2012: The European Space Agency conducts the first launch of the European Vega rocket from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The four-stage rocket was designed to give Europe a vehicle for scientific satellite missions. The first rocket carried nine scientific satellites into space.
2005: Ray Charles' final album, the posthumously released "Genius Loves Company," wins eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for its hit single "Here We Go Again." The five Grammys that went directly to Charles set a record for the most posthumously awarded Grammys in one night.
2002: Country singer-songwriter Waylon Jennings, best known for songs such as "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," "Good Hearted Woman," "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," "I've Always Been Crazy" and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," dies in his sleep of diabetic complications at the age of 64 in Chandler, Ariz. In 1976 he released the album "Wanted! The Outlaws" with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter, which went on to become the first platinum-selling country music album. Jennings was also the narrator for the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard," which he also composed and sang the theme song for.
2001: An 6.6-magnitude earthquake hits El Salvador, killing at least 315 people. The quake also left another 3,399 injured and caused extensive damage, destroying nearly 45,000 homes.
2000: On the day following cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's death of a heart attack, the last ever "Peanuts" strip runs in papers. Schulz, who had been battling health issues and was diagnosed with colon cancer in late 1999, had retired from drawing the strip in December 1999, with the last daily strip appearing on Jan. 3, 2000. At that point, five more original Sunday edition "Peanuts" strips had yet to be published. The very last strip consisted simply of Snoopy sitting at his typewriter in thought with a note from Schulz explaining his retirement and thanking his fans.
1996: Actor Martin Balsam, known for his Oscar-winning role as Arnold Burns in "A Thousand Clowns" and his role as private investigator Milton Arbogast in "Psycho," dies of a sudden stroke at age 76 in Rome, Italy. Balsam also won a Tony Award for his appearance in the 1967 Broadway production of "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running" and appeared in movies such as "On the Waterfront," "12 Angry Men," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Carpetbaggers," "Cape Fear," "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" and "All the President's Men."
1991: During the Gulf War, two laser-guided "smart bombs" destroy the Amiriyah air-raid shelter in Baghdad, Iraq. Allied forces said the bunker was being used as a military communications outpost, but more than 400 Iraqi civilians inside were killed.
1988: Michael Jackson buys a ranch in Santa Barbara County, Calif., that he names "Neverland," after the fantasy island in the story of "Peter Pan." The ranch became Jackson's home as well as his private amusement park, containing a floral clock, numerous statues of children and a petting zoo.
1982: Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon" marks 402 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Albums chart, breaking the record for most consecutive weeks on the chart. The album, which debuted in March 1973, would stay on the chart for 736 weeks, falling off the chart for the first time in July 1988.
1980: Actor David Janssen, best known for playing Dr. Richard Kimble on the 1960s TV show "The Fugitive," dies of a heart attack at the age of 48 in Malibu, Calif. Janssen also is known for starring in the TV shows "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" and "Harry O."
1979: Actress Mena Suvari, best known for her roles in movies such as "American Beauty," "American Pie," "Loser" and "Day of the Dead," is born in Newport, R.I.
1976: Singer-songwriter Feist, a member of the indie rock group Broken Social Scene who also earned four Grammy nominations for her 2007 solo album "The Remainder," is born Leslie Feist in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 2007, Feist saw her song "1234" become her biggest hit, shooting to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 after it was played in an iPod Nano commercial.
1974: Singer-songwriter Robbie Williams, who rose to fame as a member of the British pop group Take That and also found success as a solo artist, is born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. Williams, who has sold more than 70 million records worldwide, had an international hit in 1997 with the song "Angels."
1972: The musical film "Cabaret," starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey, and directed by Bob Fosse, premieres in theaters. The film would go on to earn eight Academy Awards out of 10 nominations, including Best Director, Best Actress for Minnelli, Best Supporting Actor for Grey and Best Cinematography. It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, losing out both times to "The Godfather." The movie holds the record for most Oscars won by a film that did not win the Best Picture award.
1970: Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album is released, timed to come out on Friday the 13th. To add mystique to the band's image, new manager Patrick Meehan asked the band to stop giving interviews. While the album's commercial single, "Evil Woman," failed to chart, word of mouth sold more than 5,000 copies of the album in the first week and the album would eventually climb to No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart. Following its North American release in May 1970, the album reached No. 23 on the Billboard 200, where it remained for more than a year.
1967: The Beatles' "Penny Lane" backed as a double A-sided single with "Strawberry Fields Forever" is released in the U.S. It would be released four days later in the United Kingdom. Both songs were later included on the "Magical Mystery Tour" album. "Penny Lane" would climb to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on March 18, 1967, while "Strawberry Fields Forever" would peak at No. 8.
1961: Musician, comedian and actor Henry Rollins, best known as the lead singer of the 1980s punk band Black Flag and for his work with the hard rock Rollins Band, is born Henry Lawrence Garfield in Washington, D.C. Rollins has also hosted various radio and TV shows and appeared in movies such as "The Chase," "Heat" and "The New Guy."
1960: Black college students stage the first of the Nashville sit-ins at three lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn. Over the course of the non-violent protests, more than 150 students were eventually arrested for refusing to vacate store lunch counters when ordered to do so by police. An agreement was finally reached during the first week of May and on May 10 six downtown stores began serving black customers at their lunch counters for the first time.
