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The city of Pompeii, near Naples, Italy, Europe, is partially destroyed and buried under 4 to 6m [13 to 20 ft] of ash and pumice in the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius.
The song Cities In Dust by Siouxsie And The Banshees recounts the story of Pompeii.
Another song on the same topic is Pompeii (2013) by Bastille.
Wat Tyler, leader of The Peasants' Revolt against King Richard II of England, is attacked and murdered with no warning, while speaking with the king under a flag of truce, by Sir William Walworth [Lord Mayor of London] and John Cavendish, a member of the king's retinue. This betrayal effectively ended the revolt. The 1985 song Wat Tyler by Fairport Convention tells the sorry tale of Tyler's betrayal and death.
Although the atmospheric lighting phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis had been known for centuries, one of the best-documented early sightings was made on this day in New England, USA. The phenomenon has inspired songwriters for centuries, one early example being The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, widely considered a traditional Scottish folk song but actually written in 1952 by Mel and Mary Webb, an English couple who had never even visited Aberdeen, far less seen the lights. A Flock of Seagulls describe the Aurora in one verse of their 1982 hit song, I Ran [So Far Away]. British folk rock band Renaissance released a single, Northern Lights, in 1978, and The Meat Puppets released Aurora Borealis in 1984 on their album Meat Puppets II. One of the most recent successful songs inspired by the Aurora is 1997's UK hit single Northern Lites by Super Furry Animals.
At the end of their ill-fated campaign to conquer Russia, French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte begin their retreat from Moscow. This military action will be immortalised in the Appalachian fiddle tune Bonaparte's Retreat whose structure illustrates the marching men and the sounds of war. Pee Wee King will add a lyric to the tune in 1950 and it will become a popular addition to the repertoire of many country music performers including Glen Campbell and Michael Nesmith.
Charles MacIntosh of Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Europe, patents a waterproof fabric which will give its name as a generic term for raincoats - The Mackintosh. Songs inspired by raincoats include Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen (1971), Wearing A Raincoat by They Might be Giants (2004) and Yellow Raincoat by Justin Bieber.
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Lord Cardigan leads a suicidal charge of British cavalry against Russian forces at The Battle of Balaclava during The Crimean War. As a result of this futile attack, which will become known as The Charge Of The Light Brigade, 118 men are killed, 127 wounded and about 60 taken prisoner. Cardigan's reckless action will inspire the first verse of the song 5-4-3-2-1 by Manfred Mann. The 1983 song The Trooper by Iron Maiden will also be based on the same suicidal military charge, and the voice of Trumpeter Landfrey, who sounded the charge, will be used as the opening of the 1968 album Balaklava by Pearls Before Swine.
At Funk Hill near Copperopolis, California, USA, notorious outlaw Black Bart The Poet carries out his last stagecoach robbery, but leaves an incriminating clue that eventually leads to his capture. Bart's exploits will inspire the song Black Bart by Danish metal band Volbeat. There's also a song called Black Bart Blues by Iron Maiden, but it doesn't seem to be about this particular gentleman.
The Fast Mail train [aka Ol' 97], is en route from Monroe, Virginia, USA, to Spencer, North Carolina when it leaves the track at Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia, USA, killing eleven on-board personnel and injuring seven others. The song The Wreck Of The Old '97 is inspired by this crash, and will be recorded by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash and many others.
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.
Jazz trombonist Kid Ory registers his best-known composition, Muskrat Ramble, for copyright purposes, with copyright registration number E637451. The melody will inspire Country Joe And The Fish who will appropriate it as the tune of their 1960s anti-Vietnam war hit Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die.
In the wake of persistent torrential rains, The Alabama Flood reaches its peak, with water ten feet or more deep in the towns of Elba and Geneva. Thousands of people are stranded on rooftops for three days, and damage is estimated at over $9m. Amazingly, only one fatality occurs, when a blind Negro man named "Phoe" Larkins is swept from a box car in New Town. Within a few days, Andrew Jenkins will record the song Alabama Flood for OKeh Records, and Vernon Dalhart will record Alabama Flood for Harmony Records, both songs being inspired by the calamity.
Barbecue Joe And His Hot Dogs record Tar Paper Stomp, composed by their cornet player Wingy Manone, for Champion Records in Richmond, Indiana, USA. The main melody of the song will inspire Joe Garland and Andy Razaf to write an arrangement with the name In The Mood, which will become an international hit for Glenn Miller And His Orchestra in 1940.
Fiddlin' John Carson records Stockade Blues for Bluebird Records in Camden, New Jersey, USA. The song is thought to have been inspired by The Midnight Special train operated by the Chicago and Alton Railroad between Chicago, Illinois, USA, and St. Louis, Missouri. In many ways, the song is similar to The Midnight Special subsequently made famous by Lead Belly.
