Home Decades 1970s 1979

1979

January

01 – USA and China establish diplomatic relations.

04 – Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to families of the dead and injured in Kent State University shootings.

04 – Influential jazz musician Charles Mingus, dies from a heart attack in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Aged 56.

04 – Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, dies aged 91.

07 – Hundreds of Khmer Rouge troops flee Cambodia after being crushed by Vietnamese-led rebel forces. The capital, Phnom Penh, has been seized and Pol Pot and many of his soldiers forced to retreat into the countryside.

07 – A young Ukrainian woman jumps from a Russian ship in Sydney Harbour wearing only a red bikini and swims to shore to seek asylum in Australia. Lillian Gasinskaya, 18, from Odessa, is found on a Pyrmont footpath by a photographer and goes into hiding with friends in Sydney.

08 – A French tanker, the Betelgeuse, explodes while discharging its cargo at the Whiddy Island oil terminal in Bantry Bay, Ireland. 50 lives are lost.

12 – John Wayne, who is suffering from cancer, undergoes a serious operation in Los Angeles in which most of his stomach has to be removed.

13 – Soul singer Donny Hathaway falls (or is pushed – the police never conclude which) from a 15th floor New York City hotel room window and dies.

16 – The Shah of Iran is driven into exile by fanatical supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini. The ailing Shah flees to Mexico, then to the US in October. When uproar over his presence in the US becomes too great, the Shah relocates to Panama.

17 – Australian TV legend Graham Kennedy is chosen as King of Melbourne’s Moomba Festival.

19 – Ex-Attorney General John Mitchell, the last Watergate conspirator still in jail, is released on parole.

21 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 to become the first American football team to win three Super Bowls.

22 – A car bomb in Beirut kills Abu Hassan, allegedly the man behind the 1972 Olympics massacre.

23 – Australian government suspends aid to Vietnam.

26 – US Republican politician and former vice president, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (b. 1908) dies in flagrante delicto while in the arms of his secretary Megan Marshack.

29 – San Diego teenager Brenda Spencer opens fire on her school, killing her principal and one other and injuring eight students and a police officer. When asked why she had done it, she replied: “I don’t like Mondays”. The quote becomes the inspiration for the Boomtown Rats song of the same name.

29President Carter commutes Patty Hearst‘s jail sentence.

30 – A referendum of white Rhodesians votes overwhelmingly for black majority rule.

31 – British Public Sector workers strike in response to the government’s 5% limit on pay rises. The period becomes known as “the winter of discontent” (pictured below).

uk_rubbish


February

01 – Moslem revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 14 years in exile. Three million supporters line the streets to greet him. He takes over the country following the flight of the Shah in January.

02 – Punk rock star Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols dies of a heroin overdose. His body is found after a party in his new girlfriend’s New York apartment, held to celebrate his release from jail on bail. 21 year old Vicious, formerly John Ritchie from East London, was supposed to have been weaned off drugs while in custody.

06 – Pakistan’s Supreme Court rules that former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto should be hanged for conspiring to murder an opponent.

07 – Researchers identify a coin found near Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1961 as a Norse penny minted between 1065 and 1080.

07 – In the US, DEA agents arrest eight Chicago Bond Options Exchange traders for cocaine distribution.

08 – US withdraws aid to the Somoza regime in Nicaragua in protest at human rights violations, and in an attempt to force Anastasio Somoza to negotiate with the insurgent Sandinista movement.

12 – An Air Rhodesia Viscount airliner is brought down by missiles fired by nationalist guerrillas. 59 people are killed.

12 – In Australia, Harry M Miller’s ‘Computicket’ collapses.

15 – Four Iranian army generals are executed by firing squad, and two members of the Shah’s government are executed the following day.

17 – China begins making punitive invasions into Vietnam. Three weeks later the Chinese forces will begin to withdraw, but hostilities will persist.

23 – War breaks out between North and South Yemen.


March

02 – Home rule for Wales and Scotland is rejected in a referendum.

05Voyager 1 flies to within 177,720 miles of the clouds of Jupiter, and relays information back to Earth: Jupiter’s atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and helium. The great red spot is an atmospheric storm. Jupiter’s moon, Io, has at least nine active volcanos. The thin ring around the planet is between 18 and 20 miles thick.

