1935 – Elvis Presley born in Tupelo, Mississipi

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley, was born to Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Presley in a two room house built by Vernon. He was preceded into the world by his stillborn brother, Jesse Garon Presley, some 35 minutes earlier.

Presley is one of the best known and most popular rock stars of all time, achieving a level of fame and success in his 42 years that remains the yardstick by which all celebrities must still be measured, and if you don’t already know who he was… well, you were probably born after 1977.

Also, although Guinness doesn’t keep records on it, he is also probably the most-frequently impersonated human being of all time.

Referenced in:
Porcelain Monkey — Warren Zevon
Tupelo — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

1959 – Cuban Revolution ends in Communist victory

The fall of Cuba’s Batista government, after six years of fighting between government forces and Castro’s revolutionary army, was officially complete when Castro and his soldiers captured Havana on January 8, 1959.

Wild scenes of celebration ensued, as Castro’s army were hailed as liberators throughout the city. Law professor José Miró Cardona had created a new government with himself as prime minister and Manuel Urrutia Lleó as president on January 5, and the United States had officially recognized this new government two days later. Upon Castro’s arrival in Havana, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Cuba’s Armed Forces.

A month later, Miró suddenly resigned, and on February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba.

Referenced in:
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

1968 – Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay” is released

Otis Redding wrote other songs that are well remembered for, such as “Respect” (best known for Aretha Franklin’s version of it), but to most people, his name is best associated with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. As it should be, since it is an absolutely fantastic song.

Otis wrote the first verse in June 1967, but got a little stuck with it. More than a year later, he worked with Steve “The Colonel’ Cropper to finish the song. In a later interview, Cropper said that the song was autobiographical for Redding.

Many people have done cover versions of the song, but Michael Bolton was not one of them, whatever you may have heard.

Referenced in:
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1815 – The Battle of New Orleans takes place

In the annals of military pointlessness, few battles are quite as ridiculous as the Battle of New Orleans. It was fought 16 days after the official end of the War of 1812, of which it was a part, due to the fact that the peace treaty was signed in Europe, and the news took two months to reach America.

The Battle of New Orleans was important to later American history, though. It ended the war with a decisive American victory (in a war where neither side had managed to seize the advantage over the other), and it brought to prominence a commander named Andrew Jackson, who would later become the seventh President of the USA.

Referenced in:
I Ain’t Marching Anymore — Phil Ochs
Lydia the Tattooed Lady — Groucho Marx
The Battle of New Orleans — Johnny Horton