April 22, 1977: Get Next to You

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(Pictured: the Captain and Tennille.)

April 22, 1977, is a Friday. In the morning papers, it’s reported that Social Security recipients will get a 5.9 percent increase effective July 1. Members of Congress and leaders of the postal unions criticize a proposal to cut mail service from six days a week to five. This morning, President Jimmy Carter holds a press conference. He is asked mostly about energy policy, and he suggests that if Congress doesn’t adopt his energy plan, he could use his presidential powers to mandate gas rationing. Shimon Peres becomes acting prime minister of Israel after Yitzhak Rabin steps down. Late last night and early this morning, people in Dover, Massachusetts, claim to have seen an unidentified creature with glowing eyes that will be nicknamed the Dover Demon.

Cleveland TV station WJW-TV becomes WJKW. On TV today, Dinah Shore welcomes Pearl Bailey, Mel Tillis, and Mel Torme and their children to Dinah! Sonny and Cher announce that they will end the current reincarnation of their variety show at the end of the current TV season. David Frost and Richard Nixon tape their final interview to be broadcast this summer. Future FC Barcelona soccer player Mark Van Bommel is born, and former major league pitcher Rube Yarrison, who pitched in 21 games for the Philadelphia Athletics and Brooklyn Dodgers over two seasons in the 1920s, dies. Movies in the theaters include Rocky, Airport 77, Slap Shot, Taxi Driver, and All the President’s Men.

The Grateful Dead plays Philadelphia, Boston plays Greensboro, North Carolina, Rush plays Binghamton, New York, Elvis Presley plays Detroit, AC/DC and Black Sabbath play Goteborg, Sweden, and Pink Floyd opens its “In the Flesh” tour with a show in Miami. At WLS in Chicago, “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates tops the new survey that will come out tomorrow. “Don’t Give Up on Us” by David Soul makes a strong move from #7 to #2; “Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell moves from #9 to #3. New in the Top 10 is “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer, moving to #8 from #11. The biggest movers are “I Wanna Get Next to You” by Rose Royce, up 11 spots, and “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs and “Can’t Stop Dancin’” by the Captain and Tennille, up nine. The top two albums are unchanged for the sixth straight week: the soundtrack from A Star Is Born is #1 (for the ninth week overall), Hotel California by the Eagles is #2.

In Wisconsin, a high-school junior and his girlfriend (who very much likes the Captain and Tennille, to her boyfriend’s great chagrin) celebrate her birthday. Years later, he won’t be able to remember what they did that night, but it’s enough to guess.

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February 18, 1977: Hot Line

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(Pictured: the Sylvers, 1977.)

February 18, 1977, is a Friday. NASA’s new craft, the space shuttle, makes a test flight bolted to a 747. The flight lasts a little over two hours and reaches an altitude of 16,000 feet. In a nod to Star Trek fans, the test vehicle is called the Enterprise. Today’s Washington Post contains a story by Bob Woodward about CIA payments to King Hussein of Jordan. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance continues a tour of the Middle East and meets with Hussein, as well as the president of Lebanon. Seattle’s first Fat Tuesday carnival week celebration gets rowdy, with reports of public intoxication, public drug use, and one case of public sexual intercourse, which attracts a crowd of 100. An exhibition of paintings by Andy Warhol closes in Washington. Character actor Andy Devine, who frequently appeared on TV and in westerns alongside Roy Rogers, Walter Brennan, and John Wayne and possessor of a distinctively scratchy voice, dies at age 71. Harley Race successfully defends his NWA heavyweight wrestling title by defeating Wahoo McDaniel in Richmond, Virginia. Two Japanese astronomers discover a new asteroid, to be named 5017 Tenchi. In Uruguay, a dog is killed by a UFO.

Celebrity guests on The $25,000 Pyramid this week are Joanne Worley and John Schuck. Tonight, the spy series Hunter premieres on CBS-TV, but will be canceled after only eight episodes. (A different show with the same title will run for nine seasons on NBC in the 80s.) Also on TV tonight: The Rockford Files.

