1991 — Operation Desert Storm commences

Operation Desert Storm began after the expiry of the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The first component of the operation was a series of airstrikes, with the first large scale deployment of so-called “smart bombs”. US Air Force planes launched from bases in Saudi Arabia and carriers in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea to strike at targets in Kuwait and Iraq.

The first priority was the neutralization of the Iraqi Air Force, a goal that was successfully completed on the first day of the war. After that, priority was given to military and communications targets. The ground assault began weeks later, after the coalition forces had established absolute aerial dominance – by the time the tanks were rolling, the war was almost already over.

Referenced in:
Hand of Fools — The Cross

1991 – Rodney King is beaten by five members of the LAPD

Even for the LAPD, an organisation that has rarely covered itself in glory, the beating of Rodney King was a notable low.

The incident began when King, somewhat drunk and driving at illegally high speed, panicked when the police began to chase him, leading to a pursuit across Los Angeles. (King later testified that he had run because a conviction of driving under the influence would violate the terms of his parole.) When he was finally caught, the first five officers on the scene were Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano.

What happened next was captured on film by George Holliday, a local resident. (See it here.) King was tasered twice, and beaten with batons by Officers Wind, Briseno, and Powell, who hit him a total of 33 times, and kicked him 6 times too. King was hospitalized and later successfully sued the LAPD. The video went viral, becoming one of the most iconic images of the early Nineties. The Los Angeles district attorney charged officers Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind with use of excessive force, but they were acquitted at their trial, leading to a week of rioting in LA and elsewhere.

If you ever go to Los Angeles, don’t let the LAPD treat you like king.

Referenced in:
Mrs. Officer — Lil Wayne
Like a King — Ben Harper
Shock to the System — Billy Idol

1991 – Freddie Mercury dies

A true giant of popular music, and the possessor of one of the finest voices ever to grace a song, Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, died at the age of 45 after a protracted struggle with AIDS. An openly gay man, Mercury had contracted the disease some years earlier, being diagnosed in 1987, but chose to conceal his illness from all but his nearest and dearest, including the other three members of Queen, until relatively shortly before his death. This desire for privacy has unfortunately tainted his legacy somewhat, as he arguably could have done much to promote awareness of AIDS had he announced his infection sooner – although this would likely have taken a greater toll on his health and seen him die even sooner.

Mercury left behind him an incredible range of musical accomplishments, both as singer and songwriter. In particular, he wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits volume one: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Play the Game” – all of them still played frequently on radio to this day. He was also a consumate showman in concert, rivalled only by Bowie and Jagger in his ability to charm a crowd.

Referenced in:

No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young) — Queen
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions

1991 – Mike Tyson rapes Desiree Washington

Mike Tyson’s career as a boxer was experiencing a brief setback in 1991. Injuries sustained during training had led him to pull out of a planned title challenge against Evander Holyfield, the Heavyweight Champion. We can’t know for sure what was in Tyson’s mind when he called Desiree Washington a little after 1:30 in the morning on July 19, and organised to come pick her up.

They were driven back to his hotel by Tyson’s chaffeur, and accounts vary as to what happened next. Washington claimed that Tyson raped her, Tyson claimed that they had consensual sex. The weight of evidence – and Tyson’s unlikable demeanour in the courtroom – led the jury to convict Tyson of the rape, and he served three years in prison for the crime.

Referenced in:

The Thanksgiving Song — Adam Sandler

1991 — Use Your Illusion I and II are released

Of all Guns n Roses songs, it is the most epic (although not the longest). “November Rain” was the 4th single from the Use Your Illusion twin albums, and the 2nd most successful (after “You Could Be Mine”). In interviews, the band stated that they felt that this was their “Stairway to Heaven”. As bold as that claim was, it was borne out by history.

The song remains a staple of classic rock radio stations everywhere, the clip regularly places among the most popular on MTV and other such music video stations, and naturally, it is a long-standing staple of Guns n Roses live performances.

Referenced in:
On The Radio — Regina Spektor

1991 – Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested for murder

Jeffrey Dahmer was finally caught when his latest intended victim – a man named Tracy Edwards, managed to escape from Dahmer’s apartment. Edwards managed to flag down two cops, whom he led back to Apartment 213. Dahmer had hidden some of the evidence, but by no means all, and after backup was summoned and arrived, he was arrested.

A search of the apartment turned up Dahmer’s collection of photographs taken of his victims, four severed human heads, numerous other severed body parts and seven human skulls.

Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms, totalling 957 years. He was eventually beaten to death by another inmate in 1994.

Referenced in:
213 – Slayer
The Brain – Macabre
Dirty Frank – Pearl Jam
Cold – Unusual Suspect
Room 213 – Dead Moon
Apartment 213 – Macabre
Arc Arsenal – At the Drive-In
Apartment 213 – HotrodboB
Freeze Dried Man – Macabre
What’s That Smell? – Macabre
Still Born/Still Life – Christian Death
Sinthasomphone – Venetian Snares
Tom Dahmer Mixtape Freestyle – Necro
Room 213 (Jeffrey Dahmer) – Church of Misery
The Ballad Of Jeffrey Dahmer – Pinkard & Bowden
Jeffrey Dahmer’s CookBook – Bloody Tea vs. Human Raise

1991 – The deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expires

In response to Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the government of the USA – with full United Nations approval – announced this deadline, requiring Iraqi forces to return to their own nation no later than it. Formally stated in UN Resolution 678, on November 29, it allowed approximately seven weeks for the withdrawal to occur, a generous amount of time considering that the original invasion had taken a matter of days.

Hussein remained intransingent, and on January 12, the US Senate approved the use of military force if the deadline expired. The ensuing war was quick, decisive, and by the normal standards of such things, almost restrained in character.

Referenced in:
The New Life — The Waterboys