March 14, 1987: Act Up

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(Pictured: Boy George, on stage in 1987.)

March 14, 1987, was a Saturday. In his weekly radio address, President Reagan talks about the changes in his national security team, necessitated by the unfolding Iran-Contra scandal. White supremacists rally in Forsyth County, Georgia, after winning a lawsuit giving them the right to do so. A United Press International story appearing around the country today says that the World Health Organization is reporting a worldwide total of 42,704 AIDS cases, three-quarters of which are in the United States. In Los Angeles, county officials are planning to open several new AIDS testing sites, due in part to a sharp increase in AIDS cases among heterosexuals. In New York City, Larry Kramer and other gay activists form the organization ACT UP. Yesterday, a judge ordered 17-year-old Machelle Outlaw of Goldsboro, North Carolina, readmitted to her Christian school after she was expelled earlier in the week for modeling swimsuits in a department store fashion show. Among the teams winning games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are Indiana, Wyoming, and Notre Dame. Katarina Witt wins the World Figure Skating Championships in Cincinnati. Stu Kulak, recently acquired in a trade, makes his debut with the NHL’s New York Rangers. (He will play in three games for the Rangers before being released.) TV shows on NBC tonight include The Golden Girls and Saturday Night’s Main Event, a pro wrestling show. Lower Prior Lake, in Scott County, Minnesota, records its earliest ice-out—the date on which there’s no more ice on the lake. Pope John Paul II meets the Cremonese soccer team and members of the Moscow Circus.

Wang Chung plays in Denver, and Petula Clark plays the Hamilton Hotel in Itasca, Illinois. In the UK, The Very Best of Hot Chocolate goes to #1 on the album charts. The #1 single in the UK is Boy George’s cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” which doesn’t hit in the States. In the States, the #1 single is “Jacob’s Ladder” by Huey Lewis and the News, which doesn’t hit in the UK. “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram is #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile” is at #3, making it the fifth Top-5 single from her album Control. The achievement matches only her brother Michael’s on Thriller. Rounding out the top 5: last week’s #1 single, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, and “Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau. For the second week, Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys is Billboard‘s #1 album. Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 box set goes platinum only about three months after its release.

Perspective From the Present: I was playing elevator music at KRVR in Davenport, Iowa, and had been doing so since January. It’s likely that I had this Saturday off, and I probably slept late. I worked until 9:00 at night, and The Mrs. and I got into the habit of grabbing a late dinner and going to a midnight movie on Fridays. It’s likely we didn’t get home until something like 3:00 this morning.

Meal at 9, movie at 12, home by 3. The only way we could do that now would be to have breakfast at nine and the movie at noon.


March 7, 1993: Ordinary World

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(Pictured: Duran Duran, 1993.)

March 7, 1993, was a Sunday. Headlines on the Sunday papers include reports from Waco, Texas, where state and federal law enforcement officers have surrounded a complex occupied by members of the Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh. A raid by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on February 28 resulted in a gun battle that killed four agents and five Davidians. Supreme Court justice Byron White may be considering retirement after 31 years on the court. A retirement would give the new president, Bill Clinton, the chance to make the first Democratic appointment to the court since the Johnson Administration. NBC and CBS lead their evening newscasts with the Waco story; ABC leads with a story on Clinton’s plan to close military bases.

In college basketball, top-ranked North Carolina defeats #6 Duke 83-69 to close the regular season. The game is broadcast on ABC; it will be the final game for analyst Jim Valvano, who has been fighting cancer and will die in April. Six games are played in the NBA today. The league leaders—New York, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix—all have the day off. In Milwaukee, a battle of cellar-dwelling teams finds the Detroit Pistons beating the Bucks 98-91 behind 35 points by Joe Dumars. Six games are played in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks, in their second season in the league, win their 10th game of the year, and their second in a row, beating Edmonton 6-3. They will lose their next 13 straight before getting their final win of the season on April 6 (again over Edmonton), and will end up with a record of 11 wins, 71 losses, and two ties. The first Pennsylvania Nordic Championship ski race takes place at Laurel Ridge State Park. Davey Allison wins the NASCAR Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond.

Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas, tops the box office for the second straight weekend. Last weekend, it knocked Groundhog Day to #2, and it remains at #2 this weekend. Also packing theaters: The Crying Game and Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. The top new movie of the weekend is Mad Dog and Glory, starring Robert de Niro, Bill Murray, and Uma Thurman, On TV tonight, ABC airs the family drama Life Goes On, the first episode of the newsmagazine show Day One, and a rerun of the theatrical movie Platoon. NBC airs the reality shows Unsolved Mysteries and I Witness Video. The latter, hosted by John Forsythe, often features video of natural disasters and crime and is sometimes criticized for its content. NBC closes the night with the TV movie Passport to Murder starring Connie Sellecca and Ed Marinaro. Fox airs six 30-minute programs in primetime, including In Living Color, Roc, and Married With Children. On CBS, it’s 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and the TV movie The Disappearance of Nora starring Veronica Hamel, which draws the night’s highest rating.

Van Morrison plays Tilburg in the Netherlands, Duran Duran plays Hamburg, Germany, Leonard Cohen plays San Francisco, and Quiet Riot plays Cincinnati. On the Billboard Hot 100, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” has finally been knocked from the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after 14 weeks, by “A Whole New World,” a song from the soundtrack of the animated movie Aladdin, sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. Nevertheless, Whitney continues to dominate the chart. Her version of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” drops from #4 to #6, and her latest hit, “I Have Nothing,” is the highest debut in the Top 40 at #23. Elsewhere, Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” holds at #3, “Informer” by Snow jumps from #10 to #4, and “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre holds at #5. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Don’t Walk Away” by Jade at #9 and “Bed of Roses” by Bon Jovi at #10. The biggest mover within the Top 40 is “Freak Me” by Silk, which is up 19 spots to #21; “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors is up 1o spots to #20. On the Billboard 200 album chart, Houston’s soundtrack from her movie The Bodyguard is #1 for a 13th week. Although it will be taken out next week by Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, it will have three more runs and seven additional weeks at #1 between now and the end of May.

Perspective From the Present: I can do the math, and so I know this was 25 years ago. In my head, it seems like a lot less than that.

February 29, 1968: Leap Day

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(Pictured: 1968 Grammy winner Boris Karloff.)

(There’s no 29th this year, of course, but I’m not waiting until 2020 to post this. And I have some experience in observing the 29th on the 28th anyway.)

February 29, 1968, is a Thursday. The big headline on the morning papers is about the withdrawal yesterday of former Michigan governor George Romney from the Republican presidential race just two weeks before the New Hampshire primary. In the latest New Hampshire polling, Romney trails former vice-president Richard Nixon 73-19, and he has failed to improve his standing with New Hampshire voters despite a well-financed and strenuous seven-week campaign. The Kerner Commission, formed after riots tore through American inner cities in the summer of 1967, releases its final report. President Lyndon Johnson will be forced to ignore many of its recommendations because the Vietnam War makes it impossible for the country to afford new social programs. Vietnam architect Robert McNamara spends his final day as Secretary of Defense, a post he has held since 1961. Last November, President Johnson announced that McNamara would become head of the World Bank. Clark Clifford takes over the post tomorrow. In the Panama Canal, a traffic record is set with 65 ships making the transit in a single day. In Amarillo, Texas, Western Plaza Mall opens.

In Norway, Leif-Martin Henriksen is born. He joins a brother, born on February 29, 1964, and a sister, born on February 29, 1960. Also born today: future pro football player Bryce Paup and future American Olympic curler Pete Fenson. In Madison, Wisconsin, you can book a weekend room at the Ramada Inn on East Washington Avenue with one double bed for $9, or with two double beds for $14, and cribs are free. The Thursday night top sirloin special at the Goalpost is $3.50, but the smorgasbord at the Golden Rooster is just $2.00.

Late-night talk show host Joey Bishop welcomes Henry Fonda, Sammy Davis Jr., and Lulu, while Merv Griffin’s guests include James Brown and Soupy Sales. On primetime TV tonight: Dragnet, Bewitched, and one of the last episodes of Batman, titled “The Joker’s Flying Saucer.” The Grammy Awards are presented: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles is Album of the Year, but Record of the Year and Song of the Year go to “Up Up and Away.” Bobbie Gentry wins Best New Artist, and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” wins two R&B awards. Boris Karloff and Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois win Grammys for the albums How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Gallant Men, respectively.

