It happened today – this day in history – April 19

1770: Captain James Cook first sights Australia.

1775: The American Revolution begins in Lexington, Massachusetts.

1824: Death of Lord Byron aged 36.

1839: The Treaty of London constitutes Belgium an independent kingdom and Luxembourg a Grand Duchy.

1861: Abraham Lincoln orders a blockade of Confederate ports.

1881: Death of former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield, aged 76.

1882: Death of naturalist Charles Darwin aged 73.

1904: Much of Toronto is destroyed by fire.

1919: Leslie Irvin of the US makes first premeditated free-fall parachute jump.

1927: Mae West is found guilty of “obscenity and corrupting the morals of youth” in a New York stage play entitled “Sex”. She is sentenced to 10 days in prison and fined $500, the publicity launches her Hollywood career.

1932: Bonnie Parker is captured in a failed hardware store burglary, and subsequently jailed. A grand jury fails to indict her, however, and she is released a few months later.

1934: Shirley Temple appears in her first movie, “Stand Up & Cheer”.

1936: First day of the Great Uprising in Palestine, anti-Jewish riots break out.

1941: Bulgarian troops invade Macedonia.

1943: Jews refuse to surrender the Warsaw Ghetto to SS officer Jürgen Stroop, who then orders its destruction. On the same day, Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann deliberately takes LSD for the first time.

1945: The Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Carousel” opens on Broadway.

1948: Chiang Kai-shek is elected President of Nationalist China.

1958: Just two months after being in the Munich air disaster Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton makes his England debut in the 4-0 defeat of Scotland at Hampden Park scoring the first of what would become a record 49 goals for his country.

1967: Death of former West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer aged 91.

1968: Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison and their wives leave the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India two weeks before their study is complete following a confrontation with the Maharishi. Ringo and Paul had already left.

1969: Rioting in the Bogside area of Derry following clashes between Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association marchers and Loyalists and members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

1971: With the abolition of the death penalty in California, Charles Manson’ death sentenced is commuted to life in prison for the murder of actress Sharon Tate.


1972: Bangladesh becomes a member of the Commonwealth. On the same day, Hungary revises its constitution to declare itself a socialist state.

1980: Brian Johnson joins the band AC/DC following the death of singer Bon Scott.

1982: Sally Ride is named the first American woman astronaut.

1986: Michael Spinks beats Larry Holmes for the word heavyweight boxing title.

1987: Singles chart:

  1. La Isla Bonita – Madonna
  2. Can’t Be With You Tonight – Judy Boucher
  3. Lean On Me – Club Nouveau
  4. Let It Be – Ferry Aid
  5. Respectable – Mel and Kim
  6. Living In A Box – Living In A Box
  7. If You Let Me Stay – Terence Trent d’Arby
  8. The Slightest Touch – Five Star
  9. Let’s Wait A While – Janet Jackson
  10. Ever Fallen In Love – Fine Young Cannibals
1987: U2 – The Joshua Tree

Album chart:

  1. Now That’s What I Call Music 9 – Various Artists
  2. Raindancing – Alison Moyet
  3. FLM – Mel and Kim
  4. The Joshua Tree – U2
  5. Move Closer – Various Artists
  6. Running In The Family – Level 42
  7. Tango In The Night – Fleetwood Mac
  8. Graceland – Paul Simon
  9. This Time – Culture Club
  10. Men And Women – Simply Red

1989: Death of writer Daphne Du Maurier aged 82.

1991: Evander Holyfield beats George Foreman for the world heavyweight boxing title.

1992: Death of comedian Frankie Howerd aged 70.

1993: A siege at the compound of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, ends in violence as the FBI use tanks and tear gas. Cult leader David Koresh is amongst the 77 dead.

1994: Rodney King is awarded $3,800,000 compensation for his beating by LA Police.

1995: A huge car bomb planted by Timothy McVeigh explodes at a government building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people including 19 children.

1997: Tennis champion Andre Agassi marries actress Brook Shields in Monterey.

2003: The oldest working musician in Britain, Conrad Leonard dies aged 104. The composer and pianist had worked with Cole Porter, Petula Clark and at the BBC during his career. Until the age of 103, he played the piano every Thursday lunchtime in the Plantation Cafe at Squire’s Garden Centre in Twickenham.

2005: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope, taking the name Benedict XVI.

2009: Death of novelist J G Ballard aged 78.

2011: Fidel Castro resigns from the Communist Party of Cuba’s central committee after 45 years. On the same day, Norwegian marathon runner Grete Waitz died of cancer aged 57.

2012: Drummer and multi instrumentalist Levon Helm, formerly of The Band, dies of throat cancer aged 71. On the same day, Leonard Cohen’s former manager is jailed for 18 months for harassing the singer-songwriter. Kelley Lynch is found guilty by a Los Angeles court after sending a torrent of expletive-strewn emails and letters to the star.

2013: Boston bombing suspects killed and captured in Boston after four days on the run.

2018: Miguel Diaz-Canel is elected Cuba’s new president after former president Raul Castro steps down. On the same day King Mswati III of Swaziland changes the name of the country to Eswatini.

2021: NASA successfully flies its drone helicopter Ingenuity on Mars – the first powered aircraft to fly on another world. On the same day, songwriter Jim Steinman dies aged 73.

BIRTHDAYS: Eddie Kramer, record producer/engineer, 80; Alan Price, musician/singer-songwriter, 80; Eve Graham (Evelyn Beatson), singer, (The New Seekers) 79; Tim Curry, actor, 76; Mark Volman, guitarist/singer-songwriter (The Turtles/The Mothers), 75; Ruby Wax, comedian, 69; Tony Martin, singer (Black Sabbath) 66; Marion “Suge” Knight, music executive, 56; Ashley Judd, actress, 54; James Franco, actor, 44; Kate Hudson, actress, 43; Hayden Christensen, actor, 41; Maria Sharapova, tennis star, 35; Joe Hart, goalkeeper, 35; Nick Pope, goalkeeper, 30; Grady Diangana, footballer, 24.