March 21, 1980: Stand by Me

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(Pictured: the Clash onstage, March 1980.)

March 21, 1980, is a Friday. President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will boycott the upcoming Summer Olympics in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later in the day, he heads for Camp David. After West Virginia teachers receive only a $950-per-year raise from the legislature, about a quarter of them stage a one-day strike. Wool-handlers in Australia end an 11-week strike. Future soccer star Ronaldinho is born, and Philadelphia crime boss Angelo Bruno dies, shot in the head while sitting in his car.

In Doonesbury today, Mike continues work on Republican congressman John Anderson’s presidential campaign. On daytime TV, Dinah Shore welcomes actress Polly Holliday to Dinah!. Holliday’s new sitcom Flo will premiere on CBS tonight. The Mike Douglas Show features co-host Charlene Tilton and guests including actor James Franciscus and sportscaster Curt Gowdy. Celebrity guests on The $20,000 Pyramid are Joanna Gleason and David Letterman. On CBS tonight, in addition to Flo and an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, it’s the season finale of Dallas, in which J. R. Ewing is shot. The mystery of who shot him, which will not be solved until the November 21 episode, will inspire the widespread TV practice of end-of-season cliffhangers. NBC counterprograms with an episode of Pink Lady and Jeff. It’s a quiet weekend at the movies; Kramer vs. Kramer will top the box-office again.

ZZ Top and the Rockets play Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati; it’s the first rock concert held at the venue since the deaths of 11 people in a stampede at a Who concert the previous December. Rick James plays Cleveland with his opening act, Prince. The Outlaws play at Rutgers University, Van Halen plays Medford, Oregon, and Rush plays Spokane, Washington. Gary Numan plays Brussels, Belgium, and Harry Chapin plays Binghamton, New York.

On the edition of American Top 40 to be broadcast around the country this weekend, “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd knocks “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen out of the top spot to #3. Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” holds at #2. There’s only one new song in the Top 10, “How Do I Make You” by Linda Ronstadt. Air Supply’s “Lost In Love” is the biggest mover within the 40, up seven spots from #32 to #25. Three new songs within the Top 40 come blazing in: Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” debuts at #27 after entering the Hot 100 at #53 last week; “Hold On to My Love” by Jimmy Ruffin comes in at #31 from #47. “Pilot of the Airwaves” by Charlie Dore is new at #39, up from #50.

Among the debuts on the Hot 100 is “Train in Vain (Stand By Me)” by the Clash at #84. It appears on their album London Calling but is not listed on the sleeve or the label. Despite prominent hand-labeling of the sleeve and the label, a couple of the jocks at WSUP, the student station at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, will demonstrate themselves pathologically unable to figure out where it is. They will either insist on playing the wrong cut or on not playing “Train in Vain” at all. The station’s program director, an impatient fellow under the best of circumstances, is not amused.

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February 24, 1980: Closing Ceremony

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(Pictured: Americans Steve Christoff and Mark Johnson celebrate a goal in the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey game against Finland.)

February 24, 1980, was a Sunday. Two days after stunning the heavily favored Soviet team, the United States hockey team wins the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, with a 4-2 win over Finland. It’s the final day of the games; East Germany leads the medal count with 23, although the Soviets record the most gold medals with 10. Team USA records 12 medals: six goal, four silver, and two bronze. Besides the hockey gold, the other five American gold medals are won by speed skater Eric Heiden. Darrell Waltrip wins the Richmond 400, the third race of the NASCAR season. Two days before the New Hampshire presidential primary, several political commentators say that George Bush, who won the Iowa caucuses in January, is now the front-runner for the Republican nomination. NBC reporter Tom Pettit has suggested that Ronald Reagan, considered the leader of the pack before Bush’s surprise Iowa win, “is politically dead.” On Tuesday, Reagan will win New Hampshire with 50 percent of the Republican vote. On the Democratic side, President Carter will defeat Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy 47 percent to 37 percent.

On TV tonight, ABC broadcasts the closing ceremony from the Winter Olympics. CBS counterprograms the night with 60 Minutes, an hour-long episode of One Day at a Time, Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John M.D. NBC airs the made-for-TV movie Harper Valley P.T.A., based on the 1968 #1 hit by Jeannie C. Riley and starring Barbara Eden. It’s not just the top-rated show of the night, but it wins the ratings for the entire week. Mary Tyler Moore opens on Broadway in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, which will run for 96 performances and earn her a Tony award. Pink Floyd brings The Wall tour to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Weather Report plays Atlanta. The Jerry Garcia Band plays Stony Brook, New York, John Denver plays Lake Charles, Louisiana, Madness plays the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, and the Ramones play in Paris. The Ramones get a mention in the popular Sunday newspaper insert Parade, in an article headlined “Rock rolls into new wave,” which introduces readers to the “hard-boiled assessments of life” performed by the Ramones, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Knack, the B-52s, the Clash, the Police, and others. “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes is #1 on the Funny Five, part of this week’s Dr. Demento radio show. Also among the five: “Titties and Beer” by Frank Zappa and “Bounce Your Boobies” by Rusty Warren. Tonight’s edition of the King Biscuit Flower Hour features Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.

