Home Decades 1990s 1991

1991

General "Stormin’" Norman Schwarzkopf. Operation Desert Storm.

January

02 – Rebels in El Salvador shoot down an American Army helicopter and kill all three crew members. It is believed that two crew members initially survived and were executed on the ground.

08 – Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark dies from a cocktail of drugs and alcohol at his home in Chelsea, London, UK.

08 – 15-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle shoots himself in front of his English class in Richardson, Texas.

08 – One person dies and hundreds are injured in a train crash at Cannon Street station in London.

15 – The UN-authorised, US-led “Operation Desert Storm” begins in Kuwait with an all-out air attack. Iraq responds by attacking Israel (which had taken no military action against Iraq).

January 1991. “Operation Desert Storm” begins in Kuwait with an all-out air attack.

18 – Three teenagers die in the crush during an AC/DC concert at Salt Palace Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah.

25 – The AIDS death toll hits 100,000 with over 161,000 cases reported since 1981.

27 – New York Giants defeat Buffalo Bills 20 – 19 at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Florida. A failed last-minute scoring attempt by Bills placekicker Scott Norwood ushers in a run of Super Bowl disappointments for the Bills.

February

01 – An American Boeing 737-300 airliner lands on top of a small 19 seater plane at Los Angeles International Airport and 35 people are killed. An investigation shows that a flight controller had forgotten about the small plane on the runway.

07 – The IRA launches a mortar bomb attack on 10 Downing Street during a cabinet meeting. The three bombs – fired from a van on a nearby street corner – land in the back garden, 40 feet from the building.

18 – IRA bombs explode at Paddington Station and Victoria Station in London. The Paddington bomb causes no fatalities but one person dies and 38 are injured at Victoria.

24 – Coalition forces launch a ground-based attack, codenamed ‘Desert Storm’. They regain Kuwait City.

26 – Saddam Hussein orders the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

27 – After three days of ground offensive, Desert Storm troops rout the Iraqi forces in Kuwait. 146 American troops are killed in the fighting, 467 are wounded. Withdrawing Iraqi troops torch Kuwait’s oil wells causing fires which take months to extinguish and cause great economic and environmental damage to the region.

27 – James Brown is paroled from prison after serving two years of his six-year sentence.

28 – President George Bush calls a cease-fire in Iraq, announcing the end of the Gulf War. Abandoned vehicles of all kinds litter the road between Kuwait City and Basra, dubbed the “Highway of Death” where Iraqi soldiers tried to flee Kuwait.

28 – Christian Brando, the 33-year old son of screen legend Marlon Brando, is convicted of the murder of Dag Drollet, the boyfriend of his half-sister, Cheyenne.

March

02 – French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg dies in Paris of a heart attack, aged 62.

3 March. Video shows LAPD officers beating Rodney King.

03 – After leading Los Angeles police on a car chase of several miles, black motorist Rodney King is arrested and severely beaten by four LAPD officers who hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kick him and shoot him with stun guns. The incident is captured on videotape by bystander George Holliday and shown repeatedly on news programs across the US (and the world).

03 – United Airlines Flight 585 crashes in Colorado Springs. All 25 people on board are killed.

11 – A curfew is imposed on black townships in South Africa after fighting between political gangs leaves 49 dead.

13 – Oil firm Exxon agrees to pay $1 billion in fines for the oil spill from its tanker the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in 1989.

14 – In the UK, the Birmingham Six are freed after 16 years of wrongful imprisonment for an IRA pub bombing. One of the six, Paddy Hill, tells a waiting crowd: “we have been used as political scapegoats. The police told us from the start they knew we hadn’t done it. They didn’t care who had done it”.

16 – Seven members of Country singer Reba McEntire’s backing band – Kirk Cappello, Paula Kaye Evans, Michael Thomas, Terry Jackson, Anthony Saputo, Chris Austin and Joey Cigainero – and her road manager Jim Hammon are killed in a plane crash when their charter jet plane crashes near San Diego, California. Pilots Donald Holms and Chris Hollinger are also killed.

20 – Eric Clapton‘s four-year-old son, Conor, falls from the 53rd-floor window of a New York apartment and dies.

Leo Fender (1909 – 1991)

21 – Leo Fender, inventor of the Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, dies at the age of 82 at home in Fullerton, California.

April

01 – The US Supreme Court rules that jurors can no longer be barred from serving on the grounds of their race.

04 – Seven people are killed when a helicopter collides with a private plane over Merion, Pennsylvania. Aboard the plane is Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania.

04 – The US Environmental Protection Agency announces that the ozone layer over America is being depleted at twice the rate previously thought.

04 – 41 people are taken hostage by four gunmen in an electronics store in Sacramento, California. The incident is the biggest hostage negotiation in the US and three of the gunmen are killed along with three hostages.

05 – Former US Senator John Tower is killed in an air crash as his plane attempts to land at Brunswick Airport, Georgia. One of Tower’s daughters also dies, along with 20 others.

10 – 140 people are killed when Italian ferry Moby Prince collides with an oil tanker off the coast of Livorno, Italy. The collision is caused by dense fog.

