(Pictured: the Jacksons, onstage during the Destiny tour, 1979.)
February 18, 1979, is a Sunday. The top headline on the Sunday newspapers regards China’s military invasion of Vietnam. Americans are concerned about rising gasoline prices, which have reached 70 cents a gallon in the Midwest. Also in the Midwest, a major snowstorm strikes, taking aim at the East Coast, where it will drop 18 inches of snow. Snow is also recorded in the Sahara Desert, in southern Algeria, for the first time in history. Over eight inches of rain falls in Greenville, South Carolina. The all-time low temperature record is tied in New York State, when a reading of 52 below is recorded at Old Forge in Herkimer County. President and Mrs. Carter spend the weekend at Camp David, although they zip back to Andrews Air Force Base at midday for a ceremony marking the return of the remains of Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs, who was killed in a firefight after being kidnapped last week. Following their return to Camp David in the afternoon, the Carters go cross-country skiing with family and friends. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper runs a feature story about the history of Coca Cola and illustrates it with a photo of the handwritten original recipe for Coke, thus revealing the drink’s secret formula, but nobody notices until 2011.
The Daytona 500 is broadcast live in its entirety for the first time. Richard Petty wins after a last-lap crash involving Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison, who are battling for the lead. Yarborough and Allison get into a fistfight on the track after the crash. Amy Alcott wins the LPGA Elizabeth Arden Golf Classic. On ABC, the first episode of Roots: The Next Generations airs. Other shows on TV tonight include Battlestar Galactica and All in the Family. On the radio, The Dr. Demento Show, heard around the country this weekend, features an interview with voiceover artist Mel Blanc; “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes, who also guest on the show, tops the weekly Funny Five countdown.
The Jacksons’ Destiny tour plays Manchester, England, the Outlaws play New York City, New Riders of the Purple Sage play Rutgers University, Status Quo plays Zwolle in the Netherlands, Frank Zappa plays Hammersmith Odeon in London, and Frank Sinatra plays Chicago. Rod Stewart tops the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week with “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.” (Stewart’s album Blondes Have More Fun holds at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.) “YMCA” by the Village People sticks at #2. The lone new entry in the Top 10 is “I Was Made for Dancing” by Leif Garrett. There’s very little movement within the Top 20; the Bee Gees’ “Tragedy” leaps to #19 from #29, where it entered the Hot 100 the week before. The highest debuting song within the Top 40 is “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits at #33.
In Wisconsin, a college-radio DJ spends the weekend back home with the family. He’ll return to school that night, weather permitting, to a single room in the dorm, a luxury made possible when his roommate decided to quit school after one semester. He hates living in the dorm, but he loves radio, and radio is what he’s there for.