December 7, 1981: Let’s Get Physical

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(Pictured: Olivia Newton-John.)

December 7, 1981, was a Monday. President Reagan tells reporters that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sent assassination teams to murder top U.S. officials, after an American official is killed by suspected Libyan gunmen in Paris yesterday. (Later in the week, Reagan will call on Americans in Libya to leave, and forbid any other Americans to enter.) Reagan also meets Colonel Joseph Engel and Captain Richard Truly, the astronauts who flew the space shuttle Columbia on its second mission last month, and nominates Robert Bork to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven coal miners are killed in an explosion in Knott County, Kentucky. Spain officially joins NATO. The Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest holds its first meeting in Seattle. Joe’s Pizzeria and Vittoria opens in Summit, New Jersey.

The Oakland Raiders score 16 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-27, on Monday Night Football. At baseball’s annual winter meetings, the Chicago Cubs trade pitcher Doug Capilla to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Allen Ripley. (Tomorrow, they will make a major trade, acquiring three players from the Philadelphia Phillies, including infielder Keith Moreland and pitcher Dickie Noles, for pitcher Mike Krukow.) Future NFL defensive lineman Tank Johnson is born. William Edmunds, who played minor roles in Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life, dies at age 95.

The cover story in Time magazine is “Crazy Over Cats,” inspired by the proliferation of cat-related popular culture, including Garfield, the musical Cats, and the book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. People‘s cover story is about Johnny Carson’s return to his hometown to film a documentary. Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. TV shows on the air tonight include M*A*S*H, That’s Incredible!, Lou Grant, Knots Landing, and Little House on the Prairie. The Grateful Dead plays Des Moines. Badfinger plays Cleveland. Eric Clapton plays Budokan in Tokyo. Frank Zappa plays Salt Lake City. The Rolling Stones play suburban Washington, D.C.

At WLS in Chicago, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John takes over the #1 slot from “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates, which slips to #2. Among the biggest movers on the chart are “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart (#26 to #14), “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie (#45 to #24), and a live version of “Closer to the Heart” by Rush (#44 to #30). These records indicate the hard-rockin’ direction the station has taken in 1981, particularly in morning drive and at night. The station is still playing Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, and “Endless Love,” but also Triumph’s “Magic Power,” “Nicole” by Point Blank, “Heavy Metal” by Don Felder, and Diesel’s “Sausalito Summernight.”

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