October 11, 1975: Saturday Night Live is first aired
NBC’s Saturday Night, as it was originally titled, made its debut on this day in ’75. Hosted by comedian George Carlin and featuring musical performances by Billy Preston and Janis Ian, the 90-minute show tentatively displayed the near-the-knuckle humor that would see it make headlines in the future, including host Carlin performing a monologue on religion and a sketch involving a rape victim describing the attacker’s words in writing.
The show would launch the careers of everyone from Bill Murray and Chris Rock, to Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler. Its sketches also spawned the creations of classic comedy movies such as 1980’s The Blues Brother and 1992’s Wayne’s World.
October 12, 1978: Sid Vicious’ girlfriend dies in suspicious circumstances
On this day in ’78, ex-Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious’ girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead in their New York hotel room, the victim of a fatal stab wound. Vicious is said to have called the police crying, claiming that he had found Spungen dead on the bathroom floor. Police immediately arrested Vicious and charged him with murder.
Vicious’ story changed many times, with him first telling police that he’d stabbed her, and then that she’d fallen on the knife. Friends of the couple stated that the murder was due to a drug deal gone wrong.
Spungen’s influence on Vicious was immeasurable, with many believing that it was her own self-destructive attitude that led him to his addiction to heroin, and ultimately the break-up of the Sex Pistols. Ten days following Spungen’s death Sid attempted to take his own life, and was subsequently taken to a mental hospital. On February 2, 1979 he finally succeeded, with a note found in his pocket detailing a “death pact” held between him and Spungen. He reportedly asked to be buried alongside Nancy’s body, although this was not allowed due to Nancy being buried in a Jewish cemetery.
October 12, 1957: Little Richard quits rock ‘n’ roll and turns to God
The self-professed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” renounced his wild ways on this day in ’57, after a near-death experience on an airplane made him turn to God.
During a plane journey to Sydney in the middle of a world tour, the plane’s engine caught fire. The plane managed to safely land at its destination, but the musician claimed that during the flight he had witnessed it being “carried by angels”. Shortly afterwards Little Richard would proclaim himself a born again Christian and retire.
His faith also led to him outing himself as a “former” homosexual, although he claimed that while he had had sexual contact with men, Jesus had “saved him” and he was now straight (in an interview with Penthouse magazine in ’95 he went on to say that he “had always known” that he was gay).
He later returned to rock ‘n’ roll in 1962, touring with a support band called “The Beatles”. I know, I’ve never heard of them neither…
October 13, 1982: Infamous Atari porn game released
On this day in ’82 Custer’s Revenge was released on the Atari 2600. The game is perhaps the most recognizable name in an unreasonably long list of porn titles released for the old-school home consoles, and it features you assuming the role of Civil War-era General George Armstrong Custer as he traverses the perilous desert to have his way with a Native American woman up against a cactus; fun AND educational.
October 14, 1975: Amityville murders trial begins
Although now more famous for George Lutz’s claims that the house was haunted by the spirits of the previous owners, the Amityville murder case was actually grisly and gruesome enough without the addition of supernatural beings.
On this day in ’75, Ronald DeFoe Jr. went on trial for the murder of his parents and four siblings. On November 13, 1974, DeFoe entered a bar in Amityville and told its patrons that his parents had been shot. When they accompanied DeFoe back to the house where the killings had taken place, they found the bodies of Ronald DeFoe Sr., his wife Louise and their four children; Dawn, Allison, Marc and John. Ronald DeFoe Jr., then 22-years-old, claimed that a mob had carried out the murders. The next day he confessed to murdering them himself.
George Lutz would later purchase the house before leaving 28 days later, claiming that the house was haunted by the spirits of the DeFoe family. His story would later be retold in the best-selling book, the 1979 movie The Amityville Horror and the 2005 remake of the same name.