(Pictured: members of Cheap Trick onstage, circa 1979.)
July 19, 1979, is a Thursday. Four days after what will be known as the “malaise” speech, President Jimmy Carter shakes up his cabinet: Benjamin Civiletti will replace Griffin Bell as Attorney General; Patricia Harris will move from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; G. William Miller will become Secretary of the Treasury. Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger announces his resignation. (The next week, Carter will replace his Secretary of Transportation.) In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas overthrow the Somoza government. Gene Roddenberry and Harold Livingstone complete the original shooting script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Linebacker Tom Cousineau, drafted first overall by the Buffalo Bills in last spring’s NFL draft, signs with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for double the money Buffalo is offering. Future St. Louis Cardinals pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel is born. Major league baseball resumes play after the All-Star break; the Milwaukee Brewers win their seventh game in a row, 3-2 over Toronto.
Joan Baez performs at the Lincoln Memorial and leads a candlelit human-rights march to the White House. President Carter goes to the White House fence to meet with some of the marchers; Baez attempts to reach him on the phone later that night, but he’s on his way to bed and doesn’t take the call. Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Spyro Gyra play the Montreux Jazz Fest. Ian Hunter plays the Dallas Palladium. AC/DC plays San Diego. Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps is released. The Jackson Five open a short American tour in Pittsburgh.
Despite the proliferation of disco on the nation’s record charts, rockers are still much in evidence. The Billboard Hot 100 dated July 14, 1979, includes Cheap Trick (“I Want You to Want Me” at #8), John Stewart (“Gold,” with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, at #10), Supertramp (“The Logical Song” at #11), Van Halen (“Dance the Night Away” at #15, Peter Frampton (“I Can’t Stand It No More” at #17), and Gerry Rafferty (“Days Gone Down” at #18) among the Top 20. Also among the Top 40: Poco, KISS, Kansas, Joe Jackson, and the Doobie Brothers. Up and coming outside the Top 40: the Knack, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Cars, Blackfoot, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, the Who, and Triumph.
At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, an aspiring radio DJ is living by himself in a mostly deserted dorm, attending summer school during the week and working his paying radio gig on the weekends. He is taking a TV engineering class widely believed by those sharing his major to be one of the toughest courses they are required to take. He is one of but two students in the class; because of that, it’s impossible to do most of the team-oriented activities the course requires. Nevertheless, the course isn’t canceled, and because he will show up more often than his lone classmate, he will get an A and she will get a B. Neither will learn much TV engineering.