1984 — Boom Boom Mancini defeats Bobby Chacon

Mancini’s 1984 bout against Chacon was his fourth title defence (he had won the World Boxing Association Lightweight title in May 1982), and he once again triumphed, although this match was decided when the referee stopped it in the third round after a cut above Chacon’s eye began to bleed.

For Mancini, it was a last hurrah in many ways. A few months later, he would lose his next title bout, and after he lost a rematch for the title the following year, he largely stopped boxing, although he remained in the public eye.

Referenced in:
Boom Boom Mancini — Warren Zevon

1981 – Boom Boom Mancini defeats Manuel Abedoy

I guess it must have seemed appropriate: a day of boxing on Boxing Day. In 1981, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Manuel Abedoy had a bout at Ballys Park Place Hotel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mancini won handily via a technical knock out, and although this was not a title bout, it paved the way for Mancini’s attempt on the Lightweight Boxing title the following year.

Referenced in:
Boom Boom Mancini — Warren Zevon

1977 – Several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd die in a plane crash

A total of 24 passengers and 6 crew were aboard the Convair CV-300 that crashed on the evening of October 20, 1977 after running out of fuel near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Six people died: the pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray, along with three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister) and the assistant road manager of the band Dean Kilpatrick.

The band did not continue to tour after the crash, only reforming with a substantial changeover in membership some ten years later. They left a legacy of two of the best known songs in the world: “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird”.

Referenced in:

Ronnie and Neil — Drive-By Truckers
Play It All Night Long — Warren Zevon
(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River — This Is Serious Mum

1969 – Elvis Presley first dubbed the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”

It may seem unbelievable today, but there was a time when he wasn’t ‘the King’. In fact, there was a time when he was barely even Elvis Presley. In the period from the start of 1967 through to May of 1968, he released 8 singles – only 2 of which made the top 40, and none of which reached higher than number 28. That all changed with his “Comeback Special” in June 1968, the first time he had performed live since 1961. Broadcast on tv, it made him a household name once more, and from that point on, there would be no looking back.

Presley parlayed the success of the special into a residency at the newly opened International Hotel, in Las Vegas. On the day of his first concert there, July 31, 1969, Elvis was asked by a journalist how it felt to be the King of Rock’n’Roll. Elvis pointed at Fats Domino, who was also present: “No,” he said, “that’s the real king of rock and roll.”

Referenced in:

Porcelain Monkey — Warren Zevon

1974 – Lynyrd Skynyrd release “Sweet Home Alabama”

It’s not clear how much real malice they bore him, but Lynyrd Skynyrd certainly seemed pissed with Neil Young when they released “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974, singling out his songs “A Southern Man” and “Alabama” for particular scorn. Mind you, the lyrics also state that Watergate doesn’t bother them, which would have made them about the only people in America it didn’t bother at that point. (Band members have repeatedly claimed that the lyrics were misunderstood.)

“Sweet Home Alabama” reached number 8 on the American charts, becoming Skynyrd’s first (and only) hit. It eventually sold Platinum, and has been used on so many film soundtracks that it is now more or less impossible that you haven’t heard it. In a move that would probably have annoyed the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd (were they still alive), the state of Alabama now uses those three words on its number plates.

Referenced in:

All Summer Long — Kid Rock
Ronnie and Neil — Drive-By Truckers
Play It All Night Long — Warren Zevon

1949 – Georgia O’Keeffe moves to New Mexico

After her first visit in 1929, painter Georgia O’Keeffe became enamoured of the landscapes and colours of the American South West. She spent at least a part of each year there. Many of her paintings, including some of her best known, such as Summer Days (1936).

In 1945, she bought a property at Ghost Ranch, north of Abiquiu, New Mexico, and began renovating it. In 1949, she permanently relocated there, producing numerous paintings, sketches and sculptures. She eventually moved to Santa Fe as old age took its toll on her health, where she died in 1986. Her artistic legacy is vast and she is particularly noted for her contributions to abstract landscape painting.

Referenced in:
Splendid Isolation — Warren Zevon

I have been unable to pin this down any more clearly than August 1940 – if anyone out there knows the correct date, please let me know.

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

1977 – Elvis Presley dies

One more day, and he would have been touring again. But as it happened, Elvis Presley’s lifestyle caught up with sooner than that. Over the last few years, he had become seriously overweight, and also addicted to drugs.

By the time of his death, Presley was sick enough that he was having difficulty staying upright throughout his concerts. His friends and crew were doing their best to conceal his difficulties, but things had been slipping for some time.

Elvis was buried in Memphis, next to his mother’s grave, two days after his death – although even today, thirty years on, sightings of the King of Rock and Roll continue (he’d be 74 years old today, so it’s just plausible that he might have lived to this point).

Referenced in:

Dead Elvis – Doug Anthony All Stars
Going to Graceland – The Dead Milkmen
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions

1974 – Patty Hearst kidnapped by the SLA

Patricia Hearst was 19 years old when she was kidnapped from her apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Heir to the Hearst family’s millions, she was originally kidnapped for the ransom money, but soon became a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. On April 3, she announced that she had joined the SLA, adopting the name Tania.

Two weeks later, she participated in a bank robbery alongside other members of the Army, and a warrant for her arrest was issued. She was arrested in September, tried and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. Later, Hearst was pardoned of all crimes, and became an occasional actress.

Referenced in:
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner — Warren Zevon

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