1904 — Mississippi Fred McDowell born

Born Fred McDowell – because few people are cruel enough to name a child Mississippi – he was one of the truly great bluesmen, and one of the very first of North Mississippi bluesmen. He played in what is sometimes called the North Hill Country Blues style, which was low on chord changes, but high on the use of slide guitar. This latter art McDowell cheerfully taught for many years – Bonnie Raitt was one of his students.

That said, and despite his occasional use of an electric guitar, McDowell refused to play rock – in fact, his 1969 album was famously entitled: I Do Not Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll/. He didn’t seem to mind anyone else doing so, though – when the Rolling Stones covered his song “You Gotta Move” in 1971, he was flattered and told folks he quite liked their take on it.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers

1926 – “Sam ‘n’ Henry” premieres on radio station WGN Chicago

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were a pair of comedians and actors who, in 1926, created one of the earliest serialised radio shows, a comedy (with occasional dramatic elements) entitled “Sam ‘n’ Henry”. Which is fine and dandy, although presenting one major problem to us today: Correll and Gosden were white men who parlayed an ability to impersonate black men into a highly successful career.

“Sam ‘n’ Henry” was an almost immediate hit, but disputes over syndication and payment saw Correll and Gosden jump ship after recording some 586 episodes (the show ran daily) before their final broadcast on January 29, 1928. The show limped on without them (the radio station owned the characters) until July of that year. Gosden and Correll were by then making headlines and fortunes with their new radio show, “Amos ‘n’ Andy” which had almost exactly the same premise as “Sam ‘n’ Henry” but different names for all the characters.

Referenced in:
Famous And Dandy (Like Amos And Andy) — The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy

1970 – The Nigerian civil war ends with Biafra’s surrender

In 1960, Nigeria acheived independence from the British Empire. Following independence, Nigeria was divided primarily along ethnic lines and in January 1966, members of the Igbo ethnic group began a military rebellion, intending to secede from Nigeria and form an independent sovereign state as the Republic of Biafra.

The official secession was proclaimed in May 1967, but was followed almost immediately by an invasion. The Nigerian army reclaimed its lost territory inch by blood soaked inch, and finally, a ceasefire was reached in January 12, 1970. Over one million people had died in the war.

Referenced in:
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner — Warren Zevon

1979 – Kenneth Bianchi is arrested for murder

Along with his cousin Angelo Buono, Kenneth Bianchi was one of two men dubbed ‘the Hillside Strangler’ (since until they were apprehended, it was believed that their killings were the work of one man acting alone). Between October 1977 and February 1978 the two abducted, tortured, molested and murdered 10 women. Buono then fled, dying later that year. On January 11, 1979, Bianchi attempted to abduct two women, whom he killed in his standard fashion.

However, perhaps because of Buono’s absence, he left many clues and police apprehended him the following day without difficulty. Bianchi attempted to plead insanity but failed, and was convicted of the twelve murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and remains in Washington State penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Referenced in:
The Hillside Stranglers — Macabre

1981 — “Dynasty” premieres

In a three-hour long introduction, Dynasty first appeared on tv screens across America on January 12, 1981. Over the course of nine seasons, it would become one of the most dominant shows on the decade. In the field of soap operas, it and its competitor Dallas – both of which revolved around wealthy oil families – reigned supreme.

But Dynasty, although it rated respectably in its initial season, didn’t really take off until its second season, the first episode of which introduced actress Joan Collins in the role she is still best known for, Alexis Carrington. Collins and Dynasty were synonymous in the Eighties, an actor and a show that couldn’t be separated from each other. Dynasty finally came to an end on May 11, 1989, after 220 episodes of scheming, betrayal and infidelity.

Referenced in:
TV Party — Black Flag