Year
1963

High school freshman Little Peggy March earns a #1 hit with “I Will Follow Him”

On April 27, 1963, Margaret Annemarie Battavio’s very first single, “I Will Follow Him,” reached #1 on the U.S. pop charts. With her 15th birthday only six weeks behind her, and three more years of high school ahead of her, the singer better known as Little Peggy March became the youngest female performer ever to top the Billboard Hot 100, but she’d never crack the top 10 again. Financial exploitation by an unscrupulous manager and a string of disappointing singles thwarted Peggy’s efforts to capitalize on her early success, but if this sounds like the familiar start of a depressing episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, think again. Her domestic career may have peaked while she was still in pigtails, but Little Peggy March pulled herself up by her bootstraps to build a career of impressive proportions in the parallel universe of Europop.

Little Peggy March went on to score hits in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Japan, but the place that really made her career was Germany. Maybe it was because she learned their language, or maybe it was because “I Will Follow Him” pushed some kind of button in their national psyche, but whatever the reason, the Germans went bonkers for Peggy March. Songs like “I Wish I Were A Princess,” “My Teenage Castle (Is Crumbling Down)” and “Johnny Cool” fell flat commercially in America. But over in Germany, where the magician David Copperfield is revered as a Sex Gott and David Hasselhoff was the first human invited to sing on the toppled Berlin Wall, little Margaret Battavio from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, spent the 1960s and 70s scoring hits like “Telegram aus Tennessee,” winning the Baden-Baden Shlagerfestspieleand raking in the deutsche marks with albums like Hey, Das Ist Musik Für Mich. And if those accomplishments alone do not impress, consider this: In the 1980s, Peggy March also wrote songs that got Europeans to spend money on records by Audrey Landers (of Landers Sisters fame) and by the duo of Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora.

After spending the better part of two decades living in Germany, Peggy March eventually returned to the United States where she continues to perform regularly and where she still holds the record for youthful chart achievement that she set on this day in 1963.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Magellan killed in the Philippines

After traveling three-quarters of the way around the globe, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is killed during a tribal skirmish on Mactan Island in the Philippines. Earlier in the month, his ships had dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu, and Magellan met with ...read more

Tragedy on the Mississippi

Days after the end of the Civil War, the worst maritime disaster in American history occurs when the steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,100 passengers, explodes and sinks in the Mississippi River, killing all but 400 of those aboard. The Mississippi, with its dikes and levees damaged ...read more

To the shores of Tripoli

After marching 500 miles from Egypt, U.S. agent William Eaton leads a small force of U.S. Marines and Berber mercenaries against the Tripolitan port city of Derna. The Marines and Berbers were on a mission to depose Yusuf Karamanli, the ruling pasha of Tripoli, who had seized ...read more

Parliament passes the Tea Act

On this day in 1773, the British Parliament passes the Tea Act, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company from bankruptcy by greatly lowering the tea tax it paid to the British government and, thus, granting it a de facto monopoly on the American tea trade. ...read more

German forces enter Athens

On this day in 1941, the German army enters the Greek capital, signaling the end of Greek resistance. All mainland Greece and all the Greek Aegean islands except Crete are under German occupation by May 11. In fending off the Axis invaders, the Greeks suffer the loss of 15,700 ...read more

Humphrey announces his candidacy

Vice President Hubert Humphrey announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an interview, he said he supported the current U.S. policy of sending troops “where required by our own national security.” On March 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson, ...read more

President Grant is born

Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War leader and 18th president of the United States, is born on this day in 1822. The son of a tanner, Grant showed little enthusiasm for joining his father’s business, so the elder Grant enrolled his son at West Point in 1839. Though Grant later admitted ...read more

Explorer Zebulon Pike dies

After surviving two dangerous exploratory expeditions into uncharted areas of the West, Zebulon Pike dies during a battle in the War of 1812. By the time he became a general in 1812, Pike had already faced many perilous situations. He joined the army when he was 15, and ...read more

Cunanan begins his killing spree

Andrew Cunanan kills Jeffrey Trail by beating him to death with a claw hammer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Trail’s murder set Cunanan off on a nationwide killing spree that ended in July when he killed himself on a houseboat in Miami Beach. Cunanan spent most of his adult life as ...read more

Afghan president is overthrown and murdered

Afghanistan President Sardar Mohammed Daoud is overthrown and murdered in a coup led by procommunist rebels. The brutal action marked the beginning of political upheaval in Afghanistan that resulted in intervention by Soviet troops less than two years later. Daoud had ruled ...read more

Union soldiers die in steamship explosion

The steamboat Sultana explodes on the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing 1,700 passengers including many discharged Union soldiers. The Sultana was launched from Cincinnati in 1863. The boat was 260 feet long and had an authorized capacity of 376 passengers and crew. It was ...read more