(Pictured: the 1975 Ford Thunderbird, which would be made in smaller numbers by fewer workers in that year.)
December 19, 1974, was a Thursday. A devastating week for auto workers continues as Ford Motor Company announces more layoffs for the first quarter of 1975, bringing the total number to 90,000. Yesterday, GM announced layoffs that will total 132,000. On Tuesday, American Motors announced that it would lay off more than 15,000 workers in January. President Ford has a day of meetings, but he also makes an hour-long visit to Alexandria, Virginia, to present George Washington’s copy of the Constitution to organizers of the Freedom Train, which will tour the country as part of the Bicentennial celebration. Tonight, he swears in New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States. The ceremony is the first broadcast from the Senate chambers over a TV system that had been quietly installed during the summer in anticipation of President Nixon’s trial on impeachment charges.
In today’s Doonesbury strip, presidential press secretary Ron Nessen continues his week-long joust with the White House press corps. Future NFL players Jake Plummer, Bryant Westbrook, and Joe Jurevicius are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight, four in the NBA, and three in the ABA. The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday with the St. Louis Cardinals at Minnesota and the Miami Dolphins at Oakland. On Sunday, Buffalo plays at Pittsburgh and Washington travels to Los Angeles to play the Rams. The Green Bay Packers, who finished with a record of 6-and-8, need a new coach. Dan Devine resigned on Monday after three seasons to take the head coaching job at Notre Dame. On TV tonight, NBC leads off with The Mac Davis Show, returning to the air after a summer run, followed by Ironside and Movin’ On. CBS starts with The Waltons, followed by the 1971 theatrical movie Catlow, a western starring Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and Leonard Nimoy. ABC’s lineup includes The Odd Couple and Paper Moon, a sitcom adaptation of the popular movie, which stars Jodie Foster in the Tatum O’Neal role. Also tonight: The Streets of San Francisco.
Rush plays New Orleans and Led Zeppelin plays the Rainbow in London. Barry Manilow plays Washington, DC. George Harrison plays Madison Square Garden in New York with Ravi Shankar. Harrison’s band includes Billy Preston and Tom Scott, each of whom gets a solo spot. Before the show, rumors flew that John Lennon, who had recently played the Garden stage with Elton John, would appear with George, but he does not. Paul and Linda McCartney are there, but strictly as spectators and in disguise, although Paul is quickly recognized. Earlier today, he and George met to sign legal documents officially dissolving the Beatles, a meeting at which John failed to show.
On the Billboard 200 album chart, Greatest Hits by Elton John is at #1 for a third week. On the Hot 100, “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas is #1 for a second week. Billboard has discontinued its special Christmas chart this year, but holiday music plays on in its current edition. WMEX in Boston is reporting Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” as one of its playlist adds this week. Bibo Music Publishers has taken a full-page ad touting the many versions of its property “Blue Christmas” that have been recorded over the years, including new-for-’74 versions by Charlie McCoy, Don Tweedy, and the Magic Organ. A BBC Radio executive says he’d like to see a new Christmas standard emerge this year, since “it’s been years since we had one.” The Hits of the World section reports that in Britain, the new “Hey Mr. Christmas” by Showaddywaddy is up to #33; “Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me” by the Goodies is #41, and “Wombling Merry Christmas” by the Wombles is #47. Under “Recommended LPs,” the magazine touts a new holiday release, the debut album by the Rhodes Kids, titled Rock ‘N’ Rhodes Christmas.
Perspective From the Present: The three UK Christmas hits are intolerable—I couldn’t get through 30 seconds of any of them. The Rhodes Kids sound just a bit better, but only just. They were a show band that played around their hometown of Houston before being discovered in 1972 by a guy named Michael Thevis. Over the next several years, Thevis got them into big-time hotel showrooms and on TV, and they made several more albums. It turned out, however, that he was using them to launder money he earned as one of the biggest pornographers in the country, and he eventually ended up in prison, convicted of murder. The whole wild tale is here.