The comic book character Superman makes his debut in Action Comics No1, published by DC Comics in the USA. Although the concept of a superman goes much further back, it is this comic book hero who will inspire numerous songs including O Superman by Laurie Anderson (1982), Superman's Song by Crash Test Dummies (1991), Superman by Barbra Streisand (1977), Wish I Could Fly Like Superman by The Kinks (1979) and Superman by Taylor Swift (2010).
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.
Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys record the fiddle tune Ida Red for Vocalion Records in Dallas, Texas, USA. In 1955, Chuck Berry will be inspired to base his first hit, Maybellene, on this version of Ida Red.
Over 350 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes launch a surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, killing 2,402 people and wounding a further 1,282. The attack will lead directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. Numerous patriotic songs will be inspired by this attack, notably Remember Pearl Harbour, a major hit for bandleader Sammy Kaye. Country music singer and songwriter Carson Robison recorded two; Remember Pearl Harbour [a different song with the same title] and We're Gonna Have To Slap The Dirty Little Jap, while bluesman Pete 'Doctor' Clayton released Pearl Harbour Blues.
Geno Washington is born in Evansville, Indiana, USA. He will find success as a soul act in the UK during the 1960s, and his career will inspire the 1980 hit single Geno! by Dexys Midnight Runners.
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The first atomic bomb, the first fruits of The Manhattan Project, is detonated at The Bombing and Gunnery Range, Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA. This event and the circumstances surrounding it will become the subject of the 1985 song The Manhattan Project, recorded by Rush. The 2006 Iron Maiden song Brighter Than A Thousand Suns is also about The Manhattan Project.
The dystopian sci-fi novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is published in the UK. The book and its sinister character, Big Brother, will inspire numerous songs, including 1984 by Spirit and Big Brother by Stevie Wonder. In September 2009, the English alternative rock band Muse will release The Resistance, which includes songs influenced by 1984.
Bela Lugosi, the actor famed for his on-screen representations of Dracula, dies aged 73, of a heart attack, at his home in Los Angeles, California, USA. His passing will inspire the 1979 song Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus.
Jackie Wilson, formerly with Billy Ward And His Dominoes, begins his solo career with the release of Reet Petite, his first single for Brunswick Records in the USA. In 1972, Van Morrison will be inspired by this song to write Jackie Wilson Said, whose first line is "Jackie Wilson said it was reet petite". The Morrison song will provide a major hit for Dexy's Midnight Runners.
Jazz critic Steve Race writes a feature in UK pop music weekly Melody Maker celebrating what he believes to be the demise of rock'n'roll. When teenager Ian Samwell reads it, he is angered and inspired to write the song Move It, which will become the first genuine British rock'n'roll hit, sung by Cliff Richard.
Man Of Mystery by The Shadows enters the UK Popular Singles Chart where it will peak at No5, during a fifteen-week run on the chart. This song will inspire the guitar part on the 1977 Elvis Costello hit song Watching The Detectives
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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.
The Berlin Wall is erected overnight, closing off the Western part of Berlin, Germany, Europe, from the Eastern part. This action will inspire the song West Of The Wall, by Toni Fisher which will reach No1 in the Australian Top Twenty singles chart in 1962.
Craig Breedlove, driving the jet-propelled three-wheeled vehicle Spirit Of America, sets a new world land speed record of 407.4mph at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA. His record-breaking feat is immortalised in The Beach Boys song Spirit Of America.
The Kings Of Surf Music, The Beach Boys record I Get Around at Western Recorders, Los Angeles, California, USA. Intriguingly, I Get Around will give the quintet their first Top Ten hit in the UK where surf culture is virtually unheard of but, even more bizzarely, their fascination with cars and driving will inspire Kraftwerk in 1974 to create the first bona fide electronic rock hit, Autobahn, as a German equivalent of Beach Boys pop.
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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Smokey Robinson And The Miracles release a new single, The Tracks Of My Tears, in the USA. Curiously, the song will inspire Rod Argent of The Zombies to write their hit Time Of The Season, after he mis-hears the line 'if you look closer it's easy to trace' as 'it's the time of the season to trace'.
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While in Hawaii during a tour of the USA, The Kinks have a day off in Waikiki. The band's songwriter Ray Davies will late cite this as his best holiday ever, inspiring him to write the song Holiday in Waikiki.
Two black males enter the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey, USA, and kill the bartender, James Oliver, and a male customer, Fred Nauyoks. A severely wounded female customer, Hazel Tanis, dies some weeks later. Championship boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter will be arrested and jailed for the crime. Bob Dylan will write the song Hurricane in 1975, insisting that Carter did not commit the murders. Carter will be freed in November 1985 when the convicition is set aside on the grounds that it had been "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure."
