, Axeman by Amebix and Deathjazz by the One Ton Project.
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes Santa Barbara, California, USA, causing 13 deaths and destroying the historic center of the city, with damage estimated at $8m. Inspired by the tragedy, Green Bailey will record The Santa Barbara Earthquake for Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana, USA, in 1928.
The deadliest tornado in the history of Virginia, USA, hits Rye Cove School in the Appalachian highlands of Scott County in the southwestern part of the state, killing twelve students and one teacher and injuring fifty-four. Scott County native A. P. Carter, of singing group The Carter Family, will volunteer to help in the wake of the tragedy, and will be inspired to compose The Cyclone of Rye Cove which the group will record later in the year.
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland and will become the first woman fly solo across Atlantic Ocean. 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 Mitchell will include a tribute song, Amelia, on her 1976 album, Hejira. Songs inspired by Earhart will also be recorded artists including Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Heather Nova, Deb Talan, Nemo, Tom McRae, John Mclaughlin and Bell XI.
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.
Al Bowlly, accompanied by Ray Noble And His Orchestra, records the first version of the Jimmy Kennedy composition Red Sails In The Sunset in London, UK. It will go on to become a very popular standard. The 2006 song Beyond The Horizon, which appears on Bob Dylan's album Modern Times, has a melody clearly inspired by Red Sails In The Sunset and lyrics which echo the same themes as Jimmy Kennedy's classic.
Larry Clinton And His Orchestra, with vocalist Bea Wain, make the first recording of the song Heart And Soul, for RCA Victor Records in the USA. The song is composed by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser, and will go on to become a much-covered standard. It will also, in 2016, inspire Train to borrow its melody for their single Play That Song.
The House Committee on Un-American Activities is established in Washington DC, USA, as a special investigating committee, looking into alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having communist or fascist ties. By the 1950s, the committee will have seriously overstepped its remit and will incur the wrath of many actors, artists, singers and other performers accused of 'disloyalty'. The 1965 song House Un-American Blues Activity Dream by Mimi and Richard Farina will be inspired by the actions of this committee.
While flying an Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, renowned aviatrix Amy Johnson goes off course in adverse weather conditions. Reportedly out of fuel, she bails out as her aircraft crashes into the Thames Estuary and her body is never recovered. The 1976 song Flying Sorcery by Al Stewart is one of the best-known songs inspired by Johnson's exploits, but others include Amy by Horatio Nicholls [1930], Johnnie, Our Aeroplane Girl sung by Jack Lumsdaine [1930] and Queen Of The Air [2008] by Peter Aveyard.
Legendary New York Yankees baseball hitter Joe DiMaggio begins the most famous achievement of his career, a record-breaking 56-game hitting streak. DiMaggio will bat .408 during the streak, with 15 home runs and 55 Runs Batted In, before it ends on July 17 at Cleveland Stadium. Di Maggio's career and achievements will inspire many songs, including Joltin' Joe DiMaggio [1941] by Les Brown And His Band of Renown, Mrs Robinson [1968] by Simon And Garfunkel and DiMaggio Done It Again by Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie.
Work on carving the four massive heads of US Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln is completed at Mount Rushmore, near Keystone, South Dakota, USA. The work will become an iconic American National Monument, recorgnised throughout the world, and it will inspire a number of music-related tributes. In 2011, musical comedy artist Jesse Goldberg will co-write and sing the novelty song Mount Rushmore Rocks - complete with an animated video in which the stone heads sing the song. A similar idea by The Mount Rushmore Singers, features the presidents performing a medley of Sing A Song/I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing. Other Rushmore-oriented music trivia include a 1967 psychedelic rock band from San Francisco named Mount Rushmore, and the fact that the cover of Deep Purple's 1970 album Deep Purple In Rock was inspired by Mount Rushmore, depicting the five band members' faces instead of the four presidents.
Pima Native American Ira Hayes is one of the American soldiers who help raise the US flag at the battle of Iwo Jima, Japan, Asia. His tragic story - he died of alcoholism - will serve as the basis for the Johnny Cash hit The Ballad Of Ira Hayes, written by Peter La Farge.
As part of Operation Crossroads, the United States detonates an atomic bomb underwater in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean. Grace Slick will be inspired by this event to record her 1984 song Bikini Atoll, describing how the atomic blast might have seemed to a pair of lovers on the Atoll.
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.
Teenager Derek Bentley is hung at Wandsworth Prison, London, England, UK, for his part in the murder of police officer Sidney Miles during a bungled break-in at a warehouse in Croydon, Surrey. The Ballad Of Derek Bentley by folk singer and songwriter Ewan MacColl explores the belief that Bentley's execution was a serious miscarriage of justice. In 1998, Bentley will receive a pardon. Elvis Costello's song Let Him Dangle is also inspired by Bentley's hanging.
