Home Decades 1960s 1964


May. Mods and Rockers clash in British seaside towns.


01 – In Britain, the first edition of Top of the Pops screens on the BBC. Host Jimmy Savile introduces The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, The Hollies, The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Dave Clark Five.

03 – Barry Goldwater announces his candidacy for the US Presidency.

05 – The first ticket collecting machine is installed on the London Underground.

07 – US Actor Nicolas Cage is born Nicolas Coppola in California

11 – A report by the US Surgeon General concludes that cigarette smoking is the principal cause of lung cancer.

13 – 200 die in Hindu-Muslim rioting in the Indian city of Calcutta. Over 7,000 people are arrested and 438 injured.

14Jacqueline Kennedy appears on American television to thank the nation for its sympathy.

14 – Arab League countries decide to set up a unified military command.

16 – The Whiskey A Go Go nightclub (the first real American discotheque) opens on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Los Angeles – famously featuring go-go dancers in cages.

18 – Plans are unveiled to build the enormous World Trade Center in New York.

27 – Actress Bridget Fonda is born.

20 – Trial of Great Train Robbers begins in UK.

27 – Actress Bridget Fonda is born.

29 – Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera is born.

29 – Actor Alan Ladd commits suicide in California.


03 – Double-decker railway carriages are introduced in Sydney, Australia.

03 – The US spacecraft Ranger VI crashes on the moon but fails to send back any pictures.

06 – British and French governments agree to build a Channel Tunnel, after prolonged consultation by the Channel Tunnel Study Group which was set up in 1957. The tunnel won’t actually open for another 30 years.

07The Beatles arrive in New York to begin their first visit to the USA. More than 3,000 screaming teenagers greet them at Kennedy Airport.

09The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and Beatlemania grips America.

09 – Jack Brabham wins the Australian Grand Prix for the third time.

10 – In Australia, HMAS Melbourne accidentally slices HMAS Voyager in half, resulting in 82 deaths.

12 – Fighting erupts in independent Cyprus between ethnic Greeks and Turks. 21 people are killed during the fighting in the port town of Limassol.

14 – President Makarios of Cyprus rejects an Anglo-UN offer of help to keep peace between the island’s Greek and Turkish communities.

19 – 1,500 British troops are flown to Cyprus.

19 – Actor Peter Sellers marries actress Britt Ekland.

20 – The band formerly known as The Detours play their first gig under their new name, The Who, at the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford, West London.

25 – Boxer Cassius Clay becomes heavyweight champion of the world, defeating the legendary Sonny Liston. Two weeks later Clay reveals his membership of the Black Muslim sect and changes his name to Muhammad Ali.

29 – 84 die when a British plane crashes in the Italian Alps.

29 – The Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, gives birth to a son – James Robert Bruce – at her home in Surrey.


02 – An institute for Scientific Atheism is set up in Moscow with the aim of eliminating religious prejudice in the Soviet Union.

02The Beatles begin filming their first feature film – A Hard Day’s Night.

06 – King Paul I of the Hellenes dies and is succeeded by Constantine II.

08Malcolm X announces he is splitting from the Black Muslim movement led by Elijah Muhammad to form the Black Nationalist Party, stating: “There can be no revolution without bloodshed, and it is nonsense to describe the civil rights movement as a revolution”.

10 – US reconnaissance plane is downed after accidentally crossing into East German airspace. The plane’s three pilots are eventually released.

10 – Singer Neneh Cherry is born.

10 – Queen Elizabeth II gives birth to her fourth child, Prince Edward.

12Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the powerful American Teamsters union, is convicted of bribery and jury-fixing and sentenced to eight years in jail.

14Jack Ruby, the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald (the man accused of assassinating JFK), is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. In an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, Ruby’s lawyers argue that he could not have received a fair trial in Dallas due to the excessive publicity. The court rules that his motion for a change of venue before the original trial court should have been granted, and so Ruby’s conviction and death sentence are overturned. While awaiting a new trial, Ruby dies of a pulmonary embolism in hospital on 3 January 1967.

15 – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are married in Montreal.

17 – US actor Rob Lowe is born in Virginia.

19 – The 3.5 mile-long Great St Bernard Tunnel is opened between Martigny (Switzerland) and Aosta (Italy).

21 – Team Spirit wins the Grand National at Aintree at fifth attempt.

23John Lennon‘s first book of poetry, In His Own Write, is published in the UK.

23 – Veteran actor Peter Lorre dies in Hollywood.

27 – A 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping force takes over in Cyprus.

27 – Six months after the Great Train Robbery in Britain, and with 20 members of the notorious gang still at large, a court records the first conviction as a result of the hold-up. Ten men are found guilty of the plot to steal mailbags worth more than £2.6 million. Nine other defendants are facing trial.

