Some men shape history by accident, and some shape it by design. Some shape history by God's decree, and some shape it by sheer force of personal will. Still others shape history by drunkenly stumbling into it, urinating on it and then dancing around naked while wearing it like a hat. Those men are our heroes, and these are their tales:
#5. Nikita Khrushchev Prevents War by Getting Plastered
During the Cold War, Yugoslavia became the first and only country to successfully sneak out of the Soviet "Iron Curtain" when Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito publicly dumped Joseph Stalin in 1948. This messy breakup nearly led to war between the two countries from 1948 to 1955 in a period known as Informbiro, which is a Slavic word roughly translating to "holy shit that's balls." Not even Stalin's death in 1953 was enough to defuse the crisis. That's right: It was a grudge that transcended the grave. But undead communist grudges were no match for Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and his epic drinkin', hard partyin', straight chillaxin' attitude.
The kind of world leader you could totally kill a keg with.
Khrushchev was hopeful for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, which is why he led a Soviet delegation to Belgrade in May 1955 to iron things out. But Tito tried to turn this into a PR disaster for the Soviets: His plan was to get them plastered in front of the cameras and embarrass them, because apparently Tito had never met a Russian before. To the surprise of basically nobody, Khrushchev was more than happy to oblige him. But, what started off as a bear trap quickly transformed into one of the most awesome parties in history, leaving Tito with little choice but to join in the vodka-fest himself.
"One! Just do one!"
The visit ended with a lavish party at the Soviet Embassy, where "Khrushchev got stupefyingly drunk... (he) kept trying to kiss everyone, particularly Tito, to whom he kept cooing, 'Josya, quit being so angry! What a thin-skinned one you are! Drunk up and let bygones be bygones.'" On June 2, while Tito and Khrushchev were probably still fighting off one of those epic, multiday hangovers, the USSR and Yugoslavia signed a joint resolution in Belgrade that effectively ended the crisis. It was one of the most unexpected successes in diplomatic history, and it was all made possible thanks to Nikita Khrushchev being a friendly drunk.
You KNOW these guys partied.
#4. Drunk. In. SPAAACEEE!
While a good drunk can liven up almost any situation, there are certain frontiers of human endeavor where we strongly believe alcohol and alcoholics should not venture. Most of those endeavors involve working a 230-ton, $1.7 billion piece of hardware while going several times the speed of sound.
Somewhere in that shuttle the final frontier is getting plastered.
Yes, astronauts have gone to the stars while under the influence. NASA actually launched an investigation looking for this sort of thing after the infamous incident in 2007 when former astronaut Lisa Nowak tried to kidnap her ex's girlfriend while wearing a diaper. Headed by Col. (Dr.) Richard E. Bachmann Jr. of the US Air Force, the investigators uncovered something that makes Attempted Interstate Infantilist Kidnapping look like charity work: On no fewer than three separate incidents, NASA had cleared astronauts to fly missions -- including two shuttle missions--while completely fucking tanked.
Holy shit, First Contact got something right!
The identities of the astronauts have not been disclosed, but we do have a pretty good idea of what missions they were on. We're talking feats that require some of the most extensive training on the planet, where everything from fine motor skills to physical/psychological conditioning to not barfing in a space helmet is absolutely vital.
One drunken mission actually involved two crafts: a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and a supersonic NASA T-38 training jet capable of traveling nearly twice as fast as your mother's wandering mouth. While the astronaut in the Northrop T-38 Talon had it bad enough, traveling at speeds fast enough to make you deepthroat your own face, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft had it worse: Its mission involved some work on the International Space Station, which meant that the very first step of the astronauts' job that afternoon involved being blasted off of Earth in a gargantuan metal bullet aimed at a moving target traveling at 17,239.2 mph... and they showed up drunk that day.
"One more for the road. Sky. Sky-road."
The NASA panel also reported on a third flight that an astronaut was cleared for, this time on the space shuttle. But the mission was scrubbed just in time, presumably when the crew showed up in full spacesuits, sans pants.
#3. Iron Butterfly Slurs Their Way into History
If we were to draft a list of all the artists, writers and musicians who owed their muse to booze, it would pretty much just be a list of all artists, writers and musicians, period. Douglas Adams came up with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy while lying drunk in a field, Jackson Pollock turned being a violent drunk into an art form, Charlie Parker once vomited onto his microphone during a live performance, and Ernest Hemingway was Ernest Motherfucking Hemmingway. But no act of creation so thoroughly embodies the drunken arts as the songwriting of Doug Ingle, from the band Iron Butterfly.
You'd be an alcoholic too if you had to dress like that.
1968 was not a particularly good year for the band: Their first album, Heavy, had just been released, and it was doing so well that their drummer, Ron Bushy, "was supporting the band by making pizza." When Ron came back from work one evening to find Ingle, Iron Butterfly's primary composer, drunk(er than usual) after pounding an entire bottle of Red Mountain wine, Ingle was "playing this song on the keyboard for me and singing it. He was so drunk that it came out 'in-a-gadda-da-vida' instead of the intended "In the Garden of Eden."
Strangely, Wikipedia doesn't list the genre as "Rock and/or Roll"
Fortunately for Ingle, Iron Butterfly and the entire narcotics industry, Bushy kind of liked how his bandmate's inebriated lyrics slurred out. The newly rechristened song and album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, went on to sell 25 million copies, making it the 31st-best-selling album of all time. Iron Butterfly became rich and famous (or at least enough for Bushy to quit his old pizza job), and it was all thanks to Doug Ingle's drunkenness.
Thanks, crippling social disease!