01 – Groucho Marx dies in Los Angeles.
02 – Legendary jazz pianist and composer Erroll Garner dies.
03 – Former Home Secretary Roy Jenkins announces he is leaving Westminster to become President of the European Commission in Brussels. Conservative MP Christopher Tugendhat is also giving up his seat to become Britain’s second European Commissioner.
06 – “Charter 77” launched in Czechoslovakia calling for the restoration of human rights.
06 – EMI sacks The Sex Pistols for “inexplicable behaviour”. They are allowed to keep their £40,000 advance.
07 – Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch expands his growing empire into the US by acquiring control of New York magazine.
09 – The Oakland Raiders defeat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 at Super Bowl XI.
11 – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard is convicted of cocaine possession at Aylesbury Crown Court in England and fined £1000 (including £250 in court fees). He was found not guilty of possession of LSD.
17 – Murderer Gary Gilmore becomes the first convict to be executed in the United States for ten years. “Let’s do it” are his final words before walking out in front of a firing squad at the Utah State Prison warehouse, so ending a lengthy campaign across America against the return of the death penalty.
18 – Eighty-three people die in Australia’s worst rail disaster when a 300-tonne section of a bridge, rammed by a locomotive, crashes on to the carriages of a commuter train in Granville, Sydney. Rescuers are able to recover only 21 bodies after a desperate 14-hour search through the wreckage. The rest of the dead are still buried beneath rubble up to a metre thick (pictured below).
20 – Jimmy Carter is sworn in as the 39th US President.
26 – Ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green is taken into psychiatric care after attacking a messenger who was attempting to deliver a £30,000 royalty cheque from his accountant’s office.
26 – Memphis soul label Stax is auctioned to a Los Angeles liquidating company. Assets include master tapes, unreleased recordings and stacks of old records.
28 – Latino comedian and Chico and The Man star Freddie Prinze, 22, fatally shoots himself in Los Angeles.
28/29 – A blizzard paralyses most of the US East and Midwest, resulting in a severe shortage of natural gas.
29 – 13 small bombs and incendiary devices planted by the IRA explode in the Oxford Street area of London’s West End.
30 – The final episode of the eight-part television adaptation of Alex Haley’s African-American saga Roots draws 130 million viewers across the US – over half the population of the country and the largest TV audience to date.
31 – The Centre Georges Pompidou is Paris is officially opened by French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.
03 – Lt Col Mengistu Haile Mariam becomes the leader of Ethiopia after Brigadier General Teferi Benti is murdered.
04 – A commuter train falls off an elevated track into a Chicago street, killing 11 people.
08 – Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 24 links with orbiting space lab Salyut 5.
09 – Despite maintaining their innocence through two triple homicide trials, Ruben “Hurricane” Carter and John Artis are each sentenced to life imprisonment.
12 – In Australia, severe bushfires wipe out a Victorian country town.
17 – Three Ugandan leaders (including Bishop Janani Luwum) are arrested and transported to an interrogation centre after plotting to overthrow Idi Amin – Radio Uganda later announces they have died in an ‘automobile accident’.
23 – Convicted Watergate participant E. Howard Hunt is paroled from federal prison.
26 – Bottleneck blues guitarist Booker T Washington dies.
27 – Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is arrested at Toronto’s Harbor Castle Hotel by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for possession of heroin with intent to traffic.
28 – Flamboyant New York City DJ Frankie Crocker is given a year-and-a-day prison sentence and a $1,000 fine for lying to a grand jury regarding the receipt of payola.
01 – Sara Dylan files for divorce from Bob after 11 years of marriage and receives a restraining order, temporary custody of their five children and an immediate award of their Malibu, CA, mansion.
01 – Keith Richard is arrested in Toronto for possession of heroin.
04 – Romania is struck by a massive earthquake with the loss of 1,570 lives.
07 – The Queen and Prince Philip visit Australia to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
09 – America’s Federal Drug Administration bans saccharin as a possible promoter of cancer.
10 – The Sex Pistols sign with A&M outside Buckingham Palace (pictured below). After only six days, A&M lets the band go due to pressure from their head office in Los Angeles. The band are allowed to keep their £75,000 advance.
10 – Three astronomers, James L Elliot, Edward W Dunham and Douglas J Mink, discover rings around the planet Uranus.
11 – Film director Roman Polanski is charged with raping a 13-year-old girl at the home of Hollywood star Jack Nicholson. Polanski is facing four charges, including rape, sodomy, child molestation and giving drugs to a minor.
11 – Violent protests erupt in Pakistan against vote rigging.
18 – Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky wins Best Picture Oscar.
