It happened today – this day in history – March 20

1413: Death of Henry IV.

1616: Walter Raleigh is released from the Tower of London to seek gold in Guyana.

1760: The Great Fire of Boston destroys 349 buildings.

1800: Alessandro Volta reports his discovery of the electric battery in a letter to Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London.

1815: Napoleon enters Paris after escaping from Elba.

1852: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published.

1861: An earthquake completely destroys Mendoza, Argentina.

1868: The Jesse James Gang robs a bank in Russellville, Kentucky, of $14,000.

1873: Birth of composer Sergei Rachmaninov in Starorussky Uyezd, Russia.

1888: Premiere of the first Romani language operetta staged in Moscow.

1892: Capt. Roddy Owen wins the Grand National aboard 20/1 chance Father O’Flynn.

1916: The Allies attack Zeebrugge, Belgium.

1917: After the sinking of three more American merchant ships, US President Woodrow Wilson meets with cabinet, who agree that entry into the war is inevitable.

1930: Fast food restaurant chain “KFC” [Kentucky Fried Chicken] is founded by Colonel Harland Sanders.

1932: Stanley Matthews makes his league debut for Stoke City against Bury.

1933: Dachau the first Nazi concentration camp, is completed.

1937: England beats Scotland, 6-3 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh to clinch the Home Nations Rugby Championship and Triple Crown.

1944: Mt Vesuvius erupts in Italy.

1952: Humphrey Bogart wins the Oscar for best actor at the Academy Awards for his role in The African Queen.

1956: Tunisia gains independence from France.

1960: Elvis Presley starts his first recordings since being discharged from the US Army. A 12-hour session in Nashville yields his next No.1 single, Stuck On You. Guitarist Scotty Moore and double bassist Bill Black, who had quit in 1957, were in the studio with him for the last time.

1964: The Beatles appear live on the television program Ready Steady Go!, miming to It Won’t Be Long, You Can’t Do That, and Can’t Buy Me Love. They are also presented with a special award from Billboard magazine, in recognition of them having the top three singles on the US singles chart. On the same day, author and poet Brendan Behan dies aged 41.

1966: The World Cup (Jules Rimet Trophy) is stolen while on exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster.

1969: John Lennon marries Yoko Ono on Gibraltar. On the same day, Ethiopian marathon legend Abebe Bikila is paralysed in a car accident near Addis Ababa.

1970: David Bowie married Mary Angela Barnett at Bromley Register Office in Kent.


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1971: Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Chichester-Clark resigns in protest at what he views as a limited security response by the British government to The Troubles.

1972: The Provisional IRA detonates its first car bomb on Donegall Street, Belfast; four civilians, two RUC officers and a UDR soldier are killed, 148 people were wounded.

1974: Princess Anne escapes a kidnap attempt in Pall Mall.

1976: Aston Villa’s Chris Nichol becomes only the second player to score all four goals the 2-2 First Division draw with Leicester City at Filbert Street. On the same day, heiress Patti Hearst is convicted of armed robbery. Also, rocker Alice Cooper marries choreographer Sheryl Goddard in Acapulco, Mexico.

1977: Former French prime minister Jacques Chirac becomes Paris’ first mayor in a century.

1983: Singles chart:

  1. Is Theere Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran
  2. Total Eclipse Of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler
  3. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics
  4. Speak Like A Child – The Style Council
  5. Let’s Dance – David Bowie
  6. Rock The Boat – Forrest
  7. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – Bananarama
  8. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
  9. Rip It Up – Orange Juice
  10. High Life – Modern Romance
1983: U2 – War

Album chart:

  1. The Hurting – Tears For Fears
  2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  3. Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
  4. War – U2
  5. Chart Runners – Various Artists
  6. Hotline – Various Artists
  7. Script For A Jester’s Tear – Marillion
  8. Deep Sea Skiving – Bananarama
  9. True – Spandau Ballet
  10. The Key – Joan Armatrading

1988: Mike Tyson KO’s Tony Tubbs in Round 2 for the world heavyweight boxing title. On the same day, jazz composer/arranger Gil Evans dies aged 75.

1989: Two senior RUC officers negotiating cross-border security co-operation in south Armagh are ambushed and shot dead by the IRA.

1990: Singer Gloria Estefan suffers a serious back injury when her tour bus is rammed by a tractor-trailer on the way to a concert. Husband Emilio and their son Nayib are also injured.

1991: Eric Clapton’s four year old son, Conor, falls to his death from the 53rd floor of a New York City apartment building his mother was visiting after a housekeeper left a window open. On the same day, Michael Jackson signs a $1billion contract with Sony, the richest deal in recording history.

1993: Two children, Jonathan Ball, 3, and Tim Parry, 12 (who died five days later), are killed and more than 50 people are injured as two IRA bombs explode in the centre of Warrington.

1995: A poison gas attack in a Japanese subway kills 12 and injures 4,700.

1996: Brothers Erik and Lyle Menendez are found guilty of killing their parents in the US. On the same day, the UK admits humans can catch CJD (Mad Cow Disease).

1997: Police investigate singer Mark Morrison after they discovered he had sent a friend to carry out his community service, a sentence he was given after being involved in a fight.

2001: Jon Lee, Paul Cattermole and Bradley McIntosh from pop group S Club 7 are apprehended by police as they walked through Covent Garden openly smoking a joint. They are taken to Charring Cross police station and held for four hours.

2003: American missiles hit the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, signalling the start of the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.

2005: A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hits Fukuoka, Japan, its first major quake in over 100 years.

2008: Death of German musician Klaus Dinger (Neu!) aged 61.

2013: Death of Horror writer James Herbert aged 69.

2016: Barack Obama becomes the first US President to visit Cuba since 1928.

2020: Singer Kenny Rogers dies aged 81.

BIRTHDAYS: Carl Palmer, drummer (ELP/Asia) 72; Jimmie Vaughan, guitarist/singer (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) 71; Spike (Shelton) Lee, director/screenwriter, 64; Holly Hunter, actress, 64; Steve McFadden, actor, 63; Richard Drummie, guitarist (Go West) 63; Dave Beasant, goalkeeper, 63; Slim Jim Phantom, (James McDonnell), drummer (The Stray Cates) 61; Jesper Olsen, Danish footballer, 61; David Thewlis (Wheeler), actor, 59; Paul Merson, footballer/pundit, 54; Michael Rapaport, actor, 52; Alex Kapranos, guitarist/singer (Franz Ferdinand) 50; Freema Agyeman, actress, 43; Fernando Torres, Spanish footballer, 38; Ruby Rose (Langenheim) actress, 36; Anna Todd, author, 33; Marcos (Faustino) Rojo, footballer, 32; Baron Trump, son of Donald, 16.