28Radio Caroline, Britain’s first pirate radio station, begins broadcasting illegally from a ship in the North Sea.

28 – Madame Tussauds announces that The Beatles are to become the first pop act to be cast in wax for the museum.

29Mods and Rockers fight a battle on the beaches of Clacton, Essex (UK), followed a few weeks later by battles in Brighton, Margate and Southend.

30 – US entertainer Tracy Chapman is born.

31 – In Britain, the Admiralty is abolished and becomes part of the Ministry of Defence.


01 – François Duvalier officially makes himself President of Haiti for life.

05 – General Douglas MacArthur dies.

06 – Soviet premier Khrushchev denounces the Chinese view on how the world could survive atomic war, saying “only a child or an idiot would not fear war”.

12 – Arnold Palmer wins his fourth US Masters golf title.

13 – Ian Smith is elected PM of Southern Rhodesia.

15 – Ronald Biggs is found guilty of taking part in the Great Train Robbery.

16 – 12 members of the Great Train Robbers gang are sentenced to a total of 307 years in jail,

20 – BBC2 goes on the air in the UK with a short news bulletin. The first full programme is Play School which is actually broadcast the following day on 21 April as a result of widespread power failure in Central London.

22 – 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair opens at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York.

24 – Folk singer Joan Baez refuses to pay 60% of her income tax as a protest against US expenditure on the military.

24 – Egyptian leader Colonel Nasser vows to expel the UK from all parts of the Arab world.

25 – Andy Bell of UK group Erasure is born.

25 – The head of the ‘little mermaid’ statue in Copenhagen Harbour is sawn off and stolen.

27 – Zanzibar merges with Tanganyika to form the Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar (renamed Tanzania on Oct 29).

29 – 136 cases of typhoid are reported in Aberdeen, Scotland. The city’s schools are closed.


02 – Death of Britain’s first woman MP, Nancy Astor.

02 – West Ham beat Preston North End 3-2 to win the FA Cup Final.

02 – The last tram runs in New Zealand.

03 – Extra British troops are flown to Aden after reports of the decapitation of two British soldiers by Yemeni rebels.

14 – President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, President Arif of Iraq and President Sallal of Yemen ceremoniously blow up a huge sand barrage and divert the ancient River Nile into a canal, allowing the next stage of the building of the Aswan High Dam to begin

18 – Several teenagers are arrested after fierce clashes on Brighton seafront between police and Mods and Rockers.

18 – A 17-year-old Mod who rode his new scooter to Brighton with more than 30 other youths, falls to his death from the 100ft high cliffs at Saltdean. He had been sleeping out with friends on the cliff top.

19 – 40 microphones are discovered hidden in the walls of the US Embassy in Moscow.

23 – The first issue of the Los Angeles Free Press sparks a spate of ‘underground’ newspapers.

24 – 135 die in a riot at a football match in Peru.

26 – Entertainer Lenny Kravitz is born.

27 – India’s PM and statesman since 1947, Jawaharlal ‘Pandit’ Nehru dies at the age of 74. It is believed he suffered a heart attack, and although specialists fought to save him for much of the day, he passed away early in the afternoon with his daughter, Indira Gandhi, by his side.

30 – Armies of Mods and Rockers clash on British holiday resort beaches – a fad which continues on and off all year. The press exposes “the drug menace” that has instigated this behaviour.


02 – The Palestine Liberation Organisation is created.

03President Johnson claims that US military strength is greater than “the combined might of all nations in the history of the world”.

03 – Martial Law is declared in Seoul, Korea, after riots by 20,000.

03The Beatles start a world tour without Ringo, who is suffering from exhaustion. Jimmy Nichols deputises.

03The Rolling Stones make their US television debut on The Hollywood Palace. Host Dean Martin says, “there’s a story that all the groups today have long hair but that’s not true – they just have low foreheads and long eyebrows.”

07 – Boogie Woogie pioneer Meade Lux Lewis dies in a car crash, aged 59.

08Christine Keeler is released from prison.

11Martin Luther King is jailed for trying to force integration of a Florida restaurant.

12 – Macquarie University is founded at North Ryde in Sydney, Australia.

12The Zombies‘ first recording session takes place at Decca’s West Hampstead studios.

13Beatlemania hits Australia as Fab Four tour down-under.

13 – Alfred Hitchcock cancels an appearance on Juke Box Jury. Zsa Zsa Gabor takes his place.

14Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment for treason, sabotage, violent conspiracy and plotting to overthrow the South African government.

14Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, begins a trip from California to New York with his ‘Merry Pranksters’ aboard a 1939 International Harvester bus named “Furthur”. Painted in psychedelic colours and driven by Beat era icon Neal Cassady, the bus will make its way across the US with bands playing on top of the vehicle and most of those involved dropping acid and smoking marijuana in prodigious fashion. The trip will later be immortalised in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

17 – The film Viva Las Vegas starring Elvis Presley opens in the US. By 1969 it will be his highest ever grosser.

