It happened today – this day in history – April 17

1397: Geoffrey Chaucer tells the “Canterbury Tales” for the first time at the court of Richard II.

1492: Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the “Indies” with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10 per cent of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered.

1534: Sir Thomas More is confined in the Tower of London.

1790: Death of inventor and US founding father Benjamin Franklin aged 84.

1808: Napoleon orders the seizure of US ships.

1860: Acknowledged as first world title bout, champion of England Tom Sayers and American John Heenan fight out a brutal 2 hour, 27 minute draw near Farnborough before police stop the fight.

1865: Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

1875: Modern Snooker is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India.

1932: Emperor Haile Selassie ends slavery in Ethiopia.

1937: A European record attendance for a football match of 149,415 sees Scotland beat England 3-1 at Hampden Park in a Home Championship match.

1939: Joe Louis KOs Jack Roper in Round 1 for the heavyweight boxing title.

1941: British troops land in Iraq. On the same day, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.

1945: Italian leader Benito Mussolini flees from Salò to Milan. On the same day, the US 8th Army bombs Dresden.

1948: Elpidio Quirino becomes President of the Philippines following the death of President Manuel Roxas.

1951: The 75-strong crew of a British submarine are feared dead after going missing off the south coast of England.

1956: Premium Bonds are introduced in Britain.

1959: Singles chart:

  1. Side saddle – Russ Conway
  2. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly
  3. Petite Fleur – Chris Barber’s Jazz Band
  4. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – The Platters
  5. Donna – Marty Wilde
  6. C’mon Everybody – Eddie Cochran
  7. Stagger Lee – Lloyd Price
  8. Charlie Brown – The Coasters
  9. Gigi – Billy Eckstine
  10. My Happiness – Connie Francis

1960: Singer-songwriter Eddie Cochran is killed when the taxi he is travelling in crashes into a lamppost in Chippenham, Wilts. His girlfriend, songwriter Sharon Sheeley and singer Gene Vincent survive the crash. The first police officer on the scene is cadet David Harman, later of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch.

1960: South Pacific OST

Album chart:

  1. South Pacific – Original Soundtrack
  2. The Twang’ The Thang – Duane Eddy
  3. This Is Hancock – Tony Hancock
  4. Flower Drum Song – Original Broadway Cast
  5. Gigi – Original Soundtrack
  6. Cliff Sings – Cliff Richard
  7. This Is Darin – Bobby Darin
  8. My Concerto For You – Russ Conway
  9. My Fair Lady – Original Broadway Cast
  10. Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be – Original Cast Recording

1961: Exiles invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

1964: Jerrie Mock becomes the first woman to fly solo around the world.

1967: Italian boxer Nino Benvenuti beats American Emile Griffith in a 15 round points decision to win world middleweight crown at Madison Square Garden.

1969: Bernadette Devlin, 21, wins the Mid Ulster seat to become Britain’s youngest ever female MP. On the same day, Alexander Dubcek is forced to resign as first secretary of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party and Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Senator Robert Kennedy.


1970: Santana begin sessions for what would be their breakthrough album Abraxas at Wally Heider Recording Studio, San Francisco.

1975: The Khmer Rouge captures Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

1979: Four RUC officers are killed by a Provisional IRA van bomb in Bessbrook, County Armagh.

1983: Felix Pappalardi, bass player with American rock band Mountain and producer of the Cream albums Disraeli Gears and Wheels Of Fire is shot dead by his wife Gail Collins during a jealous rage. On the same day, Grete Waitz runs the female world record marathon (2:25:29).

1984: Policewoman Yvonne Fletcher is killed when shots are fired from the Libyan People’s Bureau in central London.

1986: British journalist John McCarthy is abducted in Beirut on his way to the airport.

1987: Drummer and percussion player Carlton Barrett of The Wailers is shot dead outside his house in Kingston, Jamaica.

1993: Two Los Angeles police officers are convicted in federal court of violating motorist Rodney King’s civil rights while two others are acquitted.

1998: Linda McCartney dies after a long battle with cancer.

1999: A bomb planted by a right wing extremist explodes in Brixton.

2003: New Orleans blues guitarist Earl King dies aged 69.

2005: Little Britain wins the BAFTA for best comedy.

2008: Danny Federici, longtime keyboard player for the E. Street Band, dies from cancer aged 58.

2009: Morrissey walks off stage during his set at the Coachella festival in California after declaring he can ‘smell burning flesh’. The committed vegetarian took offence to the odour coming from nearby barbecues.

2012: The 8th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest intact book, is purchased by the British Library for £9 million.

2013: Same-sex marriage is legalised in New Zealand.

2014: Death of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez aged 87.

2015: Jimmy Anderson becomes the highest wicket-taking bowler in England’s test cricket history.

2018: Former First Lady Barbara Bush dies aged 92.

2019: Alan García, former President of Peru, commits suicide by shooting himself as police try to arrest him on corruption charges.

2020: Football legend Norman Hunter dies from COVID-19 aged 76.

2021: The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh is held under COVID-19 restrictions at Windsor Castle.

Victoria Beckham

BIRTHDAYS: David Bradley, actor, 81; Henry Kelly, broadcaster, 77; Jan Hammer, keyboards player/composer, (Mahavishnu Orchestra) 75; Michael Sembello, songwriter, 69; Sean Bean, actor 63; Maynard James Keenan, singer (Tool) 59; Liz Phair, singer-songwriter, 56; Jennifer Garner, actress, 51; Claire Sweeney, actress, 51; Victoria Beckham, fashion designer, 49; Mikael Åkerfeldt, guitarist/singer (Opeth), 49; Rooney Mara, actress, 38; Eliza Doolittle, (Eliza Caird), singer-songwriter, 35.