Home Decades 1960s 1962



01 – Western Samoa becomes independent.

01The Beatles are turned down by Decca Records, whose A&R man Dick Rowe enters the history books when he advises them that “groups with guitars are out”.

03Fidel Castro is excommunicated by the Pope for his anti-clerical policies.

07 – 17 Yugoslav seamen are drowned when their ship, the Sabac, sinks after a collision with the British steamer Dorington Court in the English Channel.

08 – 93 people die in Holland when an express train crashes into the side of a commuter train in the worst rail accident in Netherlands history.

10 – Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are killed by an avalanche of snow and rock in the village of Ranrahirca at Nevada de Huascaran, Peru.

12 – American communists are barred from travelling abroad as the US State Department denies passports to all Communist Party members.

13 – Bushfires raze Victorian hill country in Australia.

14 – Six people die following an outbreak of smallpox in Britain. One of the victims is a pathologist who contracted the virus after conducting a post-mortem. Parliament considers vaccination for everyone.

14 – EEC incorporates its Common Agricultural Policy.

15 – Christian Dior protégé Yves St Laurent opens his own fashion house in Paris. The Algerian-born designer was just 21 when he worked his way to the top job at Dior.

22 – James Hanratty, the man accused of the “A6 murder” last August enters a plea of “not guilty” at the start of his trial at Bedfordshire Assizes. Hanratty denies shooting Michael Gregsten, a physicist, twice in the head and raping and shooting Mr Gregsten’s companion, Valerie Storie.

26 – The American rocket Ranger 3 strays off path. It will miss the moon by 20,000 miles.

29 – Nuclear test ban talks between America, the USSR and the UK, held in Geneva, break down after three years. Britain and America walkout.


04 – In London, The Times publishes its ‘Colour Supplement” for the first time. It receives mixed reactions.

07 – A gas explosion at Luisenthal mine in the German Federal Republic kills 298 miners.

07 – US ban on trade with Cuba goes into effect.

07 – Axl Rose (real name William Bailey) of Guns N’ Roses is born.

08 – At least eight people are killed during a demonstration in Paris against the recent wave of bomb attacks in the French capital. One of the dead is a 15-year-old boy.

08 – US government announces the deployment of Military Assistance Command (MAC) in South Vietnam.

10 – American U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers is freed from prison in the Soviet Union in exchange for Colonel Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy jailed in the US.

14Jackie Kennedy conducts a televised tour of the White House in Washington DC.

17 – 115 mph storm smashes dykes along the Elbe River, Germany. 343 people are killed, 300 of them in Hamburg.

19Chuck Berry starts his prison sentence for transporting a minor for “immoral purposes”. He is released in October 1963.

20 – Lieutenant-Colonel John H Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth. His Mercury capsule, called Friendship 7, lifts off from Cape Canaveral at 9:47 am local time and splashes down in the Atlantic off Puerto Rico five hours later. His voyage is televised by all three US networks and watched by 135 million viewers. On his first orbit, Glenn is able to see the lights of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, left on by the residents especially for him.

21 – The Director of the CIA compiles and submits an “estimate of the Communist objectives, capabilities and intentions in South-East Asia” for the US Kennedy government.

26 – American Supreme Court rules that segregation in interstate and intrastate transportation facilities is illegal.27 – A US

27 – A US government board of inquiry concludes that U2 pilot Gary Powers did his best to follow orders.


01 – An American Airlines Astro-jet crashes after takeoff from Idlewild Airport, New York, killing all 95 people on board.

01 – A three-storey hotel collapses in Asyut, Egypt, killing at least 31 people.

01 – Sydney’s Cahill Expressway opens in Australia to carry traffic on both sides of the Harbour Bridge.

02 – The army seizes power in Burma in a coup.

07The Beatles perform for the first time wearing matching suits (made by Liverpool tailor Beno Dorn) at a gig at the Manchester Playhouse.

09 – The Pentagon verifies reports that US pilots are flying combat missions in Vietnam.

15Terence Trent D’Arby is born.

15 – The Liberals seize Orpington in Kent from the government in their first by-election victory for four years. Eric Lubbock wins the seat with a majority of 7,855, marking a swing of nearly 22% away from the Conservatives. It brings the number of Liberal MPs to seven.