The Cowsills are among the artists performing at the Grammy show. Jimi Hendrix plays a Milwaukee club called the Scene. Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and his group play the Royal Albert Hall in London. Yoko Ono joins them on vocals for one number, “Emotion Modulation (A.O.S),” which is eventually released, although the rest of the show is not. Former Supreme Florence Ballard marries former Motown chauffeur Thomas Chapman. At WCFL in Chicago, the new Sound 10 Survey is released. “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat and “Spooky” by the Classics IV run the top for the second straight week. Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay” takes a huge leap from #16 to #7. “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations is also new in the Top Ten at #9. “Just Dropped In” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition moves from #18 to #12. One of the new songs in the top 20 is “Up on the Roof” by Chicago favorite the Cryan Shames.

Some 120 highway miles from Chicago, a future WCFL listener celebrates his second “real” birthday on Leap Day.  There’s a birthday party at some point around the 29th, and home movies are taken. He will look at them 50 years from now and find himself with no words to describe the feeling of watching eight or ten young boys playing party games, eating cake, and mugging for the camera. He recognizes all the faces, and he knows what became of some, but not all, of his best buds from a half-century ago.

February 24, 1980: Closing Ceremony

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(Pictured: Americans Steve Christoff and Mark Johnson celebrate a goal in the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey game against Finland.)

February 24, 1980, was a Sunday. Two days after stunning the heavily favored Soviet team, the United States hockey team wins the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, with a 4-2 win over Finland. It’s the final day of the games; East Germany leads the medal count with 23, although the Soviets record the most gold medals with 10. Team USA records 12 medals: six goal, four silver, and two bronze. Besides the hockey gold, the other five American gold medals are won by speed skater Eric Heiden. Darrell Waltrip wins the Richmond 400, the third race of the NASCAR season. Two days before the New Hampshire presidential primary, several political commentators say that George Bush, who won the Iowa caucuses in January, is now the front-runner for the Republican nomination. NBC reporter Tom Pettit has suggested that Ronald Reagan, considered the leader of the pack before Bush’s surprise Iowa win, “is politically dead.” On Tuesday, Reagan will win New Hampshire with 50 percent of the Republican vote. On the Democratic side, President Carter will defeat Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy 47 percent to 37 percent.

On TV tonight, ABC broadcasts the closing ceremony from the Winter Olympics. CBS counterprograms the night with 60 Minutes, an hour-long episode of One Day at a Time, Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John M.D. NBC airs the made-for-TV movie Harper Valley P.T.A., based on the 1968 #1 hit by Jeannie C. Riley and starring Barbara Eden. It’s not just the top-rated show of the night, but it wins the ratings for the entire week. Mary Tyler Moore opens on Broadway in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, which will run for 96 performances and earn her a Tony award. Pink Floyd brings The Wall tour to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Weather Report plays Atlanta. The Jerry Garcia Band plays Stony Brook, New York, John Denver plays Lake Charles, Louisiana, Madness plays the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, and the Ramones play in Paris. The Ramones get a mention in the popular Sunday newspaper insert Parade, in an article headlined “Rock rolls into new wave,” which introduces readers to the “hard-boiled assessments of life” performed by the Ramones, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Knack, the B-52s, the Clash, the Police, and others. “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes is #1 on the Funny Five, part of this week’s Dr. Demento radio show. Also among the five: “Titties and Beer” by Frank Zappa and “Bounce Your Boobies” by Rusty Warren. Tonight’s edition of the King Biscuit Flower Hour features Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.

KQCR, Q-103 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, airs the Weekly Top 30, a syndicated countdown hosted by Mark Elliott, from 9AM til noon. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen is #1 again this week. Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” is up to #2, and last week’s #2, “Yes I’m Ready” by Teri de Sario and KC, slips to #3. “Working My Way Back to You” by the Spinners blasts to #4 from #14; “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert is at #5. Another major mover is “Desire” by Andy Gibb, up to #6 from #15. Other hot records include “Him” by Rupert Holmes, up to #12 from #23; “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd, making the biggest move of the week, from #27 to #13; and “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, at #16 from #26. “Refugee” by Tom Petty is the week’s top debut, all the way up at #17. The only other new song among the Top 30 is “Back on My Feet Again” by the Babys at #28.

