Year
1997
Month Day
March 09

Rapper Notorious B.I.G. is killed in Los Angeles

Christopher Wallace, a.k.a Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., is shot to death at a stoplight in Los Angeles. The murder was thought to be the culmination of an ongoing feud between rap music artists from the East and West coasts. Just six months earlier, rapper Tupac Shakur was killed when he was shot while in his car in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Ironically, Wallace’s death came only weeks before his new album, titled Life After Death, was scheduled to be released.

Wallace was the most prominent East Coast practictioner of “gangsta rap." His 1994 record Ready to Die sold millions. That same year, Shakur, the West Coast’s leading rapper, was shot several times in a robbery at a recording studio in New York. Shakur claimed that Wallace was partially responsible and later taunted Wallace on one of his songs. He claimed to have slept with Wallace’s ex-wife, singer Faith Evans, and insulted the overweight rapper for his ample girth.

READ MORE: How Biggie and Tupac Went From Friends to Music's Biggest Rivals

Wallace’s raps about violent street life were not completely fiction. He grew up in a poor section of Brooklyn and had many run-ins with the law growing up. Even after he reached stardom in the music world, his legal woes continued. In the summer of 1996 he was arrested when police found marijuana and firearms at his New Jersey home. He also gave a new meaning to fan appreciation when he assaulted a pair of admirers with a baseball bat. The murder of Wallace has never been solved, though it has been suggested that either Marion “Suge” Knight, the former head of Death Row Records, Shakur’s label, or the Crips gang may be be responsible. Knight was also shot (but not wounded seriously) in the fatal Las Vegas attack on Shakur and is rumored to have engineered a retaliatory strike against Wallace, whom he held responsible for the Las Vegas shooting. Knight has been incarcerated for a fatal hit-and-run since 2018. 

READ MORE: Inside Notorious B.I.G.'s Final Days and Drive-By Murder in Los Angeles

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Russian Bolshevik Party becomes the Communist Party

On March 9, 1918, the ascendant Bolshevik Party formally changes its name to the All-Russian Communist Party. It was neither the first nor the last time the party would alter its name to reflect a slight change in allegiance or direction; however, it was the birth of the ...read more

Germany declares war on Portugal

On March 9, 1916, Germany declares war on Portugal, who earlier that year honored its alliance with Great Britain by seizing German ships anchored in Lisbon’s harbor. Portugal became a republic in 1910 after a revolution led by the country’s military toppled King Manuel II (his ...read more

Supreme Court rules on Amistad slave ship mutiny case

At the end of a historic case, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, with only one dissent, that the enslaved Africans who seized control of the Amistad slave ship had been illegally forced into slavery, and thus are free under American law. In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great ...read more

The Barbie doll makes its debut

On March 9, 1959, the first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Eleven inches tall, with a waterfall of blond hair, Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. The woman behind Barbie was Ruth Handler, ...read more

Firebombing of Tokyo

On the night of March 9, 1945, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and ...read more

Marines hand over control of I Corps region

The U.S. Marines turn over control of the five northernmost provinces in South Vietnam to the U.S. Army. The Marines had been responsible for this area since they first arrived in South Vietnam in 1965. The change in responsibility for this area was part of President Richard ...read more

Pancho Villa attacks Columbus, New Mexico

Angered over American support of his rivals for the control of Mexico, the peasant-born revolutionary leader Pancho Villa attacks the border town of Columbus, New Mexico. In 1913, a bloody civil war in Mexico brought the general Victoriano Huerta to power. American President ...read more

Comedian George Burns dies at age 100

On March 9, 1996, the legendary cigar-chomping performer George Burns dies at his home in Beverly Hills, California, just weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday. Born Nathan Birnbaum in New York City, Burns was one of 12 children. As a young child, he sang for pennies on ...read more

Japanese power plant leaks radioactive waste

A nuclear accident at a Japan Atomic Power Company plant in Tsuruga, Japan, exposes 59 workers to radiation on March 9, 1981. The officials in charge failed to timely inform the public and nearby residents, endangering them. Tsuruga lies near Wakasa Bay on the west coast of ...read more

U.S.S. Monitor battles C.S.S. Virginia

On March 9, 1862, one of the most famous naval battles in American history occurs as two ironclads, the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia, fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but their armor plates easily deflected the cannon ...read more

First Adopt-a-Highway sign goes up

On March 9, 1985, the first-ever Adopt-a-Highway sign is erected on Texas’s Highway 69. The highway was adopted by the Tyler Civitan Club, which committed to picking up trash along a designated two-mile stretch of the road. The Adopt-a-Highway program really began the year ...read more

This Day In History: Spanish siege of Pensacola begins

Spanish siege of Pensacola begins

After successfully capturing British positions in Louisiana and Mississippi, Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, commander of the Spanish forces in North America, turns his attention to the British-occupied city of Pensacola, Florida, on March 9, 1781. General Galvez and a ...read more

President Eisenhower criticizes Senator Joseph McCarthy

President Eisenhower writes a letter to his friend, Paul Helms, in which he privately criticizes Senator Joseph McCarthy’s approach to rooting out communists in the federal government. Two days earlier, former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson had declared that the ...read more