Good News in History, January 9

Happy Birthday to singer-songwriter and activist, Joan Baez who turns 80 years-old today. Each of her first three contemporary albums—Joan Baez (1960), Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert from 1962—achieved gold record status and stayed on the album charts for years.

She saw Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking about civil rights and nonviolence, and the two became friends and walked arm-in-arm in protest. Her performance of We Shall Overcome at the 1963 March on Washington forever linked her to that Pete Seeger anthem. Fluent in Spanish, her 1975 hit, Diamonds & Rust, was written about her former lover, Bob Dylan.

Baez was instrumental in founding the USA branch of Amnesty International in the 1970s, and later founded her own human-rights group, Humanitas International, to target oppression wherever it occurs.

Since retiring from touring in 2019, the musician has turned to painting and you can join a live streaming debut of her new solo art exhibit of portraits featuring “people making the world a better place.” In her Woodside, California backyard she has a tree house in which she spends time meditating, writing, and being close to nature. WATCH her kitchen performance of Forever Young for all the Heroes of the 2020 pandemic… (1941)

We hope you stay forever young, too, Joan Baez!

Photo credits: (above) Marina Chavez, Diamond and Rust Productions; (featured image) Jim Gilbert, CC license

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Daguerreotype photography was unveiled by the French Academy of Sciences (1839)
  • The United Nations headquarters officially opened in New York City (1951)
  • Apple Computer introduced iTunes, the digital music software, at the MacWorld Expo (2001)
  • The Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan marked the end of a 21-year civil war that killed or displaced millions of people. (2005) Related: Famous Drummers Beat for Peace in Sudan
  • The iPhone was unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs (2007)

And, on this day in 1768, on a stage in London, the first ever modern-day circus was produced. Philip Astley put on the show to feature his genius for trick riding—and the equestrian master rode in a circle that day, rather than in a straight line as his rivals did.

His dreams came true, to open a riding school by day, and, afterward conduct shows of acrobatic riding skill, called Astley’s Amphitheatre. He added music, prancing dogs, and eventually hired acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill in the pauses between horse acts. He performed his stunts in a ring 42-feet in diameter, which is the size used by circuses ever since. This first performance took place in an open field at what is now the Waterloo area of London, behind the present site of St John’s Church. When he expanded, he moved to fenced premises just south of Westminster Bridge.

Happy 53rd Birthday to singer-songwriter, musician, actor, and winemaker Dave Matthews. Born in Johannesburg, he formed the Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, Virginia, a jam band that owns the distinction of selling more tickets in the decade during 2000-2010—and earning more money—than any other act in North America.

The band’s 2012 album, Away from the World, made them the only group to have six consecutive studio albums debut at number one on the Billboard charts. In 1999, Matthews purchased ten acres of land in Virginia and planted grapes on the property. He now produces wines under the names Blenheim Vineyards and Dreaming Tree Wines, with bottle labels he drew himself. (1967)

CHECK OUT: Fans Late for a Concert Help a Stranded Cyclist Dave Matthews, Star of the Show

2009 Photo by Redxonard, CC license on Wikimedia

Also, Happy Birthday to the actor J. K. Simmons, who turns 66 today. Named Jonathan when he was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, he played a doctor on TV’s Law & Order, and a police chief in The Closer, but his most acclaimed role was on the big screen in 2014 portraying a music teacher in Whiplash.

His powerful performance as the strict and belittling instructor earned him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics’ Choice Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor. WATCH the riveting 2:00 trailer and check out more of his work…. (1955)


Also, Happy 77th Birthday to Jimmy Page, the brilliant guitarist, songwriter and producer whose groundbreaking band Led Zeppelin released its first album 50 years ago this week. Watch a video where he remembers the music that stirred him in the beginning… (1944)

2013 photo by Avda, CC license

From the great guitar player documentary It Might Get Loud, Jimmy plays the 1958 record ‘Rumble’ by Link Wray, which had a major influence on his blues music of the 60s and 70s, particularly in Led Zeppelin’s single, Whole Lotta Love.

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