1960: With the success of a nuclear test in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert codenamed "Gerboise Bleue," France becomes the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons, following the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain.
1954: Frank Selvy of Furman University becomes the only NCAA Division I basketball player ever to score 100 points in a single game when he does so against Newberry College. Selvy hits 41 of 66 field goals and 18 of 22 free throws, his last two points coming on a desperate heave near midcourt at the buzzer. The game was played well before the introduction of the three-point shot in college basketball.
1950: Singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the rock group Genesis before leaving the band in 1975 for a successful solo career, is born in Chobham, Surrey, England. Some of Gabriel's better known solo hits include "Solsbury Hill," "Shock the Monkey," "Sledgehammer," "Big Time" and "In Your Eyes."
1947: College basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball history and the Duke University men's basketball coach since 1980, is born in Chicago, Ill. Krzyzewski, who also was head basketball coach at the United States Military Academy from 1975 to 1980, has led the Duke Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships and 11 Final Fours. He's also coached Team USA to two Olympic gold medals, in 2008 and 2012.
1945: The Siege of Budapest during World War II concludes with the unconditional surrender of German and Hungarian forces to the Soviet Red Army. It was a decisive victory for the Allies in their push toward Berlin.
1944: TV host Jerry Springer, best known as host of the tabloid talk show "The Jerry Springer Show" since its debut in 1991, is born in the Highgate tube station in London, England, while the station was in use as a shelter from German bombing during World War II. Springer is also a former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, news anchor and musician.
1944: Actress Stockard Channing, best known for playing Betty Rizzo in the movie musical "Grease" and her portrayal of first lady Abbey Bartlet in the TV political drama "The West Wing," is born Susan Antonia Williams Stockard in New York City. Channing also starred in the movie "Six Degrees of Separation," in a role she originated on the stage, earning Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her performance.
1942: Musician and actor Peter Tork, best known as a member of The Monkees (seen here second from right), is born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington, D.C.
1935: A jury in Flemington, N.J., finds Bruno Hauptmann guilty of extortion and murder in the 1932 kidnapping and killing of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Hauptmann was immediately sentenced to death, which was carried out by electric chair on April 3, 1936.
1934: Actor George Segal, best known for his movie roles in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "No Way to Treat a Lady" and "A Touch of Class" and for his TV role in the sitcom "Just Shoot Me!," is born in Great Neck, N.Y. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1967.
1933: Actress Kim Novak, best known for her roles in movies such as "Vertigo," "Picnic," "The Man with the Golden Arm" and "Pal Joey," is born in Chicago, Ill.
1923: Fighter plane test pilot Chuck Yeager, who became the first pilot to travel faster than sound in 1947, is born in Myra, W.Va. Yeager's popularity soared in the 1980s, when he was prominently featured in Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff" and in its 1983 movie adaptation, in which he was portrayed by Sam Shepard.
1920: The Negro National League is organized by a coalition of baseball team owners at a meeting in a Kansas City YMCA. The new league was the first baseball circuit for black players to achieve stability and last more than one season. At first the league operated mainly in midwestern cities, ranging from Kansas City in the west to Pittsburgh in the east, but in 1924 it expanded into the south, adding franchises in Birmingham and Memphis.
1919: Singer and actor Tennessee Ernie Ford, best remembered for his hit recording of "Sixteen Tons," is born in Bristol, Tenn. He also recorded the No. 1 country hits "Mule Train" and "The Shotgun Boogie" and hosted his own prime-time variety show in the 1960s. Ford died of liver failure at age 72 on Oct. 17, 1991.
1918: Professional golfer and Ladies Professional Golf Association founding member Patty Berg is born in Minneapolis, Minn. Berg was a leading LPGA Tour player during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and her 15 major title wins remains the all-time record for most major wins by a female golfer. Berg, who is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is seen here in 1936. She died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at age 88 on Sept. 10, 2006.
1914: In New York City, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is established to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members. ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, then distributes them back to its members as royalties.
1891: Painter Grant Wood, best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly the painting "American Gothic," is born in Anamosa, Iowa.
1885: Bess Truman, who became the first lady of the United States when her husband Harry S. Truman was elected president in 1945, is born Elizabeth Virginia Wallace in Independence, Mo. Dying at age 97 in 1982, she remains the longest-lived first lady.
1883: German composer Richard Wagner, primarily known for his operas, including "Tristan und Isolde" and the four-opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen," dies of a heart attack at the age of 69 in Venice, Italy. The second of the four "Der Ring" operas is best known for the beginning of its Act III, known as the "Ride of the Valkyries."
1728: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, best remembered for his role in the Salem witch trials, dies at the age of 65.
1633: Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition for professing the belief that the Earth revolves around the sun. He was eventually found "vehemently suspect of heresy." He would be allowed to return to his villa near Florence, Italy, in 1634, where he spent the remainder of his life under house arrest.
1542: Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England, is executed for adultery. She had allegedly begun an affair early in 1541 with Henry's favorite male courtier, Thomas Culpeper. Catherine was the fifth of Henry VIII's sixth wives and the second he had executed, along with his second wife, Anne Boleyn.