It happened today – this day in history – May 20

1293: An earthquake strikes Kamakura Japan, killing 30,000.

1303: The Treaty of Paris restores Gascony to the English and arranges the marriage of English Prince Edward (future Edward II) to French Princess Isabella.

1471: Henry VI is executed in the Tower of London at 49.

1498: Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama becomes the first European to reach India by sea.

1506: Death of Christopher Columbus.

1542: Hernando de Soto, conquistador and first European to discover the Mississippi, dies aged 46.

1609: Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London.

1840: York Minster is badly damaged by fire.

1873: Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patent the first blue denim jeans with copper rivets.

1895: The first commercial movie performance is held in New York.

1896: The six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris falls on the audience, killing one and injuring many others.

1910: The funeral of Edward VII is held in Westminster Abbey.

1927: Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to be first to cross the Atlantic solo non-stop for Paris, aboard The Spirit of St Louis. On the same day, Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Britain in the Treaty of Jeddah.

1929: Death of former prime minister, the Earl of Rosebery (Arthur Primrose) aged 82.

1932: Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland on her journey to become the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. On the same day, Engelbert Dollfuss becomes chancellor of Austria.

1941: Germany begins the airborne invasion of Crete.

1954: Chiang Kai-shek becomes president of Nationalist China.

1960: The Silver Beetles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Tommy Moore play the first night of a short tour of Scotland backing singer Johnny Gentle, at Alloa Town Hall.

1962: Bobby Moore makes his England debut in a 4-0 friendly victory against Peru.

1964: Rudy Lewis of The Drifters dies aged 28 under mysterious circumstances the night before the group is set to record the song Under the Boardwalk. Former backing singer Johnny Moore is brought back into the fold to sing lead on the song ad stays for more than 10 years.

1965: Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice, announces that police are to be equipped with tear gas and grenades for use against armed criminals.

1968: The Beatles meet up at George Harrison’s house in Esher to demo songs they had written while at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India, many of which would appear on the White Album.

1969: Chicago’s bass player Peter Cetera has his jaw broken when he is set upon by four marines while watching a baseball game.


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1973: Britain sends in Royal Navy ships to protect fishing boats in the disputed Icelandic 50-mile zone. On the same day, Mary Tyler Moore wins the Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series for The Mary Tyler Moore show. Valerie Harper won for support actress in the same show.

1975: Sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth dies in a fire aged 72.

1979: Elton John becomes the first western pop star to tour the USSR.

1983: A car bomb planted by the ANC explodes in Pretoria, killing 17 people and injuring 197.

1989: China declares martial law in Beijing. On the same day, comedian Gilda Radner dies of cancer aged 42.

1991: “Barton Fink” directed by Ethan and Joel Coen wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. On the same day, Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated aged 46 by a suicide bomber.

1996: “Secrets & Lies” directed by Mike Leigh wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. On the same day, Dr Who and Wurzel Gummidge actor Jon Pertwee dies aged 76.

1998: Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of spousal abuse. On the same day, Black Sabbath drummer, Bill Ward, suffers a heart attack during a band rehearsal. Also, Real Madrid beat Juventus 1-0 to win the Champions League in Amsterdam.

2000: Chelsea beats Aston Villa, 1-0 (Di Matteo) to win the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. On the same day, actor Sir John Geilgud dies aged 96.

2001: Singles chart:

  1. Don’t Stop Moving – S Club 7
  2. It’s Raining Men – Geri Halliwell
  3. Ride With Me – Nelly ft City Spud
  4. Cold As Ice – M.O.P
  5. You Are Alive – Fragma
  6. Out Of Reach – Gabrielle
  7. Up Middle Finger – Oxide & Neutrino
  8. Still On Your Side – BBMak
  9. Play – Jennifer Lopez
  10. Upside Down – A Teens
2001: Destiny’s Child – Survivor

Album chart:

  1. Reveal – REM
  2. One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001 – Bon Jovi
  3. No Angel – Dido
  4. Hot Shot – Shaggy
  5. Scream If You Wanna Go Faster – Geri Halliwell
  6. Survivor – Destiny’s Child
  7. The Greatest Hits – Eddy Grant
  8. Rise – Gabrielle
  9. Exciter – Depeche Mode
  10. Miss E So Addictive – Missy Elliott

2003: Singer James Brown is pardoned for his past crimes in the US state of South Carolina. Brown had served a two-and-a-half-year prison term after an arrest on drug and assault charges in 1988 was granted a pardon by the State Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

2006: Heavy metal band Lordi become Finland’s first ever Eurovision Song Contest winners in Athens.

2011: Babyshambles and The Libertines singer/guitarist Pete Doherty is jailed for six months after being filmed taking crack cocaine by documentary-maker Robyn Whitehead the day before she died of heroin poisoning.

2012: Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees dies from cancer aged 62.

2013: Ray Manzarek, keyboard player and founder member of The Doors, dies from cancer aged 73.

2014: Prince Rupert Loewenstein, the Bavarian banker credited with turning The Rolling Stones into the world’s richest rock band, dies at the age of 80.

2015: The Rolling Stones play a surprise gig at the 1,300-capacity Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles during which they perform the entire Sticky Fingers album.

2017: Pippa Middleton, sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, marries James Matthews in Englefield, Berks.

2019: Google stops support for Huawei’s Android system in an escalation of the tech war between the US and China. On the same day, Formula 1 legend Nikki Lauda dies aged 70.

BIRTHDAYS: Lynn Davies, Olympic long jumper, 79; Cher (Cherilyn Sarkasian), singer, 75; Greg Dyke, media exec, 74; Warren Cann, drummer (Ultravox) 71; Roger Mila, Cameroon footballer, 69; Jane Wieldin, guitar/singer-songwriter (The Go Go’s) 63; Dan Wilson, singer-songwriter (Semisonic) 60; Clive Allen, footballer, 60; Nick Heyward, singer-songwriter (Haircut 100) 60; Owen Teale, actor, 60; Brian Nash, guitarist (Frankie Goes To Hollywood) 58; Graham Brady MP, politician, 54; Timothy Olyphant, actor, 53; Louis Theroux, broadcaster, 51; Busta Rhymes (Trevor Smith), rapper, 49; Graham Potter, football manager, 46; Petr Cech, goalkeeper, 39; Jack Gleeson, actor, 29.

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