January 30, 1969: Although they knew it was over, the Beatles attempt to “get back” to their roots as a working rock band by performing on the roof of the Apple building at 3 Saville Row, London. The 42-minute, nine-song set would be their last live performance together.
And then they were gone.
February 1, 1894: John Ford is born John Martin Feeney in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
February 1, 1900: Eastman Kodak gives photography to the masses with the debut of the “Brownie,” a simplistic, reusable, multi-shot camera costing $1 (less than $30 in today’s economy). Roughly 100,000 units sold the first year.
The significance of this event cannot be underestimated.
Alright, fellow Pythoners, join me in wishing a happy 75th birthday to Terry Jones, comedian, poet, and historian, born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, February 1, 1942. Graduated from Oxford, so he’s no twit.
February 2, 1882: John and May Joyce welcome the birth of their first child, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, at 41 Brighton Square in Dublin’s Rathgar suburb. Hard to imagine him as a baby.
He’s five or six here and wearing a sailor suit for fucksake.
Happy 135th birthday, Kinch.
February 2, 1876: Team owners band together to form the National League of Baseball Clubs. Over time that mouthful was shortened to the National League. It would be 25 more years until the rival American League was founded.
Only two years after the AL’s debut, however, teams from both organizations would be spitting tobacco juice and sliding spikes first against each other in the first World Series.
Who else is suffering baseball withdrawal?
February 3, 1959: A broken heater on their tour bus and visions of a hot meal and a decent night’s sleep in a bed prompts headliners Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson to opt for a small plane to transport them from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Moorhead, Minnesota, on the 11th night of their 23-stop schedule.
Pilot Roger Peterson, 21 and inexperienced, failed to check weather warnings and headed straight into a storm. Minutes after departing from the Mason City Municipal Airport the plane slammed into the ground and cartwheeled across a field killing all four. The impact twisted the wreckage into a near unrecognizable mass spewing bodies onto the snow-covered ground.
Neither Richardson, a.k.a the Big Bopper, nor Valens were supposed to be on the flight. Richardson had contacted an illness and begged Holly guitarist Waylon Jennings for his seat. Valens flipped a coin with band member Tommy Allsup to decide who got stuck on the cold bus.
Holly and Richardson were in their early to mid 20s, Valens was 17.
Happy birthday to Gertrude Stein, novelist, poet, patron of the arts, and den mother of the Lost Generation, born February 3, 1874 in Alleghany, PA.
Norman Perceval Rockwell was born in New York City this day (February 3) in 1894. His childhood was spent in Manhattan, but in his early 20s he moved to good ol’ New Rochelle, where he shared studio space with Clyde Forsythe, a Saturday Evening Post cartoonist who introduced Norman to his contacts there. You know the rest.
Happy birthday to character actor John Carradine, born in Greenwich Village February 5, 1906. Although Carradine’s résumé is as thick as a phone book, he now seems mostly associated with a slew of B horror films (House of Frankenstein/Dracula and much worse), but he did his best work in John Ford films, notably as Hatfield, the Doc Holiday-esque gambler-gunman in “Stagecoach” and, especially in his finest role as Jim Casy the preacher in “The Grapes of Wrath.”
If you only know him from shit like “The Astro-Zombies,” track down the Ford films. You won’t be sorry you did.
Michael Rogers is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.