16 – US Flying Tiger Super Constellation disappears in the Pacific en route from Guam to Manila. All 107 people aboard (including 93 US servicemen) are killed.

16 – USSR launches the first Cosmos satellite.

17 – Scottish singer/actress, Clare Grogan, is born.

18 – Ceasefire agreed in the war in Algeria.

19 – A 300-year-old skull is found beneath 10 Downing Street in London.

22 – 16 miners are killed in an explosion at the Hapton Valley colliery near Burnley, England.

30 – Australian Aborigines are given the right to vote in federal elections.

30 – Rapper MC Hammer is born.

31 – 12-year-old Kilmore wins the Grand National in the UK.


02 – The first ‘Panda crossing’ is officially opened in York Road, opposite Waterloo Station in London by the Minister of Transport, Mr Ernest Marples. The new style of pedestrian crossing causes confusion among both drivers and pedestrians following its launch and the scheme is later abandoned because it is far too confusing.

04 – James Hanratty is hanged at Bedford Prison in Britain for the murder of a man and the rape and shooting of a woman on the A6 near London in August 1961.

08 – Cuba convicts 1,179 Bay Of Pigs prisoners of treason and sentences them to 30 years in prison. Cuban officials offer to free them all to the US for a $62 million ransom.

09 – Arnold Palmer wins the US Masters golf tournament at Augusta for the third time.

10 – Original Beatles bass player Stuart Sutcliffe dies in Hamburg, Germany, aged 21 of a brain haemorrhage. He dies in the arms of his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr. The Beatles learn of his death when they arrive a couple of days later to start a seven-week residency at The Star Club.

13 – Southern Aurora train streaks between Australian capitals. Sydney to Melbourne rail link completed.

16Walter Cronkite makes his Evening News debut on CBS television.

23 – After a 110 mph crash at the Goodwood circuit in his Lotus Climax, Stirling Moss, unconscious and suffering from a broken rib, a broken leg and serious head injuries, is transferred by high-speed ambulance from Sussex to the Neurosurgical unit of a London hospital. As he closed on the eventual winner, Graham Hill, Moss lost control as he approached a corner and was left trapped for half an hour before he could be cut free.

26 – US Ranger IV rocket crashes on the dark side of the moon. It is the first time an American spacecraft has successfully reached the Moon – the Russians achieved the first ever lunar impact in 1959. However, the main aim of the mission – to take television pictures of the lunar surface – was not achieved after all internal power onboard the spacecraft failed two hours after launch.

26 – Britain’s first satellite, Ariel, is launched.

27Acker Bilk appears on This Is Your Life on British television.

29 – 20 people die in a fireworks factory explosion in São Paulo, Brazil.


03 – In Tokyo, a triple crash involving a goods train and two passenger trains kills at least 150 and injures over 300 people.

08 – The last trolleybuses are taken out of service in London.

09 – Australia agrees to send military advisers to Vietnam.

11 – Prince Charles begins his studies at Gordonstoun school in Scotland.

14The Cult vocalist, Ian Astbury is born.

20President Kennedy appoints Cyrus R Vance as Secretary of the Army.

22 – US Navy Constellation explodes in mid-air near Munich, Germany, killing all 26 servicemen aboard.

24Roy Orbison is among the guests attending Bob Dylan‘s 21st birthday party in Greenwich Village, New York City.

25 – Former general Raoul Salan – the leader of the extremist Secret Army Organisation (OAS) – is sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in Paris.

28 – American share prices suffer their worst slump since 1929.

28 – Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals) is born.

30 – The “King of Swing” Benny Goodman plays a concert in Moscow. Khrushchev says he is pleased but puzzled with the concert.

31 – Adolf Eichmann, the “transport manager” of the Holocaust in which six million Jews died, is executed in Tel Aviv. When told his appeal for clemency has been refused, he asks for a bottle of wine, writes letters to his family and is visited by the Reverend William Hull. When he is taken to the scaffold, he refuses the black hood, sends his greetings to Germany, Austria and Argentina “the countries I shall not forget”, and tells the official witnesses “We shall meet again. I have believed in God. I obeyed the laws of war and was loyal to my flag”.


