February 28, 1977: Every Piece

(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

(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.