17 – The first purpose-built floating trade fair docks at Tilbury in London with 22,000 samples of Japanese goods on board. The Sakura Maru will continue on a tour of Europe, which is costing the Japanese Government and exhibitors £400,000.

19 – In America Carol Doda makes entertainment history by dancing topless (at San Francisco’s Condor Club).

22 – Yachtsman Francis Chichester sets a new record by crossing the Atlantic in under 30 days.

23 – Three civil rights workers are reported missing after being arrested by Mississippi police.

26 – Moise Tshombe, leader of the Katangan province, is recalled from exile to join the Congolese government.


02LBJ signs a sweeping Civil Rights Bill creating equal rights in voting, education, public accommodations, union membership and in federally assisted programmes – regardless of race, colour, religion or national origin. Meanwhile, Georgia’s governor Lester Maddox urges the use of axe handles against blacks entering restaurants.

06The Beatles‘ debut film, A Hard Day’s Night, premieres at the London Pavilion cinema in Piccadilly Circus. Thousands of fans cause traffic chaos in the West End.

06 – Nyasaland, renamed as Malawi, becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.

15 – In Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited launches The Australian, the first national daily newspaper.

17 – Donald Campbell’s Bluebird sets a new world speed record of over 400 mph at Lake Eyre salt flats in the US.

18 – The shooting of James Powell by a policeman sparks black riots in Harlem, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Rochester, Dixmoor and Philadelphia. The riots punctuate the “long hot summer” between 18 July and the end of August.

28 – NASA launches Ranger 7 to reach the moon and take photographs.

31 – First detailed photographs of the moon are sent back from Ranger 7.

31 – Entertainer Jim Reeves dies.


01 – Rockabilly star Johnny Burnette drowns in a boating accident in California.

02US Navy ships are attacked off Vietnam coast by North Vietnamese patrol boats. The attack (later revealed to have been provoked by the US Navy) caused Congress to pass the Tonkin Bay Resolution, enabling President Johnson to take extensive military action in Southeast Asia.

04 – Three young Civil Rights workers – Michael Schwerner, 24; Andrew Goodman, 20; and James Chaney, 22 – who have been missing since 21 June, are discovered murdered and buried in a partially constructed dam on a farm outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. It emerges that the three men had been arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price on 21 June, then released from Neshoba jail in the middle of the night and attacked and killed by the KKK as they drove out of town. Deputy Sheriff Price received six years in jail while Ku Klux Klan leader Sam Bowers and KKK member Wayne Roberts were sentenced to 10 years each. A film based on the FBI investigation was made in 1988 called Mississippi Burning.

07LBJ commits large forces to US intervention in Vietnam.

08 – Turkish planes drop bombs and napalm on Greek Cypriot strongholds in north-west Cyprus.

12 – Ian Lancaster Fleming, the creator of British agent James Bond (007) and scoundrels such as Dr No, Goldfinger and numerous unpleasant Russians, dies of a heart attack at the age of 56.

12Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson escapes from jail.

16 – Barry Watson, a printer from Bingley, swims the English Channel from France to England in the fastest ever recorded time (9 hours and 35 minutes).

19 – NASA launches Syncom 3 communications satellite which relays the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games from Tokyo.

20 – Former US President Herbert Hoover dies.

21 – The film Mary Poppins is first seen by an invited audience in Hollywood.

24 – The first Catholic Mass is said in English rather than Latin.

26Lyndon Johnson nominated for re-election by the Democrats.


02 – Indonesian forces land in Malaya.

02 – Actor Keanu Reeves is born.

03Robert Kennedy resigns as Attorney-General to run for the Senate.

03 – State of emergency declared in Malaysia.

04 – The Queen officially opens Europe’s longest suspension bridge linking Edinburgh to Perth across the River Forth. Tens of thousands of spectators turn up to watch the royal cavalcade slowly cross the 3,300ft (1,005m) central span of the  Forth Road Bridge.

15Khrushchev claims the USSR has weapons that could annihilate all life on earth.

15 The Sun newspaper is published for the first time in Britain. It is replacing the Mirror Group’s Daily Herald, which has been losing readers and advertising revenue for several years.

19 – In Melbourne (Australia), Ron Barassi leads Melbourne (8.16) to a four-point win over Collingwood (8.12) in the VFL Grand Final.

21 – Malta becomes an independent state within the British Commonwealth.

22Goldfinger premieres in Leicester Square, London.

23 – Richard Walsh, Richard Neville and Martin Sharp sentenced to prison after Sydney magistrate rules OZ magazine to be obscene.