03 – An Air France Boeing 707 headed for Atlanta, Georgia (USA), crashes and catches fire on takeoff from Orly Airport, Paris. 130 people are killed. Miraculously, two of the 10 crew survive.

06The Beatles audition for producer George Martin at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London.

06 – Larkspur wins The Derby. Four jockeys are sent to hospital after a seven-horse pile-up.

08 – Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran) is born.

10 – England loses World Cup quarter-final 3-1 to Brazil.

12 – Three prisoners – Frank Lee Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin -escape from Alcatraz prison in San Francisco using spoons and a homemade raft.

17 – Brazil wins the World Cup in Chile.

17 – Jack Niklaus, aged 22, wins the US Open golf title, defeating Arnold Palmer in a playoff 71 to 74.

22 – A French Boeing 707 crashes on Basse-Terre Island, Guadeloupe, killing all 113 persons aboard.

27 – Charlie Chaplin receives an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University.


01 – Britain institutes controls on immigration from the Commonwealth.

01 – Rwanda and Burundi achieve full independence.

01 – 99% of voters in Algeria vote to break all ties with France.

03 – American screen actor Tom Cruise is born in New York.

04 – Algeria becomes a sovereign independent state.

07 – An Alitalia DC8 crashes while landing at Junnar, India. 85 passengers and 9 crew are killed.

09 – America explodes a massive nuclear device 250 miles in space above the Pacific. The blast is seen from Hawaii to New Zealand.

09Andy Warhol has his “first show of real art in a real gallery” at Irving Blum’s Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood, LA. It features Warhol’s soon-to-be-famous series of 32 different canvases of Campbell’s soup cans.

10Martin Luther King is jailed for leading an illegal march in Georgia.

11 – Live trans-Atlantic television becomes a reality with the help of the Telstar communications satellite.

11 – American diver Fred Baldasare is the first to swim the English Channel underwater.

17 – Major Robert White establishes a new world altitude record of 314,750 feet. White also reports seeing a UFO from the X-15 which is greyish-white and looks “like a piece of paper”. He claims it moved to within 30 or 40 feet of the plane for about five seconds.

22 – Jackie Robinson, former Brooklyn Dodgers player who broke the ‘colour barrier’ when he joined the Major League in 1945, becomes the first black man to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame.

31 – The atomic-powered submarines USS Skate and USS Seadragon meet under the North Pole. They surface through a small hole in the icepack and proceed to do the usual ceremonial stuff.

31 – Former fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley is assaulted at a rally in London’s east end. He and members of his anti-Semitic Blackshirt group are punched to the ground as soon as his meeting opens at Ridley Road, Dalston.


03 – An Australian contingent of jungle warfare experts arrives in Saigon.

05Marilyn Monroe is found dead, lying naked in bed at her bungalow near Hollywood, clutching a telephone receiver with an empty bottle of Nembutal sleeping tablets on her bedside table.

06 – Jamaica becomes independent within the Commonwealth of Nations after 307 years of British rule.

09 – Robert Zimmerman legally changes his name to Bob Dylan.

14 – In Italy, the tunnel under Mont Blanc is completed.

15 – Six Australian RAAF pilots are killed in a stunt team crash in Victoria.

16Beatles‘ manager Brian Epstein informs drummer Pete Best that he is being replaced by Richard Starkey (better known as Ringo Starr). Underestimating Best’s devastation, Epstein is shocked when Pete fails to turn up for tonight’s gig.

17 – Los Angeles coroner rules that Marilyn Monroe‘s death was probably a suicide.

18 – Rebuffed by American doctors, Sherri Finkbine – a TV presenter from Phoenix in Arizona – goes to Sweden for the abortion of a baby deformed by the drug Thalidomide. New safety regulations are introduced for testing drugs after further congenital deformities are attributed to Thalidomide.

20 – Five thousand angry West Berliners protest against the shooting of an 18-year-old East German boy trying to escape to the West, by marching along streets near the Berlin Wall. The dead boy, Peter Fechter, was machine-gunned in the back as he tried to climb the wall and then bled to death while the East German guards looked on. There was nothing the West German police could do except throw him bandages as he cried out for help.

