1977 – Members of Chic are refused entry to Studio 54

Chic was a disco band that was formed by Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards in 1976. They had early hits such as “Everybody Dance” and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, but their 1978 single “Le Freak” was their greatest hit (and the single best selling single ever for their label, Atlantic).

Its genesis came from an incident in 1977. Grace Jones had invited the band to join her at Studio 54, but had neglected to put their names on the door. So after waiting through the legendarily long queues on the busiest night of the year, Bernie Sanders was understandably pissed off to be refused entry to the club.

So pissed off, in fact, that he wrote a song about it – originally, the words ‘Le Freak’ were actually ‘fuck off’.

Referenced in:
Le Freak — Chic

1985 – Ricky Nelson dies

The glory days of Ricky Nelson’s career were behind him by 1985. But at 45, he wasn’t ready to quit, and he still had enough of a fan base to make gigging a winning proposition financially. The other thing he had was a hatred of traveling by bus. Instead, despite not liking flying that much more than bussing, he had a charter plane to carry him and the band around.

On the New Year’s Eve, 1985, he was booked to play in Dallas, and as they flew into Texas that afternoon, it’s unlikely anyone though anything would go wrong. This may have been a little optimistic – the plane had already been grounded twice in the last six months due to assorted faults – but it was New Year’s Eve. Everyone wanted to party.

Nelson’s plane – which according to some witnesses was already on fire at the time – crashed two miles short of its destination, killing 8 of the ten people on board including Nelson.

Referenced in:

Air Crash Museum — The Dead Milkmen

1999 – The Twentieth Century ends

Technically, the Twentieth Century did not end for another year, at the end of the year 2000. But in the popular imagination, the last day of 1999 was the last day of the millennium. A day when many a religious – and one big secular – apocalypse was counted down to, to hit at the stroke of midnight. But neither the Second Coming nor the Y2K bug proved to be that big a threat.

The Twentieth Century was over with, and now, the 21st Century – the future – could begin. Only it turned out that if apocalypse wasn’t just around the corner, neither was utopia. And only 21 months into the new century, we’d all be dragged into a brand new endless Cold War when we’d just finally shaken off the last one.

Referenced in:

1999 — Prince
L.A. Money Train — Rollins Band
I Have Not Been to Oxford Town — David Bowie