(Pictured: Joe Walsh on stage in the summer of 1978.)
June 28, 1978, was a Wednesday. The Supreme Court rules that affirmative action programs are legal but racial quotas are not, and is ordering the University of California Medical School to admit Allan Bakke, who claimed he suffered from “reverse discrimination” because he is white. All three networks lead their evening newscasts with the Bakke decision; other stories covered by all three newscasts include the mob-related murder of five men found in the basement of the Blackfriars Club in Boston and the wedding of Monaco’s Princess Caroline to entrepreneur Phillippe Junot, both today. At the White House, President Carter has an extremely busy day of meetings, but his workday ends early enough for a late-afternoon tennis game with the First Lady, followed by dinner with his sons and their wives, and a viewing of the movie The Cheap Detective in the White House theater. In Scottsdale, Arizona, actor Bob Crane appears in a dinner theater production called Beginner’s Luck and afterward goes out on the town with a friend, John Carpenter. At some point early tomorrow morning, Crane will be strangled and beaten to death. It will be 14 years before Carpenter is arrested for the crime, although he will be acquitted at trial. Forty years from now, the case will remain unsolved.
Division leaders in baseball are the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers in the American League and the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants in the National League. The Orioles and Rangers lose today, but the Phillies win and the Giants split a doubleheader with San Diego. On TV tonight, CBS airs The Carol Burnett Show and the movie Rancho Deluxe, a 1974 western comedy starring Jeff Bridges. On NBC, it’s The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, the interview show Headliners With David Frost featuring guests Warren Beatty, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, and Gerry Rafferty, and an edition of NBC Reports on advances in mental health treatment, hosted by Tom Snyder. ABC’s lineup includes Eight Is Enough, Charlie’s Angels, and an ABC News Closeup special talking with young criminals about why they commit crimes and how they choose their victims.
Tonight, in Monroe, Wisconsin, an aspiring radio DJ just out of high school spins tunes at the local roller rink. Weather Report plays Tokyo, the Rolling Stones play Memphis, and Barry Manilow plays Providence, Rhode Island. At WHB in Kansas City, Manilow’s “Copacabana” and the Stones’ “Miss You” are among the hottest songs of the week on the station’s new survey: “Miss You” moves from #28 to #13 and “Copacabana” from #39 to #27. Also hot in Kansas City: “My Angel Baby” by Toby Beau, up 15 spots to #11, and “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh, up 12 to #15 this week. “Love Will Find a Way” by Pablo Cruise and “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores debut at #18 and #19 on the station’s Top 40. “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb takes over the #1 spot on the chart, knocking Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” to #2. “It’s a Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler holds at #3. The O’Jays and Heatwave are new in the Top 10 with “Use Ta Be My Girl”(#4) and “The Groove Line” (#7).
Perspective From the Present: I’d forgotten about the roller rink job until recently. It was my first paying DJ job, on Wednesday nights during the summer of 1978. The place had a fairly bodacious sound system and a decent library of music. The owner even took out an ad in the local newspaper advertising his disco night and mentioned me by name. Needless to say, I was possessed with visions of grandeur, imagining the local celebrity I was about to become, and the girls I was going to mesmerize.
The first night, five people showed up. They were girls, at least. But they were all 13 years old or younger. I am not sure we ever attracted more than five people on any given night, or that they were ever older than 13. Wednesdays, it seems, were not big nights for people to go roller skating, and no publicity, bodacious sound, or famous local DJ was going to change that.
I doggedly did a DJ show for the first few weeks, although eventually I’d simply track a disco album and go play pinball in the game room. At the end of each night, I’d get paid in cash, out of the till and off the books—a sum that worked out to less than minimum wage. It was neither fair nor legal, but I was so young and so naive that it never occurred to me to say so.