East German guards remove the body of Peter Fechter after shooting him at the Berlin Wall.

22 – A group of terrorists led by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry attempt to assassinate General de Gaulle at Le Petit-Clamart, defending their actions on the grounds that tyrannicide was recognised by the Roman Catholic church as a legitimate action under certain conditions. De Gaulle escapes and Thiry is found guilty and shot at dawn on 11 March 1963.

23 – Shaun Ryder (Happy Mondays) is born.

27 – NASA launches Mariner 2 spacecraft to explore Venus.

28 – At least 163 people perish when a rain-swollen river bursts its banks at Sunchon, Korea.

31 – Trinidad and Tobago become independent within the British Commonwealth.


01 – Iranian earthquake centred north of Hamadan (the ancient Ecbatana) destroys 300 villages and leaves 20,000 dead.

02USSR agrees to supply Cuba with weapons.

10 – The US Supreme Court upholds that James Meredith, a black student, is to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.

10 – Alcohol bans lifted for NSW (Australia) aborigines.

11The Beatles record their debut single, Love Me Do, at Abbey Road studios, London, with session drummer Andy White instead of Ringo.

11 – Robert Soblen commits suicide in England, six weeks after arriving in the country. Soblen had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the US for espionage and had arrived in the UK seeking political asylum. The Home Secretary (Henry Brooke) turned him down and, faced with the prospect of deportation, he took his own life. Soblen was, in fact, suffering a terminal illness and would have died within a few months.

15 – In Sydney (Australia), St George make it seven rugby leagues premierships in a row, defeating Wests by 9-6 in a hard-fought Grand Final.

17 – The five-storey Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs collapses in Brussels killing 42 people.

18 – 29 refugees escape from East Berlin by tunnelling under the wall.

20 – Black student James Meredith is denied admission to the University of Mississippi by Mississippi Governor Ross R Barnett.

22 – Admiralty clerk William Vassall is jailed in the UK for 18 years fro spying for the USSR.

24 – Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev visits Yugoslavia. Relations between the two nations improve.

25 – Torrential rain around Barcelona, Spain, causes flooding which results in at least 440 deaths.

28 – African-American student James Meredith is escorted onto the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford by US Marshals. Two men are killed and at least 75 injured in the ensuing riots which have to be quelled by 3,000 federal soldiers.

28 – In Australia, fire destroys one-fifth of Brisbane’s tram fleet – 67 vehicles.

29 – Essendon win their 11th VFL flag in Melbourne (Australia) defeating Carlton 13.12 (90) to 8.10 (58).


02 – Johnny Carson takes over as host of NBC’s late-night talk show The Tonight Show. He will present the show for the next 30 years.

03 – After Walter Schirra makes a six-orbit space flight, the Americans claim supremacy over the USSR in the space race – reaffirming their promise to have a man on the moon before the decade ends.

03 – A boiler in the basement of a New York telephone exchange explodes and crashes through a cafeteria. 23 people are killed.

04 – British television series The Saint, starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar, is first broadcast.

05The Beatles first single, Love Me Do, is released.

09 – Uganda becomes independent after 62 years of British rule.

10 – The Mariner II space probe reveals the existence of solar winds.

11 – 50 die in India in fighting along the border with China.

13 – Don Everly (of The Everly Brothers) collapses during rehearsals at London’s Prince of Wales theatre. He is rushed to hospital and flown home to the US two days later. The collapse is blamed on an amphetamine overdose.

17The Beatles make their very first TV appearance. It is one Granada Television’s People and Places programme.

20 – Chinese invade India following border dispute.

22President Kennedy reveals on national television that Soviet missiles have been supplied to Cuba and announces a blockade.

22Nelson Mandela pleads not guilty to charges of treason, at the start of his trial in South Africa.

23 – Council of the Organization of American States votes unanimously to authorise the use of armed force to prevent shipment of offensive weapons to Cuba.

24 – US imposes a naval blockade on Cuba to prevent Soviet military supplies reaching the country.

25 – More than 700 people are killed in a tropical storm in Southern Thailand.