Perspective From the Present: I watched neither the Miracle on Ice game nor the gold medal hockey game at the Winter Olympics. I most likely missed the gold medal game because I was working my weekend radio gig at KDTH. How I missed the win over the Russians, I don’t remember. I recall other guys in the dorm watching it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t. I liked neither living in the dorm nor the people I had to live with (although my own roommate was OK), and I kept my distance from them as much as I could.

February 18, 1977: Hot Line

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(Pictured: the Sylvers, 1977.)

February 18, 1977, is a Friday. NASA’s new craft, the space shuttle, makes a test flight bolted to a 747. The flight lasts a little over two hours and reaches an altitude of 16,000 feet. In a nod to Star Trek fans, the test vehicle is called the Enterprise. Today’s Washington Post contains a story by Bob Woodward about CIA payments to King Hussein of Jordan. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance continues a tour of the Middle East and meets with Hussein, as well as the president of Lebanon. Seattle’s first Fat Tuesday carnival week celebration gets rowdy, with reports of public intoxication, public drug use, and one case of public sexual intercourse, which attracts a crowd of 100. An exhibition of paintings by Andy Warhol closes in Washington. Character actor Andy Devine, who frequently appeared on TV and in westerns alongside Roy Rogers, Walter Brennan, and John Wayne and possessor of a distinctively scratchy voice, dies at age 71. Harley Race successfully defends his NWA heavyweight wrestling title by defeating Wahoo McDaniel in Richmond, Virginia. Two Japanese astronomers discover a new asteroid, to be named 5017 Tenchi. In Uruguay, a dog is killed by a UFO.

Celebrity guests on The $25,000 Pyramid this week are Joanne Worley and John Schuck. Tonight, the spy series Hunter premieres on CBS-TV, but will be canceled after only eight episodes. (A different show with the same title will run for nine seasons on NBC in the 80s.) Also on TV tonight: The Rockford Files.

Elvis plays Columbia, South Carolina, and KISS plays Madison Square Garden in New York City. Santana and Tower of Power open a two-night stand at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Al Stewart and Wendy Waldman perform in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and the Kinks are at Winterland in San Francisco. The Marshall Tucker Band plays Passaic, New Jersey; in 2007, the show will be released on DVD. In Cincinnati, ELO shares a bill with Steve Hillage and Gentle Giant, and Triumph plays San Antonio. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Greg Kihn Band are together for the third of four nights in Berkeley, California. After nine years in court, Neil Diamond buys the masters of his early recordings on the Bang label.

At WLS in Chicago, “Hot Line” by the Sylvers tops the new music survey that will be out tomorrow. Also on the WLS chart, Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band make strong moves into the Top 10. Also moving nicely: “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart from #16 to #11 and “Crackerbox Palace” by George Harrison from #34 to #26 (featuring what will in later years be called a music video, directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python). The single biggest leap belongs to “Boogie Child” by the Bee Gees, from #41 to #31. In southern Wisconsin, a sometime listener to WLS is in love for the first time. Even “Boogie Child” sounds romantic to him.

February 10, 1964: Last Night

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(Pictured: the Beatles onstage at Carnegie Hall, February 12, 1964.)

February 10, 1964, was a Monday. By a vote of 290 to 130, the House of Representatives passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and sends it to the Senate. President Lyndon Johnson makes a statement in the Cabinet Room regarding the certification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing the poll tax. The amendment which gained enough states for ratification late last month. Johnson also sends a message to Congress advocating adoption of a public-health program that will be known as Medicare, and he releases a report recommending a new system of satellites for global communication. Two Australian navy ships on maneuvers collide in Jervis Bay; 81 sailors die. Future media personality Glenn Beck is born. The Rotary Club of Dickinson, Texas, holds its first meeting. The Manley Popcorn Machine company, which makes commercial poppers and other concession equipment used in theaters, stadiums, and schools, gets a patent for a new control mechanism.