14 – 20 paintings are stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland, but are recovered 35 minutes later when they are discovered in an abandoned car.

16 – Seventy tornadoes touch down in seven states of the US Midwest and Southwest killing 23 people.

17 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 3,000 for the first time ever, having recovered from a value of 1,738 following the 1987 stock market crash.

20 – Steve Marriott of The Small Faces dies in a fire at his cottage in Arkesden, Essex, at the age of 44.

23 – Johnny Thunders, formerly of the New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, dies in St Peter’s House Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is 38. Although a drug overdose was assumed, an autopsy failed to confirm a cause of death.

29 – 138,000 people are killed by a tropical cyclone in Bangladesh.

May

06 – Arsenal are announced as Football League champions, their second league title in three seasons.

14 – Winnie Mandela, the wife of anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela, is given a six-year prison sentence for her part in the kidnap of four youths. Mrs Mandela’s housekeeper and driver are also found guilty of taking part in the kidnapping of the four youths who were suspected of being police informers.

15 – Edith Cresson becomes the first woman prime minister of France.

15 – Manchester United win the European Cup Winners’ Cup, defeating FC Barcelona 2-1.

16 – Queen Elizabeth II makes a speech in the US Congress. She is the first British monarch to address the US Congress.

18 – Britain’s first astronaut, 27-year-old Helen Sharman from Sheffield, blasts into orbit. The former chemist for the Mars chocolate company won her place in space in 1989 after answering an advertisement she heard on the car radio – “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary.”

18 – Tottenham Hotspur win the FA Cup for a record eighth time, beating Nottingham Forest 2–1 at Wembley.

21 – Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is campaigning for re-election in Madras, India, when he is killed by a bomb hidden in a bouquet of flowers.

June

08 – A victory parade is held in Washington to honour returned veterans of the Gulf War.

10 – 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard is kidnapped leaving school in Meyers, California. She will not be found for eighteen years.

12 – Boris Yeltsin becomes the first elected president of Russia (as opposed to the president of the Soviet Union), with a 57% share of the vote.

13 – A spectator at the US Open is struck by lightning and killed.

14 – Julie Ann Gibson qualifies as the first female pilot in the Royal Air Force.

15 – The largest land volcano eruption in living history shakes the Philippine island of Luzon as Mount Pinatubo, a formerly unassuming lump of jungle-covered slopes, blows its top. Ash falls as far away as Singapore, and in the year to follow, volcanic particles in the atmosphere lower global temperatures by an average of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius). 

17 – The parliament of South Africa repeals the Population Registration Act – the act that required all South Africans to be classified by race at birth.

21 – Outside a Los Angeles supermarket, rapper Vanilla Ice and his bodyguard are arrested for carrying concealed weapons.

27 – Yugoslav tanks, troops and aircraft sweep into the small republic of Slovenia, 48 hours after it declares independence.

27 – Thurgood Marshall, the first black US Supreme Court justice, resigns after 24 years on the bench.

28 – The Greater Los Angeles Area is hit by the Sierra Madre earthquake. Two people die and up to 40 are injured.

July

05 – Regulators shut down the Pakistani-managed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in eight countries, for fraud, drug money laundering and illegal infiltration of the US banking system.

10 – President Bush lifts US economic sanctions against South Africa, as a result of its progress towards racial equality.

11 – Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 catches fire and crashes soon after taking off from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. All 261 people on board are killed.

11 – The longest solar eclipse for 141 years takes place. Best viewed from the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, it lasts for 6 minutes and 52 seconds.

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

22 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for killing, dismembering, and possibly eating at least 17 people. Dahmer confesses to the sex-related killings and received 15 consecutive life sentences. In 1994, Dahmer is beaten to death in prison by a fellow inmate.

22 – Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington accuses boxer Mike Tyson of rape in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson is later convicted and sent to prison for three years.

27 – Pee Wee Herman (Paul Rubens) is arrested in Sarasota for indecent behaviour in an adult movie cinema.

30 – Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti gives a huge free concert in London’s Hyde Park to celebrate 30 years in opera. A crowd of 100,000 stand in the rain to watch Pavarotti perform 20 arias by Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and Wagner. It was the biggest outdoor music event in Hyde Park since the Rolling Stones performed there in 1969.

31 – Bush and Gorbachev sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Moscow. The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement calls for the Soviet Union to reduce its number of nuclear warheads from 10,841 to 8,040 within the next decade, while the US will reduce its stockpile from 12,081 to 10,395.

August

02 – Funk star Rick James is arrested and charged with torturing a woman during a bizarre three-day orgy at his Hollywood home.

04 – The 571 passengers aboard cruise liner MTS Oceanos are rescued by South African Air Force helicopters when it sinks off the coast of South Africa. The vessel had begun taking on seawater and staff on deck abandoned ship, neglecting to help passengers.

06 – Tim Berners-Lee releases files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. The first web site is dedicated to information on the World Wide Web project and is still live at http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html

Tim Berners-Lee. Inventor of the World Wide Web.

