JANUARY 31: The Jackson 5 arrive

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FORTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
today, the Jackson 5 hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “I Want You Back,” the first of four straight chart-topping singles for the all-brother boy band from Gary, Indiana.

When first informed of the funk-pop group featuring eleven-year-old lead singer Michael Jackson, Motown boss Berry Gordy had grumbled, “I hate kid groups.” He changed his mind after hearing brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael. Good move: The Jackson 5 injected new life into Gordy’s slumping record company.

The first of the Jackson 5 hits, “I Want You Back,” proved the perfect tune to kick-start their career, and its success was no accident. Gordy, one of the song’s co-writers, reportedly spent more time on that single than any other tune he’d been involved with.

The result was a song that Don Waller, author of 1985’s The Motown Story, called “probably the best pop record ever made.” “The record just explodes off your turntable,” Waller said. “I Want You Back” reached number one on January 31, 1970, ending the four-week reign of B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”

Next for the Jackson 5: “ABC,” which spent two weeks at number one; “The Love You Save,” another two-week chart-topper; and “I’ll Be There,” number one for five weeks.

Two other Jackson 5 singles — 1971’s “Mama’s Pearl” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” — reached number two, and the band recorded four top-10 albums from 1969’s Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 to 1972’s Lookin’ Through The Windows. They also appeared on a popular Saturday Morning cartoon show that aired for two years beginning in 1971.

When Michael’s solo career took precedence over his work with his brothers, he soared and the J-5 swooned. In the 1980s, the King of Pop recorded two masterpiece albums, Off The Wall and Thriller. The Jackson 5 made one last shout with 1984’s “State of Shock,” a number-three single.

JANUARY 31: Schubert is born

young-franz-schubertAbove: Schubert at sixteen.

ON THIS DATE in 1797, Franz Schubert was born. At seventeen in 1814 he composed “Gretchen am Spinnrade,” considered the first modern German art song. Based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust I, the song expresses a simple village maiden’s rush of emotions after Faust has kissed her in a garden house. Richard Capell in Schubert’s Songs (1957) called “Gretchen am Spinnrade” “Schubert’s first masterpiece” and said “there had been nothing at all like it in music before.”

One year later, the eighteen-year-old Schubert composed 140 songs, including “Erlkönig,” also based on a work by Goethe. A one-person mini-opera, “Erlkönig” tells of a father’s ride through the night trying to save his child from the king of the elves. Immensely popular during the 19th-century, the haunting “Erlkonig” has been called “easily the most familiar single piece from the German song repertory.”

JANUARY 30: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”

carole
ON THIS DATE
in 1961, the Shirelles reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” co-written by eighteen-year-old Carole King (above). Shirley Owens, nineteen, sang lead vocals on the first song by an all-girl group to reach number one.

Attending Queens College in Brooklyn, King and Gerry Goffin met, got married, and started writing songs together. The two worked other jobs — she as a secretary, he as a chemist — until selling “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to song publisher Don Kirshner, who gave them both a $10,000 advance for the risqué tune about post-coital reservations from a night of love.

The first hit for the King-Goffin team was far from their last. King composed the melodies and Goffin supplied the lyrics for numerous early ’60s hits, including Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care of My Baby,” Little Eva’s “The Locomotion,” and Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away Little Girl” — all number-one hits in 1961 and ’62. King divorced Goffin in 1968 and released Tapestry in 1971, an album that spent 17 weeks at number one, sold 25 million copies worldwide, and brought the singer-songwriter four Grammy awards.

The Shirelles recorded five more top-10 singles in 1961 and 1962, including “Soldier Boy,” a number one hit for three weeks in May of 1962.

JANUARY 29: Photos reveal potential campus attacker

hero photo processing clerk holds press conference
ON THIS DATE
in 2001, eighteen-year-old Kelly Bennett (above) spotted some suspicious photographs and alerted the police, preventing a possible campus slaughter.

Developing photos at a Longs Drug Store in San Jose, California, Bennett came across a series of images of a man posing with bombs and firearms. She called the police and successfully delayed the suspect when he arrived for his photographs.

An investigation uncovered a plot by Al DeGuzman, nineteen, to attack the campus of Cupertino’s De Anza Community College the next day with an arsenal of 60 bombs, two rifles, and two sawed-off shotguns.

Formerly a student at the college, DeGuzman was convicted in 2002 of 54 counts of possessing a destructive device and 54 counts of possessing a destructive device with intent to harm.

Prosecutors said that without Bennett’s tip, DeGuzman might have killed at least 50 students.

JANUARY 28: Silkworking striker born

May-Day-Strike-1913-Union-SquareAbove: A demonstration for New Jersey silkworkers in New York’s Union Square.

ON THIS DATE in 1896, Hannah Silverman was born. At seventeen, she was one of the leaders of the Paterson (New Jersey) Silk Strike of 1913. International Workers of the World founder Bill Haywood called Hannah the “greatest little IWW woman in America,” and labor activist Helen Gurley Flynn called her “the heroine of this strike.” An assistant prosecutor, meanwhile, labeled her a “little agitator,” and a judge called her an “impudent girl.”

Silverman

Silverman

By the second week of the strike, which began on February 25, some 24,000 workers had walked off their jobs, shutting down 300 silk mills. Silverman emerged as a leader of the strikers, who were seeking eight-hour workdays and minimum pay of $12 a week, due to her public-speaking skills and passion. Addressing a crowd of 20,000 striking workers one Sunday she said, “I’ve been to county jail three times already, but they can’t keep me away from the picket lines!” The Paterson Daily News called Silverman “one of the leading lights in the present strike,” and The New York Times found her “pretty and intelligent” and a “match” for prosecutors in courtroom savvy.

Stretching over six long months, the silk-workers strike ended in defeat for the workers. It took until 1919 for silk mill employees to receive an eight-hour workday. Silverman’s labor activism ended with the close of the strike. She died in 1960 at the age of sixty-four.

JANUARY 27: He saved his life-saver

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ON THIS DATE in 2006, seventeen-year-old Kevin Stephan used the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of a nurse who’d saved his life seven years earlier.

One day in 1999, eleven-year-old Stephan took an accidental blow to the chest while serving as a batboy at a baseball game in Buffalo, New York. Penny Brown, a nurse in the stands, rushed to revive Stephan. She used CPR to restart his heart and save his life.

Fast forward to January 27, 2006: Stephan was washing dishes at the Hillview Restaurant in Depew, New York, when Penny Brown, in the dining room, started choking on her food. The restaurant manager called for Stephan, a volunteer firefighter trained in lifesaving techniques. The teenager applied the Heimlich maneuver to Brown and, after two thrusts, the food was dislodged.

After the woman recovered, Stephan realized it was the nurse who’d saved his life seven years earlier. “It’s almost unbelievable,” he told ABC News.