Elvis plays Columbia, South Carolina, and KISS plays Madison Square Garden in New York City. Santana and Tower of Power open a two-night stand at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Al Stewart and Wendy Waldman perform in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and the Kinks are at Winterland in San Francisco. The Marshall Tucker Band plays Passaic, New Jersey; in 2007, the show will be released on DVD. In Cincinnati, ELO shares a bill with Steve Hillage and Gentle Giant, and Triumph plays San Antonio. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Greg Kihn Band are together for the third of four nights in Berkeley, California. After nine years in court, Neil Diamond buys the masters of his early recordings on the Bang label.

At WLS in Chicago, “Hot Line” by the Sylvers tops the new music survey that will be out tomorrow. Also on the WLS chart, Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band make strong moves into the Top 10. Also moving nicely: “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart from #16 to #11 and “Crackerbox Palace” by George Harrison from #34 to #26 (featuring what will in later years be called a music video, directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python). The single biggest leap belongs to “Boogie Child” by the Bee Gees, from #41 to #31. In southern Wisconsin, a sometime listener to WLS is in love for the first time. Even “Boogie Child” sounds romantic to him.

October 14, 1977: The Series

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(Pictured: Reggie Jackson swings and misses during a 1977 World Series game at Yankee Stadium.)

October 14, 1977, is a Friday. At the White House, President Carter meets with General Omar Torrijos and other Panamanian officials to clarify American military rights in the Canal Zone if the canal is turned over to Panama, as proposed in the Panama Canal Treaty signed last month. Later, Carter answers questions from a group of reporters and editors, meets author David McCullough, and attends a reception for Democratic Party fund-raisers, among his other daily activities. After a round of golf in Spain, singer and actor Bing Crosby dies at age 74. (He shot an 85.) Actor Keenan Wynn dies in Los Angeles. Speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, anti-gay activist Anita Bryant is hit in the face with a pie. The First National Bank of Chicago reports that a million dollars is missing from its vaults. “It’s possible that at some point we miscounted the cash,” says the bank’s senior vice president, “but as of now we are working on the assumption that it is a cash loss.” In 1981, $2,300 of the money will be recovered; the rest never will.

On TV tonight, ABC carries Game 3 of the World Series, to be played in Los Angeles. The Yankees beat the Dodgers 5-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Yankee stars Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson play in the game, after threatening to sit out in a dispute over seats provided to their family and friends at Dodger Stadium. In the Chicago Tribune, TV critic Gary Deeb blasts ABC for turning this week’s edition of its nightly newscast, anchored by Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters, into a promotional vehicle for the network’s coverage of the Series, which ABC is carrying for the first time. Opposite the baseball game, CBS broadcasts Wonder Woman and Smile, a 1975 theatrical comedy about beauty pageant organizers, starring Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon; NBC airs the Sanford and Son spinoff The Sanford Arms, Chico and the Man, The Rockford Files, and Quincy.

Before tonight’s World Series game, Linda Ronstadt sings the National Anthem. Ronstadt is also featured in the current edition of New Times magazine, and has two new singles out, “Blue Bayou” and “It’s So Easy.” The Grateful Dead plays Houston, Renaissance plays the Royal Albert Hall in London, Steppenwolf plays St. Louis, Keith Jarrett plays Paris, Rush plays Tulsa, and the Steve Miller Band plays Ann Arbor, Michigan. KISS Alive II is released. On the new Cash Box magazine chart, which will come out officially tomorrow, the top four are unchanged from the previous week: “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone is in its second week at #1, followed by “Keep it Comin’ Love” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon, and Meco’s “Star Wars/Cantina Band.” New in the Top 10: “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer and “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner. New in the Top 40: “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees, “I Just Want to Make Love to You” by Foghat, and “Send in the Clowns” by Judy Collins.

In Wisconsin, the leaves change and then they fall; the world gets a little bit colder every day. The radio talks to a guy who can’t help but listen, because it knows his life better than he does.

July 9, 1977: Going Away

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(Pictured: 1977 British Open competitors Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.)

