June 20, 1980: Can’t Stop

(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

(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.