1986 — Fishing of the Atlantic Striped Bass is made illegal

Under the terms of the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act of 1984, it became possible for duly appointed local authorities (reporting in turn to state authorities, under the overall coordination of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) to declare moratoriums on fishing for the Atlantic Striped Bass – known to fisherman as the Striper – for periods of up to 30 days. But these moratoriums could also be renewed more or less indefinitely, until it was determined by the authority that the population of the fish had recovered sufficiently.

While in most locations, populations of the Atlantic Striped Bass did indeed recover – although the process took around a decade – that was little consolation to the fisherman who lost their livelihoods in the meantime.

Referenced in:
The Downeaster Alexa — Billy Joel

1986 – Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet reaches #1 on the US album chart

Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet represents the high water mark of the Eighties hair metal craze. Bon Jovi were different from other hair metal bands, in that they didn’t costume or wear make up, and also because one of their hits (“Wanted Dead Or Alive”) was a country and western song. (Not that stopped it from being the best song on the album.)

The album spawned four singles, two of which (“Living On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name”) reached number one on the US charts. The other two were both top 20 hits. Unfortunately for Bon Jovi, the album was lightning in a bottle, and they would never recapture the success they enjoyed with it, although John Bon Jovi’s solo hit, “Blaze Of Glory”, would be a top ten hit around the world.

Referenced in:

Rockin’ the Suburbs — Ben Folds

1986 — Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” reaches #1 on the US charts

1986’s “So” was Peter Gabriel’s fourth solo album, and the first one not to be self-titled – and it’s possible that being able to refer directly to the album without confusing anyone may have improved sales of this one. But even so, the success of “Sledgehammer” was unprecedented in Gabriel’s career.

A lot of it probably came down to the sheer brilliance of the clip for the song: 4 minutes and 58 seconds of surrealist stop-motion animation featuring plasticene, frozen chickens, chalk on a blackboard and of course, Gabriel himself. The clip won a record nine MTV Video Music Awards, and is also the most frequently played clip in the history of MTV.

Referenced in:

Brat Pack — The Rocket Summer

1986 – The Chernobyl Meltdown occurs

On April 26, 1986, a routine systems test of the number four reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (near Pripyat, in the Ukraine) caused a power surge – and an attempt at a manual shutdown caused a second, larger surge, which in turn led a series of explosions, leading to a large fire. The smoke from this fire spread over large portions of Europe, from the Soviet Union to the Atlantic coast.

The disaster – alongside the Fukushima reactor event of 2011 – is the worst nuclear accident in history. Estimates of the resulting deaths vary, with 31 to 64 deaths being directly attributed to the disaster, and hundreds of thousands of deaths since then being attributed to secondary effects. A large area around the reactor has been evacuated (and remains so today), including the entire town of Pripyat, and the environmental effects are likely to remain for another century at least.

Referenced in:

Freakonomics — Clutch
Mrs. O — The Dresden Dolls

1986 – Gary Heidnik begins his kidnappings

A former US Army media and diagnosed schizoid, Gary Heidnik was 43 years old when he committed the first of a series of six kidnappings in Philadelphia, all of which featured assault and rape, two of which ended in murder. The victim, Josefina Rivera, was forced into helping Heidnik with his subsequent crimes – but also later managed to escape and bring the police down on her captor.

The cops found three other women chained in Heidnik’s basement, as well as the remains of the two he had killed. Heidnik was arrested, and although tried and convicted in 1988, he was not executed for his crimes until 1999.

Referenced in:

Morbid Minister — Macabre

1986 – L.A. Law is first broadcast

Steven Bochco’s popular lawyer drama L.A. Law premiered at 10PM EST, on Thursday, September 15, 1992. It was replacing Hill Street Blues (also a Bochco creation), and expectations on the part of both viewers and the network were high.

Fortunately, it lived up to them. The show ran for eight years, and for the first six its Nielsen Ratings placed it in the top 30 shows. In its time, it was often controversial – which probably helped its popularity no end.

Referenced in:

My Generation (Part II) – Todd Snider