KQCR, Q-103 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, airs the Weekly Top 30, a syndicated countdown hosted by Mark Elliott, from 9AM til noon. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen is #1 again this week. Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” is up to #2, and last week’s #2, “Yes I’m Ready” by Teri de Sario and KC, slips to #3. “Working My Way Back to You” by the Spinners blasts to #4 from #14; “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert is at #5. Another major mover is “Desire” by Andy Gibb, up to #6 from #15. Other hot records include “Him” by Rupert Holmes, up to #12 from #23; “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd, making the biggest move of the week, from #27 to #13; and “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, at #16 from #26. “Refugee” by Tom Petty is the week’s top debut, all the way up at #17. The only other new song among the Top 30 is “Back on My Feet Again” by the Babys at #28.

Perspective From the Present: I watched neither the Miracle on Ice game nor the gold medal hockey game at the Winter Olympics. I most likely missed the gold medal game because I was working my weekend radio gig at KDTH. How I missed the win over the Russians, I don’t remember. I recall other guys in the dorm watching it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t. I liked neither living in the dorm nor the people I had to live with (although my own roommate was OK), and I kept my distance from them as much as I could.

June 28, 1980: Coming Up

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(Pictured: Don Felder and Joe Walsh of the Eagles at work, circa 1980.)

June 28, 1980, was a Saturday. At Camp David, President Carter goes fishing, and he later sees the movie Urban Cowboy with the First Lady. The federal debt ceiling is temporarily raised to $985 billion. Helen Gahagan Douglas, the second woman to serve in Congress, dies at age 79. (Douglas was defeated for the U.S. Senate in 1950 by Congressman Richard Nixon, who accused her of being a Communist, “pink right down to her underwear.” In return, she nicknamed him “Tricky Dick.”) Comic actor Herbie Faye, who played dozens of roles on TV and in the movies starting in the 1950s, dies at age 81. Future NBA player Rodney White is born. The San Diego Air and Space Museum opens. On TV tonight, the last episode of The Stockard Channing Show airs, starring the Grease actress and future First Lady on The West Wing. Also on CBS tonight, The Bad News Bears, a sitcom based on the hit movie. An airplane disappears in the Bermuda Triangle, and Bigfoot is spotted in Snohomish County, Washington.

“Crying” by Don McLean tops the British singles chart in Record Mirror magazine. (It will hit #5 in the States the next spring.) Britain’s #2 hit of the week, “Funky Town” by Lipps, Inc., is knocked from the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after a four-week run by Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up.” “Let’s Get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson holds on in Britain’s Top 10 while remaining just outside in the States. The highest debut on the Record Mirror chart is AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” at #41; on the Hot 100, it’s “Play the Game” by Queen at #67. (“Play the Game” is at #15 in Record Mirror.) The Dead Kennedys play the Whiskey in Los Angeles, Jackson Browne plays the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago, Santana plays Knebworth in England, and the Eagles play Alpine Valley Music Theater near Milwaukee.

Perspective From the Present: I was at the Eagles show that night with a bunch of friends. In 2008, I found a bootleg of the show online. It’s not clear where it came from—some sources say it’s from the soundboard while others say it’s an audience tape. Given how easy it is to hear certain individual audience members (like the guy who keeps yelling for “Walk Away” throughout the entire show), I’m betting on the latter. Although we were thrilled at the time, the tape reveals that Don Henley wasn’t in particularly good voice at the start. As the show goes on, he gets better, although he’s singing at the very top of his range and frequently struggles to reach it, more so than he ever did on the band’s studio recordings. Often, that’s the only way the live performances vary from their studio originals—as always, the Eagles stuck to the script in concert. Nobody seemed to mind, however, particularly during  the segment made up of “The Sad Cafe,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” and a medley of “Wasted Time” and “Desperado,” all played while a giant full moon was rising over the stage. We were surprised at the number of Joe Walsh tunes they played that night, although we shouldn’t have been; Walsh’s former bandmate Joe Vitale was onstage with them. Two of the band’s four encores were Walsh tunes—although they never did play “Walk Away.”

The Eagles show was our second trip to Alpine Valley—we’d seen the Doobie Brothers the summer before. This time, we knew that it would take hours to get out of the parking lot, so rather than tailgate beforehand, we fired up the grill and opened the coolers afterward. A college pal was on the air at an album-rock station in Milwaukee that night, and it was pretty cool to hear his voice blasting from dozens of car radios. The next night, I would be back on the radio myself in Freeport, Illinois, telling my listeners about the show. Altogether, that weekend is a pretty good rock ‘n’ roll memory from one of my favorite summers.

June 20, 1980: Can’t Stop

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(Pictured: the empty set for The Hollywood Squares.)

