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Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan is killed by Filipino tribesmen, just months after becoming the first man to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. His life, death and achievements will be celebrated in the song Philippines History by Yoyoy Villame, The Ballad Of Magellan by Animaniacs and Magellan Was Wrong by Bob Lind.
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.
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.
A teenage boy who claims to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell is found in the streets of Nuremberg, Germany, Europe. He will become known by the name Kaspar Hauser. His extraordinary claims, and his subsequent death by stabbing will spark much debate and controversy. His story will inspire numerous musical works, including the songs Wooden Horse [Caspar Hauser's Song] by Suzanne Vega, and Kaspar Hauser Could See Stars In The Daytime by Exotic Animal Petting Zoo.
Waterloo Station is opened in London, UK. The station and its surrounding area will provide the inspirational setting for the song Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks and also for Postcard From Waterloo by Tom Verlaine.
During the American Civil War, The Battle Of Cold Harbour begins in Hanover County, Virginia, USA. It will be remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. The battle is recorded in the song Cold Harbor by The Outlaws.
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.
Clifton T. Clowers is born in Center Ridge, Arkansas, USA. He will gain a certain amount of local notoriety for keeping his daughter locked up in his home on Woolverton Mountain, away from potential suitors. His overly protective ways will inspire the song Wolverton Mountain which will become a major country music hit in 1962 for Claude King.
Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the crime of killing her father and stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts, USA. No-one else will ever be arrested or tried for the murders and Borden will remain a notorious figure in American folklore, the subject of such songs as You Can't Chop Your Poppa Up In Massachusetts Lizzie Bordon (1955) by Penny Nicholls And The Canadians, You Can't Chop Your Papa Up In Massachusetts (1961) by The Chad Mitchell Trio, She Took An Axe (1986) by Flotsam and Jetsam, Lizzie Borden by Macabre (2010), and Ballad Of Lizzie Borden (2011) by Rasputina.
A collection of thirty-six poems by James Joyce, entitled Chamber Music, is first published in London, England, UK, Europe, by Elkin Matthews. One of the poems, Golden Hair, will inspire Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett to set it to music in 1969.
Several mines owned by the Fairmount Coal Company in Monagah, West Virginia, USA, explode, killing hundreds of miners. The incident will inspire songs by Blind Alfred Reed (Explosion In The Fairmount Mines), Vernon Dalhart and others.
During World War I, up to 100,000 British and German troops along the Western Front in Belgium, Europe, take part in an unofficial truce, singing Christmas carols together, exchanging gifts and even playing football. The incident, later to be known as The Christmas Truce, will inspire Peter Hooton of The Farm to write their major hit single, All Together Now.
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U.S. Highway System Route 66 is established, running from Chicago, Illinois, USA, to Los Angeles, California - a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). The road will be immortalised in the song Route 66, written by Bobby Troup and first recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio. Later versions will be recorded by Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, The Manhattan Transfer and Depeche Mode to name but a few. The road will also become the subject of the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Charles Lindbergh, in his plane The Spirit Of St Louis, completes the first transatlantic flight when he lands at Le Bourget Field, Paris, France, Europe, after a two day journey from Long Island in the USA. His achievement is celebrated in the songs Like an Angel You Flew Into Everyone's Heart by Vaughn De Leath, and Lindbergh [The Eagle Of The U.S.A.] recorded for Victor Records just days later by Vernon Dalhart. Lindbergh will also inspire the dance craze The Lindy Hop and, much later, Lindy Comes To Town by Al Stewart.
Guiraist and singer Tommy Johnson records Cool Drink Of Water Blues and Big Road Blues at Memphis Auditorium, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Big Road Blues will inspire Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones to record Dark Road (aka On The Road Again) in 1951. This will, in turn, inspire Canned Heat to record their 1967 song, On The Road Again, which is almost identical apart from a couple of new lyric lines and the addition of an Eastern instrument called a tamboura to give the song a psychedelic feel.
The short story, A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner, is first published in Forum magazine in the USA. Many years later, Rod Argent of The Zombies will read the story and be inspired by its title to compose a song entitled A Rose For Emily, which will appear on the band's 1968 album Odessy And Oracle.
