June 18, 1983: Lucky Seven

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(Pictured: astronaut Sally Ride at work aboard the space shuttle Challenger, June 1983.)

June 18, 1983, was a Saturday. At 7:33 AM Eastern time, the space shuttle Challenger blasts off with a crew of five, including Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut. President Reagan salutes Ride in his weekly radio address and announces the re-appointment of Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. In Texas, the Corpus Christi Midget Ocean Racing Fleet adopts its bylaws, and the Lubbock chapter of the American Cancer Society holds its first annual Cattle Baron’s Ball benefit. Martina Navratilova reaches the finals of the BMW Grass Court tennis tournament; she will make the finals of the next 22 events she enters, which is a record. Seventy-eight winners will split tonight’s $1.75 million Illinois Lotto jackpot, also a record; analysts credit the public’s love of the number seven: the winning numbers were 7, 13, 14, 21, 28, and 35. Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, holds its 125th spring commencement. Superman III, which opened around the country on Wednesday, is expected to be the top-grossing movie of the weekend, dethroning Return of the Jedi.

The current edition of Rolling Stone features Men at Work on the cover; inside is a tribute to Muddy Waters, who died in April. The Grateful Dead plays Saratoga, New York. KISS plays in front 0f 137,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro; it is one of the final shows they will play in their iconic makeup until 1996. Rod Stewart plays Glasgow, Scotland, Mike Oldfield plays Darmstadt, West Germany, and Wayne Newton plays Toledo, Ohio. At KHTR in St. Louis, Irene Cara’s “Flashdance . . . What a Feeling” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” hold the top two spots on the chart again this week; it’s the fifth straight week at the top for “Flashdance.” The hottest record on the chart is “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, zooming from #16 to #4. Other major movers include “Our House” by Madness, “Is There Something I Should Know” by Duran Duran, and “Rock of Ages” by Def Leppard. Among the new records on the KHTR chart is “Hot Girls in Love” by Loverboy; the video features a blonde girl dodging random rolling beer kegs in a car she seems to have stolen from ZZ Top, in a universe where people also have to dodge random TV sets that fall from the sky.

Perspective From the Present: The Mrs. and I were newlyweds in Dubuque, Iowa, in the summer of ’83. I worked for a radio station and she worked for the local newspaper, and in June we moved to a new apartment, where we’d live for only four months. We didn’t have a plan, really. We weren’t dreaming of houses and babies and the future except in the haziest and most general sense. We were making up a life as we went along, in blissful ignorance of things we’d have been better off knowing, as young married couples do.

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January 7, 1983: What About Me

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(Pictured: Stevie Wonder appears at an event promoting the Martin Luther King holiday with Gil Scott-Heron, Jesse Jackson, and Gladys Knight.)

January 7, 1983, was a Friday. The ongoing weakness of the US economy is all over the news. Retailers are disappointed with December sales figures, although analysts disagree about the likely impact of the slow holiday season. New forecasts indicate the economy may grow at a rate of only 1.4 percent this year, down from last fall’s forecast of 3.1 percent. The administration is considering spending freezes to offset record deficits, but ecomomists fear that even if the economy begins growing again, deficits will remain a persistent problem. Unemployment remains high; the administration hopes the unemployment rate, currently 10.8 percent, can be cut to nine percent by the end of 1984. Yesterday, President Reagan signed a bill increasing the federal gas tax for the first time in 23 years. A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control reports evidence that AIDS can be transmitted between heterosexuals; new research involving infected prison inmates also indicates that it can be spread through exposure to blood or blood products.

Future pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and future major leaguer Edwin Encarnacion are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight. The Edmonton Oilers get a hat trick from Glenn Anderson and two goals from Wayne Gretzky to beat Pittsburgh 7-2. Eight games are played in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers run their league-best record to 26-and-5 with a 106-89 win over the Washington Bullets. It’s the sixth straight win for the Sixers, who are led by Andrew Toney with 28 points. Julius Erving adds 23 and Moses Malone scores 22. The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with a special 16-team format necessitated by the players’ strike that reduced the regular season to nine games. Four games will be played tomorrow and four more on Sunday. The two top-seeded teams in what’s been dubbed the Super Bowl Tournament are the Los Angeles Raiders and Washington Redskins. Other top teams playing include Miami, Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota.

Popular options for weekend moviegoers include Tootsie, 48 Hours, and The Verdict. On TV tonight, CBS wins the ratings race with its Friday-night lineup of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. ABC’s lineup includes Benson, The New Odd Couple (which stars Ron Glass of Barney Miller as Felix and Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son as Oscar), and an ABC News Closeup special about the massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon last September. NBC presents a two-hour episode of Knight Rider followed by Remington Steele. Later, Johnny Carson welcomes Jack Lemmon and Tanya Tucker, and Andy Kaufman brings his parents to an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman.

