July 31, 1976: A Laugher

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(Pictured: a streaker interrupts the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Montreal on July 31, 1976, because of course he did.)

July 31, 1976, was a Saturday. In Colorado, a foot of rain falls in the mountains, causing a flood in Big Thompson Canyon that kills 150 people. Barry Manilow plays Philadelphia, where health officials are struggling to figure out what mysterious disease sickened over 200 people and killed 34 during an American Legion bicentennial gathering a few days earlier. It’s been nicknamed “legionnaire’s disease.” NASA releases a photo taken by the Viking Mars probe before it landed on July 20. It seems to show a face on the Martian surface, but NASA says it’s merely a rock formation and nothing mysterious. A UFO is sighted in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Louisiana adopts petrified palm wood as its official state fossil. The Montreal Olympics are coming to an end, as an East German marathoner wins the gold in the final event of the games, and six athletes, five Romanians and a Russian, defect to Canada. The Green Bay Packers play the earliest preseason game in their history, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-16. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the first game in their history, losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 26-3. Future pro football player Marty Booker is born.  NBC airs the first-season finale of its new weekend late-night show, NBC’s Saturday Night, hosted by Kris Kristofferson. (His wife, Rita Coolidge, is the musical guest.) Sketches include “Samurai General Practitioner” and “Gynecologist Blind Date,” with Kristofferson and Jane Curtin. Other TV programs on the air that night include the syndicated soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and The Invasion of Johnson County, a western starring Bill Bixby.

Elvis Presley, on his last tour, plays Hampton Roads, Virginia. Eric Clapton plays London. Jethro Tull plays Tampa, Florida. On the Billboard singles chart dated July 31, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans is spending its second week at #1; “Love Is Alive” by Gary Wright is #2; Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right” is at #3; At #4 it’s “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. The Beatles and the Beach Boys are back-to-back at #7 and #8, with “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Rock and Roll Music,” the first time both bands have been in the Top 10 at the same time since 1966. New in the Top 40 are “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac, “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, “Who’d She Coo” by the Ohio Players, “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and War’s “Summer.” Two versions of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” are bubbling under the Top 40—one is the 1967 original, the other is a new recording from the hit movie of the same name. New on the Hot 100 that week: “Still the One” by Orleans and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. George Benson’s Breezin’ tops the album chart.

Perspective From the Present: The Green County Fair was going on in my hometown that week, and on Saturday night I would certainly have been there. And I was probably in a pretty good mood. The previous night, our Church League softball team had enjoyed a rare laugher, a 16-to-1 victory over Washington Township. I found time to listen to American Top 40 on that weekend, probably on Sunday night, probably on WROK from Rockford, Illinois—and I would probably have had to try and pick out the last few songs through the static after the station cut its power at sundown. I had been rooting for “I’ll Be Good to You” by the Brothers Johnson, a favorite song of the moment, to reach #1. Maybe you had to be a 16-year-old Top 40 geek to feel the clanging sense of disappointment when it dropped to #9 this week after being stuck at #3 for two weeks, destined never to make the top.


July 24, 1966: Soldiers

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(Pictured: National Guardsmen on patrol in Cleveland after rioting in July 1966.)

(Most posts at this blog have previously appeared in some form at either The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ or Popdose. Here’s a brand-new post that’s never appeared anywhere before. Find others here.)

July 24, 1966, was a Sunday. Newspaper headlines this morning include President Lyndon Johnson’s speaking tour stops yesterday in Indiana and Illinois, during which he addressed the recent race riots in Chicago and Cleveland and defended his administration’s policy in Vietnam. National Guardsmen have been patrolling Chicago’s troubled west side since July 15th; the last units will be sent home from the area tonight. Johnson was accompanied on his trip by Democratic officials facing reelection in the fall. Richard Speck, accused of murdering eight student nurses in Chicago on July 13, remains hospitalized after attempting suicide while hiding out after the murders.

