On this day in pop culture history: The Byrds’ ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ became a #1 hit

50 years ago today, folk rock pioneers The Byrds scored a number 1 hit when “Turn! Turn! Turn!” topped the Billboard Hot 100.

A cover of the song with music written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, The Byrds” “Turn! Turn! Turn!” solidified folk rock as a chart trend, as artists like Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and The Mamas and the Papas kept making their way to the Billboard Hot 100, starting in the mid-1960s.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” has the distinction of being the song with the oldest lyrics to ever reach number 1 on the chart. Its lyrics are taken almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes, traditionally believed to be written by Solomon, king of Israel, in the 3rd century BC. The words, calling for peace and tolerance, found new resonance with its listeners when The Byrds released their cover amid the turbulent 1960s.

Other notable December 4 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1923: The first of Cecil B. DeMille”s two “Ten Commandments” films premiered at Grumman”s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

• 1927: Duke Ellington and his new, larger big band opened at Harlem”s legendary Cotton Club.

• 1964: The Beatles released their fourth studio album in the U.K., “Beatles for Sale.”

• 1971: Led Zeppelin hit the top of the U.K. album chart with their fourth studio album “Led Zeppelin IV.”

• 1981: Primetime soap “Falcon Crest” premiered on CBS.

• 1985: “Young Sherlock Holmes” opened in theaters.

• 1991: Paula Abdul was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Birthdays: Rapper Jay Z (turns 46 today), “Saturday Night Live” alum Fred Armisen (49), model/actress Tyra Banks (42), “The Big Lebowski” actor Jeff Bridges (66), “The Big Bang Theory” actor Kevin Susan (45), “The Wrestler” actress Marisa Tomei (51)