Friday, June 11, 2010
Birthday wishes go out today to Frank Beard, founding member of Southern rock stalwarts ZZ Top; the group was formed in 1969, and amazingly is still comprised not only of its original lineup but employs its original manager as well. It's always easy to spot Frank Beard onstage, as (despite his name) he's the one without the beard, preferring the subtler charms of a mustache instead.
Viva Las Vegas was a single included to help move the group's 1992 Greatest Hits album, which it certainly did - triple platinum, in fact; originally written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley as the title track to his 1964 film Viva Las Vegas, ZZ Top's video naturally features an Elvis impersonator as the ghost of Elvis, albeit circa 1959.
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On this day in 1962 Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence 'Larry' Anglin became the only prisoners to successfully escape from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay. As none of them were ever seen again or indeed recaptured, they are officially presumed dead. Of course, their bodies have never turned up either...
Later the Anglin family insisted that all three found their way to South America, without offering much in the way of evidence to support their claim.
Their feat was described in J. Campbell Bruce's 1963 book Escape From Alcatraz, which was later made into a Clint Eastwood movie with the same incredibly creative title - Escape From Alcatraz (1979).
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[On the reverse of the little-seen US $2 bill is a representation of the Committee of Five presenting John Hancock and the Continental Congress with their work in June 1776; an engraved modified reproduction of the painting The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, it is a picture steeped in American history and lore, and makes the $2 bill the only one to feature the images of two Presidents - namely Adams and Jefferson. Trumbull's original hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.]
1429 - Not only did the start of the Battle of Jargeau mark the resumption of hostilities after a generation of relative peace between the French and the English during the Hundred Years' War, it also marked the first offensive battle in the military career of Joan of Arc.
1509 - England's King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon following the publication of a papal bull by Pope Julius II which allowed it; previously the bride had been married to the groom's brother Arthur, and following his untimely death she insisted that their marriage had never been consummated so that she could legally marry Henry.
1770 - Captain James Cook's vessel Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, causing severe damage to both the ship and the reef.
1776 - The Second Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston of New York to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence - although the majority of the work was done by Jefferson. It was just 17 days later when they presented their draft to Congress, as shown above.
1825 - The cornerstone was laid for Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton, whose purpose was to guard the Narrows and thus New York Harbour from an invasion by sea.
1837 - The Broad Street Riot occurred in Boston, fueled by ethnic tensions between English-Americans and Irish-Americans.
1892 - The Limelight Department, one of the world's first film studios, was officially established in Melbourne.
1898 - The Hundred Days' Reform was begun by China's Guangxu Emperor with the hope of changing social, political and educational institutions in that country; it was, however, suspended by Empress Dowager Cixi after 104 days. Despite its failure, the reform did later lead to the abolition of Imperial Examination in 1905.
1917 - King Alexander I assumed the throne of Greece after his father Constantine I abdicated under pressure by allied armies occupying Athens; the ex-King and his eldest son Crown Prince George were then sent into exile. The so-called National Schism over whether Greece should enter World War I had been a major source of conflict between Constantine and his Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.
1936 - The International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London.
1955 - 77 people were killed when a car driven by Pierre Levegh crashed into the crowd during the 24 Hours of Le Mans motor race in France.
1956 - The Gal Oya riots - the first reported ethnic riots that targeted minority Tamils in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka - reportedly killed 150 people before they were finally brought under control five days later.
1963 - Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burnt himself to death at a busy intersection in Saigon to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.
1964 - World War II veteran Walter Seifert ran amok in an elementary school in Köln on his 42nd birthday, killing at least eight children and two teachers and seriously injuring several more with a home-made flamethrower and a lance; following the attack, he took poison, was apprehended by the police, and died in custody the next day.
1970 - Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially received their ranks as US Army Generals from Commander-in-Chief Richard Nixon, becoming the first females to do so.
1972 - The Eltham Well Hall rail crash, caused by an intoxicated train driver, killed six people and injured 126.
1987 - Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain for a third consecutive term.
2001 - Timothy McVeigh was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
2004 - Ronald Reagan's funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral.
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