Yesterday, Stevie Wonder appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference to discuss ongoing efforts to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. Tonight, Aerosmith continues its “Right in the Nuts” tour at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and KISS plays Saginaw, Michigan. One of two competing editions of Badfinger, led by Tom Evans, plays Atlanta. (The other Badfinger is led by Evans’ former bandmate Joey Molland.) Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones plays and speaks at an educational event held at the Town Hall Theater in New York City.

At WLOL in Minneapolis, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins is the new #1 song, dropping “What About Me” by Moving Pictures to #3. “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is up to #2. “Baby Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram, “On the Loose” by Saga, and “Heart to Heart” by Kenny Loggins are new in the Top 10, replacing Men at Work’s “Down Under,” “Southern Cross” by Crosby Stills and Nash, and Toto’s “Africa.” Songs moving up outside the Top 10 include “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran.

Perspective From the Present: “What About Me,” which sounds as 80s as 80s can be, was an enormous hit in Australia during 1982, and would make #29 on the American Hot 100 in February 1983. The very same version would hit in America for a second time in 1989, peaking at #46. You don’t hear it on the radio anymore, but several other popular songs of the moment have never been off the air since.

July 24, 1983: Every Breath You Take

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(Pictured: George Brett, second from right, is restrained by umpires after being called out in what will be known as the Pine Tar Game.) 

July 24, 1983, is a Sunday. The nation is suffering through a record heat wave. Over 80 people have died so far, 38 of them in St. Louis. A front-page story in the New York Times says that the Pentagon wants to double the number of military advisors assisting rebels trying to overthrown the government of Nicaragua. The State Department says 90 Russians have been expelled from Western countries for spying so far this year. The Times continues to cover the aftermath of the recent Diana Ross concert in Central Park. On Thursday night, Ross attracted a crowd estimated at up to 400,000, but her show was cut short by a severe thunderstorm. After the rescheduled Friday night performance, what the Times calls “bands of roving youths” robbed and harassed departing concertgoers and other people in the park. Attacks were reported in Columbus Circle and Times Square, and the famed restaurant Tavern on the Green was “invaded.”

In sports, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals hits a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to give the Royals a 5-4 lead over the Yankees in New York. But Brett is called out and the home run erased when the umpires rule that Brett’s bat has too much pine tar on it. (Pine tar is a sticky substance used to improve a player’s grip; there’s a rule about how far up the bat pine tar can extend.) Brett is the third out, so the Yankees win the game. The Royals protest the ruling. American League officials will side with them, counting the home run and ordering that the game be resumed in the top of the ninth. That won’t happen until August 18, after two lawsuits and an injunction, with the Royals winning 5-4. Tim Richmond wins the NASCAR Like Cola 500. Laurent Fignon of France wins the Tour de France.

On TV tonight, CBS airs 60 Minutes and two episodes of One Day at a Time along with The Jeffersons, Newhart, and Trapper John, M.D. NBC has the adventure series Voyagers!, an episode of Six Pack, starring Don Johnson as a race car driver who befriends a group of orphans, and the TV movie Sex and the Married Woman. ABC’s night opens with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, followed by Matt Houston and the made-for-TV movie Rooster, starring Paul Williams and Pat McCormick as mismatched detectives. HBO airs a concert special starring Billy Joel. Jaws 3D tops the movie box office for the weekend; last week’s box-office champ, the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive, drops to #2; Return of the Jedi is #3. Other new movies opening this weekend include Class, a younger-man/older woman comedy starring Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset, and Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. Opening next weekend: National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Meat Loaf plays Poughkeepsie, New York, ZZ Top opens a two-night stand in New Haven, Connecticut, and Blue Oyster Cult plays Pasadena. Duran Duran plays Birmingham, England and Journey plays Phoenix. The Little River Band plays Roanoke, Virginia, Steve Winwood plays Costa Mesa, California, and a triple bill starring Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Fastway plays Houston. One day after headlining an all-day bill at Comiskey Park in Chicago with the Fixx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Simple Minds, Ministry, and A Flock of Seagulls, the Police move on to St. Louis.

At WKTI in Milwaukee, the Police hit “Every Breath You Take” and “1999” by Prince hold at #1 and #2 on the station survey. “Our House” by Madness zooms from #10 to #3; that’s the biggest jump on the survey, although “Maniac” by Michael Sembello is also up seven spots, from #25 to #18. Two songs are new within the Top 10: “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson at #8 and “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash at #9. Four songs debut on the station’s Top 30; the highest is “Human Touch” by Rick Springfield at #26.

