March 15, 1959 — Lester Young dies

One of the most influential jazz artists, Lester Young’s instrument of choice was the tenor saxophone (with occasional forays into the clarinet). Unlike many of his contemporaries, his style was relaxed and laid-back, featuring complex melodies and improvisations.

Young first came to prominence as a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, but left music to serve in World War Two. After the war, he embarked on a solo career, although he frequently played with other musicians and featured in their recordings just as they featured in his.

Lester Young’s greatest influence on the world had little to do with his playing: he is credited with having invented a large portion of ‘hipster’ slang. In particular, the modern colloquial meanings of cool (as ‘good’) and bread (as ‘money’) are attributed to him.

Young suffered from alcoholism in his later life, and died from complications brought on by it at the age of 49.

By Photograph by Ojon Mili. Time Inc. – Life magazine, Volume 17, Number 13 (page 40), Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

Woke Up This Morning — Alabama 3

March 15, 44 BCE — Julius Caesar is assassinated

Shakespeare’s version might be better known, but the best historical account of the death of Big Julie was written by imperial biographer (and obsequious toady) Seutonius. It is from Suetonius that we have Caesar’s famous last words (asking Brutus ‘even you, my child?’, which Shakespeare rendered as ‘et tu, Brute?’) – although curiously, Seutonius himself reports those words as claimed by others, and for himself believes that Caesar said nothing.

This is somewhat hard to believe, given that Seutonius also recounts that Caesar was attacked by 60 or more men, and received a total of 23 stab wounds from his assailants – it appears that the proximate cause of death was loss of blood. (Fun fact: Caesar’s autopsy report is the earliest one to have survived to the present day.) In a larger sense, the cause of the death of Gaius Julius Caesar was political ambition – his own, and that of others.

Death of Julius Caesar 2.png
By William Holmes Sullivan (1836-1908) – Self-photographed, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

Imperial Rome — Aska
No Tears for Caesar — William Shatner & The Rated R