(Pictured: Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in Smokey and the Bandit.)
May 25, 1977, is a Wednesday. Nine people die in a fire at the Evarard Baths, a popular gay bathhouse in New York City. The business has operated since 1888. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Fahd concludes a visit to the United States, and President Carter briefly speaks to reporters at a departure ceremony. Tomorrow Carter will hold a formal press conference. Carter also speaks at a dinner for Democratic members of Congress at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The government of China lifts a decade-old ban on the works of Shakespeare. In Big Timber, Montana, the local IGA food store is ready for the forthcoming Memorial Day weekend with rib steaks for $1.69 a pound, old-fashioned frankfurters for $1.29 a pound, 31-ounce cans of Van Camp’s pork and beans for 49 cents, and Columbia beer for $1.25 a six-pack or $5 a case.
In major-league baseball, Rod Carew gets five hits and the American League West-leading Minnesota Twins amass 24 hits altogether in a 13-5 win over the Boston Red Sox in the first game of a doubleheader. The Twins also take the nightcap 9-2. AL Eastern Division leader Baltimore splits a doubleheader with Kansas City. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who lead the National League West with the best record in baseball, lose to the Houston Astros 7-6. (They’re now 31-and-11.) The Eastern Division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates are idle. There’s no action in the NBA Finals tonight; the Philadelphia 76ers lead the Portland Trail Blazers 1 game to none, with Game 2 set for tomorrow night. On TV tonight, it’s the final episode of The Brady Bunch Hour, a variety show starring the actors from the sitcom. In today’s Doonesbury strip, Rick and Joanie negotiate the next stage of their lives now that Joanie has graduated from law school.
The movie Star Wars opens in theaters. Smokey and the Bandit is set for release on Friday. Led Zeppelin opens a four-night stand at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and the Grateful Dead plays Richmond, Virginia. In New York City, Joan Baez plays the Palladium and Devo plays Max’s Kansas City. Elvis Presley performs in Rochester, New York. The Clash play Brighton, England.
On the current Billboard Hot 100, “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder is at #1. “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer, last week’s #1, is at #2. “Couldn’t Get It Right” by the Climax Blues Band is at #3. Two new songs have blasted into the Top 10: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, from the week’s #1 album, Rumours, is at #6 from #14 a week ago; “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti is at #7 from #21 the week before. Also new in the Top 10: “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers, at #10, up from #12. “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs, in its 11th week on the Hot 100, spends a second consecutive week at #11. The 14-place move of “Gonna Fly Now” is the biggest within the Top 40, but two other records take nine-place jumps: “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day (at #19 from #28) and “Jet Airliner” by the Steve Miller Band (at #30 from #39). The biggest leap of any song in the Hot 100 is made by the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane,” moving from #73 to #53 in its second week on the chart. Five songs are new in the Top 40; the highest debut is “High School Dance” by the Sylvers at #35. The highest debut on the Hot 100 belongs to Barbra Streisand’s “My Heart Belongs to Me,” coming in at #52. Barbra also has the oldest record on the Hot 100, “Evergreen,” at #83 in its 24th week on. “Hello Stranger” by Yvonne Elliman is #1 on the adult-contemporary chart. The #1 country song is “Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon Jennings.
Perspective From the Present: School was just about out in Monroe, Wisconsin, as I finished my junior year of high school. I had landed a job at a gas station managed by a friend’s father, which meant I wouldn’t have to do farm work in the summer. My girlfriend and I were very happy. Today, the songs from the end of May play in my head and my heart whenever I want to hear them, without the need for a radio.