1950 – The creation of Californium is announced

One of the elements of the actinide group, Californium was first synthesized on approximately February 9, 1950 by researchers at the University of California. After checking and replicating the initial experiment, its discovery was announced a month later, and the element named for the university (and state) where it had been created.

Unusually for a synthetic element, it was later discovered in naturally occurring forms, albeit as a result of extremely rare phenomena. Californium also has practical uses, notably in initiating nuclear reactions and in the creation of higher elements – ununoctium (element 118) was synthesized by bombarding californium-249 atoms with calcium-48 ions

Referenced in:
The Fez – The Dead Milkmen

1967 — Jimi Hendrix releases “Purple Haze”

Widely hailed as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, and probably the greatest psychedelic rock song, “Purple Haze” is not actually about drugs, psychedelic or otherwise. According to Hendrix (who wrote the lyrics and music), it’s mostly about falling in love – although it’s possible that the whole song is happening on Neptune (Hendrix was a big science fiction fan, and frequently used elements of it in his songs). In fact, Hendrix gave different explanations at different times – although he always strenuously denied that it was about drug use.

According to the track’s producer, Chas Chandler (no, not that Chas Chandler), Hendrix began writing it on Boxing Day, 1966. “Purple Haze” was recorded in a four hour session on January 11, 1967 at De Lane Lea Studios in London, and released in the UK a little over two months later. (It would not be released in the US until June 19.) It would become a Top Ten hit in the UK and other European nations, but fare less well in the US, where strong sales of the album it featured on as track one (“Are You Experienced?”) harmed sales of the single despite heavy radio play.

It remains one of the most well known and popular Hendrix songs.

Referenced in:
The End of the Line — The Travelling Wilburys

1979 – Police raid a punk rock gig at the Elks Lodge in Los Angeles

On St Patrick’s Day, 1979, a huge punk concert was held at the Elks Lodge in Los Angeles. The line-up included the Zeroes, the Wipers, the Plugz, the Go-Gos and X. However, during the Plugz set, the LAPD arrived. What happened next is the subject of some dispute.

The police claimed that they were responding to complaints and were the victims of unprovoked attacks. The punks claimed that this was a planned police operation from the start, and that they were the victims of unprovoked attacks. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Both LA punks and LA cops are notoriously aggressive and hot-headed – it’s likely there were provocations and attacks in both directions. The sheer size of the police response – which included blocking off several surrounding intersections and cops in full riot gear – lends weight to the claim that they planned the raid in advance.

The incident has passed into legend now, the first large scale bloody encounter between hardcore punks and the Los Angeles Police Department that continued for years, as part of the LAPD’s apparently un-ending war on underground music (which predates this incident by more than a decade and continues today).

Referenced in:
Pig — Angry Samoans
Elks Lodge Blues — The Gears