July 9, 1977, is a Saturday. Alice Paul, a leading figure in the votes-for-women movement in the early 20th century and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, dies at age 92, as does anthropologist and author Loren Eiseley, age 69. An Illinois woman, Cathleen Crowell, tells police she was raped and picks her attacker out of a police mug book; the man, Gary Dotson, will be convicted two years later. In 1985, Crowell will admit she made up her story, and in 1988, Dotson will become the first person exonerated by DNA evidence. At the IGA Foodliner in Cass City, Michigan, round steak is $1.19 a pound, a twin-pack of Pringles potato chips is 69 cents, and iceberg lettuce is 39 cents a head. In the third round of the British Open, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson both shoot 65 to tie for the tournament lead. (Tomorrow, Watson will birdie the final hole to win the championship.) Future actor Milo Ventimiglia is born. CPO Sharkey star Don Rickles is on the cover of TV Guide. Ben E. King and the Average White Band play the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, as do Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. The San Francisco Kool Jazz Festival features Natalie Cole, Wild Cherry, and Tavares, and Chicago plays Alpine Valley near Milwaukee. A Wisconsin teenager attends an emotional going-away party for several of his classmates who will be leaving the next morning for a month in Europe.

Perspective From the Present: On American Top 40 that weekend, Casey Kasem counted ’em down as usual. Although the show is not quite all killer and no filler, it’s close. Of the top 20, only a couple songs are ones nobody needs to hear again (“Love’s Grown Deep” by Kenny Nolan and the Rocky theme “Gonna Fly Now”). On the bottom half of the list, once you take out the country crossovers (“Luckenbach, Texas,” which I like, and “Lucille,” which I do not), you’re left with only a couple of dogs—although one of them is the execrable “Telephone Man.” While some of what’s left is burned beyond recognition—“Margaritaville,” I’m lookin’ at  you—a batting average of .800 is pretty good for a show on the edge of the disco era, although your mileage may vary.

Casey remarks that Marvin Gaye’s former #1 hit “Got to Give It Up,” which is sitting at #6 this week, is only the fourth #1 single of the rock era to be recorded live. Presumably this means “live in concert” as opposed to “live in one studio take” because the other three songs Casey mentions, Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips,” Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling,” which I wrote about at Popdose way back when, and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver, are all concert recordings. Except “Got to Give It Up” isn’t live; it was on Gaye’s Live at the London Palladium, but it’s a studio cut with live ambiance provided by some guests at the recording session.

When Casey introduces the week’s #1 song, “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day, he says it’s only the third “fantasy song” in history to reach the #1 position. He defines fantasy as magical things that couldn’t happen in the real world, and mentions Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby” (also written by O’Day) and Elton John’s recent cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” as the other two. This strikes me as a pretty thin reed to grasp in search of a factoid. I can think of several #1 hits that are fanciful: “The Night Chicago Died” is a fictional story set on “the east side of Chicago,” a place that doesn’t exist; there was never any such thing as “Crocodile Rock”; and if America’s “A Horse With No Name” isn’t a fantasy, I’ll eat my hat.

On the subject of that going-away party: every person has a few days and/or nights in life that remain indelible for all time, that we will not, cannot, must not forget. That night is one of a very few in mine.

February 28, 1977: Every Piece

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(Pictured: the Electric Light Orchestra takes a bow in February 1977.)

February 28, 1977, is a Monday. President Jimmy Carter is in the Oval Office by 7AM today; his agenda includes afternoon meetings with five Democratic governors in town for the National Governors’ Conference, and with Mr. and Mrs. John Denver. At a press briefing, Carter’s deputy press secretary Walter Wurfel is asked about Carter’s statement during his presidential campaign that he would make available “every piece of information this country has” about UFO sightings. Wurfel says Carter was referring only to information that wasn’t “defense sensitive.” Any sensitive information would remain secret. Carter has family time in the evening, including about an hour in the White House bowling alley with the First Lady, his son Jeff, and other guests. Future country star Jason Aldean is born; Jack Benny’s sidekick Eddie “Rochester” Anderson dies at age 71. Linda Ronstadt is on the cover of Time; the cover story about her has a distinctly sexist edge. Ralph Nader is on the cover of People. In today’s Peanuts strip, Snoopy and Woodstock converse.

Jack Albertson of Chico and the Man gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On Dinah!, Dinah Shore welcomes author Alex Haley and several members of the cast of Roots, which aired last month and became a cultural phenomenon. Merv Griffin welcomes country singer Mel Tillis, actor David Soul, and Ed McMahon. On CBS tonight, long-running hits The Jeffersons and Maude are sandwiched around two newer sitcoms, Busting Loose, starring Adam Arkin as a young man who’s just moved out of his parents’ house, and All’s Fair, starring Richard Crenna and Bernadette Peters as a conservative newspaper columnist and liberal photographer who fall in love despite their political and age differences.