Perspective From the Present: I wish I could remember exactly how The Mrs. and I, married less than four months, spent this particular Sunday. Watching the Cubs on TV maybe, or maybe back in my hometown for the county fair, which would have been going on that weekend. We were on the threshold of change, but we didn’t know it yet. We had jobs we liked, a roof over our heads, Like Cola in our fridge—and the unconscious optimism of newlyweds everywhere, sure that everything would work out for the good, somehow, because why wouldn’t it?

November 1, 1983: Total Eclipse

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(Pictured: Bonnie Tyler performs on American Bandstand, 1983.)

November 1, 1983, is a Tuesday. One day after another Senate vote refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and after a contentious White House meeting today, President Reagan criticizes recalcitrant Republican senators in his diary. The New York Times publishes an interview with House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who blasts Reagan: ”He only works three to three-and-a-half hours a day. He doesn’t do his homework. He doesn’t read briefing papers. It’s sinful that this man is president.” Secretary of State George Shultz receives a memo stating that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons capability, possibly acquired from the United States. Twenty-one year old Kimberly Nelson disappears in Seattle; in 1986, her body will be found, another one of the 49 confirmed victims of the Green River Killer. The Texas Department of State Health Services begins screening all newborns for sickle-cell traits. Former major league outfielder Art Ruble, who played in 56 games with the 1927 Detroit Tigers and 19 with the 1934 Philadelphia Phillies and recorded a lifetime batting average of .207, dies at age 80, and John Alexander, who will catch eight games and pinch-hit in three others for the 2006 GCL Braves of the Gulf Coast League during his only season of professional baseball, is born.

CBS airs four soaps and four game shows during the day today, including The Price Is Right, The New $25,000 Pyramid, Press Your Luck, and Tattletales. In prime time, ABC airs new episodes of Just Our Luck (soon to be canceled), Happy Days, Oh Madeline (starring Madeline Kahn as a bored suburban housewife married to a romance novelist), and Hart to Hart. NBC’s lineup includes The A Team and Remington Steele.

Tina Turner plays Lund, Sweden, and Queensryche plays the Ritz in New York City. Stevie Ray Vaughan plays Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and ZZ Top plays Hamburg, Germany. AC/DC plays Memphis. At B96 in Chicago, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler and “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hold the top two spots on the survey again this week. Moving up within the top 10 are “True” by Spandau Ballet and “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie. “Say Say Say” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney is new in the top 10. “Church of the Poison Mind” by Culture Club, “Heart and Soul” by Huey Lewis and the News, and “Suddenly Last Summer” by the Motels are the chart’s biggest movers. About 250 highway miles southwest of Chicago, at WJEQ in Macomb, Illinois, it’s the new guy’s first day. He and his wife, married six months, moved to town yesterday. He’s on the air from 5 until 8 in the evening, which is not exactly the afternoon show he thought he would be doing.

Perspective From the Present: I needed a job that fall, but Macomb was not my first choice. I’d been chasing a job in Madison, at a new station that was assembling its first staff—Magic 98. But when they never called and the offer from Macomb came in ($200 a week!), I took it. From the jump, I was not happy there. After four years part-time and full-time at KDTH, which was (unlike WJEQ) fabulously well equipped and efficiently run, I felt as though I had taken a step backward with this new job. And given the size of my ego at the age of 23, that I was too good for it.

That, of course, was probably not true. A few years ago, I found an old aircheck that must have been from my first week down there. It was terrible. I was terrible. And probably exactly where I should have been.

April 9, 1983: Let’s Dance

A wedding picture, 1983. All fashion and grooming choices seemed like a good idea at the time.

April 9, 1983, was a Saturday. By joint resolution of Congress, it is National POW/MIA Recognition Day and the last day of National Drug Abuse Education Week. The space shuttle Challenger lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after its five-day maiden voyage. Rehearsals are held for the Academy Awards, which will be presented Monday night. Newspapers across the country publish a UPI story reporting that the city council of Ottumwa, Iowa, has declared the town to be the “video gaming capital of the world.” In his weekly radio address, President Reagan touts his tax cuts, and warns that “liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives want you to pay more—much more.” Stonyfield Farm produces its first batch of yogurt. There is an avalanche in California’s American River Canyon.