Also yesterday, actor Montgomery Clift died at age 45 after suffering a heart attack in his New York apartment. Today, pro golfer Tony Lema is killed when his private plane crashes into a golf course near Chicago. Lema is 32. Al Geiberger wins the PGA Championship in Akron, Ohio, by four shots over Dudley Wysong. Sixteen games are played in the majors today, including six doubleheaders. The American League-leading Baltimore Orioles lose to the Chicago White Sox 4-0; their lead over the Detroit Tigers is 12 games. The National League race is much tighter. The Pittsburgh Pirates maintain a one-game lead over San Francisco after both teams win today; the Los Angeles Dodgers gain ground with a doubleheader sweep of the New York Mets, 5-0 and 6-0, but they remain 2 1/2 games behind.

In Peanuts today, for the first time in the strip’s history, the World War I flying ace enjoys a root beer at a sidewalk cafe. The fiction best-seller list is topped by Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. On TV tonight, CBS opens prime-time with Lassie and My Favorite Martian, followed an Ed Sullivan Show repeat from February starring the Supremes, the Dave Clark Five, Stiller and Meara, and Allan Sherman. Perry Mason, Candid Camera, and What’s My Line follow Ed on CBS. NBC airs The Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza, and The Wackiest Ship in the Army. On ABC, its Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The FBI, and The Pony Soldier, a 1952 Western set in Canada starring Tyrone Power and Cameron Mitchell.

The Newport Folk Festival closes with performances by Richie Havens, Tom Paxton, and Pete Seeger. Other headliners on the four-day bill included Judy Collins, Chuck Berry, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Skip James, and Phil Ochs. The Rolling Stones, touring in support of their album Aftermath, play an afternoon show in San Bernardino, California, before going on to play two shows in Bakersfield, California, that night. The Animals and Herman’s Hermits play New Orleans. At KSTP in Minneapolis, Don DuChene does an afternoon show featuring Barbra Streisand, Count Basie, Herb Alpert, Bob Newhart, and others. At the Top 40 stations across town, WDGY and KDWB, “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells tops both stations’ surveys. The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” is at #2 on KDWB; WDGY charts only “Paperback Writer” and lists it at #5. “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, “The Pied Piper” by Crispian St. Peters, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham, and “Hungry” by Paul Revere and the Raiders are in the Top 10 on both stations. The hottest songs at WDGY are “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, up to #15 from #30, and “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” by Napoleon XIV, debuting in the Top 3o at #16. At KDWB, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” is the biggest mover within the Top 40, zooming to #7 from #36 the week before. “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful is up 18, to #15 from #33.

Perspective From the Present: At our house, Lassie was a frequent viewing choice on Sundays, but we rarely missed The Wonderful World of Disney. We had to be on our way to bed when Bonanza came on, and for many years I couldn’t hear that familiar theme song without remembering how it felt to have to go to bed before I wanted to.

July 16, 1971: Stone Age

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(Pictured: planet Earth in the summer of 1971, photographed from Apollo 15.)

July 16, 1971, was a Friday. Life magazine reports on the three Soviet Soyuz 11 cosmonauts who died during re-entry on June 29; consumer advocate Bess Myerson is on the cover. Preparations continue for the Apollo 15 moon mission, which will launch in 10 days. Maryann Grelinger of Kansas City, Missouri, sends President Nixon a telegram in response to the announcement yesterday that he will visit China. It says, “Have fun in Red China. Hope they keep you.” At the Western White House in San Clemente, Nixon meets with the National Security Council to discuss the Middle East and South Asia. Demographers estimate that the population of the world has passed the four billion mark. Future actor Corey Feldman is born. During his year in Vietnam, radio relay operator Rick Holt of Dundalk, Maryland, writes his parents nearly every day, sometimes more than once. Today he writes another letter. Jeanne M. Holm, director of Women in the Air Force, is promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first woman in the U.S. military with that rank.

NBC Nightly News reports the discovery of the Tasaday, a Stone Age people living in an isolated part of the Philippines. (Years later, some anthropologists accuse the discoverers of the Tasaday of perpetrating a hoax.) A paper titled “Fiber Digestion in the Beaver” is accepted for publication by the Journal of Nutrition. New movies for the weekend include The Hunting Party starring Candice Bergen and Gene Hackman and The Devils, directed by Ken Russell and originally given an X rating before cuts were made. Top movies already out include Shaft, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Creedence Clearwater Revival plays in Boston. Duke Ellington plays at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Top 40 fans are enjoying a harmonic convergence of great radio records and superb summer songs pumping out of AM radios everywhere. At WLS in Chicago, Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” tops the chart for a fourth week; James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” (which King wrote, and on which she plays) holds at #2.