24 – In an anti-brainwashing suit in California, parents of five “Moonies” (members of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church) are granted custody of their grown children.
27 – 583 die as Pan Am and KLM Jumbo Jets collide on the ground at Tenerife’s Los Rodeos Airport in the Canary Islands, in the world’s worst air crash. Due to poor communication between the two planes and air traffic control – with messages misunderstood or not heard – the KLM plane took off before it was meant to and crashed head-on into the Pan Am plane. Although the captain of the KLM plane desperately tried to pull up, it still tore off the top of the other plane and both aircraft burst into flames. Most of the passengers were killed by the impact or fire. Only 90 people survived.
02 – Red Rum is the first horse to win the UK Grand National for the third time.
07 – The Clash release their debut album.
09 – The Communist Party is legalised in Spain after a 38-year ban imposed by the Franco regime.
18 – Heiress, kidnapping victim and SLA member Patty Hearst pleads no contest to armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
18 – Calling it “the moral equivalent of war”, President Carter calls for an all-out campaign for energy conservation.
19 – The US Supreme Court upholds the right of school officials to spank unruly students.
22 – North Sea oil well blow-out causes a vast oil slick.
22 – Israeli PM Itzhak Rabin resigns over money scandal.
26 – Studio 54 opens in New York.
04 – At normalisation talks in Paris, the US agrees to stop blocking Vietnam’s application for admission to the UN.
04 – Former President Nixon admits that he “let the American people down” in a TV interview with David Frost. Nixon defends his illegal activities as “executive necessities in the face of domestic threats” and compares himself to Abraham Lincoln.
09 – Patricia Hearst is released from jail on probation.
10 – Actress Joan Crawford dies.
13 – England cricket captain, Tony Greig, is sacked for signing up players to Kerry Packer’s commercial cricket “circus”, known officially as World Series Cricket.
15 – Australian Democrats Party is launched by Don Chipp.
19 – Deceased Texan millionaire Sandra West is buried according to her wishes, dressed in a lace nightgown at the wheel of her 1964 Ferrari.
21 – Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 in the British FA Cup final.
22 – The Orient Express arrives in Istanbul for the last time, having originally begun in Paris in 1883.
23 – 105 children and five teachers are taken hostage in a primary school in the village of Bovensmilde in northern Holland. The four armed hostage-takers are from the South Molucca islands (formerly part of the Dutch East Indies). The children are released on 27 May after an outbreak of gastric flu – four teachers are retained as hostages until 11 June.
23 – Nine armed South Moluccans seize a train with about 50 passengers on board in open countryside near the city of Groningen, Holland. They release children and the elderly and separate women and men on the train.
26 – Extreme sportsman and toy designer George Willig illegally climbs the south tower of New York’s World Trade Centre in less than four hours.
27 – Now signed to Virgin, their third label in less than a year, The Sex Pistols release God Save The Queen.
28 – A nightclub at Southgate, Kentucky (USA) is engulfed by fire, with the loss of 158 lives.
29 – An overweight Elvis Presley nearly collapses onstage at the Baltimore Civic Center after eating five banana splits before the show. He later walks off stage mid-concert for the first time in his 23-year career.
04 – Five plane spotters from the West London Aviation Group who were imprisoned in Greece for spying are released after 10 weeks in jail. Greek police arrested the young plane enthusiasts in March 1977 on suspicion of espionage after trailing them around nine military airfields and observing them taking detailed notes. The Greek court had not understood recording plane serial numbers could be regarded as a hobby.
06 – The Washington Post reports that the US is developing a neutron bomb, a weapon designed to kill people but cause minimal destruction of property.
07 – The Queen celebrates her Silver Jubilee across the UK after 25 years on the throne. While the nation (and The Queen) celebrate all year round, 7 June is the official Jubilee Day.
11 – Dutch anti-terrorist special forces storm a train at Assen, Northern Holland, in which South Moluccan terrorists have been holding 55 hostages for 20 days. Six hijackers and two hostages are killed.
11 – Using an armoured car and explosives, Dutch Marines punch a hole in the wall of the school in Bovensmilde, northern Holland, and enter the building. The four armed Moluccans surrender without a fight after hearing about the attack on the train at Assen.
15 – First democratic elections in Spain for 41 years.
16 – Leonid Brezhnev becomes Russian President.
17 – Dr Wernher von Braun, the scientist who designed the German V-2 rocket and later the Saturn launching vehicle for the Apollo missions to the Moon, dies in hospital in Washington aged 65.
18 – Sex Pistols‘ Johnny Rotten is attacked by razor-wielding thugs in North London.
