W.C Handy's Memphis Blues - originally a political campaign
song called Mr. Crump - became the first published American blues song.
It was later reworked as St. Louis Blues.
1955 - President Eisenhower endorsed the use of nuclear weapons in the
case of war. School children were taught in government drills that they could
avoid the devastation of nuclear weapons by ducking and covering when they saw
"the flash." Military films told soldiers witnessing nuclear tests that they
wouldn't experience any side effects if they wore sunglasses.
1955 - DJ Alan Freed coined the term "Rock & Roll." Bill Haley &
the Comets had the first #1 rock hit, Rock Around The Clock, which they
introduced on Freed's radio show.
1956 - Elvis Presley skyrocketed to fame with Heartbreak Hotel, Don't
Be Cruel, Hound Dog and Love Me Tender. Presley's appearance on
The Ed Sullivan Show brought TV its highest viewer numbers to date.
1957 - Rock & roll took over the music charts, with number one songs
like That'll Be The Day by the Crickets (with Buddy Holly),
Honeycomb by Jimmie Rodgers, You Send Me by Sam Cooke and Party
Doll by Buddy Knox. Elvis Presley's #1 hits included Too Much, All Shook
Up, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock, and Treat Me Nice.
1958 - The Beat Movement had begun, fueled by the literature of Jack
Kerouac, the sounds of progressive jazz and espresso.
1959 - Rockers Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens died in an
1964 - The British music invasion began with the Beatles' chart-topping
I Want To Hold Your Hand and their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Their first major-label U.S. album, Meet The Beatles, became America's
best-selling LP of all time within a week of its release. In April, the Beatles
occupied the top five positions on the U.S. singles chart.
1964 - Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President
Johnson the authority to wage war against North Vietnam.
1965 - Race riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles left 35 dead and
caused $190,000,000 in damages.
1965 - Martin Luther King, Jr. led a five-day civil rights march from
Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
1966 - Hit songs included Sunshine Superman by Donovan, Sounds
Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, We Can Work It Out and Day
Tripper by the Beatles and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys.
1966 - 10,000 protested the Viet Nam War outside the White House. Over
60,000 signed a protest sign at the Washington Monument pledging to vote for
1967 - North Viet Nam's Ho Chi Minh refused to engage in peace talks,
resulting in an escalation of the war effort, followed by increasing protests
against the war.
1967 - 350,000 anti-war demonstrators marched on the U.N. building in New
1967 - The Pentagon's antiballistic missile symbol was transformed by
anti-war demonstrators into the "peace symbol." The V-For-Victory hand sign
became the "peace sign."
1967 - Nearly 700 people were arrested when 50,000 peace demonstrators
stormed the Pentagon.
1967 - A pro-war parade in New York to show support for the troops in
Viet Nam drew 70,000.
1967 - America's young people at home, united against the war, were
forming a counterculture based on peace, drug use and psychedelic music. Sgt.
Pepper by the Beatles signaled the start of the "psychedelic era."
1968 - While America had a record amount of troops fighting in Viet Nam,
the anti-war and black power movements grew on campuses. Over 735 incidences of
protesters clashing with police were chronicled at America's schools and
universities in the course of the year.
1968 - At Columbia University, students claiming to be "the New Left"
occupied several campus buildings until forcibly removed by the National Guard.
1968 - At San Francisco State College, students staged a sit-down strike,
calling for changes in the Black Studies program. After four months, college
president S.I. Hayakawa had the protesters removed by police in a bloody
1968 - In major cities, FM "underground" stations, shunning the
commercial hits in favor of psychedelic and folk-rock album tracks, grew so much
in popularity they became the commercial successes they claimed they were
1968 - Drug-soaked riffs from the Grateful Dead and other eclectic bands
set the soundtrack for a youth population which was overwhelmingly anti-war.
Pro-war youth had very few voices in the U.S. because most of them were fighting
1968 - Dr. Benjamin Spock was indicted for conspiracy to aid and abet
draft evasion. He and "beat poet" Allan Ginsberg had been arrested during their
attempt to shut down the draft induction center in New York City.