Also charting near the top this week: “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds, “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James, “Sooner or Later” by the Grass Roots, and “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” by the Fortunes. Classic one-hit wonders are afoot, like “Funky Nassau” by Beginning of the End, and “Rings” by Cymarron. The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” is in its first week on the chart. An eleven-year-old music fanatic in southern Wisconsin lives with the radio on every waking moment, absorbs it all, and will never forget it.

July 13, 1985: Good Enough

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(Pictured: the Wembley Stadium throng at Live Aid.)

July 13, 1985, is a Saturday. President Reagan undergoes colon surgery, so for the first time in American history, a president hands over power to his vice president temporarily. George H.W. Bush is acting president for approximately eight hours while Reagan is under general anesthesia and in recovery. Public health officials in New Mexico are concerned about an outbreak of plague among cats, while celebrity watchers are abuzz over speculation that Britain’s Princess Diana might be pregnant. (She isn’t.) Two planes collide at an air show in Niagara Falls, New York, killing one pilot. Boy Scout Troop 180 of Yankton, South Dakota, is on a canoeing trip to the Boundary Waters, which will last until July 21. In a pregame ceremony, the New York Yankees retire the numbers of Roger Maris (9) and Elston Howard (32). Future major-leaguer and ESPN commentator John Kruk hits an inside-the-park home run while playing in the minor leagues for Las Vegas. Joe Aguirre, who played football for the Washington Redskins in the 1940s, dies at age 67. Future Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, who will play for his country in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, is born.

The animated Disney film Pinocchio is released on home video for the first time. Shows on TV tonight include The Paper Chase, which is airing on Showtime after being canceled by CBS four years previously. ABC airs edited highlights from Live Aid, two giant benefit concerts held today in London and Philadelphia. NBC counters with Diff’rent Strokes, Gimme a Break, Mama’s Family, and Hunter on NBC. CBS airs an episode of Airwolf. A Los Angeles TV station broadcasts the final episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, which has run on local TV there since 1981, and in national syndication from 1982 to 1984.

The Grateful Dead opens a two-night stand at the county fairgrounds in Ventura, California, and Queensryche plays Irvine, California. Depeche Mode plays Brest, France, and Stevie Ray Vaughan plays the Hague in the Netherlands. Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, knocking “Sussudio” by Phil Collins from the top. There’s little movement within the Top 10, although Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” (#9) and “The Goonies ‘R Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper (#10) replace Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Madonna’s “Angel.” Biggest movers include “Shout” by Tears for Fears (#23 to #14) and “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart (#29 to #20). Three songs are new within the Top 40: “Rock Me Tonight” by Freddie Jackson (#35), “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (#38), and “State of the Heart” by Rick Springfield (#40). “You’re Only Human” by Billy Joel is the highest debut of the week on the Hot 100, coming in at #50.

Perspective From the Present: I didn’t realize what a big deal Live Aid was going to be until that day, and I spent much of that afternoon at my radio station airing reports from the venues. That night, The Mrs. and I set up a second TV set in our crummy little one-bedroom apartment so we could watch the live MTV broadcast on cable and the rebroadcast highlights of the day on ABC.

You should read this 30th anniversary Live Aid retrospective by the Dude from Any Major Dude With Half a Heart, who attended the London show.

July 9, 1977: Going Away

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(Pictured: 1977 British Open competitors Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.)

July 9, 1977, is a Saturday. Alice Paul, a leading figure in the votes-for-women movement in the early 20th century and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, dies at age 92, as does anthropologist and author Loren Eiseley, age 69. An Illinois woman, Cathleen Crowell, tells police she was raped and picks her attacker out of a police mug book; the man, Gary Dotson, will be convicted two years later. In 1985, Crowell will admit she made up her story, and in 1988, Dotson will become the first person exonerated by DNA evidence. At the IGA Foodliner in Cass City, Michigan, round steak is $1.19 a pound, a twin-pack of Pringles potato chips is 69 cents, and iceberg lettuce is 39 cents a head. In the third round of the British Open, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson both shoot 65 to tie for the tournament lead. (Tomorrow, Watson will birdie the final hole to win the championship.) Future actor Milo Ventimiglia is born. CPO Sharkey star Don Rickles is on the cover of TV Guide. Ben E. King and the Average White Band play the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, as do Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. The San Francisco Kool Jazz Festival features Natalie Cole, Wild Cherry, and Tavares, and Chicago plays Alpine Valley near Milwaukee. A Wisconsin teenager attends an emotional going-away party for several of his classmates who will be leaving the next morning for a month in Europe.