Guests on The Ed Sullivan Show last night included Terry McDermott, America’s lone gold-medal winner at the just-completed Winter Olympics, held in Innsbruck, Austria, and the Beatles. (Before the show, McDermott, who is a barber, was photographed pretending to cut Paul McCartney’s hair.) Today, the Beatles hold a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where they are presented with gold records for Meet the Beatles and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They will remain in the city until tomorrow, when a snowstorm will force them to take a train to Washington, D.C., for the first date on their American tour, on Tuesday at the Washington Coliseum. On Wednesday, the Beatles will return to New York to play Carnegie Hall. On TV tonight, ABC airs The Outer Limits and Wagon Train; CBS has episodes of I’ve Got a Secret (with special guest Jonathan Winters), The Lucy Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and East Side, West Side, which stars George C. Scott as a New York social worker. Tonight’s episode of the latter is the pilot, which has never been broadcast because some roles were recast with different actors before the series premiered last September. CBS is apparently running it at last because they’ve decided to cancel the show.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers record an entire album, to be called Free for All. An item in the Harvard Crimson announces that Bob Dylan will be the featured performer on Jubilee Weekend in April. Del Shannon will also appear.  At WIBG in Philadelphia, where DJs Joe Niagara and Hy Lit call themselves the fifth and sixth Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and “I Saw Her Standing There” are co-#1s on the station’s survey. The Beatles are also at #3 with “She Loves You” (tucked in behind Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”), at #13 with “Please Please Me” and “From Me to You,” and at #44 with “My Bonnie,” an old recording with Tony Sheridan. The hottest record on the survey does not belong to the Beatles, however: “Dawn” by the Four Seasons is up to #6 from #34. Others in the top 10 are Major Lance (“Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”), Rick Nelson (“For You”), the Marketts (“Out of Limits”), Andy Williams (“A Fool Never Learns”), the Impressions (“Talking About My Baby”), and the Tams (“What Kind of Fool”). Notable farther down: “My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut” by Donna Lynn (#71) and  “The Boy With the Beatle Hair” by the Swans (#84).

Perspective From the Present: Donna Lynn was 14 in 1964, and she actually got a whole album out of her novelty single. It features chipper-sounding versions of several recently popular songs and something called “I Had a Dream I Was a Beatle,” which sounds almost exactly like “My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut.” The Swans’ “The Boy With the Beatle Hair” was released on Philadelphia’s Cameo label. Both made the Hot 100; Lynn got to #83 and the Swans to #85 , peaking in early March.

But the Beatles proved to have somewhat greater staying power.

February 1, 1968: Hippie Hooray

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(Pictured: Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched, from an episode aired on February 1, 1968.)

February 1, 1968, was a Thursday. Two days ago, North Vietnam began a major offensive in South Vietnam on the holiday known as Tet. In Saigon today, South Vietnamese police chief Nguyen Loc Loan executes Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem while reporters watch. Photographer Eddie Adams captures the pistol shot to the prisoner’s head; the photo will become one of the most famous ever taken. Video of the execution will be broadcast by NBC News tomorrow night. Among his public events today, President Lyndon Johnson sends his annual economic message to Congress and awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to Air Force Major Merlyn F. Dethlefsen for heroism in Vietnam.