18 – The New York Yankees dugout becomes a verbal battleground as manager Billy Martin and outfielder Reggie Jackson hurl obscenities at each other on national television.
20 – Crude oil begins to flow through the Alaska pipeline for the first time.
21 – Menachem Begin, leader of the Likud party, becomes prime minister of Israel.
21 – Watergate conspirator HR Haldeman enters federal prison in California to serve his sentence for his role in the scandal and cover-up. Former Nixon attorney general John Mitchell begins his sentence the next day in Alabama.
26 – Elvis Presley plays what will be his last ever public performance at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.
26 – Djibouti, France’s last African colony, gains independence.
30 – Mixing blood donated by the band members into its red printing ink, Marvel Comics issues the first of two KISS comics.
01 – Virginia Wade beats Chris Evert at the 100th Wimbledon women’s single title.
01 – A severe US West Coast drought necessitates water rationing in California.
01 – American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance states the official US policy on South Africa, demanding an end to apartheid.
02 – A Ku Klux Klan rally in President Carter‘s hometown of Plains, Georgia, ends when a Jaguar XKE driven by a truck mechanic ploughs through a crowd of 250.
02 – Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg defeats Jimmy Connors for his second straight Wimbledon title.
02 – Author Vladimir Nabokov dies.
04 – Manchester United club directors sack manager Tommy Docherty – known as the Doc.
05 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, is arrested by Chief of the Army Staff, General Zia-ul-Huq, who imposes martial law.
07 – Against medical advice, a limping Bob Marley refuses to have an infected toe amputated, following a Rasta principle forbidding such surgery. Despite an apparently successful skin graft on the toe about a month later, remaining cancerous cells will later settle in his brain, bringing about his death in 1981.
11 – An 11-month-old dispute at Grunwick photo processing plant in London becomes a national issue when 4,000 police clash with 11,000 pickets.
11 – The Gay News and its editor Denis Lemon are found guilty of “blasphemous libel” in the first case of its kind for more than 50 years. The case is brought as a private prosecution by the secretary of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, Mary Whitehouse who objected to a poem and illustration published in the fortnightly paper last year about a homosexual centurion’s love for Christ at the Crucifixion. Lemon is given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a £500 fine. The Gay News is fined £1,000 but with court costs, the paper has to pay £10,000.
12 – Protesting the construction of a gymnasium on the site where four students were killed in 1970, 194 Kent State demonstrators are arrested without incident.
13/14 – A lightning storm causes a 25-hour power blackout in New York City and New York’s Westchester County. Extensive looting and arson ensue. 3,776 looters are arrested, 100 policemen injured and $135 million in damage is caused.
19 – A flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (USA) kills 76 and causes $200 million in damage.
22 – In China, the “Gang of Four” are expelled from the Chinese Communist party and disgraced deputy Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping is reinstated.
23 – Somali forces invade Ethiopia in a dispute over the Ogaden area.
23 – Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, manager Peter Grant and two Led Zep employees are implicated in the savage backstage beating of one of Bill Graham’s production employees in Oakland. They are later charged and heavily fined.
03 – Revelations of a 25-year program of secret CIA-sponsored mind-control research involving drugs, hypnosis and other behaviour-controlling devices are made public.
06 – ‘Son Of Sam‘ murders his sixth victim, Stacy Moskowitz, in a parked car in Brooklyn, New York.
10 – David Berkowitz is arrested in Yonkers, New York, for killing six people and wounding seven more during his 13-month ‘Son Of Sam‘ murder spree. Berkowitz claims that his neighbour’s dog told him to do it.
10 – A new Panama Canal Treaty is announced between the US and Panama, allowing the latter complete control over the canal by the year 2000.
10 – The Queen visits Northern Ireland for the first time in 11 years as part of her Silver Jubilee tour. A 21-gun salute marked her arrival at Belfast Loch aboard the royal yacht Britannia.
11 – In only the second match since his return to Test cricket after a self-imposed exile of 30 matches, Geoffrey Boycott scores the 100th century of his career in the most august of circumstances – in a test against Australia in front of his own Yorkshire crowd at Headingley, Leeds.
12 – Space Shuttle makes first test flight. The shuttle Enterprise makes its first free flight after being lifted to a height of 25,000 feet on the back of a Boeing 747.
16 – Elvis Presley, for more than twenty years the undisputed “King” of rock and roll, dies at the age of 42. He is found dead at Graceland, the Memphis, Tennessee mansion where he lived, surrounded by an entourage of family and friends. The initial cause of death appears to be a drug overdose, and rumours suggest that the entertainer was fatally addicted to tranquillizers and barbiturates.
