January 21, 1984 — Jackie Wilson dies

One of the most influential singers in the transition between rhythm & blues and soul, Jackie “Mr Excitement” Wilson was one of the all time greats. Over the span of two decades and change, he recorded more than 50 hit songs, in genres including rhythm & blues, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening. Moreover, he was a dynamic live performer and showman, whose performances inspired those of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and James Brown (to name only the most prominent).

In 1975, he collapsed on stage at a concert from a heart attack, and was raced to hospital. But the damage had been done – Wilson had stopped breathing, and the lack of oxygen damaged his brain. With the exception of a brief period in 1976, he spent the rest of his life in a coma, before dying of pneumonia in 1984.

Wilson in 1961
By Brunswick Records – Billboard page 11, Public Domain, Link

Nightshift — The Commodores

January 21, 1793 — Louis XVI of France is executed

The last king of France was not even a king at the time of his execution. He had been arrested the previous August and stripped of all his titles and styles when the monarchy was abolished a month later – his name at the time of his death, according to the newly formed French republic, was Citoyen Louis Capet. Louis faced his beheading bravely, and spoke to the onlookers, forgiving those who called for his execution.

The tragedy of it all is that Louis had been one of the greatest reformers in the history of the French monarchy, and had repeatedly instituted (or attempted to institute) policies that would help the common people of France. However, his reforms were repeatedly blocked by a nobility jealous of its privileges – especially those reforms that would have harmed them financially. The reforms they did allow through often proved economically disastrous – Louis and his advisers were poor economists. As king, the ultimate responsibility rested with Louis, and as a man, he paid the ultimate price for it.

Execution of Louis XVI.jpg
By Isidore Stanislas Helman – Bibliothèque nationale de France, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

History Is Made By Stupid People — The Arrogant Worms