Perspective From the Present: On American Top 40 that weekend, Casey Kasem counted ’em down as usual. Although the show is not quite all killer and no filler, it’s close. Of the top 20, only a couple songs are ones nobody needs to hear again (“Love’s Grown Deep” by Kenny Nolan and the Rocky theme “Gonna Fly Now”). On the bottom half of the list, once you take out the country crossovers (“Luckenbach, Texas,” which I like, and “Lucille,” which I do not), you’re left with only a couple of dogs—although one of them is the execrable “Telephone Man.” While some of what’s left is burned beyond recognition—“Margaritaville,” I’m lookin’ at  you—a batting average of .800 is pretty good for a show on the edge of the disco era, although your mileage may vary.

Casey remarks that Marvin Gaye’s former #1 hit “Got to Give It Up,” which is sitting at #6 this week, is only the fourth #1 single of the rock era to be recorded live. Presumably this means “live in concert” as opposed to “live in one studio take” because the other three songs Casey mentions, Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips,” Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling,” which I wrote about at Popdose way back when, and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver, are all concert recordings. Except “Got to Give It Up” isn’t live; it was on Gaye’s Live at the London Palladium, but it’s a studio cut with live ambiance provided by some guests at the recording session.

When Casey introduces the week’s #1 song, “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day, he says it’s only the third “fantasy song” in history to reach the #1 position. He defines fantasy as magical things that couldn’t happen in the real world, and mentions Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby” (also written by O’Day) and Elton John’s recent cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” as the other two. This strikes me as a pretty thin reed to grasp in search of a factoid. I can think of several #1 hits that are fanciful: “The Night Chicago Died” is a fictional story set on “the east side of Chicago,” a place that doesn’t exist; there was never any such thing as “Crocodile Rock”; and if America’s “A Horse With No Name” isn’t a fantasy, I’ll eat my hat.

On the subject of that going-away party: every person has a few days and/or nights in life that remain indelible for all time, that we will not, cannot, must not forget. That night is one of a very few in mine.

July 7, 1972: When the Music’s Over

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(Pictured: George McGovern meets the people—a whole lot of them—in the summer of 1972.)

July 7, 1972, was a Friday. Congressmen Gerald Ford of Michigan and Hale Boggs of Louisiana conclude a trip to China. On a visit to North Vietnam, Jane Fonda is photographed in the gunner’s seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. The first female FBI agents since 1927, Susan Roley and Joanne Pierce, are sworn in, and the state of Pennsylvania graduates its first state-trooper class to contain women. In the women’s final at Wimbledon, Billie Jean King defeats Evonne Goolagong. In Baltimore, Club Hippo opens its doors; at its closing in 2015, it will be the oldest gay bar in the country still operating under its original name. Democratic presidential nominee-apparent George McGovern appears on the cover of Life magazine in advance of the Democratic National Convention, which will begin on July 10; the magazine also contains a photo of Russian chess champion Boris Spassky, who is waiting in Iceland for American opponent Bobby Fischer to show up for their world championship match. In Alabama, Lieutenant Governor Jere Beasley is acting governor for a final day. Beasley became acting governor on June 5 because Governor George Wallace was recovering from an assassination attempt in a Maryland hospital; state law required the lieutenant governor to take over if the sitting governor was out of the state for more than 20 days.

The movie Deliverance premieres in theaters. The last of 267,787 Cadillacs produced in the 1972 model year rolls off the assembly line. The Council of Wisconsin Librarians is officially formed. Montreal Expos outfielder Ken Singleton returns to the lineup for the first time in over a week, wearing a special uniform because he is allergic to some of the material in the Expos’ regular uniform. He drives in three runs and leads the Expos over San Francisco, 7-2. Future football players Michael Westbrook and Darnay Scott, future basketball star Lisa Leslie, and future slasher-film actress Heather Kafka are born.