27Nikita Khrushchev offers to remove Cuban missiles under UN supervision, providing the US does the same thing in Turkey.

27Kennedy insists that work on Cuban missile bases must stop before negotiations begin.

27 – Brazilian Boeing 707 crashes while preparing to land at Lima, Peru. 105 people die.

28Khrushchev agrees to halt the construction of bases in Cuba and to withdraw Soviet missiles. In exchange, Kennedy lifts the Cuban trade and weapons embargo and pledges that the US will not invade Cuba. The world steps back from the nuclear brink.

30 – UN General Assembly rejects a Soviet proposal to admit communist China.


01 – Russia launches her first rocket towards Mars.

02President Kennedy confirms that Cuban missile bases are being dismantled and that “progress is now being made towards restoration of peace in the Caribbean”.

05 – Saudi Arabia quits United Arab Republic.

05 – The Van Du Put family from Belgium and their doctor are found not guilty of the mercy killing of their daughter Corinne, who was born without arms due to the drug Thalidomide, an ingredient found in sedative medicines used by expectant mothers in the early stages of pregnancy to prevent morning sickness.

06 – The United Nations condemns apartheid and recommends that its members break off diplomatic relations with South Africa.

06Edward Kennedy is elected as a Senator.

06 – Hot favourite Even Stevens wins the Melbourne Cup by four lengths.

07Nelson Mandela jailed for five years.

07Richard Nixon loses the governorship of California . . . “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”.

10 – Eleanor Roosevelt dies.

11 – Screen actress Demi Moore is born Demi Guynes in New Mexico.

14 – Eritrea votes to become a province of Ethiopia.

16 – China launches a major offensive into India.

17 – Dulles Airport, the first to be designed for jets, opens in the USA.

19 – Actress Jodie Foster is born in Los Angeles.

20America lifts the Cuban blockade.

21 – China wins border dispute with India at Bomdila and halts their advance into India, agreeing to a ceasefire.

22 – Prince Philip opens the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, in blistering heat.

29 – British Minister for Aviation and the French Ambassador to Britain sign the Concorde agreement in London to cooperate on building the world’s first supersonic airline.


03 – 06 – A thick layer of choking fog covers London resulting in hundreds of people being admitted to hospital. 90 people have died since the crisis began and the fog is not expected to lift for another 24 hours.

04 – Two British divers reach a world record depth of 1,000 feet underwater.

05 – William Perks (soon to be known as bass player Bill Wyman) is introduced to The Rolling Stones at the Red Lion pub in Sutton, South London.

07 – Britain’s second underground nuclear test takes place in Nevada, USA.

09 – Tanzania becomes independent within the Commonwealth.

14 – The unmanned American space probe Mariner 2 sends back the first close-up pictures of Venus. The pictures reveal that the planet rotates in the opposite direction to the Earth.

20President Kennedy agrees to supply Britain with Polaris nuclear missiles. The first of Britain’s Polaris armed submarines (HMS Resolution) begins operational patrols in 1968

23 – Cuba begins releasing Bay Of Pigs prisoners in exchange for a ransom of more than $50 million in food and medical supplies donated by companies all over the USA.

Also this year . . .

  • New York City introduces a train that operates without conductors and drivers.
  • Ring-pull beer can invented by the Iron City Brewing Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1964, beer sales shot up by 1.5 billion cans.
  • Silicon breast implants are developed by the Dow Corning Corp, Midland, Mich.
  • The landmark 59 floor Pan Am building is incorporated in New York City, dominating Park Avenue.

Quote of the year

“We’re eyeball to eyeball and the other fellow just blinked”
Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State, on the Cuban Crisis.

1962 cost of living (USA)

New house $12,550
Average income $5,556 per year
New car $2,924
Average rent $110 per month
Tuition to Harvard University $1,520 per year
Movie ticket $1 each
Gasoline 27c per gallon
US postage stamp 4c
Granulated sugar 89c for 10lb
Vitamin D milk $1.04 per gallon
Ground coffee 85c per lb
Bacon 69c per lb
Eggs 32c per dozen
Fresh ground hamburger 40c per lb
Fresh baked bread 21c per loaf