Home Decades 1970s 1976

1976

January

02 – 22 die as hurricane winds rock Britain.

05 – The Khmer Rouge drafts a new constitution in Cambodia, renaming it Democratic Kampuchea.

05 – Former Beatles road manager Mal Evans is shot dead by Los Angeles police investigating a domestic dispute.

06 – Following 15 sectarian murders within a week in Northern Ireland, the British government sends in the elite SAS (Special Air Service).

08 – Chou En-Lai, prime minister of China, dies aged 78.

08 – The Indian government postpones parliamentary elections and announces the indefinite continuation of the state of emergency first imposed in June 1975.

10 – Chicago blues legend Howlin’ Wolf dies in Chicago, aged 65.

12 – The Queen of the Detective Story, Dame Agatha Christie, dies aged 85, just after publishing Poirot’s latest case, Curtain, in which the Belgian’s “little grey cells” are laid to rest. The lights are dimmed outside the St Martin’s Theatre in London where The Mousetrap is in its 25th year.

15 – The Roman Catholic Church reiterates its condemnation of sex outside marriage and says that homosexuality cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

18 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl X.

19 – Rock promoter Bill Sargent offers The Beatles $30 million to reunite. They decline.

21 – Scheduled Concorde passenger flights are started by British Airways and Air France. Two flights take off from London and Paris at the same time, bound for Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro. Permission to fly in the USA is not granted until 24 May when the plane starts flights to Washington DC and, in 1977, to New York City, its most successful route.

21 – Emma Bunton (Baby Spice of The Spice Girls) is born.

22 – New Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser reinstates God Save The Queen as the National Anthem, scrapping Advance Australia Fair.

23 – Singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson dies.

28 – 100 British mercenaries fly to Angola to join the FNLA forces.

31 – Pope Paul VI warns that the growing feminist movement could depersonalise women or cause them to become masculine.

 February

01 – 119 Picasso paintings are stolen in Avignon, France.

02 – The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England, is opened.

04 – An earthquake devastates Guatemala, killing over 22,000 people.

04 – Winter Olympics XII opens in Innsbruck, Austria.

04 – Patty Hearst‘s much-publicised bank robbery trial opens. She testifies that she participated under threat of death from her SLA captors, and although expert psychiatric testimony supports her contentions she is found guilty on 20 March and sentenced to seven years in prison.

08 – 14 British mercenaries are executed by a firing squad in Angola.

09 – Prince Charles takes command of the minehunter HMS Bronington – his first command in the Royal Navy.

12 – An IRA prisoner at Wakefield Prison, England, dies after a 61-day hunger strike.

13 – Actor Sal Mineo is found stabbed to death in Hollywood.

15 – More violence erupts between police and anti-busing demonstrators in Boston, USA.

18 – Sculptor Carl Andre’s controversial pile of bricks goes on show at the Tate Gallery in London.

18 – Race Relations Bill comes into force in the UK.

18 – President Ford issues an executive order curtailing domestic surveillance of US citizens by the FBI and CIA.

19 – Iceland breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain over the “cod war” fishing rights dispute.

20 – Rough Trade record shop opens in Ladbroke Grove, London, W11.

21 – Israel withdraws from Sinai as UN troops move into the buffer zone.

22 – Original lead singer of The Supremes, Florence Ballard, dies of a heart attack, aged 32. At the time of her death, Ballard is living on welfare with her three children.

23 – English painter L S Lowry, renowned for painting matchstick men and women, dies.

28 – President Ford denounces Fidel Castro as ‘an international outlaw’ because of his intervention in the Angolan civil war.

 March

05 – EMI Records simultaneously re-releases all 22 Beatles singles. Seven enter the UK charts again.

16 – Harold Wilson resigns from the British Premiership. The announcement comes without warning this morning. Wilson drove to Buckingham Palace, told the Queen, and then instructed his press secretary “Tell the lobby correspondents you’ve got a little story that might interest them”. The news stuns and baffles the political world, and speculation about what lies behind it rages throughout the day.

17 – The New Jersey Supreme Court orders a new trial for Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.

