1965 - Queen Elizabeth II awarded The Beatles with MBEs — Member of the British Empire, an order of chivalry of British democracy — at Buckingham Palace in London. According to an account by John Lennon, the group smoked marijuana in one of the palace bathrooms to calm their nerves. Following the Beatles' investiture, many previous recipients returned their MBEs in protest, to which John Lennon responded, "Lots of people who complained about us receiving the MBE received theirs for heroism in the war, for killing people … We received ours for entertaining other people. I'd say we deserve ours more."
1970 - Elton John released "Your Song,” which becomes his first hit. The song was written in 1967, when Bernie Taupin was 17 ("hence the extraordinarily virginal sentiments," he has said). "It's like the perennial ballad 'Your Song,' which has got to be one of the most naïve and childish lyrics in the entire repertoire of music, but I think the reason it still stands up is because it was real at the time".
1970 -A wake was held at the Lion's Share in San Anselmo, California to celebrate the life of Janis Joplin. The singer who died of an accidental drugs overdose had left $2,500 in her will to throw a wake party in the event of her demise. The party was attended by her sister Laura and Joplin's close friends; Brownies laced with hashish were unknowingly passed around amongst the guests.
1981 - Queen and David Bowie release Under Pressure. The lyrics deal with how pressure can destroy lives, but love can be the answer. Recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland. Bowie was down the hall doing his thing and Queen were doing there's. During a break, David dropped in on Queen with copious amounts of cocaine and a plan...what transpired was the writing and recording of quite possibly one of the greatest duets of all time.
Brian May recalled to Mojo magazine October 2008. "It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it's a great song but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that."
2001 - The science fiction film Donnie Darko, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled teen who suffers from hallucinations, premieres in US theaters. The movie features Gary Jules' haunting cover of Tears For Fears' 1982 song "Mad World." Donnie Darko's composer, Michael Andrews, and his longtime pal Jules recorded the stripped-down piano rendition of the synthpop hit when the film's director, Richard Kelly, couldn't secure the rights to U2's "MLK."
2010 - Keith Richards releases his autobiography, Life. He's the most famous survivor of them all. In the book, Keith did it all, had a hell of a good time, and survived to brag about it.
2019- The beat-up sweater Kurt Cobain wore on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged special sells at auction for $334,000. After Cobain died, Courtney Love gave it to the family's nanny, who sold it to pay for cancer treatments.
Mahalia Jackson referred to as "The Queen of Gospel" was born on this day in 1911.
Maggie Roche, singer/songwriter of The Roches, was born on this day in 1951. She passed away in 2017.
Bootsy Collins is 71. Instantly recognizable by either his popping melodic basslines or his highly charismatic vocal pronouncements, Bootsy Collins is both an all-time great funk and R&B musician and a consummate character. Catapulted to fame in his late teens as a member of the J.B.'s, Collins became a pupil of James Brown and was immediately crucial to the singer and bandleader's reshaping of soul into tight, hard funk at the dawn of the '70s. Remarkably, Collins was only getting started by the time he was accepted into the Parliament-Funkadelic family, where he played a greater role as a songwriter and vocalist. He was central to P-Funk hits such as "Up for the Down Stroke" and "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker".
Furthermore, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has remained a constant collaborator for decades (from Dee-Lite to Keith Richards) and has initiated reciprocal relationships with scores of rap artists. Collins provided the vocals for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" and finally became a Grammy winner when the song's video (depicting only a dancing Christopher Walken) won the 2001 award for Best Short Form Music Video. (Photo credit should read PAUL BERGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Natalie Merchant, 10,000 Maniacs and solo artist, is 59.
Country star Keith Urban is 55.
On This Day Music History was sourced from This Day in Music, Song Facts, Far Out Magazine, The Guardian, and Wikipedia.