1968 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at a motel in
Memphis, shortly after giving a speech in which he hinted that his days were
numbered. Two days earlier, one person died when violence broke out at a march
in Memphis led by Dr. King in support of a garbage collectors' strike.
1968 - Chicago Police and the National Guard attempted to control
anti-war protesters with violence at the Democratic National Convention.
Bystanders, politicians and news reporters were beaten on live television in the
1968 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the slain president, was
assassinated moments after he learned he'd won the Democratic primary election
in California. Jordanian Sirhan Sirhan was charged with the killing.
1968 - Republican Richard M. Nixon narrowly defeated Democrat Hubert H.
Humphrey for the presidency. Independent George Wallace received over 9,000,000
1968 - As psychedelic album rock proliferated on the FM band, AM hit
radio had a resurgence of sappy pop songs mixed with gems like Hello, I Love
You by the Doors, People Got To Be Free by the Rascals and I Heard
It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye.
1969 - The world's largest TV audience to date watched astronauts Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon.
1969 - As President Nixon took office, the American death toll in the
Viet Nam War reached 34,000.
1969 - CBS canceled one of its most popular shows, The Smothers
Brothers Comedy Hour, because a copy of the show hadn't reached the censors
in time. The network was under pressure to dump the politically potent variety
show, which Vice President Spiro Agnew had claimed was "subversive."
1969 - Millions of Americans participated in a Viet Nam Moratorium Day,
with candelight vigils and prayers for peace. President Nixon ignored the event,
but Vice President Spiro Agnew called the participants "an effete corps of
1969 - Veterans' Day ceremonies around the country consisted of
pro-America demonstrations. Vice President Agnew called U.S. patriots "the
silent majority." Three days later, 250,000 people marched on Washington to
protest the war. Simultaneously, 100,000 demonstrated in San Francisco.
1969 - 340 Harvard students took over the university's administration
building. 400 state troopers and police officers cleared them out with tear gas
and beatings from nightsticks. At Cornell University, a 36-hour sit-in was held
in the student union building by black militants brandishing automatic weapons.
At Berkeley, a National Guard helicopter dropped caustic chemicals on a
protesters' area called People's Park. 19 University of California faculty
members were among those burned by the substance.
1969 - Max Yasgur's farm near Bethel, New York became the second-largest
city in New York, when nearly 400,000 converged on the area for the Woodstock
Music And Art Fair. Police looked the other way as the counterculture celebrated
its largest gathering with peace, music, sex, drugs and rock and roll.
1969 - Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman William Fullbright
disclosed that the Pentagon and the Nixon administration had been waging an
illegal war in Laos, without the required knowledge of the Congress. Meanwhile,
Lt. William Calley, Jr. was under investigation on charges that his infantry
unit had massacred 450 women, children and other villagers at My Lai, South Viet
1969 - The counterculture-gone-commercial was evident in many of the
year's hit songs, including Everyday People, Age Of Aquarius/Let The Sun
Shine In, Come Together, Crimson & Clover and In The Year 2525.
1970 - The so-called Chicago Seven were found not guilty of inciting
riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. But five of them were found
guilty of crossing state lines for the purpose of inciting a riot, resulting in
1970 - The FBI captured Father Daniel Berrigan, the Rhode Island priest
who advocated burning draft cards to protest the Viet Nam War. He and his
brother, Father Phillip Berrigan, were accused by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover
of plotting to kidnap Nixon aide Henry Kissinger and blow up a federal building.
1970 - On May 4th, Ohio National Guard troops killed four students at
Kent State University who were protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Five
days later, 100,000 anti-war protesters rallied in Washington.
1970 - The Spiro T. Agnew Wrist Watch - bearing the likeness of the vice
president - became a hot seller.
1970 - The Apollo 13 crew returned to Earth following a harrowing
mission in which they repaired their ship with duct tape following an oxygen
1970 - The Mary Tyler Moore show debuted. CBS canceled The Ed
1971 - The voting age was lowered to 18. Those who sought the new age of
majority contended that if people were old enough to fight and die in Viet Nam,
they were old enough to vote.
