December 23, 1970: Remember Me

(Pictured: the Everly Brothers on The Johnny Cash Show, 1970.)

(Programming note: entirely new day posts will appear here on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so stop back.)

December 23, 1970, is a Wednesday. The weather forecast for Madison, Wisconsin, includes a cold wave warning with a predicted low of five below for Thursday morning. The morning papers headline a government shakeup in Poland that replaced the country’s prime minister. Today, construction continues on the World Trade Center complex in New York City, with the topping-out ceremony for the north tower at a height of 1,368 feet. Black militant Angela Davis is arraigned on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder for a courthouse shooting earlier in the year. The Green Bay Packers must find a new coach and general manager to replace Phil Bengtson, who resigned yesterday. In college basketball, Iowa defeats Iowa State 87-68. Outside Nashville, Willie Nelson’s house burns down. The Associated Press reports on a Connecticut state police list of expired driver’s licenses that includes a man named Santa M. Claus.

Comic actor Charlie Ruggles, who appeared in 100 movies including Ruggles of Red Gap and Bringing Up Baby, and also provided the voice of Aesop on the “Aesop and Son” segments of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, dies at age 84. Robert Burck, who will grow up to be the Times Square street performer known as the Naked Cowboy, is born. Tonight’s TV listings include a Christmas episode of The Johnny Cash Show on ABC featuring the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Statler Brothers, and the Carter Family. NBC counter-programs with an episode of Kraft Music Hall titled “The Eve Before Christmas Eve,” hosted by country singer Eddy Arnold and starring Brenda Lee, Charley Pride, and the Klowns. CBS airs Medical Center and Hawaii Five-O.

The Grateful Dead plays Winterland in San Francisco. Laura Nyro opens a two-night stand at the Fillmore East in New York City, where her opening act is an unknown singer/songwriter named Jackson Browne. At KHJ in Los Angeles, the top three songs on the new Boss 30 survey are unchanged from the week before: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension, and “Knock Three Times” by Dawn. Biggest movers on the chart are “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters, moving from 21 to 9, and “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand, moving from 29 to 21. New songs on the survey this week include “Remember Me by Diana Ross and “Let Your Love Go” by Bread.

Halfway across the country, a 10-year-old boy in Wisconsin and his two brothers, aged 8 and 4, are geeked up for Christmas. The 10-year-old is similarly geeked up by the radio. Tomorrow, he will hear something that will shape what his life will become, and make him what he will remain, for as long as life lasts.


September 28, 1970: Don’t You Know

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(Pictured: a group of travelers arrives at the airport in Rome on September 28, 1970.)

September 28, 1970, was a Monday. It’s the first day of the fall semester at Kent State University in Ohio, where four anti-war protesters were killed by National Guardsmen in May. Folk singer Phil Ochs headlines a memorial event that includes speeches by civil rights activist Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Thomas Grace, a student wounded in May. Last week, the Scranton Commission investigation into the shootings determined that even if the Guardsmen believed they were in danger, the situation did not call for lethal force. Thirty-two Americans taken hostage three weeks ago in a series of airplane hijackings in the Middle East arrive in Cyprus on their way home; six more former hostages are free in Jordan but yet to start for home. Time‘s cover story this week is about Palestinian guerillas and the Jordanian civil war. Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser dies of a heart attack at age 52 and is succeeded by Anwar Sadat; author John Dos Passos dies at age 74. Running for reelection in California, Governor Ronald Reagan visits a Honda car plant in Gardena. President and Mrs. Nixon visit Pope Paul VI during their trip to Rome. Also in Rome today: the Rolling Stones, who arrive from Vienna for a concert tomorrow night.

This week’s Sports Illustrated features a cover foldout with pictures of major league managers Danny Murtaugh of Pittsburgh, Leo Durocher of the Chicago Cubs, and Gil Hodges of the New York Mets. Inside, the magazine reports on the controversy surrounding eight black football players at Syracuse University who have been suspended for the season over their discrimination complaint against the university. In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy wonders why Schroeder never gives her flowers. On TV tonight, ABC’s second broadcast of Monday Night Football stars the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who race to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter on the way to beating the Baltimore Colts, 44-24. The Colts will lose only one more game this season on their way to a Super Bowl win. Major sponsor Ford promotes the new 1971 Mustang, LTD, Maverick, and Torino models among the game’s commercials. CBS counters with Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show, Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. NBC’s lineup includes The Red Skelton Show (new on NBC after 19 seasons on CBS), Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and the theatrical movie The Lost Man, a 1969 film starring Sidney Poitier as a revolutionary on the run from the police.

Findings of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Jimi Hendrix on September 18th are announced in London. Hendrix choked to death while intoxicated on barbiturates. Badfinger plays at Eastern Washington College in Cheney, Washington; Yes plays at Aberystwyth University in Wales. The Moody Blues play the Spectrum in Philadelphia. At WDBQ in Dubuque, Iowa, “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond spends another week at #1 according to the station’s new music survey. New in the Top 10 are “Joanne” by Michael Nesmith, “Groovy Situation” by Gene Chandler, and “Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor. The biggest mover on the chart is “Candida” by Dawn. Among the new songs on the survey are the latest hits by Mark Lindsay, Melanie, and Linda Ronstadt, along with last week’s Premier Single, “Don’t You Know” by Beefcake.

Perspective From the Present: Moody Blues flutist Ray Thomas fell off a stage platform just before the Spectrum show, breaking two toes—and his flute. He asked if anyone in the audience happened to have a flute he could use, and someone did. Whether this happened on September 28 or the night before isn’t clear; neither is it clear whether the Moodys played on back-to-back nights at the Spectrum or just one, and whether Thomas asked for a replacement flute on the first night or the second night. As for the band Beefcake, our friend Larry Grogan suspects it may be made up of songwriters Chris Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow, who recorded under several different names, and who wrote dozens of songs for acts from Elvis on down, including “Can’t Smile Without You,” made famous by Barry Manilow.