19 – Paul Kossoff of rock band, Free, dies of drug-induced heart failure in his sleep on a flight from London to New York, aged 26.

20 – Patty Hearst is found guilty of armed robbery despite her protestations that she was a hostage of the SLA at the time and feared for her life.

21 – Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter is released from jail.

24 – Supreme Court rules that blacks and other minorities are entitled to retroactive job seniority.

24 – Distinguished British WWII commander Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery dies. His funeral service is held with full military honours in St George’s Chapel, Windsor on 1 April.

24 – Argentina’s president, Isabel Peron, aged 45, is deposed in the small hours of the morning in a bloodless coup by military leaders. Isabel, who has held office since the death of her husband, Juan, in 1974, was flying in a helicopter from Government House to her home in a Buenos Aires suburb when the crew flew instead to the metropolitan airport where she was arrested by a General. She drew her revolver but was quickly disarmed.

29 – The US Supreme Court upholds states’ right to enact laws making homosexual acts illegal, even between consenting adults in their own homes.

31 – The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that Karen Ann Quinlan, still surviving with an artificial respirator, may be disconnected from the device as her family wishes. On 19 May it is removed and, breathing on her own, she is taken to a chronic-care facility.

 April

01 – German-born French artist Max Ernst dies.

01 – The Apple Computer company is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a Silicon Valley garage.

03 – ‘Rag Trade’ wins the Grand National in England.

05 – James Callaghan becomes the new British Prime Minister after Harold Wilson‘s unexpected resignation.

05 – Howard Hughes, the world’s most notorious recluse, dies of a stroke as his private jet flies him from Mexico to Texas. Hughes, aged 70, was preparing to see specialists about an undisclosed ailment. His fortune is estimated at $1.5 billion.

09 – Folk singer Phil Ochs hangs himself in his sister’s home in Queens, New York, having suffered problems including bipolar disorder and alcoholism.

10 – Peter Frampton‘s double album Frampton Comes Alive tops the US charts becoming the most successful live LP in rock history.

11 – Frank Sinatra is photographed at a concert in the company of two notorious Mafiosi; Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano.

25 – The British Post Office makes its last collection on a Sunday.

26 – British Carry On star and comedian, Sid James dies.

27 – A document purporting to be the will of Howard Hughes is left by an unknown person at the Mormon Church’s headquarters. One of Hughes’ assistants calls it “a very clever forgery”.

30 – Elizabeth Taylor divorces Richard Burton for a second time, having remarried him in Botswana in October 1975.

 May

03 – Paul McCartney‘s band Wings make their US concert debut.

06 – An earthquake strikes the northeast region of Italy, almost destroying the town of Gemona. 900 people lose their lives.

10 – UK Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe resigns after allegations of a homosexual affair.

13 – Fighting between Muslim and Christian forces breaks out again in Lebanon as the civil war ceasefire collapses.

14 – Former Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf dies after being electrocuted while cleaning his guitar at home in West London.

19 – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard crashes his Bentley 50 miles north of London. Police investigators charge him with possession of cocaine and marijuana.

24 – Concordes of Air France and British Airways fly to Washington DC, inaugurating the first commercial supersonic flights to North America.

25 – The first Star Wars film, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, is released.

28 – The US and USSR sign a nuclear test pact limiting underground tests to a maximum of 150 kilotons. The pact also allows the US to inspect Soviet test sites.

31 – As the Lebanese civil war heats up, Syria sends approximately 5,000 troops into Northern Lebanon.

 June

01 – Britain and Iceland agree terms to end “cod war”.

06 – US oil tycoon J Paul Getty dies.

06 – The Boston Celtics eclipse the Phoenix Suns 87-80 to win their 13th NBA title.

10 – Wings establish the record for biggest indoor concert crowd, 67,100, in Seattle.

14 – The US Supreme Court refuses to review cases about the desegregation of Boston schools and allows to stand the lower court rulings upholding busing as a legitimate measure of integrating public schools.

