(Pictured: the opening ceremony from the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field in Chicago.)
June 17, 1994, is a Friday. Former football star O.J. Simpson, suspected of murdering his wife and a friend, fails to turn himself in to Los Angeles police, instead leading them on a low-speed freeway chase watched by millions on live television. Opening ceremonies for the 1994 World Cup, which is being played in the United States for the first time, are held at Soldier Field in Chicago; just after welcoming 750 million worldwide TV viewers, mistress of ceremonies Oprah Winfrey falls from the dais. In the inaugural game, Germany beats Bolivia 1-0. In the NBA finals, the Houston Rockets take a three-to-two lead in the series over the New York Knicks with a 94-81 victory in New York. (The Rockets will win the championship in seven games.)
The sale of Cheerios is up in the air at the moment, pending an FDA investigation of whether an unapproved pesticide was used on the oats in the cereal. DirecTV is first demonstrated to consumers at an electronics store in Mississippi; within ten months the system will have grown to one million subscribers across the country. The animated film The Lion King opens, but the top-grossing film of the weekend will be Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson and James Spader. Former White House aide Kathleen Willey writes a brief letter to President Clinton praising his recent D-Day speech; when Clinton is accused four years later of having groped Willey in ’93, Clinton’s office will release the letter and several others hoping to prove that his contacts with Willey were all above board. In Collinsville, Illinois, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is sold to new owners.
In Detroit, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss of KISS, along with assorted lawyers, cops, and a film crew, descend on a KISS fan convention to take back memorabilia they claim was stolen from a warehouse in New York City. The Grateful Dead and Cracker play Eugene, Oregon, and Metallica plays Middletown, New York. The Southern Spirit ’94 tour, which features Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Ted Nugent, plays St. Louis. Whitney Houston plays Hartford, Connecticut. Phil Collins plays the SkyDome in Toronto; among those in attendance is Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, who’s in town with his bandmates for the weekend to shoot the video for “Love Is Strong,” from their forthcoming album Voodoo Lounge.
On the Billboard Hot 100 that comes out tomorrow, “I Swear” by All-4-One is in its fourth of what will be 11 straight weeks at #1. (A country version by John Michael Montgomery, which peaked at #42, is hanging on at #87.) Ace of Base has two hits in the Top 10, “The Sign” at #5 and “Don’t Turn Around” at #6. In addition to Ace of Base, a Swedish group sometimes compared to ABBA, the chart has a distinctly 70s feel: Big Mountain’s reggae-style over of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” is at #7, Joshua Kadison’s “Beautiful in My Eyes,” which sounds like a lesser album track by Elton John, is at #19. General Public’s cover of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” is at #26, and Mariah Carey’s cover of Nilsson’s “Without You” is at #29. Also on the Hot 100: Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf (with “Objects in the Rear-View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”) , Aerosmith, and John Mellencamp (with another 70s cover, “Wild Night”), and Boston.
Perspective From the Present: “Objects in the Rear View Mirror” is far better than its title, which isn’t saying much, since that title is one of the worst in history. Seriously, though, the song is pretty good even though it’s three minutes too long, but that’s standard in the oeuvre of Mr. Loaf. The video, along with several others from the Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell album, is directed by Michael Bay, future director of The Rock, Armageddon, and several Transformers movies, among others.