13 – A coup in the Caribbean island of Grenada topples the country’s controversial Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy. The coup is staged by members of the New Jewel party, a left-wing opposition group in Grenada’s parliament headed up by Maurice Bishop.

15 – At a Holiday Inn bar in Columbus, Ohio, Elvis Costello gets into a fracas with Bonnie Bramlett and members of Stephen Stills‘ entourage following disparaging remarks made by Costello about US R&B legends Ray Charles and James Brown.

17 – Nottingham Forrest beat Southampton 3-2 in UK League Cup final.

18 – Declassified Pol Pot government records reveal that Nixon‘s stated reason for sending troops into Cambodia in 1970 – that the entire Communist effort against South Vietnam was based in that country – was indeed true.

18 – 10 men are killed in an underground explosion at Golborne colliery, near Wigan in Lancashire. A fireball shoots 200 yards(183m) along a tunnel that is 1,800ft (549m) underground.

19 – Actor Richard Beckinsale dies. His successful TV shows included Porridge, Rising Damp and The Lovers.

22 – British ambassador in Holland Sir Richard Sykes is shot dead outside his Dutch home. Two IRA gunmen open fire on Sir Richard and his Dutch footman as they leave his residence at The Hague to make the short five-minute car journey to the embassy.

26 – Egypt and Israel sign a peace treaty at the White House.

28Eric Clapton weds Patti Boyd, ex-wife of George Harrison, in Tucson, Arizona.

28 – British Prime Minister James Callaghan loses a parliamentary vote of confidence by a minority of one – forcing him to call an early general election. The vote of “no confidence” is brought by opposition leader Margaret Thatcher and the government’s downfall is announced at 2219 BST.

29Idi Amin is driven from Uganda as his regime crumbles.

30 – An IRA car bomb kills Airey Neave, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, as he leaves the House of Commons car park at the Palace of Westminster.

31 – A potentially explosive bubble of hydrogen gas inside a crippled reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is posing a new threat of nuclear disaster. If it explodes the reactor’s container could be breached, releasing large amounts of radioactivity.


April

01 – The last Royal Navy warship leaves Malta, ending British ties with the island.

01 – Iran is declared an Islamic Republic by Ayatollah Khomeini.

01Patty Hearst and her former guard Bernard Shaw are wed two months after her release from prison.

02 – Begin is the first Israeli PM to visit Egypt.

03 – Over 1,000 trucks block the Hume Highway at Camden and Yass in NSW (Australia) as truck drivers protest against high road taxes and freight costs.

04 – Despite pleas from world leaders, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 51, is hanged in Rawalpindi after being convicted of conspiracy to murder following a trial that was widely condemned as unfair.

04 – The Yorkshire Ripper claims his 11th victim, in Halifax. For the first time, the victim is not a prostitute.

04 – Australia’s first international air hijack attempt ends in tragedy with police shooting a 34-year-old Italian man after a five-hour drama at Sydney Airport. A woman hostage and a policeman are stabbed after the hijacker demands to be flown to Moscow via Singapore and Rome, where he wants to see the Pope and an Italian Communist Party leader. The dead man is Domico Speranza, from the Sydney suburb of Fairfield.

08 – Folk singer Phil Ochs hangs himself in New York.

11 – Kampala, capital of Uganda, is captured by Tanzanian forces and Ugandan exiles who depose General Idi Amin, ending eight years of misrule. Yusufu Lule – who had been driven into exile by Amin – is sworn in as the country’s new president.

16 – Seven people are killed and 45 injured when two trains collide at roof-top level in Paisley.

17 – IRA detonates 1000lb bomb killing four policemen in Northern Ireland. The bomb is the IRA’s most powerful yet.

21 – The Bjelke-Petersen government in Queensland, Australia, allows the unannounced demolition of the historic Bellevue Hotel.

22 – Tanzanian forces capture Jinja, 50 miles from Kampala.

23 – Teacher Blair Peach is knocked unconscious by police during an Anti-Nazi League demonstration in Southall, London. He dies the next day in hospital from his head injuries. 14 witnesses say they had seen members of the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group (SPG) strike Peach. No one is ever charged. The Dominion Cinema, Southall, where his body is lying in repose, is visited by 8,000 Sikhs on the eve of his funeral (pictured below) which is attended by 10,000 people.

blairpeachfuneral_020


May

03Jeremy Thorpe loses his seat in the British election. The Conservatives win with a majority of 43 over all other parties.

