August 20, 1969: Beginning and Ending

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(Pictured: heads at Woodstock, peaceful and loving and beautiful and otherwise, August 1969.)

August 20, 1969, was a Wednesday. Hurricane Camille continues to drop rain on the Eastern Seaboard; Nelson County, Virginia, records between 27 and 30 inches, causing the worst flash flooding in the state’s history. Los Angeles newspapers contain several stories on the recent murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people by persons unknown 11 days earlier. Food scientists from the University of Wisconsin perform tests on a 105-year-old crock of cheese recently salvaged from a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. Photographer Richard Avedon takes a portrait of Andy Warhol fingering a scar left after he was shot a year earlier; in 2006, the photo will be valued at approximately $100,000. WKPT, channel 19, signs on in Kingsport, Tennessee, giving the Tri-Cities area of Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City its first full-time ABC affiliate. In sports, the Buffalo Bills acquire quarterback Marlin Briscoe from Denver; the Bills will convert him to a wide receiver. The Chicago Cubs lose 6-2 to the Atlanta Braves, but continue to cruise along in first place, seven games ahead of the New York Mets, who beat San Francisco 6-0.

The East Village Other, an underground newspaper in New York, publishes an eyewitness report from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which concluded early Monday morning: “a few thousand of the absolutely most together and peaceful and loving and beautiful heads in the world are gathered in a grand tribal new beginning.” The Beatles work together in the studio for the last time, editing and remixing “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” at Abbey Road. Miles Davis continues work on the album Bitches Brew. Led Zeppelin plays the Aerodrome in Schenectady, New York, doing two shows, one at 8PM and another at 11. Yes plays the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Blind Faith plays San Antonio. At KHJ in Los Angeles, “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies dethrones the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” from the top spot; “When I Die” by Motherlode blasts from #12 to #4. Songs falling out of the Top Ten include “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” Records moving up include “Get Together” by the Youngbloods (to #8 from #18) and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” by Dionne Warwick (#10 from #22).

In Wisconsin, summer is slipping away; a nine-year-old about to begin the fourth grade knows nothing about Motherlode or Blind Faith, but years later, he will dig them both.

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