At the end of a massive manhunt, fugitive Albert Johnson, known as The Mad Trapper Of Rat River, is shot dead by a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the banks of The Eagle River, Yukon, Canada. During the manhunt, Johnson had killed one officer and wounded another. The hunt for Johnson will inspire several songs, including The Capture Of Albert Johnson by Wilf Carter [aka Montana Slim]; The Mad Trapper Of Rat River [1961] by Stanley G Triggs, and Rat River Trapper [1974] by Doug Hutton.
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.
The board game Monopoly goes on sale for the first time. The game, based on property trading in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, will inspire numerous songs, including The Monopoly Song by Frank Sidebottom; I Want It All [Monopoly Song] by Levar Allen; Monopoly by Urge Overkill and Monopoly Town by Pat Orchard.
The German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg catches fire and is destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey, USA. Of the 97 people on board, 35 are killed and there is also one death among the ground crew. Lead Belly will be inspired to write his song The Hindenburg Disaster in 1937, and the cover of Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut album will feature an image of the Hindenburg disaster. Other songs about the disaster include Hindenburg by The Williamson Playboys and The Hindenburg Disaster by The Two Man Gentlemen Band.
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.
Lord Invader performs his composition Rum And Coca Cola for the first time in front of a paying audience in the Victory Calypso Tent [an informal music venue set up for the carnival season] in Port of Spain, Trindidad, West Indies. Six months later, visiting US radio comedian Morey Amsterdam will hear the song, take it back to the USA, sanitise its saucy lyric and copyright it in his own name. Rum And Coca Cola will be a huge hit for The Andrews Sisters but Lord Invader will have to go to court to win his royalties.
Rita Coolidge is born in Lafayette, Tennessee, USA. She will find success as a singer and songwriter, and will also provide inspiration for songs including Love The One You're With, Cherokee and Black Queen by Stephen Stills; Cowboy Movie by David Crosby and Delta Lady by Leon Russell.
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.
Rollie Free achieves the US national motorcycle speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA, riding the first British-made Vincent Black Lightning. In 1991, inspired by the bike's mystique, Richard Thompson will compose the song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.
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Timothy Evans is hung in London, UK, for the murder of his wife and daughter. The 1953 song The Ballad Of Tim Evans by folk singer and songwriter Ewan MacColl will explore the widespread belief that his hanging was a miscarriage of justice.
The West Indies solidly defeat England in the second Test Match at Lords Cricket Ground, London, England, UK, Europe. At the end of the game, calypso singer Lord Kitchener leads a group of delighted West Indians in a victory parade around the field. Kitchener will go on to write an account of the match in his popular song Cricket, Lovely Cricket.
Trinidadian singer Young Tiger appears on British television singing a calypso-style song, I Was There (at the Coronation), which described in great detail the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, which had taken place earlier in the day. Young Tiger had in fact recorded the song two months earlier based on advance information he had been given about the Coronation. Other songs inspired by Queen Elizabeth II include God Save The Queen (1977) by The Sex Pistols and Her Majesty (1969) by The Beatles.
The phrase 'See you later, alligator' first appears in print in the Reno Evening Gazette of Reno, Nevada, USA, in a feature about the latest teenage slang terms. The term will be picked up and used by Bill Haley And His Comets as the title of their 1956 hit, See You Later, Alligator.
When Al Caldwell's Texans (later to become Rory Storm And The Hurricanes) play at The Mardi Gras Club, Liverpool, England, UK, Europe, they are joined by a new drummer, Richard Starkey. He will later, of course, change his name to Ringo Starr and, still later, move on to The Beatles. This is the first night on which Ringo played with The Hurricanes' guitarist, Johnny Guitar, and he will be inspired in 2017 to write the song Electricity, as his homage to the guitarist.
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Having watched John Glenn's historic space flight on his landlady's television earlier in the day, Lightnin' Hopkins is inspired to write and record Happy Blues For John Glenn for Bluesville Records, at A.C.A. Studios, Houston, Texas, USA.