04 – The Tories rule Britain again and the nation has its first woman Prime Minister. On the threshold of 10 Downing Street, a triumphant 53-year-old Margaret Thatcher says: “Where there is discord may we bring harmony . . . where there is despair may we bring hope”.

07 – In Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini lowers the age of marriage to 13 for girls and 15 for boys.

08 – Ten die and 47 are hurt when fire breaks out in a Woolworth’s store in Manchester.

11 – American Woolworth’s heiress Barbara Hutton dies aged 67.

12 – Arsenal beats Manchester United 3-2 in the FA Cup Final.

18 – The estate of Karen Silkwood wins $10.5 million compensation for the atomic contamination she suffered as a nuclear worker in 1974.

22 – Progressive Liberal party wins Canadian general election – Joe Clark becomes Prime Minister.

22 – Soviet police are unable to control screaming fans at an Elton John concert in Leningrad.

25 – An American Airlines DC 10 crashes in Chicago after losing a wing shortly after take-off. 275 people are killed in the worst air disaster in US history. All DC10s are grounded.

28 – Britain agrees to take 982 Vietnamese “boat people” refugees on the South China Sea.

29 – Bishop Abel Muzorewa is sworn in as Rhodesia’s first black Prime Minister.


June

01 – Rhodesia is renamed Zimbabwe.

04 – South African President Vorster resigns after a financial scandal.

07/10 – European electors vote for the first European Parliament.

09 – A man and six children die when fire breaks out on a ghost train at Sydney’s Luna Park amusement centre in Australia. The dead are two young boys and their father, and four classmates from a Sydney school. Police believe an electrical fault started the fire as the ghost train ran through a series of tunnels.

11 – John Wayne, 72, loses his fight against cancer and America mourns a symbol of manhood.

12 – American Bryan Allen makes the first man-powered flight across the English Channel, pedalling his bicycle plane Gossamer Albatross from Folkestone in England to Cap Gris Nez, France, in 2 hours 50 minutes.

13 – The Sioux Indian nation is awarded $17.5 million for lands taken from them in the Black Hills of South Dakota back in 1877 – including interest, the settlement comes to over $100 million.

18 – The SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty is signed in Vienna by President Carter and USSR President Leonid Brezhnev.

22 – The former leader of the British Liberal Party Jeremy Thorpe, along with David Holmes, George Deakin and John Le Mesurier (not the Dad’s Army star), is acquitted of conspiracy to murder.

22 – Sony launches the portable Walkman cassette player in Tokyo, and change the way people listen to music forever.

26Muhammad Ali, 37, announces his retirement from the boxing ring.

28Chuck Berry plays the White House. Berry will later be sentenced to four months in prison for tax evasion.

29 – Lowell George (Little Feat) dies of a drug-induced heart attack in Arlington, Virginia, aged 34.


July

05 – The Queen presides over the 1000th annual open-air sitting of the Isle of Man’s Parliament, Tynwald.

09 – Voyager 2 flies to within 399,560 miles of the clouds of Jupiter. Three new satellites of the planet are discovered, and the moons Io, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede (pictured below) and Amalthea, are examined.

jupiterganymede

11 – The International Whaling Commission bans whale factory ships to save 10,000 creatures a year.

11 – After 6 years in space, Skylab streaks back to Earth and dumps most of its 80 tons of molten metal into a watery grave. But up to 1,000 pieces of the giant space station rain down on Australia, mostly in sparsely populated desert areas and there are no reports of injury or damage.

12 – Singer Minnie Riperton dies.

15 – In a televised speech, President Carter calls for a new energy conservation program that includes limiting oil imports, reducing oil use by utilities, fuel rationing for motorists and the study of other forms of fuel.

16Saddam Hussein becomes President of Iraq as President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns.

17 – Fighters of the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrow the regime in the central American republic of Nicaragua and take the capital, Managua. President Anastasio Somoza Debayle flees to the United States ending 46 years of his family’s rule.

19 – Maria Pintassilgo becomes Portugal’s first woman Prime Minister.

