(Pictured: the Everly Brothers on The Johnny Cash Show, 1970.)
(Programming note: entirely new day posts will appear here on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so stop back.)
December 23, 1970, is a Wednesday. The weather forecast for Madison, Wisconsin, includes a cold wave warning with a predicted low of five below for Thursday morning. The morning papers headline a government shakeup in Poland that replaced the country’s prime minister. Today, construction continues on the World Trade Center complex in New York City, with the topping-out ceremony for the north tower at a height of 1,368 feet. Black militant Angela Davis is arraigned on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder for a courthouse shooting earlier in the year. The Green Bay Packers must find a new coach and general manager to replace Phil Bengtson, who resigned yesterday. In college basketball, Iowa defeats Iowa State 87-68. Outside Nashville, Willie Nelson’s house burns down. The Associated Press reports on a Connecticut state police list of expired driver’s licenses that includes a man named Santa M. Claus.
Comic actor Charlie Ruggles, who appeared in 100 movies including Ruggles of Red Gap and Bringing Up Baby, and also provided the voice of Aesop on the “Aesop and Son” segments of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, dies at age 84. Robert Burck, who will grow up to be the Times Square street performer known as the Naked Cowboy, is born. Tonight’s TV listings include a Christmas episode of The Johnny Cash Show on ABC featuring the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Statler Brothers, and the Carter Family. NBC counter-programs with an episode of Kraft Music Hall titled “The Eve Before Christmas Eve,” hosted by country singer Eddy Arnold and starring Brenda Lee, Charley Pride, and the Klowns. CBS airs Medical Center and Hawaii Five-O.
The Grateful Dead plays Winterland in San Francisco. Laura Nyro opens a two-night stand at the Fillmore East in New York City, where her opening act is an unknown singer/songwriter named Jackson Browne. At KHJ in Los Angeles, the top three songs on the new Boss 30 survey are unchanged from the week before: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension, and “Knock Three Times” by Dawn. Biggest movers on the chart are “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters, moving from 21 to 9, and “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand, moving from 29 to 21. New songs on the survey this week include “Remember Me” by Diana Ross and “Let Your Love Go” by Bread.
Halfway across the country, a 10-year-old boy in Wisconsin and his two brothers, aged 8 and 4, are geeked up for Christmas. The 10-year-old is similarly geeked up by the radio. Tomorrow, he will hear something that will shape what his life will become, and make him what he will remain, for as long as life lasts.