27 – The Warren Commission releases its report on the Kennedy assassination. The report concludes that there was no conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate the president and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Over 50 books are published about the assassination by the end of the year, many of them disputing the Commission’s findings.

28 – Harpo, the silent Marx Brother, dies in Hollywood, California, after a heart operation. He is 70.

30 – In Munich, Himmler’s aide Karl Wolff is convicted of aiding the murder of 300,000 Jews.


02 – Two people are charged with the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, USA.

02 – Sydney’s Gladesville Bridge opens. It is the world’s largest single concrete arch, with a span of 1,000 feet.

02Little Richard is booked to appear at Queens Hall, Leeds, but cancels at the last moment. The Pretty Things replace him but get pelted with orange peel and coins.

05 – 57 people escape from East Berlin by crawling through a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.

06 – The first episode of Stingray airs on British television.

07The Beatles perform Kansas City, I’m A Loser and This Boy on US TV show, Shindig!

10 – XVIIIth Olympic Games open in Tokyo.

12 – Three Soviet cosmonauts – Colonel Vladimir Komarov, Dr Konstantin Feoktistov and Dr Boris Yegorov – are launched in Voskhod 1 and make 16 revolutions of the Earth in 24 hours 17 minutes and 3 seconds. This is the first three-man crew sent into space.

12 – Senior Conservative minister, Quintin Hogg – the Lord President of the Council and Secretary for Education and Science – steals the show at the Conservative news conference by branding all Labour voters “bonkers”.

14Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize.

14 – Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones marries Shirley Shepherd in Bradford, Yorkshire.

15Nikita Khrushchev is ousted in a Kremlin coup. He is succeeded as Communist Party leader by Leonid Brezhnev, and as Prime Minister by Alexei Kosygin.

15 – Composer and lyricist Cole Porter dies in Los Angeles.

15Screaming Lord Sutch stands for Parliament for the first time, in John Profumo‘s former seat at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

16Harold Wilson is the new British Prime Minister. Labour’s general election victory is by a whisker – Labour 317 seats, Tories 303, Liberals 9, the Speaker 1.

24 – Northern Rhodesia becomes independent as Zambia with Kenneth Kaunda as president. It is the ninth African state to gain independence from the British crown.

24 – 17-year-old Sandie Shaw tops the UK chart with Always Something There To Remind Me.

24The Rolling Stones appear on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Portions of the audience go nuts but Sullivan receives so many complaints that he promises never to have the band back. They appear on the show five more times.

25 – British PM Harold Wilson warns Southern Rhodesian that a unilateral declaration of independence would lead to economic sanctions.

31Ray Charles is arrested at a Boston airport and charged with possession of marijuana and heroin.

31 – The Windmill Theatre, a London institution as unchanging as saucy seaside postcards, finally puts up the shutters.


02 – King Saud of Saudi Arabia is deposed and his brother Prince Faisal becomes king.

03LBJ wins the US election by an overwhelming majority and sends hard-line Republican Senator Barry Goldwater packing.

03 – Polo Prince wins the Melbourne Cup.

09 – Prime Minister Menzies reintroduces conscription in Australia.

21 – Verrazano Narrows Bridge over New York Harbour is officially opened. It becomes the longest suspension bridge in the world.

27Life magazine’s cover story on Vietnam reports that the crisis is worsening.

28 – NASA launches Mariner 4 to explore Mars.


11 – Soul singer Sam Cooke is shot and killed at a Los Angeles motel, The Hacienda, by its manageress Bertha Franklin who claimed Cooke had tried to rape a young woman. The coroner returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.

11 – Kenya becomes a republic within the Commonwealth, with Jomo Kenyatta its first President.

15 – The Maple Leaf is adopted as the official national flag of Canada.

16 – La Trobe University established in Australia.

20 – Rebels in the Congo massacre 15 British missionaries.

21 – Capital punishment ends in Britain.

23 – British Rail chief Dr Beeching is sacked. Following the publication of his report The Reshaping of British Railways in 1963, more than 8,000 miles (12,875 km) of track and 2,000 stations across Britain were closed at a cost of nearly 70,000 jobs.

31 – Donald Campbell’s jet-powered speedboat Bluebird sets a new world water speed record of 276.3 mph at Lake Dumbleyung in Western Australia.

Also this year . . .

  • XVIII Olympic Games in Tokyo
  • IX Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria
  • Russian scientists bounce a signal off Jupiter
  • The UK Government announces plans for three new towns, including what is to become Milton Keynes, to stop London choking with people
  • Fashion designer Mary Quant and hairdresser Vidal Sassoon set up shop in London
  • GI Joe goes on sale in USA
  • French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre refuses the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Mary Whitehouse establishes the Clean Up TV campaign, later the National Viewers and Listeners Association (NVLA) and now Mediawatch-UK