In response to Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the government of the USA – with full United Nations approval – announced this deadline, requiring Iraqi forces to return to their own nation no later than it. Formally stated in UN Resolution 678, on November 29, it allowed approximately seven weeks for the withdrawal to occur, a generous amount of time considering that the original invasion had taken a matter of days.
Hussein remained intransigent, and on January 12, the US Senate approved the use of military force if the deadline expired. The ensuing war was quick, decisive, and by the normal standards of such things, almost restrained in character.
Operation Desert Storm began after the expiry of the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The first component of the operation was a series of airstrikes, with the first large scale deployment of so-called “smart bombs”. US Air Force planes launched from bases in Saudi Arabia and carriers in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea to strike at targets in Kuwait and Iraq.
The first priority was the neutralization of the Iraqi Air Force, a goal that was successfully completed on the first day of the war. After that, priority was given to military and communications targets. The ground assault began weeks later, after the coalition forces had established absolute aerial dominance – by the time the tanks were rolling, the war was almost already over.
While under the influence of both PCP and Everclear (the drink, not the band), Bill accidentally shot himself in the right eye during an argument with his girlfriend. He was rushed to hospital, and survived his injuries, but it was too later to save his eye. Bill later claimed that he “died and came back to life” in the course of these events, and credits it with giving him a spiritual awakening of sorts, although it was not until 2006 that he became a born again Christian.
Mike Tyson’s career as a boxer was experiencing a brief setback in 1991. Injuries sustained during training had led him to pull out of a planned title challenge against Evander Holyfield, the Heavyweight Champion. We can’t know for sure what was in Tyson’s mind when he called Desiree Washington a little after 1:30 in the morning on July 19, and organised to come pick her up.
They were driven back to his hotel by Tyson’s chauffeur, and accounts vary as to what happened next. Washington claimed that Tyson raped her, Tyson claimed that they had consensual sex. The weight of evidence – and Tyson’s unlikable demeanour in the courtroom – led the jury to convict Tyson of the rape, and he served three years (of a six year sentence) in prison for the crime.
Simultaneously release, Use Your Illusion was a double album sold as two separate albums, and included some of Guns n Roses best known songs, including “You Could Be Mine”, “Civil War” and “November Rain” – of all Guns n Roses songs, it is the most epic (although not the longest). “November Rain” was the 4th single from the twin albums, and the 2nd most successful (after “You Could Be Mine”). In interviews, the band stated that they felt that this was their “Stairway to Heaven”. As bold as that claim was, it was borne out by history.
The song remains a staple of classic rock radio stations everywhere, the clip regularly places among the most popular on MTV and other such music video stations, and naturally, it is a long-standing staple of Guns n Roses live performances.
A true giant of popular music, and the possessor of one of the finest voices ever to grace a song, Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, died at the age of 45 after a protracted struggle with AIDS. An openly gay man, Mercury had contracted the disease some years earlier, being diagnosed in 1987, but chose to conceal his illness from all but his nearest and dearest, including the other three members of Queen, until relatively shortly before his death. This desire for privacy has unfortunately tainted his legacy somewhat, as he arguably could have done much to promote awareness of AIDS had he announced his infection sooner – although this would likely have taken a greater toll on his health and seen him die even sooner.
Mercury left behind him an incredible range of musical accomplishments, both as singer and songwriter. In particular, he wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits volume one: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Play the Game” – all of them still played frequently on radio to this day. He was also a consummate showman in concert, rivaled only by Bowie and Jagger in his ability to charm a crowd.