June 20, 1980, was a Friday. The prime interest rate is lowered from 12.25 percent to 12 percent, down from its peak of 20 percent in May. National elections are held in Iraq. The annual Gay Freedom Parade is held in San Francisco. A Delta Airlines 727 bound for Tampa mistakenly lands at MacDill Air Force Base instead of Tampa International Airport. NASA announces that photos taken by the Viking Orbiter I spacecraft show “meteorological anomalies” on the surface of Mars. New garbage collection rates go into effect in Junction City, Oregon. The new children’s library, attached to the city’s 1904 Carnegie Library, opens in Macomb, Illinois. In one of the biggest fights in years, Roberto Duran upsets Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC welterweight boxing championship. Infielder Fred Patek, who is 5’4″, hits three home runs as the California Angels defeat the Boston Red Sox 20-2. NASCAR driver Martin Truex, Jr., is born, and Swedish composer Gustav Allan Pettersson dies at age 69.

The UA Cinema 6 theater opens in Amarillo, Texas. The Empire Strikes Back goes into wide release across the country, playing in 823 theaters. Other movies opening include Brubaker starring Robert Redford, Can’t Stop the Music starring the Village People, The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, and The Blues Brothers. After 14 seasons, the original Hollywood Squares goes off the air with its final broadcast on NBC. Two other game shows, Chain Reaction and High Rollers, are also seen for the last time. Wheel of Fortune, originally scheduled for cancellation, survives.

The Knebworth Festival in England features the Beach Boys, Santana, Mike Oldfield, and Lindisfarne. Fleetwood Mac plays at Wembley Arena in London. Led Zeppelin plays Brussels, Belgium. Back in the States, the Beach Boys appear in a taped performance on the late-night TV show Fridays. The Grateful Dead plays the West High Auditorium in Anchorage, Alaska, and Harry Chapin plays Cohasset, Massachusetts. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band play Detroit. The Little River Band plays Chicago.

At WABC in New York, “Funky Town” by Lipps Inc. is in the third of what will be five straight weeks at #1. Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” makes a big move from #10 to #2. Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” is new in the Top 10 at #8; so is “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel, blasting from #26 to #10. The latter two replace the Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp” and “Lost in Love” by Air Supply, which fall to #11 and #12 respectively. “Back Together Again” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, which will reach only #56 on the Hot 100, has peaked at #13 on WABC. Among the new songs on the WABC survey is “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd.

Perspective From the Present: In the summer of 1980, I was working the album-rock night shift at WXXQ in Freeport, Illinois. It was the last summer I spent living in my parents’ house. One of my brothers had just graduated from high school, we had spent the last two years going to high school together and we’d do a year of college at the same place. My other brother had just finished seventh grade. Because I moved away in the fall, I missed the most significant of his growing-up years, before he graduated from high school in 1985. As a result, I did not know him—and I do not know him—nearly as well as I know our other brother. On my long list of regrets, that’s right up there.

February 20, 1980: Come Sit Next to Me

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(Pictured: Freddie Mercury and Brian May of Queen, onstage in Chicago, 1980.)

February 20, 1980, is a Wednesday. At 12:01AM Eastern time, a deadline passes for the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan, which they had invaded the previous December. They do not. Thus, the United States will boycott the upcoming Summer Olympics in Moscow. In hockey at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, Team USA defeats West Germany 4-2 to advance to the medal round. On Friday, the Americans will face the Soviet Union; nobody gives them a chance to win. The European Community places a tariff on certain types of synthetic carpet yarn shipped into the UK. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, dies at 96; the Washington socialite is said to have once remarked, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” At the White House, President and Mrs. Carter host a state dinner for the president of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moy. An experimental onion field at Oregon State University is fertilized. With the New Hampshire primary just five days away, a CBS/New York Times poll notes that many supporters of Republican candidate George Bush don’t know what he stands for.

TV shows on the air tonight include Charlie’s Angels, Diff’rent Strokes, and Hello Larry. Steve Martin sits in for Johnny on The Tonight Show; his guest is Andy Kaufman. Iggy Pop plays Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. In the UK, Peter Gabriel plays Exeter University and Joy Division plays High Wycombe. The Joy Division show will be released in 2007 as part of the two-disc reissue of Still. In the early-morning hours, after a night of partying, a friend puts Bon Scott of AC/DC into his car to sleep it off. Returning later in the day, the friend finds Scott lifeless. At a hospital, Scott is pronounced DOA.

On the Billboard Hot 100 that will come out this weekend, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen will take over the #1 spot from the Captain and Tennille’s “Do That to Me One More Time.” Several significant rock bands are in the Top 40 apart from Queen: Fleetwood Mac (“Sara” at #10), Pink Floyd (“Another Brick in the Wall” at #15), Led Zeppelin (“Fool in the Rain” at #21), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (“Refugee” at #23 and “Don’t Do Me Like That” at #26), and the Eagles (“The Long Run” at #27). A couple of pop acts who haven’t scored major hits since 1971 are back on the radio as well: the Dirt Band’s “An American Dream” is at #14, and “Three Times in Love” by Tommy James is at #38. At a small college town in Wisconsin, a longtime Tommy James fan is glad about that.