May 20, 1873:
Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive patent for blue jeans
On this day in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada, tailor Jacob Davis are given a patent to create work pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the birth of one of the world's most famous garments: blue jeans. Strauss brought Davis to San Francisco to oversee the first manufacturing facility for "waist overalls," as the original jeans were known. At first they employed seamstresses working out of their homes, but by the 1880s, Strauss had opened his own factory. The famous 501 brand jean known until 1890 as "XX"--was soon a bestseller, and the company grew quickly. By the 1920s, Levi's denim waist overalls were the top-selling men's work pant in the United States. As decades passed, the craze only grew, and now blue jeans are worn by men and women, young and old, around the world.
May 20, 1498:
Vasco da Gama reaches India
Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama becomes the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean when he arrives at Calicut on the Malabar Coast.
Da Gama sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, in July 1497, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and anchored at Malindi on the east coast of Africa. With the aid of an Indian merchant he met there, he then set off across the Indian Ocean.
May 20, 1998:
Frank Sinatra is laid to rest
Long before his stature in the world of show business earned him the nickname "Chairman of the Board," Frank Sinatra was known simply as "The Voice." During a career that saw him go from skinny teen idol to middle-aged playboy, Sinatra's personality and looks were certainly major factors in his success, but they could never fully overshadow his voice-an instrument that could convey very deep emotions in a sincere, understated way. "Right from the beginning, he was there with the truth of things in his voice," is how Bob Dylan put it on May 20, 1998-the day Frank Sinatra was laid to rest. "His music had an influence on me, whether I knew it or not. He was one of the very few singers who sang without a mask."
History this week
May 21, 1932:
Earhart completes transatlantic flight
Five years to the day that American aviator Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to accomplish a solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, female aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first pilot to repeat the feat, landing her plane in Ireland after flying across the North Atlantic. Earhart traveled over 2,000 miles from Newfoundland in just under 15 hours.
May 21, 1955:
Chuck Berry records "Maybellene"
John Lennon once famously said that "if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry.'" That's how foundational Berry's contributions were to the music that changed America and the world beginning in the mid-1950s. Even more than Elvis Presley, who was an incomparable performer, but of other people's songs, Chuck Berry created the do-it-yourself template that most rock-and-rollers still seek to follow. If there can be said to be a single day on which his profound influence on the sound and style of rock and roll began, it was this day in 1955, when an unknown Chuck Berry paid his first visit to a recording studio and cut the record that would make him famous: "Maybellene."