Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The title of The Clash's single Should I Stay or Should I Go - which first appeared on their 1982 album Combat Rock - remained strictly rhetorical until this day in 2002 when the man who wasn't best known for singing it*, their former lead singer Joe Strummer, died suddenly of a congenital heart defect; he was 50.
The following March Strummer was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside his surviving bandmates; in January 2007 Julien Temple released a documentary on the life and work of Joe Strummer - entitled, appropriately enough, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten - at that year's Sundance Film Festival.
*That honour typically went to Mick Jones before his 1983 dismissal from the band, although it was Strummer's idea to do the song's backing vocals in Spanish, which were translated by the mother of Eddie Garcia (who was the band's tape operator) although they were performed by Strummer and Joe Ely. Got that?
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[Berlin's Brandenburg Gate - the symbolic gateway between East and West Germany - was re-opened on this day in 1989 following the Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th.]
1603 - Mehmed III, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, died; he was succeeded by his son Ahmed I.
1790 - The Turkish fortress of Izmail was stormed and captured by the forces of Russia's Alexander Suvorov during the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792.
1807 - The Embargo Act - forbidding trade with all foreign countries, triggered by the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair - was passed by the US Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.
1808 - Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies plus five other works at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna.
1864 - Savannah fell to General William Tecumseh Sherman, concluding his now-famous March to the Sea.
1885 - Prince Ito Hirobumi - a samurai - was elected Japan's first Prime Minister.
1890 - The Cornwallis Valley Railway began operations between Kingsport and Kentville in Nova Scotia.
1937 - The Lincoln Tunnel - connecting Manhattan to Weehawken, New Jersey - opened to traffic.
1947 - The current constitution of Italy was enacted.
1951 - The Selangor Labour Party was founded in the Malaysian state of Selangor.
1956 - Colo, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity, was born; at 53, she is currently the oldest gorilla alive in captivity.
1963 - Three days out of Southampton, during an eleven-day Christmastime cruise to the Canary Islands under the captaincy of Mathios Zarbis, the TSMS Lakonia caught fire with the loss of 128 lives among the 1,022 people - 646 passengers* and 376 crew - on board. Rescue efforts were hampered by the fact that the vessel was 180 miles north of Madeira at the time; in fact, it would be more than four hours after the fire started before the Argentine cruise ship Salta arrived, shortly followed by the British tanker Montcalm. Both would perform yeoman duty in returning the majority of the survivors to dry land.
*All but 21 of whom were British nationals.
1974 - The house of former British Prime Minister Ted Heath house was bombed by members of the Provisional IRA.
1984 - Bernhard Goetz shot four men on a New York City Seventh Avenue 2 express subway train.
1988 - Chico Mendes - a Brazilian rubber tapper, unionist and environmental activist - was assassinated.
1989 - Ion Iliescu assumed power in Romania following the deposition of communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.
1997 - The Acteal Massacre occurred when attendees at a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists for indigenous causes in Acteal, a village in the Mexican state of Chiapas, were massacred by paramilitary forces.
2000 - Madonna married Guy Ritchie at Scotland's Skibo Castle.
2001 - 'Shoe Bomber' Richard Reid was thwarted in his attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63.
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