June 17, 1972: Too Late

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(Pictured: John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page, on stage in the summer of 1972.)

June 17, 1972, was a Saturday. President Nixon signs the Public Buildings Amendments of 1972, but notes that a couple of provisions are unconstitutional. Earlier in the day, five burglars are arrested inside the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., suspected of having broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. In Boston, nine firefighters die when a section of the burning Hotel Vendome collapses. The Libertarian Party holds its first national convention in Denver; the American Mathematical Society holds its 695th meeting in Seattle. Rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun retires from NASA, and the United States ends its occupation of Okinawa, which had gone on since 1945. Tropical Storm Agnes moves into the southeastern Caribbean. Tomorrow it will become a hurricane, and for the next week will drop heavy rain on the East Coast. Severe flooding will occur in New York and Pennsylvania. Total damage from Hurricane Agnes will be estimated at $3 billion, and 120 people will die. Pop singer Julie London, now one of the stars of Emergency!, is on the cover of TV Guide. WNEW-TV in New York City shows Island of Lost Souls as this week’s Creature Feature, while WPIX counters with a Chiller Theater presentation of Killers From Space.

As the final event of a weeklong religious revival, a giant Christian music festival is held in downtown Dallas; its headliners include Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Organizers claim it attracts 200,000 people. Elvis Presley plays two shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, at Chicago Stadium. The Grateful Dead, with Pigpen McKernan onstage for the last time and New Riders of the Purple Sage opening, plays the Hollywood Bowl, Muddy Waters plays Montreux, and Led Zeppelin plays Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. The Eagles, whose debut album is officially released today, open for Jethro Tull in Las Vegas.

At WAVZ in New Haven, Connecticut, their Hit Power survey for the week lists 60 songs, and the sap quotient is high: “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr. tops the list; Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Jimmy Osmond, and Wayne Newton are also on the air. But there’s classic soul aplenty to take the curse off: “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites, “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers, and “Too Late to Turn Back Now” by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, all in the Top 10. The hottest record on the survey, leaping from #31 to #16, is “People Make the World Go Round” by the Stylistics. The highest debuting new single of the week is “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones, from the nation’s top album, Exile on Main Street, which had been dropped from the station’s survey the week before but is back on again.

In Wisconsin, a 12-year-old boy just out of the sixth grade is playing Little League baseball with more enthusiasm than talent, and doing farm work with no enthusiasm at all. What he really loves is the radio. For him, it really is too late to turn back now.


One thought on “June 17, 1972: Too Late

  1. Those 5 burglars who were busted at the Watergate Hotel in June ’72 barely made the news at that time. Two years later, it became BIG news. Of course, something like that —corruption, deceit, dishonesty, and power politics —could NEVER happen today….or could it?


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