250 years ago today, on a stage in London, Philip Astley produced the first ever modern-day circus to feature his genius for trick riding. An equestrian master, Astley rode in a circle that day rather than a straight line as his rivals did—and he later added music, acrobats, prancing dogs, and clowns. He manifested his dream of opening a riding school by day and, afterward conducting shows of acrobatic riding skill, which turned into the circus he called Astley’s Amphitheatre. He performed his stunts in a ring 42 ft in diameter, which is the size used by circuses ever since. Two years later, he hired acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill in the pauses between acts. (1768)
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.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Daguerreotype photography was unveiled by the French Academy of Sciences (1839)
- Dorothy Harrison Eustis established The Seeing Eye in the US to train dogs for assisting the blind and by the end of the year, 17 blind men and women had gained independence alongside their Seeing Eye dogs (1929)
- 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 (Video)
- The iPhone was unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs (2007)
Her first three contemporary folk albums, Joan Baez (1960), Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert (1962) all achieved gold record status and stayed on the album charts for years. Baez, who speaks fluent Spanish, is known for her 1975 hit song, “Diamonds & Rust,” which was written about her past lover, Bob Dylan, and for her dedication to songs of protest or social justice, like ‘We Shall Overcome’. “I was gifted,” she said, while refusing any credit for her angelic voice. (1941) –Photo from her 2008 album cover, Day After Tomorrow
And on this day in 1967, singer-songwriter, musician, actor and winemaker Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg. He started the Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, Virginia and from 2000-2010 the band sold more tickets and earned more money than any other act in North America.
The band’s most recent album, Away from the World, released in 2012, 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, which bottle labels drawn by Matthews himself. CHECK OUT: Fans Late for a Concert Help a Stranded Cyclist Dave Matthews, Star of the Show
And, Happy Birthday to Jimmy Page, the brilliant rock guitarist and songwriter who formed Led Zeppelin in 1968, and who turns 74 years old today. (1944)