18 – Two women are killed and another critically injured when a driver ploughs through a crowd of Elvis mourners at the Graceland gates.
19 – Comedian Groucho Marx dies in Los Angeles, aged 86.
19 – 142 people are killed and over 60 are missing after an earthquake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, shakes a remote Indonesian chain of islands, the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java and Timor. A huge tidal wave destroys buildings and wrecks fishing boats.
20 – NASA launches Voyager 2 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on an unmanned mission to fly near Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
23 – The number of unemployed in the UK rises to 1,635,950.
28 – Lance-corporal Jack Marshall, 25, of the 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders, is shot dead when the Provisional IRA ambush a foot patrol in the Ardoyne district of Belfast.
29 – 139 people are injured when violence breaks out at the end of the Notting Hill Carnival in London. 53 people are arrested.
29 – Three people are arrested in Memphis, charged with attempting to steal the body of Elvis Presley from the Forest Hill Cemetery. As a result, Elvis’s body (and that of his mother Gladys) are removed and re-buried in the grounds of his Graceland mansion.
29 – Australian racing driver Brian McGuire is killed when his formula one car goes off the track and strikes a marshal’s post at Brands Hatch. One fire marshal is killed and two others are seriously injured.
31 – Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front party wins an overwhelming victory in the general election. The party makes a clean sweep of all the 50 seats reserved for whites in the 66-seat parliament.
31 – A British soldier is shot dead while travelling in an Army Land Rover in North Belfast.
31 – Five men are chosen from 600 applicants as Britain’s nominees to compete for the job of Europe’s first astronaut. The five will join 55 applicants from 11 other countries for selection by the European Space Agency, and from these, a final three will go to America for training for the joint American-European space mission, Spacelab.
04 – Street protest marches are banned in Queensland, Australia.
05 – Baader-Meinhof terrorists ambush a car in Cologne, West Germany, kidnapping Dr Hanns-Martin Schleyer, president of the West German Industries Federation. His chauffeur, a security agent and two policemen are killed in the attack.
05 – NASA launches Voyager 1 on a mission to follow Voyager 2 on a multi-year journey toward Jupiter, Saturn and beyond.
05 – Bandleader and well-known US New Year’s Eve host Guy Lombardo dies, at age 72.
07 – Convicted Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy is released from federal custody after serving a term of 52½ months.
08 – Cynthia Nicholas, 19, from Scarborough, Ontario, becomes the first woman to complete a non-stop two-way swim across the English Channel which she does in a new world record time of 19 hours 55 minutes, which is 10 hours 5 minutes faster than the previous record.
09 – Soviet authorities confiscate various titles, including copies of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 which had been brought into the USSR for the first-ever international book fair in Moscow.
12 – Black South African leader and anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko is killed while in police custody. The police claim he committed suicide but an autopsy later reveals massive head trauma and other injuries.
16 – British glam rocker Marc Bolan (of T. Rex) is killed when the car driven by his girlfriend Gloria Jones collides with a tree on Barnes Common in South West London. He is 30 years old.
16 – Opera star Maria Callas dies.
20 – Idi Amin bans most Christian churches in Uganda – including Seventh Day Adventists and the Salvation Army – as security risks.
20 – 108 Vietnamese arrive in San Francisco – the first of many post-war refugees to enter the US on the heels of a new international immigration agreement.
21 – Bert Lance, the Carter-appointed Director of the Office of Management and Budget, resigns following Congressional criticism of his financial practices during his career as a Georgia banker.
22 – Rolling Stone moves offices from the San Francisco warehouse district to Fifth Avenue in mid-town Manhattan, New York.
23 – Plato’s Retreat – a heterosexual club dedicated to casual sex and not much else (it was denied a liquor licence) – opens on New York’s Upper West Side, in the same location as what had been the gay Continental Baths.
26 – Freddie Laker starts a regular passenger service – Skytrain – between London’s Gatwick airport and New York at very low fares.
28 – Cambodian leader Pol Pot arrives in Beijing to discuss Chinese aid.
29 – The USSR launches Salyut 6 space laboratory into orbit.
03 – Former Indian PM Indira Gandhi is arrested.
08 – An outdoor music festival in East Germany leads to a violent confrontation between concertgoers and police in the largest outbreak of unrest in that country in several years.
12 – 16-year-old William Hague makes his first speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. He will serve as the leader of the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001.
14 – Singer Bing Crosby (born Harry Lillis Crosby), collapses and dies of a heart attack on a golf course near Madrid aged 76, after winning a match by one hole.
