Eazy-E came “Straight Outta Compton” in the mid-1980s, revolutionizing hip-hop music as one of the members of N.W.A. Born Eric Wright, he became one of the pioneers of gangsta rap, bringing a hard edge to a genre that was beginning to move away from its more carefree roots. After N.W.A. dissolved, Eazy-E had a successful solo career, cut short by his death from complications of AIDS at just 31. We remember Eazy-E’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1966: Chris Acland, English drummer with the Britpop band Lush, is born in Lancaster, England.
1963: Eazy-E, born Eric Wright, U.S. rapper who was a member of N.W.A. and had hits including “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” is born in Compton, California.
When N.W.A.’s debut album, “Straight Outta Compton,” came out in 1988, it struck a nerve not only within the rap community, but also with young people of all stripes, while their parents worried that it glorified violence, drugs, and misogyny. The group kick-started the careers of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who have become mainstream figures, but Eazy-E, who died March 26, 1995, is less well-known. But Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records launched N.W.A. and later discovered acts such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and his style and business sense have earned him the nickname the Godfather of Gangsta Rap. Read more
1961: LeRoi Moore, U.S. saxophonist who was a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, is born in Durham, North Carolina.
Moore’s sax work was an integral part of the Dave Matthews Band’s layered, multi-instrumental sound (rounded out with Boyd Tinsley’s fiddle and Peter Griesar’s harmonica, in addition to the standard rock-band instrumentation). When the band played live, Moore’s transcendent saxophone solos brought the music to a new level. Read more
1957: Jermaine Stewart, U.S. singer who had a 1986 hit single with “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off,” is born in Columbus, Ohio.
Stewart was never a superstar, but children of the ’80s are likely to remember his signature song. He got us dancing with his top-10 single that made abstinence (and cherry wine) chic, “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off.” Read more
1937: John Phillip Law, U.S. actor who had roles in movies including “Barbarella” and “The Love Machine,” is born in Los Angeles, California.
French director Roger Vadim put Law’s looks to good use in his 1968 science fiction film, “Barbarella,” which starred Vadim’s wife at the time, Jane Fonda, as a sexy space traveler in the faraway future. Law wore wings to portray Pygar, a blind angel. “I’ve had more kicks out of playing far-out things,” Law told the Los Angeles Times in 1966. “It’s like putting on a funny face and going out in front of people and going, ‘yaaaaaa.'” Read more
1936: Buddy Holly, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist famous for songs including “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue,” is born in Lubbock, Texas.
Holly is widely acknowledged as one of the most important influences on rock ‘n’ roll music. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones … Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen … Elton John, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton … they’re just a few of the rock superstars whose music wouldn’t be what it is without Buddy Holly. But Holly’s music didn’t spring from a void, fully formed and perfect. Before Holly influenced rock ‘n’ roll’s greats, he himself was influenced by some of the pioneers of rock, as well as musicians from other genres. Bluegrass and blues, rockabilly, and early rock ‘n’ roll percolated together in Holly’s imagination and emerged as the unmatchable music that he made with the Crickets. Read more
1931: Bruce Reynolds, English criminal who organized the Great Train Robbery, is born in London, England.
1926: Don Messick, U.S. voice actor who provided voices for characters including Scooby Doo and Papa Smurf, is born in Buffalo, New York.
Gilbert helped spark a national folk revival by churning out hit recordings of “Goodnight Irene,” “Tzena Tzena Tzena,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” and “Wimoweh.” The group was hugely popular before its left-wing activities were targeted by anti-Communists during the McCarthy era. They were blacklisted, unable to record, appear on television or radio, and perform in many concert venues, and eventually disbanded. Read more
1925: Laura Ashley, Welsh fashion designer known for her romantic floral designs, is born in Dowlais, Wales.
1924: Daniel Inouye, U.S. politician who represented Hawaii in the U.S. Senate from 1963 to 2012 and was the first Japanese-American U.S. congressman, is born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Inouye was a World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient who lost an arm to a German hand grenade during a battle in Italy. He became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress, when he was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the Senate three years later and served there longer than anyone in American history except Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who died in 2010 after 51 years in the Senate. Read more
1924: Bridie Gallagher, Irish pop singer who had hits including “The Boys From County Armagh,” is born in Creeslough, Ireland.
1923: Louise Suggs, U.S. professional golfer who was one of the founders of the LPGA Tour, is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Suggs had a successful amateur career, winning the Georgia State Amateur tournament in 1940 at the age of 16 and again in 1942. She went on to win the 1947 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1948 British Ladies Amateur, and the 1949 U.S. Women’s Open. The LPGA Tour named its Rookie of the Year award after Suggs and in 2015, she became one of the first female members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf. Read more
1923: Peter Lawford, English-American actor who was a member of the Rat Pack and starred in movies including “The White Cliffs of Dover,” is born in London, England.
1912: David Packard, U.S. businessman who co-founded Hewlett-Packard, is born in Pueblo, Colorado.
1909: Elia Kazan, Turkish-American film director whose well-known movies include “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “On the Waterfront,” is born in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire.
In the 1950s and ’60s, there were few better stepping stones to stardom than getting the attention of one talented moviemaker. That man was Elia Kazan, and a part in one of the visionary director’s films was a special kind of blessing for an aspiring movie star. When Kazan introduced you to the world, the world took notice. It happened again and again – Kazan discovered a young actor, perhaps with a few stage roles or a small film part to his or her credit. Kazan put the actor in his next film and ta-da! A star was born. Read more
1903: Margaret Landon, U.S. author known best for “Anna and the King of Siam,” which was adapted into the popular musical “The King and I,” is born in Somers, Wisconsin.
1860: Grandma Moses, born Anna Mary Robertson, U.S. painter known for her folksy style and her late-in-life career beginnings, is born in Greenwich, New York.
As a self-taught artist, Moses is categorized as part of the primitive school or as a folk artist, but that didn’t matter much to the regular folks who saw and loved her work. They also didn’t care that Moses’ work included distinctively nonartistic traits like a lack of perspective, a greeting card style … and her love for sprinkling glitter on a snowy scene to make it sparkle. These qualities that may have made her work a little questionable to the art establishment were the same things that captured the hearts of everyone else. Read more