16 – The incoming American ambassador to Lebanon, Francis E Meloy Jr, and US Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring are kidnapped by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and killed in Beirut. The US government subsequently calls for all Americans to leave the war-torn city.

18 – Three days and nights of rioting, burning and looting in South Africa’s black townships leave 100 dead and over 1,000 injured. After John Vorster, the Prime Minister, announces that the security forces have been told to restore order “at all costs”, police begin to open fire on crowds without warning.

19 – The Viking I spacecraft reaches Mars and goes into orbit.

22 – The USSR launches Salyut V space laboratory into orbit.

25 – Idi Amin becomes president of Uganda “for life”.

26 – London hits record temperature of 95 degrees (35° C) as Britain swelters in a heat wave.

27 – Terrorists hijack an Air France plane in Athens and force it to fly to Entebbe, Uganda. Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was a conspirator in the hijacking and provided armed guards for the plane (which had begun its journey in Israel) while it was at the airport. The hijackers – members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – released all non-Israelis and non-Jews and threatened to blow up the plane unless 54 convicted terrorists were released. Israel staged a daring rescue on 3 July.

28 – In Angola, four British and American mercenaries are sentenced to death, and nine others receive long terms of imprisonment.

29 – Communist party leaders meet in East Berlin and endorse the independence of each national Communist party.

 July

02 – North and South Vietnam are reunited as one nation, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with Hanoi as the capital.

02 – Reversing decisions dating back to 1972, the US Supreme Court declares the death penalty to be a constitutionally acceptable form of punishment and returns the decision to rule on its imposition to the states.

03 – Members of the Israeli Defence Forces set off in five planes for Entebbe Airport in Uganda. In addition to 200 paratroops, the planes also contain a black Mercedes and some Land Rovers which are to be used as a decoy by posing as a VIP visiting the airport. The operation is almost perfectly executed and just after midnight on 4 July, the planes were heading home. Four hostages were killed during the rescue, along with one Israeli soldier, eight hijackers and many Ugandan soldiers.

03 – For the first time in seven years, Brian Wilson joins The Beach Boys in concert. Wilson (barely) plays the piano and sings a hushed version of In My Room.

03 – To the delight of the teenage girls who have mobbed his every move since he made his first impact on Wimbledon, the 20-year-old Bjorn Borg, his long blond hair held in place by a headband, beats Ilie Nastase of Rumania 6-4, 6-2, 9-7 to become the youngest champion for 45 years.

04 – America celebrates its 200th birthday in a mood of festive introspection. A million people in Washington cheer as lasers write in the sky “1776-1976: Happy Birthday, USA”. 10,000 people become US citizens in mass ceremonies and 15 tall ships sail into New York Harbor.

04 – Israeli commandos rescue over 100 hostages held by pro-Palestinian skyjackers at Entebbe Airport. Most of the hostages are Israeli citizens or Jews.

04 – The Ramones make their London debut at the Roundhouse, supported by The Flamin’ Groovies and The Stranglers.

07 – Queen Elizabeth II visits USA.

07 – David Steel becomes leader of the British Liberal Party.

10 – The town of Seveso near Milan in northern Italy is devastated by the release of poisonous dioxin gas from a nearby pesticide plant.

10 – In Angola, the four sentenced British and American mercenaries are executed by firing squad.

14 – Former Georgia Governor James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr wins Democratic nomination.

15 – Senator Walter Mondale is nominated as Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate.

17 – The XXI Olympic Games open in Montreal, Canada, under a political cloud as Taiwan withdraws over the IOC’s insistence that they not use the name ‘China’ and Tanzania leads a boycott in protest of New Zealand’s continued rugby competitions with South Africa. 32 nations decline to participate, and six Eastern European athletes will defect before the games close.

20 – America’s Viking 1 spacecraft lands on Mars and sends back to Earth the first close-up pictures of the planet’s surface. The craft lands on the Chryse Plain after an 11-month journey. It will be analysing soil and searching for living organisms.

21 – An unidentified bacterial outbreak strikes an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, infecting 180 across the state and eventually killing 29. By January 1977 the Centers for Disease Control identify a new bacterium responsible for the so-called ‘Legionnaires Disease’.

