(Pictured: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 31, 1970.)
August 31, 1970, is a Monday. A nationwide manhunt continues for those suspected in the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin one week ago. A researcher was killed in the blast. Police in Philadelphia launch a preemptive strike on the Black Panthers, fearing violence at a Panther-sponsored “revolutionary constitutional convention” set for the coming weekend. The cover story on the latest Time magazine is “The Politics of Sex,” with a painting of “Kate Millett of Women’s Lib.” Dallas Cowboys running back Les Shy is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover story says, “Coach Tom Landry doesn’t deny his club’s tendency to choke when a title is at stake.” The Cowboys have lost critical season-ending games in each of the last four seasons. On TV tonight, all three networks present nothing but repeats. On CBS, there’s Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show (with guest star John Wayne), Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Wild Wild West. NBC and ABC present reruns of theatrical movies following episodes of My World and Welcome to It and It Takes a Thief respectively. Future pop star Debbie Gibson and future Christmas Story actor Zack Ward are born. Abraham Zapruder, who took the famous film of the Kennedy assassination, died yesterday.
The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival concludes early this morning in the UK. In the wee hours, after Jimi Hendrix plays his set, some among the crowd of 600,000 begin to riot. Leonard Cohen is asked to take the stage to calm the crowd, and he does. Richie Havens closes the show at dawn. That night, Hendrix moves on to Stockholm. Pink Floyd plays Kent, England. Led Zeppelin plays Milwaukee, a show that had been postponed days earlier after the death of John Paul Jones’ father. The local newspaper will say that Robert Plant “looks like an Appalachian jug band reject,” but will also praise his talent. At Criteria Studios in Miami, Derek and the Dominoes continue work on the album that will be titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Today they lay down tracks for “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush is released.
At KDWB in Minneapolis, Edwin Starr’s “War” takes the #1 spot away from “Make it With You” by Bread, which falls to #2. There are two new records in the Top 10: “Looking Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (at #7, up from #14, the biggest upward move of the week) and “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (at #10, up from #15). A couple of other songs take five-spot jumps: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (to #19 from #24) and “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk Railroad (#29 from #34).
Three hundred-and-some highway miles from the Twin Cities, in Monroe, Wisconsin, school has started again. A newly-minted fifth-grader is about to make a discovery that will change his life, but on this day, that discovery has not yet happened. Of more immediate interest on this day is his new teacher. She has a son the same age as he is. He doesn’t know that, and the two boys haven’t met. But they will, and for four years of high school, thanks to their close proximity in the alphabet, they will share a locker. And although they won’t see much of one another years from now, they’ll still be friends.