Doo-wop group The Rivingtons release a new single, Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow, on Liberty Records in the USA. A subsequent 1963 hit, Surfin' Bird by The Trashmen, will be largely inspired by Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow
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.
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.
Haile Selassie (Ethiopian Emperor and Rastafarian prophet) gives a powerful anti-racist speech to the United Nations, which will many years later form the basis of the lyrics of the 1976 Bob Marley song War.
George Harrison of The Beatles meets model Pattie Boyd for the first time, on during shooting for The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night. They will marry, and she will inspire such Harrison songs as Something, I Need You and Think For Yourself. Later she will have an affair with and then marry Eric Clapton and will become the subject of his songs Layla, Wonderful Tonight and Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad?.
Six hundred civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, USA, are attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. Seventeen marchers are hospitalized and this incident will live on in infamy as Bloody Sunday. It will also provide the inspiration for the line "Take a look around, to Selma, Alabama" in the apocalyptic No1 hit single Eve Of Destruction by Barry McGuire.
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.
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 Cuyahoga River in Ohio, one of the most polluted waterways in America, catches fire, triggering a crack-down on pollution in the river. This incident will provide inspiration for Randy Newman's 1972 song Burn On, R.E.M.'s 1986 song Cuyahoga, and Adam Again's 1992 song River on Fire.
The Rolling Stones fire their business manager, Allen Klein, who also managed the business affairs of The Beatles for some time. In 1974, inspired by Klein's underhanded financial dealings John Lennon will write Steel And Glass about him, including the lines, "Your mother left you when you were small/ but you're gonna wish you weren't born at all." Also, the demo version of George Harrison's song Beware Of Darkness, from his album All Things Must Pass, is said to contain the following lines, "Watch out now, Take care, beware of soft shoe shufflers, Dancing down the sidewalks, Pushing you in puddles in the dead of night, Beware of ABKCO", in reference to Klein.
Malcolm Owen, singer with UK punk-reggae band The Ruts, dies aged 26 of a heroin overdose while in the bath at his mother's house. Horrified by Owen's death, The Damned will write their song The Limit Club.
When Saxon play at the first-ever Monsters Of Rock Festival in Donington Park, Leicestershire, England, UK, Europe, they are so overwhelmed by the response of the 60,000 crowd, that vocalist Biff Byford is inspired to write the song And The Bands Played On.
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Argentine forces invade and occupy the British-owned Falkland Islands and South Georgia, setting in train a series of events which will lead to The Falklands War, during which the British government will send a naval task force to retake the islands. The 1983 song Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello, best-remembered in a version by Robert Wyatt, is about the wider implications of this war. Other songs dealing with the Falklands War and its implications include Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits, Another Man's Cause by The Levellers, Island Of No Return by Billy Bragg and Southampton Dock by Pink Floyd.
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.
Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths are listening to BBC Radio 1 at lunchtime when they are horrified by a news report about the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in Poland, Europe. Immediately after the news, the deejay plays I'm Your Man by Wham! This bizarre contrast inspires Morrissey and Marr to write the song Panic.
Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embark on a random killing spree, shooting dead twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School, Columbine, Colorado, USA. The pair then commit suicide. The incident will become known as The Columbine High School Massacre. The 2005 song Cassie by Flyleaf is a response to the Columbine tragedy. Cassie Bernall was a student at Columbine High School who died in the massacre. Youth Of A Nation by P.O.D. is also a response to Columbine and a list of contemporary cultural references to Columbine can be found by clicking here.
Five-year-old Elian Gonzalez is found floating in an inner tube off the coast of Florida, USA. A small boat in which he had been fleeing Cuba for asylum in the USA had sunk, killing his mother, Elizabeth Broton, and five others. Elian's story will inspire Manic Street Preachers to write their song Baby Elian.
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).
In the new edition of Seventeen Magazine, published today, Courtney Love criticises Gwen Stefani with the comment, "Being famous is just like being in high school. But I'm not interested in being the cheerleader. I'm not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She's the cheerleader, and I'm out in the smoker's shed." Angered by the insult, Stefani will be inspired to write her song Hollaback Girl as a rejection of Love's criticism.
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