27 – Three years and four months after he was ordered to leave the US by the Immigration Department, John Lennon is finally granted Green Card No. A17-597-321 making his US residency official.

28 – The UK breaks off relations with Uganda.

29 – Chinese city of Tangshan is devastated by a huge earthquake.

31 – Torrential rain in the USA floods a canyon in Colorado, with the loss of 100 lives.

 August

01 – Formula 1 ace Niki Lauda is critically injured and severely burnt in the West German Grand Prix in Nürburgring.

05 – The famous Big Ben clock comes to a halt at 3:45 am when the frame of the winding gear fractures. It will be out-of-action for repairs until May 1977.

06 – John Stonehouse, former Labour MP for Walsall North, is found guilty of theft and conspiracy and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

06 – The Drought Act 1976 comes into force in Britain as the country experiences the hottest (and driest) period of the century.

07 – The Viking II spacecraft reaches Mars and goes into orbit.

17 – A severe earthquake and tidal waves in the Philippines results in over 3,000 dead.

18 – Jacques Chirac, prime minister of France, resigns. Raymond Barre takes over.

19 – The US Republican National Convention narrowly nominates Gerald Ford for re-election over Ronald Reagan. Senator Robert Dole is nominated for Vice-President.

30 – Blue Hills, Australia’s longest-running radio serial ends.

 September

01 – All cigarette and tobacco advertising is banned on radio and television in Australia.

01 – Ohio Representative Wayne Hays resigns from the House of Representatives in the wake of a sex scandal involving him and former secretary Elizabeth Ray.

02 – Percy Shaw, inventor of Cat’s Eyes (which mark the centre of roads at night) dies.

03 – Earthmen get another close look at Mars as Viking II lands on the red planet. The probe transmits colour pictures of the planet’s surface and tests the soil for signs of life.

03 – A 60-hour riot in Hull Prison (UK) ends after £1 million damage is caused.

09 – Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the God-like leader of Communist China and its 800 million people (a quarter of the world’s population) dies aged 82. It is believed he died from a series of strokes.

10 – 176 die in world’s worst mid-air collision in Yugoslavia when a British Airways Trident en route from London to Istanbul collides at 33,000 feet with a Yugoslav DC-9.

15 – India fights population growth by introducing sterilisation.

16 – Episcopalian leaders approve the ordination of women into the priesthood.

17 – In light of recent revelations of abuse of power by the country’s intelligence agencies, a special committee to review the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr is created by the House of Representatives.

20 – A general election in Sweden results in the defeat of the Social Democratic party after 44 years in power.

20 – The 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street is the venue for the first Punk Rock Festival in Britain. The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, Buzzcocks, The Vibrators, Subway Sect and Siouxsie & The Banshees perform.

22 – The FDA bans the use of red dye #4 – common in foods, drugs and cosmetics – because of its carcinogenic properties.

22 – Charlie’s Angels debuts on ABC television in the US. A feathered hairdo craze soon follows.

24 – Patricia Hearst is sentenced to seven years in jail for her participation in a 1974 bank robbery.

24 – Southern Rhodesia leader Ian Smith stuns white Rhodesians as he announces a two-year plan for transition to black majority rule.

27 – Carter and Ford face off in a televised debate before an audience of 90 million viewers. Although neither candidate is a clear-cut victor, Carter scores well a week later when Ford blows the second debate by declaring “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe”.

29 – Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shoots his bass player while firing at the door the musician is standing behind. The bass player lives to sue his boss.

30 – California passes the first state “right to die” law, which grants adults the right to authorise physicians to turn off their life-support system if death is imminent.

 October

01 – A hurricane devastates La Paz (Mexico) and other nearby areas with the loss of more than 600 lives.

04 – The British Rail ‘Inter-City 125’ passenger service commences when the first of twenty-seven 125 mph diesel trains begin daily runs between London and the West Country and London and South Wales. The prototype train had actually set a world speed record for diesels of 143 miles an hour.

