The Headline News and Key Facts of 1969
On the National Scene
The growing movement against the Vietnam War is symbolized by Moratorium Day, as thousands across the country turn out to protest U. S. policy. The My Lai massacre by U.S. soldiers of over 100 Vietnamese civilians is made public.
In June President Nixon announces his "Vietnamization" designed to help the Vietnamese deal with their own problems, and extricate the U.S. from southeast Asia.
"I will say confidently that looking ahead just three years the war will be over." - President Nixon.
President Nixon selects Warren Burger to replace the retiring Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Women's equality becomes a major political issue.
The trial of the Chicago Seven for 1968 protests at the Deomocratic convention becomes a symbol of radical movement.
Senator Ted Kennedy drives his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island off Martha's Vineyard, killing his young passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. This major story was partially drowned out (sorry) by the moon landing that took place just days later. A week after the accident, Kennedy received a suspended sentence, and that was the end of it. But many Americans would never look at Kennedy the same way .
The U.S. wins the space race convincingly by landing a man on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins fly on board Apollo 11. "Houston... Tranquility Base, here; the Eagle has landed." Event of the century? Possibly; we all thought so at the time. We met the late president's challenge and conquered outer space. This gave Americans confidence that we could beat the Russians in anything... if put to the test.
Sirahan Sirahan convicted in the murder of Robert Kennedy.
Dwight D. Eisenhower dies.
Penthouse begins publication... in plenty of time for the boomers.
Thousands of party-goers sludge through the mud to experience four days of rock n' roll at a place called Woodstock. Heavy press coverage makes the event seem larger than it was and shows the passing of baby boomers from young children to adult children.
Charles Manson and other members of his cult murder actress Sharon Tate and six others in a horrible event that was referred to as "Helter Skelter."
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) claims that marijuana is harmless to both the user and society in general.
President Nixon bans the production of chemical weapons.
As the first of the boomers reach their 20's, the cost of medical care begins to rise sharply.
First commerical 747 goes into service.
Concord makes the first trans-US flight Seattle to New York.
On January 29th, The Beatles perform in public for the final time as a group in an impromptu rooftop jam session in England. They record their final sides together in August of that year.
Hard-rock fully emerges from the experimentation's of the past few years as Led Zeppelin releases their first two albums.
The Who release "Tommy", the first widely successful "rock-opera".
Diana Ross leaves the Supremes, who were the most successful female and black group in history, for a solo career.
FM radio's incursions continue with each new station playing only one or two "formats" which has the unfortunate result of splitting music on stylistic and often racial grounds rather than the previously all-inclusive policy of AM radio.
Elvis Presley scores his 18th, and final, #1 Pop Hit of his career. He'd score 36 different #1 hits on all American charts combined, a record for rock performers.
The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison is arrested for indecent exposure during a concert in Miami.
"Kick Out The Jams" by The MC5 introduces the prototype for punk rock.
The Isley Brothers, who's ten year career to date has resulted in only three large hits, start their own label, T-Neck, and score a major smash with the single "It's Your Thing", their first funk record as that style replaces soul music as the predominant force on the R&B Charts.
Two highly publicized rock concerts mark the end of the decade as first the music festival Woodstock in upstate New York marks the spiritual conclusion to the sixties and then in December, a concert at the Altamont Speedway in California headlined by the Rolling Stones turns disastrous as a man is killed by the Hell's Angels hired for security for the event.
Wynonie Harris, who in 1948 may have been the first true rock singer, dies at the age of 53.
Defying all conventional wisdom, the New York Mets win their first World Series led by pitcher Tom Seaver.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets win the Super Bowl beating the Baltimore Colts and defying all logic... except that of Joe Namath.
Movies and Television
Easy Rider (starring Peter Fonda) is the forerunner of a new wave of youth-oriented movies. The Academy award for Best Picture goes to Midnight Cowboy starring Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman. John Wayne wins for Best Actor in True Grit. Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The most popular series on TV include Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is cancelled due to a political controversy. Dick Cavett begins his late night talk show to compete with Johnny Carson. Room 222 is the seaon's most honored new series.
In time for perhaps the very last of the boomers, Sesame Street debuts on television
In November 250,000 protestors (mostly students) march against the war in Washington, D.C. It is only fitting that the decade ends with just as much excitement and turmoil as it began.
On December 1st the Selective Service conducts the first draft lottery since 1942, affecting 800,000 males born between 1944 and 1950.
Click Here for Billboard's Top Ten hits of the day in 1969.