June 12, 1981: Too Much Time on My Hands

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(Pictured: James Young of Styx, onstage in 1981.)

June 12, 1981, was a Friday. It’s the first day of a strike by Major League Baseball players after their union failed to reach an agreement with owners regarding free-agent compensation. It is unknown when the season will resume. The Middle East remains tense in the wake of Israel’s bombing of a nuclear reactor in Iraq last Sunday. Arab foreign ministers are appealing to the United Nations for sanctions against Israel. The United States has canceled delivery of four F-16 jet fighter planes to Israel, and President Reagan has expressed concerns about the attack. At the same time, he has assured Israel that its relationship with the United States is unchanged. Today, Reagan is in his office by 9AM and has several meetings with aides and Cabinet officers, as well as lunch with Vice President George Bush, who is celebrating his 57th birthday. Reagan also receives credentials from a number of new foreign diplomats and attends a ceremony declaring July 17 as POW/MIA Recognition Day. His working day ends at 3:20, although he speaks to a evening gathering of Republican National Committee members at the White House. In Italy, efforts continue to rescue a six-year-old boy who fell into a 213-foot-deep well shaft on a construction site two days ago. Today’s rescue attempt is broadcast on Italian television and watched by a crowd of 2,000 at the site. It also leads ABC’s World News Tonight, although the other two evening news shows report on it later in their broadcasts. Future supermodel Adriana Lima is born. Larry Holmes retains the world heavyweight boxing championship with a third-round TKO of Leon Spinks.

On TV tonight, HBO airs a comedy special starring former NBC daytime talk-show host David Letterman called Looking for Fun, which was filmed in 1979. Movies opening in theaters this weekend include Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Mel Brooks film History of the World Part 1, and Clash of the Titans. Popular video rentals this weekend are likely to be 9 to 5, Airplane, Stunt Man, Flash Gordon, and Caddyshack, which are the top five selections on Billboard‘s Videocassette Top 40. Bob Dylan plays Pine Knob Music Theater in suburban Detroit, Rush plays Anaheim, California, and Van Halen plays Oakland. Joe Walsh plays Chicago and ZZ Top plays Louisville. Three Dog Night and April Wine play separate venues in Maryland.

At KRLA in Los Angeles, there’s not much chart action. The top 12 songs of the week are the same as last week, and only four of them have moved at all, one spot apiece. The #1 song is “Medley” by Stars on 45; “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith is #2. Other hits in the Top 10 include “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton’s “Morning Train,” “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton, and Smokey Robinson’s “Being With You.” Big movers are George Harrison’s “All Those Years Ago,” up seven spots to #15, and “Living Inside Myself” by Gino Vannelli, up eight to #17. The highest debuts on the chart are “Too Much Time on My Hands” by Styx and “Watching the Wheels” by John Lennon. Hitbound songs include “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates and “Seven Year Ache” by Rosanne Cash. The Seven Year Ache album is #1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country LPs chart. On the magazine’s Top LPs and Tape chart, Hi Infidelity by REO Speedwagon, Paradise Theater by Styx, and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC hold at #1, #2, and #3.

Perspective From the Present: The baseball season resumed on August 10. The first-place teams on June 12—the Yankees, A’s, Phillies, and Dodgers—were given a pass to the playoffs, and the post-strike games were designated the season’s “second half.” The young boy down the Italian well, Alfredo Rampi, died there on June 13. Several of the hits of June 1981 would remain radio staples for years thereafter, even though they left a 21-year-old college radio DJ mostly cold.


One thought on “June 12, 1981: Too Much Time on My Hands

  1. In my too many years of experience in the video rental business, Airplane, Caddyshack and Flash Gordon were ALWAYS popular video rentals – both on VHS and that new-fangled DVD that seems to be the rage.


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