04 – Former Cleveland Indians outfielder Frank Robinson becomes professional baseball’s first black manager.

05 – American doctor Dr John Merritt receives FDA approval to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from severe glaucoma.

06 – The army seizes power in Thailand in a bloody coup.

07 – Convicted murderer Gary Mark Gilmore receives a death sentence in Utah and demands swift execution by firing squad. A three-month legal contest, intense press coverage and a suicide attempt will follow.

07 – EMI signs The Sex Pistols, giving them an advance of £40,000.

19 – The chimpanzee is placed on the endangered species list.

20 – 80 die in the USA when a Mississippi ferry is struck by a Norwegian tanker.

21 – Cincinnati Reds beat the New York Yankees in four straight games to win the World Series in the USA.

22 – The Soviet spacecraft Venera IX reaches Venus and goes into orbit around it. A capsule is released which reaches the surface and transmits TV pictures for 53 minutes. Surface temperatures are recorded at 485ºC.

23 – “Gang of Four” are arrested and imprisoned in China.

25 – The Soviet spacecraft Venera X reaches Venus and releases a capsule which reaches the surface and transmits TV pictures for 65 minutes.

26 – £16 million National Theatre opens on South Bank of the Thames in London, England.

 November

02 – Jimmy Carter of Plains, Georgia, is elected 39th President of the United States. His Vice President will be Walter Mondale. Carter beat the incumbent Republican President, Gerald Ford, by 297 electoral college votes to 240. In the popular vote, Carter won by the narrow margin of 40.8 million votes to 39.1 million.

12 – Normalisation talks begin in Paris between the US and Vietnam, although US opposition to Vietnam’s application for UN membership is a sore point.

19 – The Sex  Pistols release Anarchy In The UK.

21 – The film Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone, is released.

22 – Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis is charged with drunk driving after driving his Rolls-Royce into a ditch. The next day he will be arrested at the gates of Graceland, waving a pistol and demanding to see Elvis. Weapon-possession and public intoxication charges will be levelled against him.

24 – The province of Van in Turkey is devastated by a severe earthquake. 3700 people lose their lives.

25 – American/Canadian rock group The Band hold (and film) their farewell concert, The Last Waltz, at Winterland in San Francisco.

30 – The Utah Board of Pardons agrees to execute Gary Gilmore in accordance with his wishes.

 December

01 – The Sex Pistols appear on Today where presenter Bill Grundy baits the band into swearing on the air. The resulting uproar will cause the band to be banned from performing in all but five cities on their upcoming British tour. By January no concert hall or club in the UK will book the band.

03 – Seven gunmen shoot up Bob Marley‘s home in Kingston, Jamaica, in what appears to be a politically motivated attack. Miraculously no one is killed even though the house is filled with family, friends, band members and Marley himself.

04 – Tommy Bolin, ex-Deep Purple and The James Gang, dies of a heroin overdose in Miami.

05 – A fire destroys or damages all but one of the Royal Australian Navy’s twelve fixed wing anti-submarine aircraft. The fire starts in one aircraft and spreads to 10 others in the same hangar at the Nowra base, south of Sydney. The planes had just been topped up with high octane fuel. The loss – which is believed to be the result of an act of sabotage – is estimated at $3 million.

08 – American rock band The Eagles release their Hotel California album.

13 – A Pan Am Boeing 747 makes the longest non-stop passenger flight from Sydney to San Francisco in 13 hours, 14 minutes.

17 – The longest running play in London, The Mousetrap, reaches its 10,000th performance.

21 – Ruben “Hurricane” Carter and John Artis, whose 1974 murder convictions had spawned public outcry and protest, are again found guilty of a triple homicide.

24 – Takeo Fukuda becomes prime minister of Japan.

28 – Texas bluesman Freddie King dies.

28 – Winnie Mandela is released from prison after wild rioting and 26 deaths in South Africa.

Also This Year . . .

  • XXI Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada
  • XII Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria
  • Apple Computers is founded in the USA by Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak
  • Britain experiences worst drought in 250 years
  • ‘Van der Hum’ wins Melbourne Cup
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