50 years ago today, the Scottish vocalist–flautist–guitarist Ian Anderson formed a blues band named after an 18th-century agriculturist, Jethro Tull. Best known for their signature progressive rock albums Aqualung and Thick as a Brick, the group (which began in Blackpool, England when Anderson was “on the verge of starvation” in a janitor’s job) went on to sell an estimated 60 million albums worldwide. Did you know they put out a Christmas LP? –Watch a ‘LIVE’ version of Solstice Bells… (1967)

…Because he was living in a cold one-room apartment, Anderson bought a large overcoat to keep himself warm, and also a flute—both of which would distinguish his early stage presence. “I didn’t want to be just another third-rate guitar player who sounded like a bunch of other third-rate guitar players. I wanted to do something that was a bit more idiosyncratic, hence the switch to another instrument,” explained Ian in an interview.  “When Jethro Tull began, I think I’d been playing the flute for about two weeks. It was a quick learning curve … literally every night I walked onstage was a flute lesson.” (The ‘LIVE’ performance below was from the BBC in 1976.)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The Louisiana Purchase from France was signed in New Orleans (1803)
  • Thomas Edison gave a private demonstrated his new incandescent light (1879)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life” the Hollywood film directed by Frank Capra, and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, premiered in New York (1946)
  • The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays (1963)
  • NATO began peacekeeping in Bosnia (1995)
  • Vermont‘s Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples are entitled to the same benefits and protections as married heterosexuals (1999)
  • The first same-sex civil partnerships in Scotland were celebrated (2005)

And, on this day in 1971, the international aid group, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), was founded by Bernard Kouchner and a group of journalists in Paris.

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In 1999, the private organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and last year coordinated more than 30,000 personnel — mostly volunteer medical professionals — to treat the poor and war-ravaged population in 70 countries. Visit their website to donate or learn more.

And, Happy 34th Birthday to actor, writer and comedian Jonah Hill.

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Known for his comedic roles in films such as Accepted, Knocked Up, and 21 Jump Street, Hill also shines in more serious films. In 2012, he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Moneyball. His second dramatic role, in The Wolf of Wall Street, earned him another Oscar nod in the same category. (1983) –Photo by Josh Jensen, CC