1984 — First publication of “The Ballad of Halo Jones”

Originally published in five page installments in “2000AD”, beginning with the July 7, 1984 issue, “The Ballad of Halo Jones” was a serialised story written by Alan Moore and drawn by Ian Gibson. It detailed the life and times of Halo Jones, introduced as an 18 year old living in the 50th century. Across three major arcs (“books”), Jones matured and took on various careers, including stewardess on a space-liner and guerrilla fighter.

But disputes over the ownership of the series saw it discontinued, although Moore and Gibson had planned six more books of the story (telling the complete history of Halo). And because they have been unable to reach an agreement with the owners of the copyrights, Gibson and Moore have been unable to complete the Ballad of Halo Jones, and are likely to remain so.

Referenced in:
Hanging Out With Halo Jones — Transvision Vamp

1984 — Marvin Gaye killed

Marvin Gaye was one of the greatest singers ever to come out of Motown, possessed of a soulful, sensitive voice with great expressiveness and a vocal range of three octaves. Best known today for such classics as “Sexual Healing”, “Let’s Get It On” and his cover of “Heard It Through The Grapevine”, Gaye also used his music to pursue an activist agenda, creating anthems for the civil rights movement, most notably “What’s Going On?”

He was only 44 years old in 1984, when he intervened in a dispute between his parents. Enraged, his father shot him twice – although the first shot was fatal, and Gaye was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He was cremated and his ashes scattered near the ocean. His father pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Referenced in:
Nightshift — The Commodores

1984 — Boom Boom Mancini defeats Bobby Chacon

Mancini’s 1984 bout against Chacon was his fourth title defence (he had won the World Boxing Association Lightweight title in May 1982), and he once again triumphed, although this match was decided when the referee stopped it in the third round after a cut above Chacon’s eye began to bleed.

For Mancini, it was a last hurrah in many ways. A few months later, he would lose his next title bout, and after he lost a rematch for the title the following year, he largely stopped boxing, although he remained in the public eye.

Referenced in:
Boom Boom Mancini — Warren Zevon

1984 – Prince Harry is born

The younger son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Harry (in full: Henry Charles Albert David Windsor; formally: Prince Henry of Wales), currently stands fourth in line for the throne (and gets further back each time he gains a nephew or niece). He is perhaps best known for being the only member of the Royal Family to be photographed wearing Nazi regalia, but this has not dented his popularity, which leaves him second only to his brother William and the Queen (his grandmother).

Despite his occasional embarrassments to the family, Harry is held in high esteem for his military service and sporting prowess. That said, it’s probably a relief to everyone – Harry included – that he keeps getting further down the line of succession.

Referenced in:
Heartland — The The

1984 – Ronald Reagan thinks nuclear war is funny

It was one of those moments that America thinks is funny – and wonders why the rest of us don’t.

President Ronald Reagan, not realising that the mike he was on was live, joked that he had passed legislation to end the Russian threat forever. The punchline, of course, was “We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Now, there are conspiracy theories aplenty about whether or not he actually knew the microphone was live, but he remained stalwart in his claims that he had not, and that was good enough for most people. It remains an oddity in American politics: a shocking gaffe that probably helped Reagen win re-election later that year.

Referenced in:
5 Minutes — Bonzo goes to Washington
Alle Amis Singen Olala — Geier Sturzflug

1984 — Jackie Wilson dies

One of the most influential singers in the transition between rhythm & blues and soul, Jackie “Mr Excitement” Wilson was one of the all time greats. Over the span of two decades and change, he recorded more than 50 hit songs, in genres including rhythm & blues, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening. Moreover, he was a dynamic live performer and showman, whose performances inspired those of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and James Brown (to name only the most prominent).

In 1975, he collapsed on stage at a concert from a heart attack, and was raced to hospital. But the damage had been done – Wilson had stopped breathing, and the lack of oxygen damaged his brain. With the exception of a brief period in 1976, he spent the rest of his life in a coma, before dying of pneumonia in 1984.

Referenced in:
Nightshift — The Commodores

1984 – Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” peaks on the charts

Acknowledged by a 2005 list as the 11th greatest Canadian song of all time, Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” contrasts the newly-formed love of a pair of teenagers with the dangers around them, notably the Cold War (which was a pretty dangerous thing in 1984, what with Ronald Reagan’s finger on the button) and the then-new spectre of AIDS.

It remains Cockburn’s single greatest hit in his native land, and has since been covered by Dan Fogelberg and Bare Naked Ladies, among others.

Referenced in:

God Pt II — U2

1984 – Michael Jackson’s Thriller is #1 on the US album chart

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was his sixth studio album, and is still his best known and best-selling. It dominated the US album charts in 1983 and 1984, spending most of the year at number one on the charts (and the rest at number 2). It also reached number one on the charts in Australia, Japan, Sweden, West Germany, New Zealand, Holland, Canada and the United Kingdom. Of the seven singles from the album, all were top ten hits, with two of them (“Beat It” and “Billie Jean”) reaching number one on the US singles charts.

The album went on to win 8 Grammy awards, which remains a record number, and in the year of its release, became the best-selling album in the history of the world – a title which it still holds. It is also responsible for making “Weird Al” Yankovic a star, thanks to the success of his parody of “Beat It” (“Eat It”), which was his best selling single until 2009.

Referenced in:
Rockin’ the Suburbs — Ben Folds

1984 – James Huberty goes on a shooting spree

James Oliver Huberty was a survivalist living in San Ysidro, New Mexico. A man who never felt at home in America, and felt that it was in a state of moral decay, but shared that all-too-common delusion that murder is apparently not a moral failing.

On July 18, 1984, he strode into a McDonalds three blocks away from his residence, and opened fire. He wounded 19 people, and killed 21 more, before he was finally killed himself. The massacre lasted 77 minutes. In the aftermath, McDonalds demolished the restaurant, and donated the site to the city as a memorial to the victims.

Referenced in:

McMassacre — Macabre
McMurder — Ethnic Cleansing
James Oliver Huberty — LoNNNIe
Shotgun Boogie (James Oliver Huberty) — Church of Misery

1984 – The Union Carbide plant at Bhopal explodes

The Bhopal disaster (also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy) is the worst industrial catastrophe in the history of the world.

It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A number of chemicals – most notably methyl isocyanate gas – leaked out of the plant, and literally hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to it. Many of them were killed.

Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release subsequently. Other governmental agencies estimated 3,000, 8,000 and even 15,000 deaths from diseases and injuries resulting from the disaster. In 2006, a government affidavit gave a figure 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

Union Carbide continues its business today, its safety standards not much improved from 1984.

Referenced in:
R.S.V.P. — B. Dolan
Cesspools in Eden — Dead Kennedys
I Close My Eyes — Single Gun Theory
Bhopal (Driftnet Plan) — Bob Wiseman
No Thunder, No Fire, No Rain — Tim Finn

1984 – Essendon defeats Hawthorn in the VFL Grand Final

Favoured going into the game, Essendon played hard all day, but nonetheless trailed Hawthorn going into the game’s final quarter. But in that last quarter, they turned it all around, kicking 11 goals and 6 points (a record score for the last quarter of any VFL/AFL Grand Final), and more than doubling their score for the rest of the match.

They romped home at the game’s conclusion, defeating Hawthorn by four goals and winning Essendon’s 13th Premiership. It was particularly satisfying victory for Essendon’s fans – in the previous year’s Grand Final, the same two teams had fought, but the result had been very different, with Hawthorn winning by 83 points on that occasion.

Referenced in:

You’re A Long Way From Home 1 — This Is Serious Mum