1. 1985: First “Farm Aid” concert
It was on this date in 1985 that the first Farm Aid concert took place in the small town of Champaign, Illinois. The concert was designed to help the American farm families raise funds to keep the land they own. It all started when Bob Dylan was performing at the “Live Aid” concert earlier that summer. He apparently made a comment about how he hoped that even a little of the money, maybe one or two million, would go to help pay mortgages of some of the farm land that was in the process of being taken back by banks. Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof was extremely upset about the comments made by Dylan on stage and would later say “it was a crass, stupid and nationalistic thing to say”. However, some of the other musicians felt the same way Dylan did and less than one month later plans for a Farm Aid benefit concert were announced. Most of the musicians on hand were of the folk, country and rootsy rock style, which is understandable considering it was a benefit concert for farmers. But there were a few Rock and Roll artists that wanted to participate also, such as Sammy Hagar and Johnny Cash.
2. 1994: TV sitcom Friends makes its debut
Six fairly unknown actors came together to star in the first episode of one of the most popular television sitcoms in the history on this date in 1994. Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, and Ross were the main characters in the hit show Friends that was premised around six young adults living in the mad world of New York City. It’s safe to say that when these actors started they had no idea how big of a success the show would be. Monica was an aspiring chef played by the lovely Courtney Cox, and Monica’s brother, Ross, was the dorky scientist played by David Schwimmer. Then you had Joey, the wannabe actor who was a fun loving Italian that cared about three things, his friends, food, and females, who was played by Matt LeBlanc. Matthew Perry played the character of Chandler, who was the jokester of the group. Lisa Kudrow played the part of Phoebe, who was a hippie flower child that, no matter the situation, seemed to have a great outlook on life. Lastly, we come to my personal favorite, Rachel, who started as a naive little rich girl and later morphed into a very capable and successful woman. She was played by the absolutely gorgeous Jennifer Anniston, who arguably has become the most famous of the original cast. Friends became such a huge hit that it was continued for a total of 10 seasons before the series finale took place on May 6th, 2004.
3. 1993: Big Bayou Canot train wreck
It was on this date in 1993 that a series of unfortunate events led to the deadliest Amtrak train wreck in history near Mobile, Alabama. It all started just after 1 a.m. when a towboat named Mauvilla was pulling six barges of wood and coal through the Alabama marshes on a foggy night. Captain of the ship, Andrew Stabler, was taking a nap while another employee, Willie Odeon, was in control of the boat, and therefore the massive load attached to it. Mauvilla didn’t have navigational equipment such as nautical charts or even a compass like most boats, and Odeon wasn’t familiar with how to use the onboard radar system. The combination of an inexperienced driver and a foggy night caused the towboat to turn into the Big Bayou Canot, which is an area where barges are forbidden. At around 2:45 a.m. the Mauvilla struck the rail bridge that was there so trains could cross the murky swamp, and in doing so caused the tracks to separate by an estimated 3 feet. Meanwhile, the Sunset Limited Amtrak train was in route from Los Angeles to Miami and was beelining towards the bridge at approximately 70mph when it hit the separated section and derailed. The three engines up front and first four cars were all derailed and plunged straight into the water. The crew on board the Mauvilla managed to pull seven survivors from the swamp, but in doing so forgot to call for help with the rescue. The situation took a drastic turn towards the worse when a fire broke out in the wreckage. Because of the late call, the Coast Guard rescue didn’t arrive till almost 4:30 a.m., and to make matters worse the helicopter didn’t show up until an hour later. In the end, there was a total of 47 casualties from the derailment, and even though the crew of Mauvilla received severe criticism, they never were brought up on criminal charges.