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Today in Music History: Sinead O'Connor tears up the Pope photo

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor performed on Aug. 11, 2013, in Lorient, western of France during the Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient.
Irish singer Sinead O'Connor performed on Aug. 11, 2013, in Lorient, western of France during the Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient.Fred Tanneau | AFP | Getty Images

October 03, 2017

History Highlight:

Today in 1992, Sinead O'Connor tore up a photograph of the Pope in front of a Saturday Night Live audience in protest of the Vatican's stance on abortion. She ripped the photo as she sang the word "evil", then said "Fight the real enemy", and threw the pieces towards the camera. Executive producer Lorne Michaels recalled that "the air went out the studio" after that moment, and after seeing the act, Michaels ordered that the applause sign not be used. NBC received 4,400 calls in total complaining about O'Connor, but NBC was not fined by the Federal Communications Commission. The act aired on the East and West coast broadcasts, but reruns air footage from the singer's dress rehearsal.

Also, Today In:

1945 - Elvis Presley made his first ever-public appearance in a talent contest at the Mississippi Alabama Dairy Show singing "Old Shep". Elvis was 10 years old at the time and came in second.

1964 - The Animals' first self-titled album featuring "The House of The Rising Sun" entered the album charts.

1967 - Singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie died after suffering from Huntington's Chorea disease.

1968 - Working at Trident Studios in London, The Beatles recorded the new George Harrison song "Savoy Truffle".

1978 - The members of Aerosmith bailed thirty fans out of jail after they were arrested for smoking pot during an Aerosmith concert at Fort Wayne Coliseum.

1987 - Smokey Robinson holds the No. 10 spot on the Hot 100 with "One Heartbeat," while a song about him, "When Smokey Sings" by ABC, is at No. 8.

1988 - Hollywood premieres the acclaimed documentary Imagine: John Lennon.

1991 - M.C. Hammer offered a $50,000 reward for the return of Michael Jackson's white glove, which had been stolen from the Motown Museum.

1999 - Akio Morita, the founder of Sony electronics, died at age 78. The 1979 Sony Walkman transformed both Sony and consumers across the world.

2000 - The Cars' singer and bass player Benjamin Orr died of cancer at home in Atlanta at the age of 53. Orr had been the voice on a number of the band's biggest hits, including "Let's Go," "Drive," "Moving In Stereo" and "Just What I Needed."

2002 - Original Iron Butterfly guitarist/vocalist Darryl DeLoach died of liver cancer at the age of 56.

2003 - "School of Rock" opened in theaters, starring Jack Black as a musician who poses as a substitute teacher and forms a band with the students. Classic rock abounds in the film, with teachable moments soundtracked to "Highway to Hell," "Smoke on the Water" and even "Immigrant Song" - a track secured after Black made a video begging Led Zeppelin to let them use it.

2004 - VH1 holds its first Hip-Hop Honors, giving awards to DJ Hollywood, DJ Kool Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Rock Steady Crew, Run-D.M.C., Tupac and The Sugarhill Gang.

2014 - A mint-condition copy of The Beatles' Please Please Me album, signed by George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr sold for $36,655 at an auction held in the US.

2014 - Seventeen years after its release, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album is certified Double Diamond by the RIAA for sales of over 20 million in the U.S. It is the ninth album to achieve the certification.


Eddie Cochran ("Twenty Flight Rock", "Summertime Blues", "C'mon Everybody", and "Somethin' Else") was born today in 1938.

Chubby Checker is 76.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born today in 1954.

Lindsey Buckingham is 68.

Ronnie Laws, saxophone player from Earth, Wind and Fire, is 67.

Tommy Lee is 55.

Gwen Stefani is 48.

Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson is 46.

Ashlee Simpson is 33.

Highlights for Today in Music History are gathered from This Day in Music, Paul Shaffer's Day in Rock, Song Facts and Wikipedia.