It happened today – this day in history – March 31

1521: Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan takes possession of Homohon, Archipelago of St Lazarus, The Philippines.

1596: Birth of French philosopher Rene Descartes.

1657: Parliament makes the Humble Petition to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, offering him the crown, which he declines.

1685: Birth of composer Johann Sebastian Bach in Eisenach, Germany.

1727: Death of Isaac Newton aged 84.

1732: Birth of Franz Joseph Haydn in Vienna.

1770: Immanuel Kant is appointed Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Königsberg.

1796: Goethe’s “Egmont” premieres in Weimar.

1814: Forces allied against Napoleon capture Paris.

1822: Massacre of the population of the Greek island of Chios by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire following a rebellion attempt.

1837: Death of landscape painter John Constable aged 60.

1841: First performance of Robert Schumann’s 1st Symphony in B.

1855: Novelist Charlotte Bronte dies aged 38.

1866: The Spanish navy bombards Valparaíso harbour, Chile.

1889: The Eiffel Tower officially opens in Paris.

1907: The Romanian Army puts down a Moldavian farmers’ revolt.

1921: British coal miners goes on strike.

1924: London public transport strike ends.

1939: Britain and France agree to support Poland if it is invaded by Germany.

1943: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premieres in New York. On the same day, US forces bomb Rotterdam by mistake, killing 326.

1945: Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” premieres in New York.

1949: RCA Victor introduces the seven-inch 45rpm single record, which had been in development since 1940.

1966: Labour wins a sweeping victory in the general election returning Harold Wilson to No 10 Downing Street.

Singles chart:

  1. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – The Walker Brothers
  2. I Can’t Let Go – The Hollies
  3. Shapes Of Things – The Yardbirds
  4. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion – The Kink
  5. Elusive Butterfly – Bob Lind
  6. Elusive Butterfly – Val Doonican
  7. Sha La La La Lee – The Small Faces
  8. Make The Wirld Go Away – Eddy Arnold
  9. Barbara Ann – The Beach Boys
  10. Somebody Help Me – The Spencer Davis Group

1967: Jimi Hendrix sets fire to his guitar live on stage for the first time while appearing at The Astoria in London on the first night of a package tour of the UK with The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck.


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1968: US President Lyndon B Johnson announces in an address to the nation that he will not seek re-election.

1970: Following an Orange Order parade, intense riots erupt on the Springfield Road in Belfast which last for three days.

1971: Lt William Calley is sentenced to life imprisonment for the Mi Lai Massacre.

1972: CND begins a four-day demonstration march against nuclear arms from London to Aldermaston.

1973: Muhammad Ali suffers a broken jaw in a shock split-points decision loss to Ken Norton. On the same day, Brian Fletcher and Red Rum win their first of three Grand Nationals at Aintree and Billie Jean King ends Australian Margaret Court’s 57-match winning streak in the semi finals of the WTA event in Indianapolis.

1980: Legendary athlete Jesse Owens dies from lung cancer aged 66.

1981: Robert De Niro wins the Oscar for best actor in the film Raging Bull.

1986: The Greater London Council is abolished. On the same day, O’Kelly Isley of The Isley Brothers dies of a heart attack, aged 48. Also, Hampton Court palace is badly damaged by a fire in which one person dies.

1990: An anti-poll tax rally in central London erupts into the worst riots in the city for a century.

1993: Actor Brandon Lee dies aged 28 in an on-set firearms accident whist filming The Crow.

1995: Jimmy Page escapes being knifed when a fan rushes the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan. The fan is stopped by two security guards, who he stabs instead.

1996: Jeffrey Lee Pierce, singer with The Gun Club, dies aged 37.

2001: Arsenal star David Rocastle dies of non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma aged 33.

2002: Death of comedy writer Barry Took.

2004: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors are killed and their bodies mutilated.

2011: Singer Michael Buble marries model Luisana Lopilato in Buenos Aires.

2013: Bastille – Bad Blood

2013: Album chart:

  1. The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake
  2. Delta Machine – Depeche Mode
  3. The Next Day – David Bowie
  4. Our Verion Of Events – Emeli Sande
  5. Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars
  6. The Truth About Love – Pink
  7. Bad Blood – Bastille
  8. The Luminerss – The Lumineers
  9. Les Miserables – Motion Picture Cast Recording
  10. Comedown Machine – The Strokes

2015: Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is rushed to hospital after being found unconscious at her Los Angeles home.

2016: Death of comedian Ronnie Corbett aged 85.

2019: George Clooney and Elton John call to boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei after he plans new anti-gay laws to make homosexual sex punishable by death.

2020: British pensioner Robert Weighton becomes the world’s oldest man at 112 years-old.

2021: President Joe Biden overturns Donald Trump’s restrictions on transgender people serving in the armed forces. On the same day, Paul Simon sells his entire songwriting catalogue of over 400 songs to Sony Music Publishing for an undisclosed sum.

2022: The US announces it will release 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for six months to drive down prices.

2023: A large storm system crosses the mid US from Mississippi and Alabama to Illinois and Wisconsin, unleashing numerous tornadoes and leaving at least 32 dead.

Christopher Walken (Photo: Pierre Vogel)

BIRTHDAYS: Shirley Jones, actress, 90; Richard (George) Chamberlain, actor, 90; Herb Alpert, trumpeter/record company boss, 87; Baron David Steel, politician, 86; Christopher (Ronald) Walken, actor, 81; Mick Ralphs, guitarist (Bad Company/Mott The Hoople) 80; Thijs van Leer, keyboards/flautist (Focus) 76; Rhea Perlman, actress, 76; Al Gore, US politician/environmentalist, 76; Angus Young, guitarist (AC/DC) 69; Peter Polycarpou, actor, 67; Paul Ferguson, (Killing Joke) 66; Roger Black, athlete, 58; Ewan McGregor, actor, 53; Stefan Olsdal, bassist (Placebo) 50; Daniel Mays, actor, 46; Katie Micucci, comedian/actress, 44; Jack Antonoff, musician/songwriter, 40; Connor Wickham, footballer, 31.