The minimum wage in the United States goes up for many workers, from $1.40 to $1.60 an hour. Certain service workers can be paid less; their minimum wage goes from $1.00 to $1.15. In Memphis yesterday, 22 black sewer workers were sent home without pay due to inclement weather while their white supervisors were permitted to stay and get paid. Today, black sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, aged 36 and 30, are accidentally crushed to death by the compactor mechanism in their truck. The incidents will lead sanitation workers to go on strike on February 12, a job action eventually supported by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In New Hampshire, former vice president Richard Nixon announces his candidacy for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi announces his retirement, which has been rumored since the Packers won Super Bowl II last month. He will remain as general manager. Former pro golfer Lawson Little, who won the U.S. Open in 1940, dies at age 57. Nine months to the day after her parents’ wedding, Lisa Marie Presley is born. Also born: future actor Pauly Shore and future hockey star Mark Recchi.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy terrorizes the boys. On TV today, Bobby Darin co-hosts The Mike Douglas Show. Guests include actress Geraldine Chaplin and jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Shows on ABC tonight include The Flying Nun, That Girl, and Bewitched, with an episode titled “Hippie, Hippie, Hooray,” in which mistaken identity leads to big laffs when Samantha’s sister Serena becomes a hippie and gets on the front page of the local newspaper. (Elizabeth Montgomery is on the cover of TV Guide as Serena this week.) NBC’s lineup includes Daniel Boone, Ironside, and Dragnet. CBS kicks off primetime with the Western drama Cimarron Strip. Janis Joplin of Big Brother and the Holding Company signs with Columbia Records as a solo performer. The Velvet Underground, whose new album White Light/White Heat was officially released on Tuesday, play an album release party at Aardvark Cinemathique in Chicago. The Grateful Dead plays Seattle. In San Francisco, the Jimi Hendrix Experience plays two shows at the Fillmore with Albert King, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Soft Machine; the Jefferson Airplane plays the Matrix, the tiny club where they debuted in 1965; the show is recorded and will be released in 2010. Also in San Francisco, the Santana Blues Band wraps up a three-night stand at the Straight Theater. Your $1 ticket also entitles you to see the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita.

In Cleveland, at 3:05 this afternoon, WKYC debuts a format it calls Power Radio, which is intended to better compete with local station WIXY and CKLW from Detroit. The top four songs on WKYC’s new survey are in the same positions as last week: “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces, “Spooky” by the Classics IV, and “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” by the Foundations. “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs blasts to #6 from #17. “Everything That Touches You” by the Association is up 15 spots, from #37 to #22. Also moving fast: “Words” by the Bee Gees, up 12 to #23 and “Tomorrow” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock,” up 10 to #30. The highest-debuting new song on the survey is listed as “Sittin’ on the Dock” by Otis Redding, ranking at #29.

Perspective From the Present: On this day, I was in a new school. In January, I had been among the students moving from the early-2oth-century monolith Lincoln School to the newly built Northside School in our town. Northside was the most modern of buildings—by 1968 standards. Today, it’s the oldest elementary school in town.

One online calculator indicates that the 1968 minimum wage of $1.60 an hour is equivalent to over $11.00 today. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 would be equivalent to a little over $1.00 in 1968.

(Editor’s note: This is our second 1968 post in the last couple of weeks. I suspect there are going to be more as this year unfolds.)

January 25, 1971: Don’t Just Let That Lie

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(Pictured: Elton John.)

January 25, 1971, was a Monday. In Los Angeles, Charles Manson and three members of his “family,” Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkel, are found guilty in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others. They will be sentenced to death, but the sentences will be commuted. Atkins will die in prison in 2009; in 2017, Manson will die; in 2018, Krenwinkel and Van Houten will still be in prison. Ugandan president Milton Obote is attending an international conference in Singapore; at home, General Idi Amin takes control of the government before troops loyal to Obote can arrest him, as the president had ordered. Police officers remain on strike in Milwaukee; they walked off the job on Saturday after contract negotiations with the city broke down. A judge will order the striking officers back to work on Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Wisconsin’s “posting” law is unconstitutional. It allows police to forbid the sale of intoxicating beverages to an individual simply by posting announcements in retail liquor establishments that alcohol is not to be served or sold to that person. It’s used in cases when police believe a person puts themselves, their family, or the community at risk by drinking. Sixteen states have such laws on the books; Wisconsin’s has been in place for more than 40 years. Dissident priests Philip and Daniel Berrigan are on the cover of Time magazine. In a diary entry, White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman notes that President Nixon is concerned about what he perceives as a change in attitude toward his administration at Time; Haldeman says Nixon has urged him to develop “a plan for attack on them and not just let that lie.” Elsewhere in the White House, Nixon aide Chuck Colson and another staffer begin compiling a list of anti-Nixon people and organizations, which will eventually be known as the “enemies list.” The United States Senate begins using a new sound system in its chamber today, which will allow senators to be more easily heard.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Schroeder and Lucy talk about what brings people together. Prototypes of a new U.S. dollar coin with the face of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower are struck at the Philadelphia mint. The coin will go into general circulation on November 1. In Martin, Tennessee, the Harlem Globetrotters take the floor against their usual foe, the Washington Generals, although the Generals are wearing an alternate uniform and are called the New Jersey Reds. On this night, the Reds win the game, 100-99. Although official records are scarce, it’s thought to be the first Generals win since 1957. The team will fold in 2015 without winning another.