08 – John McCarthy, a British television producer, is finally released by Lebanese kidnappers after being held captive for more than five years.

11 – American Edward Tracey is released by his Shiite Muslim kidnappers after almost five years in captivity.

17 – In a shopping centre in Strathfield, Sydney (Australia), a taxi driver kills seven people and injures six others before shooting himself.

25 – Michael Schumacher makes his Formula 1 debut in the Belgian Grand Prix. He retires on the first lap but goes on to become one of the greatest drivers of all time.

September

02 – America grants full diplomatic recognition to Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, signifying their independence from the USSR.

04 – Country singer Dottie West dies at the age of 58 from injuries received in a car accident five days ago.

12 – The space shuttle Discovery is launched on a mission to release an observatory to study the Earth’s ozone layer.

16 – A Federal judge in Washington dismisses the Iran-Contra charges against Oliver North.

17 – The United Nations General Assembly opens its 46th session. New members are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North and South Korea, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

1991_otzi19 – Two hikers in the Alps discover a 5,000-year-old frozen mummified corpse, christened Ötzi (pictured at right) after the Ötztal region in which he is discovered.

24 – Theodor Seuss Geisel dies at the age of 87. He is better known as children’s author Dr Seuss.

24 – Former RAF fighter pilot Jackie Mann is released by his Lebanese captors after more than two years of being held hostage.

27 – President Bush announces a large unilateral cut in nuclear weapons. According to Bush, all shipboard tactical weapons in Europe and Asia would be eliminated, and long-range bombers and intercontinental missiles will no longer be on 24-hour alert. Gorbachev announces a similar reduction a week later.

28 – Legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis dies at the age of 65, in Santa Monica, California.

October

06 – Elizabeth Taylor marries for the eighth time. This time her husband is former builder Larry Fortensky. The wedding takes place at Michael Jackson’s ranch.

08 – A slave burial site, closed in 1790, is rediscovered by construction workers in lower Manhattan.

15 – After a series of bitter and ugly hearings, Clarence Thomas is narrowly confirmed as the new Supreme Court Justice by the US Senate. Thomas has been accused of sexual harassment by black law professor Anita Hill, who was in turn viciously interrogated by several conservative senators during the televised confirmation proceedings. Though she was unable to block Thomas’s appointment, Hill’s testimony goes a long way towards increasing awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace.

16 – A man drives a pickup truck through the window of Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and begins firing at diners. He kills 22 people before turning his gun on himself when the police arrive on the scene. The 35-year old man, George Jo Hennard, lived alone in the town of Belton, 20 miles away. Following the massacre, Texas changed its laws to allow citizens to carry concealed firearms on their person.

17 – Tennessee Ernie Ford dies, 36 years to the day after the release of his biggest hit, Sixteen Tons.

21 – Lebanese kidnappers finally free Jesse Turner, a maths professor who was kidnapped in 1987.

25 – US rock impresario (and founder of the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco) Bill Graham dies at the age of 60 – killed in a helicopter crash on the way back from a Huey Lewis gig he had been promoting in California. His girlfriend, Melissa Gold, is also killed.

November

01 – Former alumni of Iowa University, Gang Lu shoots and kills three members of faculty and one student before committing suicide.

03 – Israeli and Palestinian representatives hold their first-ever face-to-face talks, in Madrid, Spain.

05 – The body of newspaper baron Robert Maxwell is found floating in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Tenerife. Subsequent investigations reveal that he was $4 billion in debt and had stolen nearly $2 billion from the pension funds of his companies.

07 – Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Magic Johnson announces he has tested positive for AIDS and is retiring from the game.

14 – After being fired for insubordination, American postal worker Thomas McIlvane goes on a shooting rampage in Royal Oak, Michigan. Four people are killed and five wounded before McIlvane commits suicide.

16 – St Albans, Hertfordshire, is bombed by the IRA. The bomb was due to detonate to coincide with crowds leaving a concert in the Alban Arena but explodes prematurely, killing the two IRA members planting it.

21 – President Bush signs the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which makes it easier to sue employers on the grounds of discrimination.

24 – Freddie Mercury, flamboyant frontman of British rock group Queen, dies the day after announcing that he is HIV positive. A tribute concert in April 1992 is attended by over 70,000 people and raises money for AIDS charities.

30 – Norway is defeated by the United States 1-2 at the final of the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup, in China.

December

01 – Ukraine votes to become independent from the Soviet Union.

03 – John Sununu, President Bush‘s unpopular chief of staff, resigns after months of controversy over his use of military aircraft for personal trips.

04 – Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson is released after nearly seven years in captivity in Lebanon.

04 – Pan American World Airways – better known as ‘Pan Am’ – ceases operations due to financial problems.

15 – Egyptian ferry the Salem Express strikes a reef in the Red Sea off the Egyptian coast and sinks within minutes, killing everyone on board.

21 – 11 former Soviet states found the Confederation of Independent States, effectively dissolving the USSR.

25 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as the President of the USSR and declares the office extinct.

26 – The Supreme Soviet meets in Moscow and officially dissolves itself.