January 01

Gladiators Fighting

Professional fighters, or gladiators, were like modern day celebrities with die-hard fans.

Pyrrhic Dance, 1869. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema/The Bridgeman Art Library/Getty Images

404 C.E.: The Day the Crowd Went Silent
The last known gladiatorial competition is held in Rome, Italy

Believe it or not, the ancient Roman practice of pitting professional fighters against one another, wild animals, or condemned criminals for the viewing pleasure of a live audience, is considered one of civilization's earliest forms of social entertainment.

The first known gladiatorial competitions were held in Italy in 310 C.E. to impress the public with reenactments of exciting military battles and demonstrations of individual soldiers' strengths.

Over time, the games evolved into a much more elaborate spectacle. The games were popular with members of all social classes, prompting the construction of a new, larger kind of venue--the amphitheatre, or open air arena--a design still used today.

But hold on, not everyone appreciated the gore-filled competitions. Christians objected to the immorality of the viewers who happily observed the violence. Nearing the fall of the Empire, when numerous wars led to an economic recession and Christianity continued to spread, gladiatorial games began to decline.

After the last known gladiatorial competition was held on this day in Rome, Italy, audiences turned their attention to theater performances.

In honor of Elvis' first hit, there is now a real Heartbreak Hotel, located across from Graceland, the singer's home in Memphis, Tennessee.

1956: From breaking heart to breakout hit.
It's no surprise Elvis Presley, or the "King of Rock 'n' Roll," knew how to make an entrance: His first single to enter the music charts, "Heartbreak Hotel," not only hit the number one spot, it was also the best-selling single of the year. The song introduced Elvis' original rockabilly sound, the up-tempo fusion of country and blues music. That combined with his uninhibited stage and television performances quickly made him a household name. Following the release of "Heartbreak Hotel," Elvis remained influential in rock music for decades. Find out more about Elvis Presley.
Tina Turner

Tina Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005.

1989: What's Age Got to Do With It?

In 1989-a year full of musical hits by young females artists like Madonna, Gloria Estefan, and Cyndi Lauper-it was 49-year-old, music veteran Tina Turner who took home the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocalist. Turner first entered the music scene with husband Ike Turner in 1960, as the Ike & Tina Turner Music Revue. The two found much success, but parted ways in 1976. She began her solo comeback in 1981, opening for the Rolling Stones, and launching a string of hit singles. Audiences are drawn to her powerful voice and energetic stage presence.

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