Quarterback John Reaves of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits sets league records for pass attempts and pass completions in a 22-16 overtime win over the Denver Gold. Julio Franco of the Cleveland Indians hits his first major-league home run. Tanya Roberts guest-stars on the pilot episode of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, broadcast on CBS. Stephen Bishop and Oxo are guests on American Bandstand. Joan Rivers hosts Saturday Night Live with musical guest Musical Youth. The Grateful Dead plays the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. In Brooklyn, New York, Metallica does its last show with guitarist Dave Mustaine, who later forms Megadeth. Bob Seger performs in Seattle. Rush wraps up a two-night stand in Montreal. Steve Forbert plays the Lone Star Cafe in New York City. Thin Lizzy plays in Dublin.

On the latest Billboard Hot 100, the top 3 songs are unchanged from the previous week: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is in its 6th week at the top, followed by Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran. “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners zooms to #4 from #11. Jackson’s “Beat It” moves into the Top 10 from #14. The biggest move within the Top 40 is made by Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” jumping from #26 to #16. “Overkill” by Men at Work is new in the Hot 100 all the way up at #28. David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” entered the Top 40 at #29 from #43 the week before, and Duran Duran’s “Rio” is new at #40, up from #58. The oldest record on the chart, in its 21st week on, is “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash. It’s at #86 this week, down from #50.

Perspective From the Present: Yup, that’s our wedding picture at the top of the page, for on April 9, 1983, the Mrs. and I became Mr. and Mrs., getting married in my hometown church. I nursed a slight hangover through much of the day thanks to an impromptu bachelor party two nights before. My parents kept inviting wedding guests to what was supposed to be a small family gathering between the church reception and the dance, and they ended up with 150 people in their house. My ex-college roommate took his tux back to my parents’ house on Sunday, where he summed up the feelings of many guests, and of the bride and groom, when he said to my father, “Let’s do this again sometime, but not right away.”

April 5, 1983: Opening Days

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(Pictured: Tom Seaver back on the mound in New York, 1983.)

April 5, 1983, is a Tuesday. Headlines on the morning papers include the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Challenger, launched yesterday on the sixth mission of the shuttle program; the death of actress Gloria Swanson at age 84; and the upset win by North Carolina State over Houston in the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Today, President Reagan vetoes the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Claims Settlement Act, extends the term of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving through the end of the year, and appoints Allen Davis ambassador to Uganda. Chattanooga, Tennessee, sets an all-time record with 3.36 inches of rain, while El Paso, Texas, sets an snowfall record for a single day in April with 6.5 inches. The Board of Commissioners of Orange County, North Carolina, adopts an ordinance prohibiting the keeping of wild animals. The ordinance exempts the teaching and research facilities at the University of North Carolina.

Today is the second day of the new major-league baseball season with nine games scheduled. After 5 1/2 seasons in Cincinnati, pitcher Tom Seaver returns to the New York Mets and outduels Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. John Candelaria of the Pittsburgh Pirates strikes out 10 St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-1 win; it will be the most by any Pirates pitcher on Opening Day until 2013. The defending American League champion Milwaukee Brewers lose to California 3-2; the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos are postponed by bad weather in Chicago; they will open tomorrow. Shows on NBC tonight include The A Team, Remington Steele, and St. Elsewhere. CBS shows the TV movie The Return of the Man from UNCLE. On ABC, it’s Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, and Ryan’s Four, a medical-show pilot starring Tom Skerritt, Lisa Eilbacher, and Tim Daly. It won’t become a regular series.

Danny Rapp, lead singer of Danny & the Juniors, commits suicide in Arizona. Future pro football player Will Buchanon and future pro golfer Brendan Steele are born. Huey Lewis and the News play Austin, Texas, R.E.M. plays Nashville, and the Beach Boys play Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rush plays Buffalo and Prince plays Denver. On the current Cash Box chart, the top five are largely unchanged from the previous week. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson is #1 for the fourth week in a row; “You Are” by Lionel Richie and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club swap #2 and #3 spots; “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders round out the top 5. There’s one new entry in the Top 10: “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band. The biggest move within the top 40 is made by Bob Seger’s “Even Now,” moving from #38 to #28; “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto is up from #40 to #32, and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” moves from #22 to #15. The hottest record on the entire chart is David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” reaching #34 in its second week on.

In a small one-bedroom apartment in Dubuque, Iowa, a calendar hangs on the kitchen wall. Today, there’s a note: “Opening Day: baseball.” On the upcoming Saturday, April 9, there’s another: “Opening Day: marriage.” The couple sharing the apartment differs on how funny the notes are: the young man thinks they’re hilarious, but his intended bride is less amused by them. Years hence, she will continue to put up with him, with everything that’s funny and everything that isn’t, and he will consider himself very fortunate indeed.