Johnny Ace becomes the first rock'n'roll fatality, when he kills himself while playing Russian Roulette backstage at the City Auditorium, Houston, Texas, USA. He is eulogised in the Paul Simon song The Late Great Johnny Ace.
Bo Diddley records I'm A Man, for Chess Records, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The track is an 'answer song' to Muddy Waters' and Willie Dixon's 1954 composition Hoochie Coochie Man. I'm A Man will, in its turn, inspire Muddy Waters to compose and record Manish Boy (aka Mannish Boy).
The Four Freshmen record Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring, written by Bobby Troup, at Capitol Recording Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys will be so inspired by this song's melody that he will borrow it for his composition A Young Man Is Gone. (1960)

Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba is assasinated by firing squad in the republic of Congo, Africa. The incident will inspire the song Patrice Lumumba by Yuri Buenaventura. He will also be mentioned in the song Done Too Soon by Neil Diamond and in My Country by Nas. The 1961 song "Top Forty, News, Weather And Sports" by Mark Dinning, included a line "I had Lumumba doing the rumba...", which was removed after Lumumba's death. Records in stores were recalled, and replaced by new ones without the inappropriate line.
US President John F. Kennedy is advised that the CIA has obtained photographic evidence of a build up, by Russia, of medium range ballistic missiles on the island of Cuba. Kennedy convenes a meeting of the nine members of the National Security Council and five other key advisers. The decisions taken by the Council will initiate the Cuban Missile Crisis. Until the resolution of the crisis two weeks later, when Russia agrees to remove its missiles from Cuba, the world will live in fear of imminent nuclear war. The 1964 Phil Ochs song Talking Cuban Crisis depicts the responses of one ordinary American to the crisis.
The Ford Mustang automobile, manufactured by the Ford Motor Company, is launched in the USA. The vehicle will inspire Sir Mack Rice to write and record Mustang Sally in 1965, but the song will not become a major hit until a version by Otis Redding is released in 1966.
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.
The Emperors record their debut single, Karate, for Mala Records in Impact Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. This song will 'inspire' the 1971 Santana track Everybody's Everything, which is virtually identical in its structure, although the words are different.
The New York Times runs a headline including the phrase 'God Is dead', which will inspire Bernie Taupin's lyrics for the song Levon, co-written with Elton John.
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.
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'.
Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most influential artist of the 20th century, dies of a heart attack in Mougins, France, Europe, while he and his wife Jacqueline are entertaining friends for dinner. His final words are "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink any more." which will, later the same year, inspire the song Picasso's Last Words by Paul McCartney And Wings. Another celebrated - although somewhat fanciful - song about Picasso is Pablo Picasso by Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers.
A white mob, enraged over school integration, attacks a school bus filled with black students in Destrehan, Louisiana, USA. During the attack, thirteen-year old white student Timothy Weber is shot dead. Gary Tyler, one of the black students aboard the bus, is arrested, tried by an all-white jury and, despite shaky evidence, sentenced to death by electric chair. He will only escape the death penalty when, in 1977, the United States Supreme Court declares Louisiana's death penalty to be unconstitutional. Tyler's sentence is then commuted to life imprisonment without parole. Gil Scott-Heron will be inspired to sing about Tyler in the song Angola, Louisiana, on his 1978 album Secrets. UB40 will include a song, Tyler, on their 1980 debut album, Signing Off. Chumbawamba's 2008 song Waiting For The Bus is also inspired by Tyler's plight.
A group of men known as The Birmingham Six are each sentenced by jury to 21 life sentences for murder in the Crown Court sitting at Lancaster Castle, before Judge Nigel Bridge. The men were accused of planting bombs in two Birmingham pubs which resulted in 21 deaths and 182 injuries. The sentences will be overturned on appeal in 1991, but their plight will also inspire the song Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six [1988] by The Pogues.
Murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad at Utah State Prison, Draper, Utah, USA. The Adverts will score a UK Top 20 hit with their song Gary Gilmore's Eyes, which speculates about a possible eye donor recipient realizing his new eyes came from the executed murderer. The 1979 Police song Bring On The Night speculates about Gilmore's possible feelings on the evening before his execution.
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.
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.
Conor Clapton, the four-year-old son of guitarist and singer Eric Clapton, falls to his death from a 53rd-story window in Galleria Condominiums, an apartment block in Manhattan, New York City, USA. The boy was staying in the apartment block with his mother, the actress Lori Del Santo. Clapton will write the song Tears In Heaven, in memory of Conor.
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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.
President of the United States, Barack Obama, in his inauguration speech, states, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." In another example of the extent to which popular songs are integrated and influential in society and politics, Obama is almost directly quoting the lyric of the 1936 Jerome Kern song Pick Yourself Up.
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