15 – NY Supreme Court rules that David R. Berkowitz is competent to stand trial as the accused ‘Son Of Sam‘ killer.
18 – German Commandos storm hijacked Lufthansa jet in Mogadishu, killing three of the four Palestinian hijackers.
19 – The dead body of Dr Hanns Martin Schleyer, president of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), is found in the boot of a car in Eastern France. He was kidnapped by the Baader-Meinhof group and murdered in response to the storming of the Lufthansa jet in Somalia yesterday.
19 – After lengthy legal battles, the supersonic jet airliner Concorde lands for the first time on American soil, crossing the Atlantic from France to New York in less than four hours.
20 – Three members of southern US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd (Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines) are killed when their light plane crashes near McComb in Mississippi. Tour manager Dean Kilpatrick is also killed.
27 – Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe denies any involvement in a plot to kill one time friend Norman Scott and suggestiions that he had a homosexual relationship with the former male model. The former Liberal leader, who is accompanied by his wife Marion, makes a point-by-point denial covering all aspects of the affair.
28 – After much ballyhoo, the album Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols is released.
01 – Prince Charles visits Australia.
04 – United Nations bans arms sales to South Africa.
08 – Edward Koch is elected Mayor of New York.
09 – President Sadat of Egypt willing to negotiate peace terms with Israel.
14 – Hare Krishna founder A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – whose followers include George Harrison – dies.
14 – 30,000 British firemen go on strike in support of a 30% wage increase.
15 – Princess Anne gives birth to a baby boy weighing 7lb 9oz – Peter Mark Andrew Phillips – the first royal baby to be born a commoner for more than 500 years.
18/21 – The first National Women’s Conference draws 1,442 delegates to Houston, Texas. The conference calls for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and the elimination of institutional discrimination.
19 – The president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, visits Israel. He is the first Arab leader ever to visit the Jewish state.
22 – Concordes from British Airways and Air France start regularly scheduled flights from London and Paris to New York.
30 – Prime Minister Vorster’s party win South African elections by an overwhelming majority. Only whites are allowed to vote.
01 – Nickelodeon, the children’s cartoon television channel, launches as the Pinwheel Network in Ohio, USA.
02 – South African police are cleared of killing Steve Biko despite the inquest finding that his death was caused by “application of force to his head” while he was in custody.
03 – Vietnam refugee exodus begins.
04 – A Malaysian Boeing 737 crashes in Singapore swampland after being hijacked. 100 lives are lost.
04 – Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowns himself Emperor of the Central African Republic. His lavish coronation costs $30 million. The country is one of the poorest in the world.
05 – President Sadat of Egypt breaks off diplomatic ties with Syria, Libya, Algeria and South Yemen in retaliation to the four nations and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation signing the Declaration of Tripoli.
07 – Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, ends his term. He is succeeded by Sir Zelman Cowen.
09 – LA Laker Kermit Washington viciously attacks an opponent during a bench-clearing melee. He receives a $10,000 fine and the altercation is re-broadcast over the following few days in slow motion on television.
10 – British Airways’ Concorde supersonic airliner makes its inaugural commercial flight from London to Singapore in 8 hours 55 minutes.
10 – Two Soviet cosmonauts are launched into orbit in Soyuz 26 to dock with the Salyut 6 space station.
12 – Lady Spencer-Churchill, the widow of Sir Winston Churchill, dies at her home in London, aged 92.
14 – The film Saturday Night Fever is released in the US.
16 – The Piccadilly line tube in London is extended from Hatton Cross to Heathrow airport.
23 – Cat Stevens becomes a Muslim and changes his name to Yusuf Islam.
25 – Silent film star Charlie Chaplin dies at home in Switzerland, aged 88. He is buried two days later in the small Anglican church graveyard at Corsier-sur-Vevey.
30 – President Carter conducts a televised press conference from Eastern Europe, in Warsaw, Poland.
31 – Two staff members of the Syrian Embassy in London are killed when their car blows up in Albemarle Street.
Also this year . . .
- BT unveils the Trimphone – the first luxury phone with buttons instead of a dial
- Unemployment in the UK reaches 1,350,000
- Pompidou Centre opens in Paris
- ‘Gold & Black’ wins Melbourne Cup
- World Series Cricket launched by Kerry Packer
Quote of the year
“Let’s do it”
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore before being executed by firing squad in the Utah state prison in Salt Lake City on 17 January.
Cost of living in Britain
Petrol – 84p a gallon
Beer – 27p a pint
20 Cigarettes – 46p
Colour TV – £500
Colour TV Licence – £21
B&W TV Licence – £9