20 – Security forces of Rhodesia kill more than 180 black auxiliaries.

23Ayatollah Khomeini bans the broadcast of music on radio and television, saying it corrupts youth.

24 – Gas explosion kills 14 miners at Appin colliery in NSW, Australia.

31 – Seventeen people die when a Dan Air plane goes off the runway and into the sea at Sumburgh Airport in the Shetlands.


August

09 – Brighton becomes the first major resort in Britain to officially set aside part of its seafront to nudists. Situated to the east of Palace Pier between Peter Pan’s playground and the marina, the beach will be opened as an experiment for one year.

14 – Dozens of yachts are lost and 15 people killed when a freak storm blows up in the Irish Sea during the Fastnet yacht race. Rescuers from both sides of the Irish sea worked around the clock to answer distress calls from many of the 303 yachts taking part in the ocean race. Six lives are lost because safety harnesses broke, the others drowned or died of hypothermia.

14 John Stonehouse, the former government minister who faked his own death, is freed from prison after serving three years of a seven-year term for theft, fraud and deception.

15 – Seb Coe is the first athlete to hold world indoor records simultaneously for 800 metres, 1500 metres and the mile.

27 – Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 79, is killed in the quiet fishing village of Mullaghmore, County Sligo (Ireland) when his boat is ripped apart by an IRA bomb. His grandson, Nicholas, aged 14, and a 17-year-old boatsman, Paul Maxwell, also die in the blast. Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, Lady Brabourne, her son Timothy and her mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, are all said to be “critical” in an intensive care ward.

27 – 18 British soldiers are killed by two remotely-detonated IRA bombs in an ambush at Warrenpoint, South Down, just on the Ulster side of the border. Many of those killed are members of the Second Battalion Parachute Regiment, whose colonel-in-chief is the Prince of Wales.

30 – Francis McGirl and Thomas McMahon are charged in Dublin with the murder of Earl Mountbatten.


September

01Pioneer II flies within 13,000 miles of Saturn. Two new outer rings are discovered and also an 11th moon. It is also confirmed that Saturn has a magnetic field.

02 – A killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper claims his 12th victim with the brutal murder of Barbara Leach, 20, a student from Bradford University. He has succeeded in evading capture during a four-year reign of terror, and detectives at the centre of one of Britain’s biggest manhunts issue a warning that no woman is safe to be out on the street at night on her own.

08 – Jean Seberg is found dead in the back of a car in a side street of the 16th arrondissement in Paris. She had disappeared from her home a week earlier after trying to commit suicide by throwing herself in front of a subway train. This time she chose an overdose of sleeping pills and was successful.

09 – British bandleader Norrie Paramor dies.

14 – Plans are announced for the revitalisation of London’ Docklands area.

14ABBA perform for the first time in North America at a venue in Vancouver, Canada.

18 – Following the defection of Alexandr Godunov earlier in the year, two more principals of the Bolshoi Ballet defect to the USA.

20 – Ruthless dictator of the Central African Empire, Jean Bédal Bokassa (who is said to have eaten his enemies), is removed from power by his nephew, former president David Dacko. The troubled country is once again a republic.

21 – An RAF Harrier jump jet collides with another Harrier and crashes onto houses in Ramnoth Road in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, killing two adults (including a former Mayor of Wisbech) and a two-year-old boy. Both pilots eject and parachute to safety.

21NME young guns Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill wed at Brentwood Registry Office in Essex.

23 – 200,000 demonstrators attend the “No Nukes” rally and concert in New York City. Jane Fonda is a speaker at the rally.

26Elton John collapses onstage at Hollywood Universal Amphitheatre, suffering from exhaustion.

27 – British entertainer Gracie Fields dies, aged 81, on the Isle of Capri.

27 – Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (ex- Wings, Thunderclap Newman, Small Faces) dies aged 26.


October

08/12 – The Dow Jones Industrial plunges 58 points in panic trading triggered by the Federal Reserve Board’s raising of interest rates. Though the market eventually rights itself, the new high interest rates spell bad news for the automobile and construction industries.

17 – The Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Baltimore Orioles in seven games to win the World Series.

18 – More than 53,000 Kampuchean refugees are driven into Thailand

19 – Australian Federal Police formed.