Shows on TV tonight include The Newlywed Game and the second episode of The Reel Game, which requires contestants to answer questions involving movie clips. Also tonight: Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show (featuring a guest appearance by the UCLA Marching Band), Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. In San Francisco, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane welcome a daughter. At first, they name her god (with a lower-case g), but she is later renamed China. In New York City, James Taylor plays two shows at the Fillmore East, and Captain Beefheart plays a theater called Ungano’s. T. Rex plays London. Yes and Iron Butterfly play Copenhagen, Denmark, and the two bands close the show by jamming together.

At WLS in Chicago, Dave Edmunds’ “I Hear You Knocking” holds at #1. Elton John’s “Your Song” is #2. Only one song is new in the Top 10, “1900 Yesterday” by Liz Damon’s Orient Express. It’s at #10, tucked in behind Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Three new songs have cracked the Top 20: “Most of All” by B. J. Thomas, “Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsboro, and “We Gotta Get You a Woman” by Runt, at #18, #19, and #20 respectively. The hottest record on WLS is at #21, “Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson Five, up from #28 the week before.

Perspective From the Present: “1900 Yesterday” is a record we have dug around here since always. And you’re going to want to click that link about the New Jersey Reds beating the Globetrotters. It’s quite a story.

January 19, 1974: Gap and Fizzle

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(Pictured: the Queen.)

January 19, 1974, was a Saturday. The morning papers headline the decision to send the controversy over the 18-1/2 minute gap in one of the Watergate tapes to a grand jury for investigation. Today, President Nixon gives a noontime radio address on the energy crisis, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prepares for another round of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. South Vietnam and China battle in the South China Sea over some disputed islands. Hewlett-Packard introduces its first programmable calculator, the HP-65, nicknamed the Superstar; list price $225. NASA takes a photograph of Comet Kohoutek, which was hyped as the Comet of the Century when it was discovered last year. Although still visible to the naked eye through the end of this month, it is a fizzle, not nearly the spectacle it was made out to be. In college basketball, Notre Dame snaps UCLA’s record-setting 88-game winning streak. Trailing 70-59 with 3:30 to go, Notre Dame scores the last 12 points to win 71-70.

Future comedian Frank Caliendo and future NFL player Walter Jones are born. Future hockey Hall-of-Famer Jacques Laperriere of the Montreal Canadiens suffers an injury that ends his career. The current edition of TV Guide features an article about celebrity homes, with a photo of actor Paul Lynde in his mirrored dining room. On TV tonight, new episodes of M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show air on CBS; shows on NBC include Emergency; on ABC, The Partridge Family and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law. Later tonight, many stations around the country will air an edition of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert starring the Steve Miller Band and the Raspberries. Bob Dylan plays two shows in Hollywood, Florida, Wishbone Ash plays Passaic, New Jersey, and Charles Mingus plays Carnegie Hall.

At WCFL in Chicago, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band holds at #1, and “Sister Mary Elephant” by Cheech and Chong climbs to #2. “One Tin Soldier” by Coven, which is #1 across town at WLS, sits at #3. New in the Top 10 are “Let Me Be There” by Olivia Newton-John, “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr, and “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder. Tops on the album chart are Jim Croce’s You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, the Carpenters’ compilation The Singles, and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Northwest of Chicago, in the farm country of southern Wisconsin, a radio-crazed eighth-grader listens every minute he can and shares his obsession with his friends, most of whom are not nearly as obsessed as he is.

Perspective From the Present: The fall of 1973 and winter of 1974 are among the bleakest seasons of the 1970s for the Top 40. Lots of bland pop music and funkless R&B (“Living for the City” excepted, which is one of the deepest grooves ever to hit AM radio), although there are some gems to be found: “Rockin’ Roll Baby,” “Love’s Theme,” the Staple Singers’ “If You’re Ready,” and “Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren, although the bubblegum geek in me also digs the DeFranco Family’s “Abracadabra.” The best record of the season is probably “Until You Come Back to Me” by Aretha Franklin, although it’s a song I probably didn’t hear much back then. I was still listening to WLS in the winter of 1974, and they charted it for just three weeks. But I would discover it years later, and it would eventually earn a spot on my Desert Island list.

