80 years ago today, the soul singer-songwriter and musician Marvin Gaye was born in Washington, DC. ‘The Prince of Motown’ helped to shape the sound of the 1960s with a string of hits, like I Heard It Through the Grapevine (the best selling Motown hit ever). The pianist’s 1970 composition What’s Going On, written about an act of police brutality at an anti-war rally, was called “too political” for radio by Motown founder Berry Gordy who refused to release it. Gaye responded by going on strike from recording until the label released the song. It reached No. 1 and sold over two million copies. It was the title track of the LP that Rolling Stone hailed as ‘Album of the Year’, which also yielded two more top 10 singles, including Mercy Mercy Me. But, Marvin Gaye’s epic career was far from over, even though he was killed at age 45 by his preacher father. WATCH a tribute film… (1939)

Gaye’s next LP, Let’s Get It On, stayed on the charts for two years and sold over three million copies. His following albums contained, I Want You and Got to Give It Up, two more No. 1 hits. After a nasty break-up with Motown records, Gaye recorded “Sexual Healing” with CBS – one of his biggest hits ever and a double Grammy winner. Unfortunately, a relapse of cocaine addiction spurred him to move in with his parents in Los Angeles, where, in 1984, his dad fatally shot him after Marvin tried to intervene in a family fight.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony #1 in C was first performed as part of a public benefit concert at the Burgtheater, although reviews were decidedly cool (1800)
  • Hans Christian Andersen, the children’s author, was born in Denmark (1805)
  • American inventor Joseph Dixon of Salem, Massachusetts began manufacturing his now widespread lead pencils (1827)
  • The first Easter Egg Hunt for kids was held on the White House lawn (1878)
  • The first full-time movie theater in the United States opened in Los Angeles, California, with the name “Electric Theatre” (1902)
  • Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana) began her term as the first woman member of the US House of Representatives in Congress (1917)
  • Rakesh Sharma is launched aboard Soyuz T-11, and becomes the first Indian in space (1984)
  • Rita Johnston, the first female Premier of a Canadian province took office (1991)
  • The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act (2007)
  • Today is the 12th annual World Autism Awareness Day (the neural development disorder that affects approximately 1 out of every 150 children around the world), which encourage tolerance for those who have an inability often to socialize normally (2007)

And, on this day in 1974, the egg-rolling race, famous to all modern White House Easter celebrations, was first introduced.

Kids race to push Easter eggs with spoons on White House lawn.
White House Photo by Eric Draper

With spoons borrowed from the White House kitchen and hard-boiled eggs (prepared and dyed by the White House chefs), children push and roll the eggs on their way to the finish line. This year, more than 30,000 people took part in the event, with the First Family’s dog, Bo, the main attraction.

On this day 51 years ago, “2001 A Space Odyssey” directed by Stanley Kubrick made its world premier in Washington, DC. Considered by critics and directors to be one of the top 10 best films of all time, the adapted screenplay, which features an AI computer named “Hal”, was co-authored by the writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke. Lauded for its pioneering special effects, philosophic themes, memorable music, and scientifically accurate depiction of spaceflight, the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay—it won for visual effects. A new 70mm print of the epic man-vs.-computer story will be released in select theaters May 18, to mark the 50th anniversary. WATCH the 2014 re-release trailer… (1968)

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