26 – South Korean president Park Chung Hee is assassinated by the chief of his intelligence service, Kim Jea Kyu. Five other people, including the president’s bodyguard, are also killed.

28 – The first Chinese leader to visit Britain, Chairman Hua Kuo-Feng, arrives in London at the start of a six-day visit. He is welcomed at Heathrow airport by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


November

03 – Six gunmen kill four protesters during an anti-KKK rally in Greensboro, USA. At their 1980 trial, an all-white jury will clear the six.

04 – The US embassy in Teheran, Iran is seized by Iranian student revolutionaries. Most foreign hostages are released, but 52 white American males remain hostage. The revolutionaries demand the return of the deposed Shah to Iran to stand trial. The US refuses, and the “hostage crisis” begins – The majority of the hostages are not ultimately released until January 1981.

11 – 200,000 people are evacuated from Mississauga in Canada after a freight train jumps the rails and chemicals burst into flames.

13 The Times newspaper is published for the first time in nearly a year because of a dispute between management and unions over manning levels and the introduction of new technology.

15 – The Queen’s art adviser, Sir Anthony Blunt, is revealed as a Russian spy and the ‘fourth man’ in the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean in 1951.

18 – Three hostages are released from the American embassy in Teheran.

20 – Armed militants seize the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

21 – A mob in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, burns the US Embassy to the ground, killing a US marine. A further five dead bodies are found when the siege is over. One is an American, two are Pakistani staff members, and two are protesters.

22 – UK Mortgage rate hits a record 15%.

28 – A New Zealand DC-10 aircraft smashes on to the slopes of a volcano in Antarctica – 257 people die.

30 – Joyce Grenfell, who over the years delighted millions with her monologues, writing and broadcasting, dies of cancer.

30Pink Floyd release their famous album, The Wall, in the UK.


December

03 – Eleven people are trampled to death at a concert by The Who at River Front Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio (pictured below), as an insufficient number of doors are opened to admit the crowd.

Dec31979_ohio

04President Carter announces candidacy for re-election, despite polls showing his approval rating is at its lowest levels ever.

07 – Cabinet minister Lord Soames is appointed transitional governor of Rhodesia to oversee its progress into legal independence.

10 – Motorcycle stuntman Eddie Kidd accomplishes a leap of 80ft over a 50ft sheer drop above a viaduct on a 400cc motorcycle. Kidd, who is only 20 years old, completes the stunt before a stunned group of spectators, fans and press at the River Blackwater at Maldon, Essex, while filming the movie Riding High.

11 – Mother Theresa is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for her work with the poor in India and abroad.

12 – Lord Soames arrives in Salisbury as the new British Governor of Southern Rhodesia. The 14-year rebellion ends.

18 – Stanley Barrett is the first man to break the sound barrier on land after his rocket car reaches a speed of 739.666 mph (1190.35 kph) in California.

20 – The Housing Bill published today will give council house tenants in Britain the right to buy their home. Those who have lived in their council house for up to three years will be given a 33% discount on the market value of their home, increasing in stages up to 50% for a tenancy of 20 years.

24 – The first European-built rocket, Ariane 1, successfully completes its maiden flight. The rocket will now be used to launch commercially profitable television, communication and other useful satellites.

25Soviet forces invade Afghanistan and seize control.

27 – President Hafizullah of Afghanistan is deposed and executed after a coup strongly backed by Soviet troops. The Soviet invasion sparks worldwide protest and leads the USA to boycott the Moscow Olympic Games in the summer of 1980.

29 – The secret trial of the Gang of Four is announced in Peking.


Also this year . . .

  • International Year of the Child
  • Josef Mengele dies, aged 68, in poverty in Brazil
  • ‘Hyperno’ wins Melbourne Cup
  • Melbourne scientists invent the Bionic Ear
  • First Australian Lotto draw (hosted by Mike Walsh and Karen Pini)

Quotes of the year

“It’s like saying to Beethoven. ‘This symphony’s a real treat, Ludwig, but it’s 32 bars too long’ “
John Cleese, who vetoed the sale of Fawlty Towers to America because he refused to allow episodes to be cut.

“By God, I’ll confront them”
Margaret Thatcher, promising to tackle rampant union power.