January 13, 1968: Am I That Easy to Forget

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(Pictured: Johnny Cash and June Carter leave Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968.)

January 13, 1968, was a Saturday. On this day, 34 American servicemen are killed in Vietnam, including 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jackie Ray McElwee of Sidney, Illinois. Today’s edition of the Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, carries a front-page review of Make Her Wilderness Like Eden, a student-written play documenting Illinois’ history, presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the state’s 1818 admission to the Union. Upcoming campus events include a production of Death of a Salesman, qualifying tests for the Peace Corps and the Air Force, and a speech by comedian Dick Gregory, the school’s outstanding athlete of 1953, sponsored by the Southern Illinois Peace Committee. Elsewhere in the paper, an article discusses how historians have begun to use computers to “test generalizations concerning social and economic characteristics of group and political leaders.”

The second NFL-AFL World Championship Game will be played tomorrow in Miami between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders. The Packers, three-time NFL champs, are looking for their second straight win in the game some call the Super Bowl. Tonight, five games are played in the National Hockey League. In one of them, the Oakland Seals and Minnesota North Stars play to a 2-2 tie. Early in the game, North Stars center Bill Masterson is knocked to the ice and suffers a serious head injury; two days from now, he will die. In college basketball, top-ranked UCLA wins its 46th consecutive game, 75-63 over Stanford. The streak will reach 47 after an easy win over Portland this Thursday night; the Bruins will meet second-ranked Houston at the Astrodome next Saturday. The winning streak will end that night in what will come to be called college basketball’s Game of the Century.

Today’s Peanuts strip introduces the Creature From the Sea. Bob Hope is on the cover of this week’s TV Guide. A feature inside discusses how Soviet TV describes life in America. On daytime TV today, ABC airs the second episode of Happening ’68, hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Leonard Nimoy guest stars. Tonight, ABC’s lineup includes The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Lawrence Welk Show. Welk also appears on tonight’s fourth-anniversary broadcast of ABC’s Hollywood Palace, hosted by Bing Crosby and also starring Peggy Lee, Milton Berle, and Jimmy Durante. On CBS, viewers can see The Jackie Gleason Show, My Three Sons, Hogan’s Heroes, Petticoat Junction, and Mannix. On NBC, prime-time begins with the adventure series Maya starring former Dennis the Menace kid Jay North, followed by Get Smart and NBC Saturday Night at the Movies featuring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in the 1945 film Saratoga Trunk.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three, June Carter, the Statler Brothers, and Carl Perkins play Folsom Prison in California. The show is being recorded, and Cash opens with “Folsom Prison Blues”; it will spend a month at #1 on the country chart this summer and hit #32 on the Hot 100. Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds play the Corn Exchange in Chelmsford, England, Ten Years After plays London, the Who plays Margate, England, and Gordon Lightfoot plays Waterloo, Ontario. On the new Sound of Music survey at WDLB in Marshfield, Wisconsin, “Judy in Disguise” by John Fred and the Playboy Band leaps to #1 from #12 last week. It’s not the only record to make a major move: “Am I That Easy to Forget” by Engelbert Humperdinck zooms to #3 from #25, and “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers is up to #15 from #33. Several songs plunge a fair distance, including last week’s #1 and #2 hits, “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles and “In and Out of Love” by the Supremes, which are #16 and #17 respectively this week. “Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers and “Woman Woman” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap fall from #4 to #22 and #5 to #21.

Perspective From the Present: I couldn’t tell you what I was doing on this particular day, but the next day, the day of Super Bowl II, I went to a first-grade classmate’s birthday party. (I think I can remember a football game on TV in another room.) He was one of my best friends at the time, although we’d go our separate ways when I started going to a different school in second grade. When we met again in junior high, he’d become a poor student who was always in trouble, and I was neither. We had quite literally nothing in common anymore, except perhaps the occasional thought about the way it takes nothing more than time to change people.