1971 – Led Zeppelin releases Stairway to Heaven

Despite being one of the best known songs of all time – and one of the most frequently requested on radio – Led Zeppelin’s eight minute opus was not released as a single until years after its legend was well established. It was the fourth track of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, and its length precluded its release in single form in the 45rpm vinyl format.

It at once sums up everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with seventies rock in one song: it is pretentious and wanky, with lyrics that make little or no sense; but on the other hand, it rocks damned hard, has one of the greatest guitar solos ever, and is completely made of awesome.

Referenced in:

No More Fun — Roger Taylor
That Says It All — Duncan Sheik

2000 – John Ellis calls the Presidential election for George Bush

John Prescott Ellis was 47 years old on the night of the 2000 US Presidential Election. He had spent most of his adult life working in the media as a political consultant, briefly taking time out to work in actual politics during the ’88 and ’92 Presidential Elections. He had been working for the Fox Network for the last few years when 2000 rolled around.

At 2:16 AM (EST), live to air, John Ellis called the state of Florida for George W. Bush, making the Fox the first network to do so. (Oddly, Fox was also the last of the network to retract from the earlier calling of Florida for Gore.) This in itself was unexceptional – and would have remained so even in the chaotic mess that the 2000 election became – but for one small detail: John Prescott Ellis and George Walker Bush are first cousins.

Remember above when I mentioned that Ellis worked in real politics for a little while? He worked on his uncle, George H. W. Bush’s two election campaigns. And although family pride is understandable, at the time, the Fox network was still claiming to be non-partisan. This incident was among those that first indicated that the Fox network was willing to do pretty much anything in support of its chosen political allies.

Referenced in:

My Hero, Mr President — Paula Cole