Died Today in History ›
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Published: 10 months ago
Jimi Hendrix was, quite simply, one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His musical career was short – fewer than four years passed between his first hit single and his untimely death at 27. But his was one of the most influential musical careers in the history of rock 'n' roll. In unforgettable songs including "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze," "Crosstown Traffic," and many more, Hendrix pioneered the use of guitar feedback and the wah-wah pedal, creating a rock sound that would be imitated and reinterpreted for decades to come. At the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock, Hendrix presented live performances that went down in history for their groundbreaking sounds and charisma. We remember Hendrix's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Richard C. Sarafian, U.S. director whose movies included "Vanishing Point" and "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing," dies of pneumonia at 83.
2013: Ken Norton, U.S. boxer who was the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion of the world and had wins over Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Young, dies at 70.
Norton broke Ali's jaw in their first bout, beating him by split decision in 1973 in a nontitle fight in San Diego. They fought six months later, and Ali narrowly won a split decision. They met for a third time Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title. Norton would come back the next year to win a heavyweight title eliminator and was declared champion by the WBC. But June 9, 1978, he lost a bruising 15-round fight to Larry Holmes in what many regard as one of boxing's epic heavyweight bouts and would never be champion again. Read more
2013: Marta Heflin, U.S. actress who starred in the Robert Altman films "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" and "A Perfect Couple," dies after a long illness at 68.
2012: Steve Sabol, U.S. filmmaker who was the president and one of the founders of NFL Films, dies of brain cancer at 69.
He began his career as a cinematographer under his father. He was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. The Sabols treated sport as film and changed the way Americans watched and perceived games. Their advances included everything from reverse angle replays to setting highlights to pop music. Read more
2004: Russ Meyer, U.S. director, producer, and screenwriter known best for his low-budget sexploitation films such as "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," dies of complications of pneumonia at 82.
2002: Bob Hayes, U.S. sprinter and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver who won a gold medal in the 100 meters in the 1964 Olympics and a Super Bowl ring playing for the Dallas Cowboys, dies at 59 of complications of prostate cancer as well as heart and kidney ailments.
At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Hayes won the gold medal in the 100 meters, tying the then-world record of 10.05 seconds, and he anchored the United States 400-meter relay team to victory in a world-record 39.06. Hayes' relay split was a sensational 8.6 and he earned the title "World's Fastest Human." Nearly 20 years later, the Los Angeles Times called it "the most astonishing sprint of all time." Read more
2001: Ernie Coombs, Canadian children's entertainer who created and hosted the popular, long-running children's program "Mr. Dressup," dies at 73.
1997: Jimmy Witherspoon, U.S. jump blues singer who had a No. 1 rhythm and blues hit in 1949 with "Ain't Nobody's Business," dies in his sleep at 77.
1974: Edna Best, English actress who appeared in the movies "Swiss Family Robinson" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," dies at 74.
1970: Jimi Hendrix, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist who is considered the greatest rock guitar player of all time and whose hit songs included "Purple Haze," dies at 27.
Kathy Etchingham, Hendrix's girlfriend of three years, wasn't the only one to question the circumstances surrounding the guitarist's death. As with the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones, conspiracy theories abound. In 2009, James Wright, a former roadie for the Animals, published a book claiming Hendrix's shady manager, Mike Jeffery, admitted he'd had Hendrix murdered. The book alleges Jeffery was overwhelmed with debt, owned a $2 million insurance policy on Hendrix, and knew his star client was actively seeking new management. The wildest Internet theories even suspect FBI involvement. Read more
1968: Francis McDonald, U.S. actor who made many television appearances, including six episodes of "The Roy Rogers Show," dies at 77.
1949: Frank Morgan, U.S. actor who played five roles in the classic movie "The Wizard of Oz" including the Wizard, dies at 59.
1945: Blind Willie Johnson, U.S. gospel blues singer and guitarist whose songs have been covered by many other artists, dies of malarial fever at 48.
1941: Fred Karno, English theater producer known for his popular music hall shows, whose actors included Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, and who is credited with inventing the pie-in-the-face routine, dies at 75.
1934: Marie Shotwell, U.S. film actress during the silent era who starred in the movie "Sally of the Sawdust" with W.C. Fields, dies at 54.