1971 - No one was injured when a bomb planted by the Weather Underground
exploded in a U.S. Capitol rest room.
1971 - Norman Lear's All In The Family became America's top-rated
1972 - Former Beatle John Lennon, who, with his wife Yoko Ono, actively
demonstrated against America's Viet Nam policy, was given a deportation order by
the Immigration & Naturalization Service. The action was orchestrated by the
White House. After a series of court battles and hearings, Lennon would be
granted a green card three years later.
1972 - Washington police arrested five suspects who were attempting to
bug the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel. Seven were
initially indicted in the incident. The operation became connected to President
Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President, which was nicknamed "CREEP" by
detractors. Attorney General John Mitchell resigned as the committee's chairman.
1972 - Despite the brewing Watergate controversy, Richard Nixon was
re-elected president in a landslide victory over George McGovern.
1972 - The U.S. resumed heavy bombing of North Viet Nam shortly after
Nixon's re-election. By the end of the year, presidential aide and peace
negotiator Henry Kissinger announced that "peace was at hand."
1973 - The U.S., North Viet Nam, South Viet Nam and the Viet Cong signed
a peace agreement in Paris. 142 POWs were released and sent home to the U.S. 14
days later. The last U.S. troops departed South Viet Nam March 29th.
1973 - The American Indian Movement - AIM - occupied Wounded Knee, South
Dakota for eight days. They surrendered after U.S. officials promised to
investigate corruption in the Bureau Of Indian Affairs.
1973 - G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted in the Watergate
break-in. Aides H.R. Haldeman, John Dean and John Erlichman were asked to
resign. Attorney General Richard Kleindeinst resigned over the scandal. Aide
Alexander Butterfield disclosed that there was a White House taping system.
President Nixon's new Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, appointed Archibald
Cox as special Watergate prosecutor. But when testimony in the Senate Watergate
Hearings seemed to point the blame toward the Oval Office, President Nixon fired
Cox, Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. Upon appointing
William Saxbe as his fourth Attorney General and Leon Jaworski as special
Watergate prosecutor, Nixon declared his innocence on
national TV. Days later, the White House disclosed that 18½
minutes of a taped White House conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman had
been mysteriously erased.
1973 - Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in disgrace, just days
before pleading no contest to charges of racketeering and tax evasion while he
was governor of Maryland.
1974 - The House Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment
against President Nixon for tampering with the Watergate probe.
1974 - When White House tapes proved President Nixon had obstructed
justice in the Watergate investigation, Nixon resigned. Shortly after assuming
the presidency, Gerald Ford granted Nixon a pardon for all or any crimes
committed while Nixon was president.
1974 - Congress passed the Freedom Of Information Act.
1974 - President Ford declared an amnesty for Viet Nam deserters and
draft evaders whereby they could return to the U.S. and perform two years of
1974 - After a New York Times exposé, the CIA admitted to President Ford
that domestic spying by the agency against war dissidents had been taking place.
1975 - As remaining Americans fled South Viet Nam, the government
surrendered to the Communists.
1975 - Americans and Soviets symbolically united their space programs as
the Apollo and Soyuz docked in space.
1975 - All In The Family was America's top TV show for the fifth
straight year. Hollywood Squares was the leading daytime show.
Saturday Night Live received an Emmy for outstanding comedy series.
1975 - Hit songs included Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by Elton
John with John Lennon and Fame by David Bowie with John Lennon.
1976 - America's bicentennial year included hundreds of thousands of
special events and celebrations, Bicentennial Minutes on TV and a
stepped-up American History curriculum at many schools and colleges.
1976 - The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. entered into a nuclear weapons agreement
which allowed mutual inspection of test sites.
Former President Richard Nixon discussed his failed presidency
with British talk show host David Frost.
1976 - All The President's Men, based on the Woodward/Bernstein
Watergate chronicles, was the year's most lucrative film.
1976-1977 - Corporate consultants decimated many of America's FM freeform rock
stations by switching them to a "superstars" format consisting of several dozen
hit album tracks. Other longtime FM rock stations switched to disco