And as for the bigger hits from the fall of 1970, you know how I am about all that.

(Programming note: because I have written about many, many October days over the years, this blog will be busy in the coming month. You should subscribe, in the right-hand column, if you haven’t already.)

August 31, 1970: My World and Welcome to It

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(Pictured: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 31, 1970.)

August 31, 1970, is a Monday. A nationwide manhunt continues for those suspected in the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin one week ago. A researcher was killed in the blast. Police in Philadelphia launch a preemptive strike on the Black Panthers, fearing violence at a Panther-sponsored “revolutionary constitutional convention” set for the coming weekend. The cover story on the latest Time magazine is “The Politics of Sex,” with a painting of “Kate Millett of Women’s Lib.” Dallas Cowboys running back Les Shy is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover story says, “Coach Tom Landry doesn’t deny his club’s tendency to choke when a title is at stake.” The Cowboys have lost critical season-ending games in each of the last four seasons. On TV tonight, all three networks present nothing but repeats. On CBS, there’s Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show (with guest star John Wayne), Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Wild Wild West. NBC and ABC present reruns of theatrical movies following episodes of My World and Welcome to It and It Takes a Thief respectively. Future pop star Debbie Gibson and future Christmas Story actor Zack Ward are born. Abraham Zapruder, who took the famous film of the Kennedy assassination, died yesterday.

The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival concludes early this morning in the UK. In the wee hours, after Jimi Hendrix plays his set, some among the crowd of 600,000 begin to riot. Leonard Cohen is asked to take the stage to calm the crowd, and he does. Richie Havens closes the show at dawn. That night, Hendrix moves on to Stockholm. Pink Floyd plays Kent, England. Led Zeppelin plays Milwaukee, a show that had been postponed days earlier after the death of John Paul Jones’ father. The local newspaper will say that Robert Plant “looks like an Appalachian jug band reject,” but will also praise his talent. At Criteria Studios in Miami, Derek and the Dominoes continue work on the album that will be titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Today they lay down tracks for “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush is released.

At KDWB in Minneapolis, Edwin Starr’s “War” takes the #1 spot away from “Make it With You” by Bread, which falls to #2. There are two new records in the Top 10: “Looking Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (at #7, up from #14, the biggest upward move of the week) and “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (at #10, up from #15). A couple of other songs take five-spot jumps: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (to #19 from #24) and “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk Railroad (#29 from #34).

Three hundred-and-some highway miles from the Twin Cities, in Monroe, Wisconsin, school has started again. A newly-minted fifth-grader is about to make a discovery that will change his life, but on this day, that discovery has not yet happened. Of more immediate interest on this day is his new teacher. She has a son the same age as he is. He doesn’t know that, and the two boys haven’t met. But they will, and for four years of high school, thanks to their close proximity in the alphabet, they will share a locker. And although they won’t see much of one another years from now, they’ll still be friends.

January 4, 1970: Final Edition

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(Pictured: members of the Kansas City Chiefs carry coach Hank Stram off the field after defeating Oakland to win the last AFL championship.)

January 4, 1970, is a Sunday. The NFL and AFL hold their championship games: In the NFL, Minnesota defeats Cleveland 27-7. In the AFL, Kansas City defeats Oakland 17-7. It is the final game in the AFL’s 10-year history; later in the year, the two leagues will merge. In two weeks, Kansas City will win the AFL’s second straight Super Bowl. The New York Times reports on a claim by statisticians that the December 1969 lottery of birthdays to determine priorities for the military draft, the first such lottery held since World War II, was not entirely random; the later in the year the birthday, the less likely it would be selected. News reports say that the proposed Apollo 20 mission to the moon, scheduled for 1974, has been canceled. Later in the year, Apollo 18 and Apollo 19 will be canceled as well. Future astronaut Chris Cassidy is born.

Transit fares in New York City increase from 20 cents a ride to 30 cents. It’s one of the stories broadcast on WCBS-AM, which has continued to air the syndicated program Music ‘Til Dawn even after going all news in 1967. Today, the show airs for the final time. It has run in various markets across the country since 1953. On WUHY in Philadelphia, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is interviewed, and peppers his comments with the words “shit” and “fuck.” The FCC, which has been monitoring the station after earlier complaints, will declare the language indecent and fine the station $100. The BBC airs an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. CBS-TV airs the final edition of the documentary series The 21st Century after 13 seasons. Also on CBS, guests on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour are Walter Brennan, Joey Heatherton, and Norm Crosby. On Bonanza, Ben Cartwright attempts to help a recently widowed circus midget make a new start in Virginia City.

Who drummer Keith Moon accidentally runs over his bodyguard outside a pub in Hatfield, England. In Studio 2 at Abbey Road, the Beatles hold their final recording session to do several takes of overdubs for “Let it Be,” including the addition of guitar, brass, strings, and backing vocals by Paul and George. Fleetwood Mac wraps up a three-night stand at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Also playing at the Fillmore: the Byrds. At WLOF in Orlando, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” tops the survey for another week, holding off “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B. J. Thomas, which zooms from #9 to #2. New in the Top 10 are “Jingle Jangle” by the Archies and “Venus” by the Shocking Blue. Also on the WLOF chart, up five spots from #30 to #25: “American Moon” by Bobby Dimple with the Lunar Ladies Chorus, the Lipple Kutie Kids, and the Hutch Davie Diggers Band. Written by Bob Crewe, it’s a song celebrating the Apollo 11 moon landing, and was featured in a musical called Heart’s Delight Follies ’69. The show never made it to Broadway, which may not be all that hard to understand.