1942 — Jimi Hendrix born

While Jimi Hendrix may not have been the greatest guitar player of all time – although that’s not a bet I would take – he is certainly the most legendary. Partly for his stage presence and antics (you seen anyone else set a guitar on fire on stage lately?), partly because he died so tragically young, and but mostly because, DAMN, that man could play.

He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix (which was shortly thereafter changed to James Marshall Hendrix) but the world knows him best as Jimi. Of mixed descent – the man had African-American, Cherokee and Irish genes – he was not merely a great musician but also a great experimentalist, pioneering many of the sounds, effects and techniques that created the modern rock vocabulary of the electric guitar. The debt owed to him by practically ever guitar player who lived after him is immeasurable.

Not bad for a guy who played guitar for only a little over 12 years.

Referenced in:

The Miracle — Queen

November 27, 1095 — Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade

Urban II had been Pope for seven years in 1095. But the events he is best remembered for had their origin in March of 1095, when an ambassador from from the Emperor of Byzantium called upon him for aid against the Turk, who had captured much of the Anatolian hinterland and would soon press upon Byzantium itself.

At the Council of Clermont in November 1095, Urban called for a Crusade to retake the Holy Land (Palestine) from the Muslims. This would both place Jerusalem in Christian hands and relieve pressure on Byzantium by opening up another front in its war. What would become known as the First Crusade (of Nine) started the following year, in 1096, and lasted (in its active phase) until 1099. It was the most geographically successful of the Crusades, but its longest term effects were the reopening of trade between Europe and the Levant (and by extension, to its trading partners beyond) and the importation of Arabic texts (some of them translations of Greek and Roman texts) that led to the scientific revolutions of the next thousand years.

1868 – Custer’s Cavalry routs the Cheyenne at Washita River

George Armstrong Custer was never a lucky man. Even before his death at Little Big Horn, controversy dogged his career.

The Battle of Washita River – also known as the Massacre of Washita River, which is fairly indicative right there – is a case in point. On the 27th of November, 1868, Custer’s 7th Cavalry attacked the Cheyenne under Black Kettle, who were encamped on the banks of the Washita (near present day Cheyenne, Oklahoma).

Accounts vary as to what followed, but some facts are generally agreed upon. Custer reported to his commanding officer the following day that some 103 Cheyenne warriors, plus ‘some’ woman and children, had been killed. Cheyenne estimates place the number of warriors at around 50, and display rather more precision in the measuring of women and children’s deaths.

Black Kettle and his wife were both among the dead. Custer would follow them into the grave some eight years later, at the hands of the Cheyenne and their Lakota allies.

Referenced in:

Banner Year – Five Iron Frenzy