1883 – a massive volcanic eruption occurs at Krakatoa

The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history culminated in a massive eruption on August 27, 1886. Minor seismic activity started in May of that year, and continued until February the following year.

The explosion that occurred that day destroyed the island of Krakatoa – the remains of the island were less than a tenth of its former size. The eruption also caused a massive tsunami, one that was still powerful enough to rock ships in their moorings in Cape Town thousands of miles away. It blew massive amounts of dust into the air that darkened the skies for years afterwards.

Referenced in:

Krakatoa – Styx
Lava – The B-52’s
Krakatoa – Saxon
New World Disorder – Biohazard

1978 – Pope John Paul I is appointed

Albino Luciani was the Patriarch of Venice, prior to his ascension to the throne of St Peter. He was much loved as a Pope, both for his humilty and his general joyousness.

His Papal name, John Paul, combined the name of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI – and was subsequently the name of his successor – largely due to the fact that John Paul I died after only 34 days in office (which makes him the eleventh shortest lived Pope).

His theology was unusually liberal for a Pope, including discussing the possibillity of ending the church’s opposition to contraception. For this reason, along with Luciani’s comparative youth (he was 65 when he died, young for a Pope), it is widely rumoured that he was assassinated (which would hardly be unprecedented for a Pope), but no conclusive evidence has ever emerged.

Referenced in:

Wave — Patti Smith
Hey Luciani! — The Fall

Personally, I feel that Pope Benedict XVI really let the side down by not calling himself Pope George Ringo.