Snark-Free Entry: Today is White Cane Safety Day, which celebrates the achievements of blind and visually impaired persons. It's also Global Handwashing Day and, in Canada and the United States, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Virgil (70 B.C.E.-19 B.C.E.); German philosopher and composer Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), whose name if spelled correctly will always look misspelled; British novelist P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), whose "Jeeves and Wooster" tales were turned into some marvelously dry and witty television starring a very young Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry; novelist Mario Puzo (1920-1999), who not only wrote the novel The Godfather but also the screenplay for Superman: The Movie; Evan Hunter (1926-2005), the prolific writer whose works included the long-running "87th Precinct" crime series (written under his Ed McBain pen name); politically charged Nigerian musician Fela Kuti (1938-1997); musician Richard Carpenter (born 1946) of The Carpenters (with sister Karen); and British actor Dominic West (born 1969), co-star of HBO's legendary series The Wire.
Deaths on this date include the Dutch dancer Mata Hari (1876-1917), executed in France on charges of spying during World War I for Germany; and American composer Cole Porter (1891-1964).
English police investigators received the "From Hell" letter from Jack the Ripper on this date in 1888, which among other things, told Alan Moore that while he had good reason to gripe about Hollywood's treatment of his comic book stories, his 2009 sniping about DC's "Blackest Night" crossover would just look silly, and that for someone who wanted nothing to do with DC Comics, he sure did seem to spend a lot of time talking and thinking about them. And then it asked him if maybe his beard itches and that's why he's so cranky.
... Oh, wait, that's what Ye Olde Podcaster would tell Alan Moore if he met him. The "From Hell" letter was just about the murders. Dancing Mattress Productions regrets the error.
No. 1 songs on this date in history, old-school: "Baby Face" by Jan Garber (1926); "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams" by Bing Crosby (1938); "Day In, Day Out" by Bob Crosby (not a misprint, a different singer, 1939); and "You Always Hurt the One You Love" by The Mills Brothers (1944).
Most Boring Thing About Sex You'll Read All Day: Mexican chemist Luis E. Miramontes conducted, on this date in 1951, the final step of the first synthesis of norethisterone, Wikipedia tells us, which is a progestin (whatever that is) that would later on be used in one of the first two birth control pills on the market.
Buddy Holly was part of an act that opened for Elvis Presley at a Texas show on this date in 1955. A Nashville talent scout caught the show and invited Holly to audition and record some demos for the Decca label. Two years later to the day, Elvis would be at the top of the U.S. singles chart with "Jailhouse Rock/Treat Me Nice."
("Jailhouse Rock" may be the most unintentionally homoerotic song of all time, because seriously -- No. 47 and No. 3, whom No. 47 calls "the cutest little jail bird I ever did see," would have both been dudes unless there was some trend toward mixed-sex correctional facilities in the 1950s that just flew under the radar.)
On this date in 1960, The Beatles ... except for drummer Pete Best ... hit a studio with two guys from another band (including drummer Ringo Starr) to record a cover of the George Gershwin tune "Summertime" in Hamburg, Germany. The resulting 78 RPM was the first time the eventual Fab Four (plus maybe Stu Sutcliffe and Ringo's bandmate from that other group) would record together.
Jimi Hendrix signed his first recording contract (which gave him $1 plus a 1 percent royalty on all recordings).
And one year after that, in 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party.
Other No. 1 hits on this date in history: "To Sir, With Love" by Lulu (theme song from the Sidney Poitier movie by the same name, 1967); "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry (much more openly subversive than "Jailhouse Rock," 1972); and "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder (1984, and hey, everyone gets a little bland once in a while).
Kinda gives you whiplash, don't it?
Sources for stuff I didn't just make up: Wikipedia, This Day in Music.com, JoshHosler.biz.