Ray Charles plays the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles; during the show, a fan jumps on stage with a rope and tries to strangle him. Concert security subdues the man before Charles is injured. The concert continues without further incident and no police report is ever filed. In Toronto, Keith Richards is arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play St. Louis. Genesis plays Buffalo, New York. The Electric Light Orchestra concludes a three-night stand at the Uptown Theater in Chicago. At WABC in New York City, George Michael is on the evening shift. On the station’s new Musicradio survey, officially out tomorrow, “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary Macgregor holds at #1 for a fourth week; “New Kid in Town” by the Eagles, which tops the Billboard Hot 100, holds at #2. The hottest song on the survey is Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” moving to #7 from #17. Also new in the Top 10: “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart at #8. The survey lists the Top 10 albums but doesn’t number them; first on the list is the soundtrack from A Star Is Born. Also listed: Hotel California, Pink Floyd’s Animals, Songs in the Key of Life, Boston, Rumours, Year of the Cat, Night Moves, Wings Over America, and Jethro Tull’s Songs From the Wood.

Perspective From the Present: The album charts from the winter of 1977 remain astounding after all this time. One album not listed is one I wanted for quite a while and received for my birthday, probably during the weekend before: Olé ELO, a compilation by the Electric Light Orchestra. My girlfriend gave it to me under protest, saying that an album didn’t seem like a personal-enough gift. Although I don’t recall the details after all this time, she probably gave me other, more personal gifts that weekend as well.

January 25, 1977: Feel Like Dancing

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(Pictured: Kris Kristofferson, Barbra Streisand, and producer Jon Peters at the premiere of A Star Is Born in December 1976.)

January 25, 1977, is a Tuesday. The weather across the country is generally pretty good for the depths of winter, although Cleveland and Detroit get some snow. Among many actions during his first week in office, President Carter continues to address natural gas shortages around the country, and he has rescinded President Ford’s order lifting price controls on gasoline. Top administration officials must now drive themselves to work instead of taking government limousines. Today, Budget Director Bert Lance announces a plan to award taxpayers a $50 rebate for each exemption they claim, to help stimulate the ecomomy. The Senate confirms Griffin Bell as Carter’s attorney general, and Joseph Califano is sworn in as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. In Racine, Wisconsin, teachers go on strike. Movie stuntman Dale Van Sickel dies at age 69, and in Waterloo, Wisconsin, an early-morning house fire kills three children aged 3, 8, and 10.

The National Hockey League all-star game is played in Vancouver; the Wales Conference team beats the Campbell Conference team 4-3. At the Prange-Way department store in Madison, Wisconsin, bicentennial glassware is closeout priced—six 15-ounce glasses for $2.99, one dollar off. A local appliance store invites customers to a demonstration of the new Litton microwave oven. About an hour south of Madison, a farm wife with three sons aged 16, 14, and 10, not known for being an early adopter of new technology, will soon get one for her kitchen.

Led Zeppelin announces an upcoming American tour, set to open in Texas at the end of February. (Dates will be postponed when Robert Plant comes down with laryngitis.) Queen plays Ottawa, Ontario; KISS plays Terre Haute, Indiana; ELO is at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section appears at the Bottom Line in New York City. Tom Waits appears on the daytime TV show Dinah!, where he performs “Step Right Up” from his album Small Change. David Brenner co-hosts The Mike Douglas Show this week; today, guests include Phyllis Diller, actor David Doyle, and film director Dino DeLaurentiis. On primetime TV, NBC’s lineup includes Police Story, and CBS airs episodes of  M*A*S*H, One Day at a Time, and Kojak, but most viewers are watching the third episode of Roots, which ABC has scheduled on eight straight nights to get it over with, fearing it will be a ratings disaster.

On the Billboard Hot 100 dated January 22, 1977, “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder” hits #1. “Car Wash” by Rose Royce is at #2, and last week’s #1, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, is #3. New in the top 10 are “New Kid in Town” by the Eagles at #7, “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at #9, and “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary Macgregor at #10. (The latter two each make 10-place jumps from the previous week.) Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen,” from the movie A Star Is Born,” makes the biggest move within the top 40, up to #20 from #35. The highest debut within the 40 is “Dancing Queen” by ABBA at #33.

To read more about the music of January 1977, click here.