B.B. King plays Yankee Stadium and the Rolling Stones play Knoxville, Tennessee. That same day, back in England, the Stones appear on The Old Grey Whistle Test, with a 1966 filmed performance of “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow.” Miles Davis completes recording sessions for his album On the Corner, to be released in December. At 1AM, New York’s WCBS-FM plays “When the Music’s Over” by the Doors and goes silent for five hours. At 6AM, DJ Johnny Michaels plays “Runaround Sue” by Dion to launch the first all-oldies radio station. At WLS in Chicago, “Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond holds at #1, just ahead of Billy Preston’s “Outa-Space,” “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr., and “Nice to Be With You” by Gallery. “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers and “Too Late to Turn Back Now” by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose are up to #5 and #6, each making five-place jumps from last week. “Living in a House Divided” by Cher makes a strong move to #16 from #23.

Perspective From the Present: One night during the high summer of 1972—and we might as well call it Friday, July 7—I went on a campout with three of my best friends at the time. We took two pup tents and went into the woods behind one guy’s house, although we decided that the woods were a bit too scary, so we pitched our tents in an adjacent hay field, and then stayed up all night behaving like 12-year-olds. We listened to WLS for something like 14 straight hours, and that meant the week’s top songs over and over—often enough for me to associate several of them with that night forever after.

July 2, 1969: Misadventure

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(Pictured: Reggie Jackson at bat, circa 1969.)

July 2, 1969, was a Wednesday. In Greenwich Village, New York City, protests and rioting continue in the wake of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn a few nights before. (The Stonewall Raid and its aftermath will mark the birth of the gay pride movement.) President Nixon signs a treaty with Mexico standardizing the use of the AM radio band in both countries and permitting several American AM stations broadcasting on frequencies allocated to Mexico to operate during certain hours before sunrise and after sunset. NASA decides which agency official will be responsible for the quarantine of the Apollo 11 astronauts and anything they bring back from the moon later in the month. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise returns from a six-month deployment in the western Pacific. Bobby McCoy of Toledo, Ohio, Dennis Sydor of Jersey City, New Jersey, Richard Crudo of East Meadow, New York, and Steven Moody of Malverne, New York, are killed in action in Vietnam. Three other soldiers die in a helicopter crash. Pro wrestler Iron Mike DiBiase dies of a heart attack in the ring during a match in Amarillo, Texas. Future major league outfielder So Taguchi is born. Reggie Jackson becomes the first member of the Oakland A’s to hit three home runs in a game; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jerry Arrigo hits three Atlanta Braves batters with pitches in a single inning.

The International Hotel, the world’s largest, opens on the Las Vegas Strip one day after the Landmark; the two hotels had been racing to completion. Barbra Streisand headlines the 2000-seat showroom. Jerry Lee Lewis and Pacific Gas and Electric play the Schaefer Beer Music Festival in Central Park. At Abbey Road, the Beatles start work on “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight” and record “Her Majesty.” At Olympic Studios, the Rolling Stones wrap up another day of work on the Let it Bleed album. That night, Brian Jones, who had been kicked out of the Stones in early June, goes for a swim and is later discovered motionless at the bottom of the pool. He will be pronounced dead by misadventure in the early hours of July 3. The Byrds continue work on The Ballad of Easy Rider. Janis Joplin plays Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa; tickets cost $4, $3, and $2.

Variety reports that officials in New Zealand are considering whether to ban the Hair original soundtrack album. Australian police have already ordered copies of the album to be confiscated and destroyed. Cast members of Hair will be tried for obscenity in New Zealand, but acquitted. At WMCA in New York, the biggest leap on its latest music survey is the double-sided hit “Where Do I Go?”and “Be-In (Hare Krishna)” by the Happenings, two songs from Hair, which leaps from #29 last week to #16 this week.  “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans leaps from #6 to #1. Other big movers on the WMCA survey: “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James from #19 to #8; “My Pledge of Love” by the Joe Jeffrey Group from #18 to #13; and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond from #28 to #19.