• On April 7, 1776, Navy Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Lexington, makes the first American naval capture of a British vessel when he takes command of the British warship HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia.
• On April 11, 1917, composer Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime,” dies in New York City. His “Maple Leaf Rag” of 1899 launched a national craze for ragtime music, and he composed many other popular ragtime songs, including “The Entertainer.”
• On April 9, 1939, black contralto Marian Anderson gives a free open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial. She had been scheduled to sing at Washington’s Constitution Hall, but the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her the right to perform because of her race.
• On April 12, 1954, Bill Haley and his band, the Comets, record “Rock Around the Clock.” Two years later the song became a hit when it was used as a theme for the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” becoming the first rock ‘n’ roll song to reach No. 1.
• On April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher, an atomic submarine, sinks in the Atlantic Ocean, killing its entire crew. One hundred and twenty-nine sailors and civilians were lost when the sub unexpectedly plunged to the sea floor 300 miles off the coast of New England.
(c) 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.