Bob Dylan is injured in a motorcycle crash near Woodstock, New York State, USA. He is immediately driven by his wife Sara Lownds to the home of his doctor Ed Thaler, fifty miles away in Middletown, New York State, where he will remain for six weeks. The accident will inspire George Harrison to write his 1969 song Behind That Locked Door.
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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Police in Detroit, Michigan, USA, raid an after hours drinking club in a predominantly black neighborhood around Twelfth Street and Clairmount Avenue. When local people turn up outside the club to protest at the heavy-handed police action, a riot is sparked. Looting and fires spread through the Northwest side of Detroit, then cross over to the East Side, and the city remains under National Guard control well into August. The story of the riots is told in John Lee Hooker's song The Motor City Is Burning, recorded soon after.
The tv film Song Of Summer by Ken Russell has its first broadcast by the BBC's Omnibus arts programme in the UK. The film will inspire Kate Bush to write her 1980 song Delius (Song Of Summer).
The Rolling Stones play the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA, which are recorded for the live album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out. Also on the bill are B.B. King, Ike And Tina Turner and Terry Reid. Jimi Hendrix also attends the show. Later, there is a birthday party for Jimi Hendrix at producer Monte Kay's apartment, attended by The Stones. During the party, Mick Jagger pricks his finger and Hendrix's girlfriend, Devon Wilson, sucks the blood from his finger, inspiring Hendrix to write the song Dolly Dagger ("She drinks her blood from a jagged edge").
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In a syndicated column in the New York Post, journalist Pete Hamill publishes a story about the evolving tradition of tying yellow ribbons round trees or gateposts to welcome returning prisoners back to their homes. The story will inspire songwriters Irwin Levine and Larry Brown to compose Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, which will become a huge hit in 1973 for Tony Orlando And Dawn.
Saturday Night by The Bay City Rollers reaches No1 in the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in the USA. Later in the year, punk rock pioneers The Ramones will attempt to learn it but, being inept musicians, they fail. Instead they take inspiration from the song to use a similar, simplified structure for their own composition, Blitzkrieg Bop.
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Karac Pendragon Plant, the six-year-old son of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and his wife Maureen, dies of a virus infection. Plant will write the song All My Love in memory of Karac.
Former San Francisco fireman and Vietnam Veteran Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. The conviction will widely be seen as too lenient and White will become known as 'the most hated man in San Francisco's history'. I Fought The Law by The Dead Kennedys tells Dan White's story by re-writing the lyric of the original hit version of I Fought The Law by The Bobby Fuller Four. Another song inspired by White is Special Treatment For The Family Man by Tuxedomoon.
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.
World Boxing Association lightweight champion Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini defends his title against South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. During the fight, Kim suffers brain injuries that will lead to his death four days later. Kim's mother will commit suicide four months later, and referee Richard Green will kill himself in July 1983. Grief-stricken, Mancini will quit boxing in 1985. The 1987 Warren Zevon song Boom Boom Mancini examines Mancini's career in the light of the after-effects of Duk Koo Kim's tragic but accidental death.
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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US President George W. Bush delivers his War On Terror speech to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC, USA. Numerous songs will be inspired by the War On Terror, notably My Name Is Liar (2016) by Norwegian band Highasakite.
Mr. John Ellis lodges a Statement Of Complaint against Cardinal George Pell of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, Oceania. Ellis accuses him (Pell) of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy (Ellis) at a Roman Catholic youth camp in 1961. The scandal and investigation which follows will inspire Tim Minchin to write his song Come Home (Cardinal Pell).
Fourteen-year-old Andrew Gosden goes missing from his home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, UK, Europe. He is last seen on CCTV footage at King's Cross Station in London later that morning. Andrew's disappearance will inspire the song I Hope, which will be released in 2016 by The Missing Persons Choir (including Rick Astley, Chesney Hawkes, Nik Kershaw, Carol Decker, Lesley Garrett, Hayley Tamaddon, Jodie Prenger, Debra Stephenson, Kerry Ellis, Balsamo Deighton and G4).
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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After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Jon Lord, organist and co-founder of Deep Purple, dies aged 71 from a pulmonary embolism at the London Clinic, London, UK. The song Above And Beyond will be inspired by the band hearing about Lord's death.
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The New York City, USA, apartment building in which singer-songwriter Laura Gibson lives is destroyed in a gas explosion which kills two people and injures others. This incident and its after-effects will inspire much of the material on Gibson's subsequent LP, Empire Builder.