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Your Week in History: Music tragedies and a date of infamy

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This picture was taken Dec. 7, 1941, by a Japanese pilot shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This picture was taken Dec. 7, 1941, by a Japanese pilot shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The USS Arizona in flames after it was destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Source: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons) The USS Arizona in flames after it was destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Source: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons)
President Franklin Roosevelt addresses Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, to ask for a declaration of war against Japan. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) President Franklin Roosevelt addresses Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, to ask for a declaration of war against Japan. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The "blue marble" photograph of Earth taken on board Apollo 17, shown here in its original orientation. (Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons) The "blue marble" photograph of Earth taken on board Apollo 17, shown here in its original orientation. (Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons)
An artist's rendering of what Flight 19 looked like in formation before it was lost in the Bermuda Triangle. (Source: Anynobody/Wikimedia Commons) An artist's rendering of what Flight 19 looked like in formation before it was lost in the Bermuda Triangle. (Source: Anynobody/Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – This is a huge week for music history, and most of it is bad.

A free concert at Altamont Speedway was held Dec. 6, 1969, and it quickly turned ugly. An estimated 300,000 people attended, but not all of them made it out alive.

During a performance by The Rolling Stones, a man named Meredith Hunter tried to get on the stage. The brilliant idea to have Hell's Angels serve as security for the event resulted in Hunter's death, when he was repeatedly stabbed.

Hunter had a gun on him, and there is debate over whether he was trying to shoot one of the Hell's Angels and they stabbed him in response or if he was trying to defend himself against their attack. Additionally, two other people were killed in a car wreck during the concert and another drowned.

However, the number of people who left alive is reportedly the same as the number that attended because four births were reported at the event.

Another concert disaster occurred Dec. 3, 1979. Eleven people, most of them teenagers, were killed at a concert by The Who in Cincinnati when a sold-out crowd holding general admission tickets rushed to enter the arena and crushed other concert-goers.

The arena was locked at the time and fans heard a sound check from inside the building and rushed the doors thinking the concert had already started. General admission seating was outlawed following the fans' deaths, but the ban was lifted in 2004.

The Montreux Casino caught fire Dec. 4, 1971, and inspired the Deep Purple song Smoke on the Water, Led Zeppelin disbanded Dec. 4, 1980, the Million Dollar Quartet recorded an impromptu album Dec. 4, 1956, an assassination attempt was made against Bob Marley on Dec. 3, 1976, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died of a mysterious affliction Dec. 5, 1791, and John Lennon died Dec. 8, 1980 (more on this in the sports section).

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Dec. 2 and 8.

Life and Death

John Payne never did anything with John Wayne, but their names are almost the same so that's close enough for me. Payne had a variety of roles in his career, but he's perhaps best known for his role in Miracle on 34th Street opposite frequent Wayne costar Maureen O'Hara. Payne died Dec. 6, 1989.

John Qualen appeared with Wayne in several movies, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Searchers, and was born Dec. 8, 1899. Harry Morgan is famous for his roles on Dragnet and M*A*S*H, but he also starred with Wayne in The Shootist as a sheriff who is glad Wayne's character is dying, and he died Dec. 7, 2011. Agnes Moorhead was born Dec. 6, 1900, and is famous for her role of Endora on Bewitched, but she was also in The Conqueror with Wayne and is one of the people who allegedly died due to the movie being filmed in a nuclear disaster area.

Eli Wallach never starred with Wayne, but he was in The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and was born Dec. 7, 1915.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was born Dec. 6, 1992, and as of Friday can do all the drinking he wants - legally. It comes just in time for a return to New York City where he is likely to be invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony again.

Drug lord Pablo Escobar died in a shootout with Colombian police Dec. 2, 1993, one day after his birthday (1949).

Santa Claus' inspiration Saints Nicholas died Dec. 6, 343, Cicero was assassinated at the request of Mark Antony on Dec. 7, 43 B.C., Desi Arnaz died Dec. 2, 1986, and silent film actor Harrison Ford - not the Harrison Ford - died Dec. 2, 1957.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Astronauts on board Apollo 17 took the famous Blue Marble photograph of Earth on Dec. 7, 1972. It was still dark in the U.S. when the picture was taken, meaning the picture shows the Eastern Hemisphere. But the way the image is typically displayed today is not the way it was taken. It is generally shown rotated 180 degrees to orient the picture with north at the top. As it was originally taken, Antarctica appears at the top of the globe.

The Ford Model A was unveiled Dec. 2, 1927, the first Burger King opened Dec. 4, 1954, Prohibition was ratified Dec. 5, 1933, and Illinois became a state Dec. 3, 1818. I haven't kicked a state out of the union in a while, so sorry Illinois, you're gone.

Flight 19 was lost in the Bermuda Triangle on Dec. 5, 1945. Of all the mysterious disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle, Flight 19 is perhaps the most studied. The pilots are believed to have become disoriented and believed they were in the Florida Keys despite being in their intended location of the Bahamas, which caused them to fly east believing they were approaching the Florida mainland when they were, in fact, heading out over the Atlantic Ocean.

All 14 crew members on board the five planes were lost, and the wreckage has never been found.

Something About Sports

John Lennon's murder by Mark David Chapman inadvertently created one of the more historic moments of Monday Night Football.

After being shot, Lennon was taken to Roosevelt Hospital in New York City where by chance Alan Weiss, a producer for an ABC affiliate station in New York, was at the same hospital due to a motorcycle accident. He relayed the information to his station, which then contacted ABC's headquarters.

At the time, Monday Night Football was on and ABC made the decision to pass the information to the broadcast booth and Howard Cosell made the announcement during what was a pivotal moment of an important game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.

Three years ago, ESPN did a feature on the decision. Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, had requested the news not be made public until she had time to tell her son personally because she didn't want him to hear it on TV. ABC was unaware of the request, but he wasn't watching the game when the announcement was made.

The first all-star football game was held Dec. 3, 1898. Duquesne Country and Athletic Club defeated the Western Pennsylvania All-Stars 16-0. Duquesne scored three touchdowns but missed two extra points. If you think the math doesn't work, it's because touchdowns at the time counted for five points instead of six like they do today.

Instant replay debuted Dec. 7, 1963, in the Army-Navy game, a 21-15 Navy win notable for its odd conclusion.

Here's another cricket achievement that may or may not be impressive. Jack Fingleton became the first player to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings Dec. 7, 1936. As always, I don't know what that means, but good for him.

The Week in Warfare

"Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." President Franklin Roosevelt led his address to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, with that sentence in asking for a declaration of war.

In the speech, Roosevelt outlined how the countries had been seeking a peace agreement and how Japan had betrayed his trust by saying, "The distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious the attack was deliberately planned many days, or even weeks, ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace."

His concluding statement that since the attack "a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire" was met with a prolonged standing ovation. Hours later, a declaration of war was drafted, passed by Congress and signed by Roosevelt.

The previous day, two waves of aircraft totaling 350 planes carried out a surprise bombing of the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor. The attack sunk six ships, including four battleships, and damaged 13 additional ships. More than 2,400 men died, nearly half of whom died after being trapped inside the battleship USS Arizona. Their bodies have never been recovered.

The Manhattan project observed the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction Dec. 2, 1942, which proved to be a proof-of-concept for the atomic bombs the research eventually produced.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Santa's List Day is Dec. 4. Hope you've been good. Either way, Dec. 7 is Letter Writing Day, so drop him a note and lie your way into decent presents.

Preview of next week

"We got him."

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