16th February
It was on this day...
1979 Saturday Night Fever Gets Bee Gees A Grammy

The winner of the best album of 1978 went to the Bee Gees for the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever; they also won the best pop group award.

Band members, and brothers, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, had three consecutive number one hits from the Saturday Night Fever album.

It was on this day...
1959 Fidel Castro Becomes Prime Minister of Cuba

After forcing right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile, Castro becomes leader of his country on this day.

Castro had spent years in a guerilla campaign to topple Batista. On July 26, 1953, Castro led around 160 rebels in an attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba's second largest military base. The mission was a disaster and Castro lost half his men.

Castro was arrested and put on trial for conspiring to overthrow the Cuban government. Castro justified his actions as an attempt to get democracy restored in Cuba. He was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Two years later Batista granted a general amnesty to all political prisoners, including Castro.

Castro and his brother Raul left Cuba for Mexico where they joined up with Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

On December 2, 1956, Castro and 81 armed men, landed on the Cuban coast. All but 12 were killed or captured except for Castro, Raul, Che, and nine others. They retreated to the Sierra Maestra mountain range from which they coordinated a guerilla war against the Batista regime. Castro had strong support amongst the peasantry, whilst the USA supported Batista's attempts to flatten Castro's revolutionary movement.

By the middle of 1958 a number of other Cuban groups were vocally opposing Batista, and the United States ended military aid to his regime.

Che Guevara, and the 26th July forces, attacked the city of Santa Clara and Batista's forces were beaten. Batista fled to the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959.

With fewer than 1,000 men left, Castro took control of the 30,000 strong Cuban army and enjoyed considerable popular support.

The USA initially recognized Castro, but withdrew support when Castro declared a Marxist government.

A number of Cuba's wealthiest citizens retreated to the USA where they joined forces with the CIA. In April 1961, these exiles attempted an invasion of Cuba in what came to be known as the abortive 'Bay of Pigs' attack.

The Soviet Union responded to the "Bay of Pigs" attack by supporting Castro by placing nuclear missiles on the island, which led to the "Cuban Missile Crisis".

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Other News

1894 Wild West gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is pardoned after spending 15 years in prison, he was 41 years of age at the time of his release. Hardin allegedly once shot a man just for snoring.

1930 A new fabric, Nylon, is revealed to the public by the Du Pont company.

1950 What's My Line debuts on US TV

1982 Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, "High Priest of Bebop", dies, age 65.

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