1960 — Eddie Cochran dies

Eddie Cochran was one of the classic Fifties rockers – young, rebellious and male, he sang one of the iconic early rock tunes: “Summertime Blues”. Cochran was a good friend of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, and was deeply shaken by their deaths in 1959. He became consumed by a conviction that he too would die young.

A year later, he was proved right, when he was killed in a single car accident while on tour in the UK. Cochran, sitting in the back seat with his girlfriend, Sharon Sheeley, and fellow musician Gene Vincent, threw himself in front of Sheeley to protect her, and was thrown from the car in the accident. He died in hospital later that day from the head injuries he sustained. Sheeley and Vincent were both injured by survived the accident – the driver was convicted of dangerous driving.

Referenced in:
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions

1961 – The Bay of Pigs Invasion fails

In the early hours of April 17, 1961, a combined force of Cuban expatriates and American military advisors landed at Playa Girón, a beach in the Bay of Pigs. They were outgunned almost at once, and approximately 80% of the invading force was captured by the Cuban military.

In many ways, it seems to modern eyes that the Bay of Pigs was a dry run for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In both cases, the invading force was under-resourced, acting on faulty intelligence guided more by ideology than information, and relying on a sympathetic uprising that never eventuated.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco marked the last overt attempt by the USA to deal with the clear and present danger that Castro’s Cuba apparently posed to the American way of life. Fifty years of more or less peaceful coexistence later, it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about.

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

1975 – Phnom Penh falls to the Khmer Rouge and Year Zero begins

The Khmer Rouge were a Communist movement allied to the Viet Cong. When the United States military pulled out of Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, they left a power vacuum that their opponents were quick to exploit. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, championed a particularly oppressive form of dictatorship that called for a return to medieval technology and an abandonment of urbanisation.

With the fall of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge took control of the country. All the citizens of Cambodia were forced to leave the cities, to practice subsistence agriculture in the rural areas. The regime was infamous for its cruelty and brutality, to say nothing of its near genocidal policies. It is estimated that in the four years of their reign, as many as two million people were killed, either in concentration camps, summary executions or simple starvation. In fact, during the years of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia became known as the Killing Fields – more than 20,000 separate mass graves were created in these years.

Referenced in:

Pol Pot — Down I Go
Earth Song — Michael Jackson
Holiday In Cambodia — Dead Kennedys