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 airbourne invasion of Crete.

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

1964: Rudy Lewis of The Drifters died aged 28 under mysterious circumstances the night before the group was set to record ‘Under the Boardwalk’. Former backup singer Johnny Moore was brought back to perform lead vocals for the session.

1973: 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.

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: Tommy Lee, the drummer with Motley Crue, was sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of spousal abuse. On the same day, Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward suffered a heart attack during a band rehearsal and Real Madrid beats 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.

2003: Soul singer James Brown was pardoned for his past crimes in South Carolina. Brown had served a two-and-a-half-year prison term after an arrest on drug and assault charges in 1988.

2006: Heavy metal band Lordi became Finland’s first ever Eurovision Song Contest winners with “Hallelujah” in Athens.

2011: Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty was 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 died from cancer aged 62.

2013: Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of The Doors died from cancer aged 74.

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: Cher (Cherilyn Sarkasian), singer, 74; Warren Cann, drummer (Ultravox) 68; Jane Wiedlin, guitarist/singer (The Go-Gos) 62; Nick Heyward, singer-guitarist/singwriter (Haircut 100) 59; Brian Nash, guitarist (Frankie Goes To Hollywood) 57; Earl Charles Spencer, 56; Louis Theroux, broadcaster, 50; Busta Rhymes (Trevor Smith), rapper, 48; Petr Cech, former goalkeeper, 38;


Mick Ferris

Editor Email: