June 23, 1984: Mr. Success

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(Pictured: Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen onstage in the summer of 1984.)

June 23, 1984, was a Saturday. In his weekly radio address, President Reagan touts higher-than-expected economic growth figures, lower inflation, and the large percentage of small businesses planning to hire new workers. According to a government report, 12,219 Americans died for various reasons during the week that ends today. Over 1,400 of them were in New York City, 486 each in Chicago and Los Angeles, and 24 in Madison, Wisconsin.

It is the final weekend of regular season play in the United States Football League; the Arizona Wranglers clinch a playoff berth with a 35-10 win over the Los Angeles Express in a game broadcast on ESPN. Los Angeles had already qualified for the playoffs. Five more games will be played tomorrow and one on Monday night before the postseason starts next weekend. NBC’s Game of the Week features the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. The Cubs come back from a six-run deficit and tie the game 9-9 in the bottom of the ninth on a Ryne Sandberg home run. Cardinal Willie McGee, who has already hit for the cycle and been named Player of the Game by NBC, singles in two runs in the top of the 10th to give the Cardinals an 11-9 lead. In the bottom of the 10th, Sandberg ties the game again with a second home run off Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter. The Cubs win it in the bottom of the 11th on a RBI single by Dave Owen, 12-11. A museum dedicated to former home run king Roger Maris is dedicated at West Acres Mall in Fargo, North Dakota.

Today’s episode of American Bandstand includes a performance by Slade and a video by R.E.M. On TV tonight, ABC wins the ratings battle with T. J. Hooker, The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. CBS airs an episode of Mama Malone, a sitcom about an Italian-American woman who hosts a TV cooking show from her apartment in Brooklyn, and the 1978 theatrical film The Fury, a thriller about a government project that kidnaps children for a psychic warfare program. On NBC, Diff’rent Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Mama’s Family are followed by Mr. Success, the pilot episode for a TV series starring James Coco that was not picked up by the network, and an episode of The Rousters, an adventure series about modern-day bounty hunters descended from Wyatt Earp, which stars Chad Everett, Mimi Rogers, and Jim Varney. Connie Sellecca is on the cover of TV Guide.

Soupy Sales appears at the Bottom Line in New York City in a show that will include “uncensored outtakes” from his TV shows, and Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden. Van Halen plays Omaha, Nebraska, and the Grateful Dead plays Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are preparing for the opening of the Born in the USA tour next week, the Boss asks a lifeguard at the hotel where he and his band are staying if she would show them around town tonight. She takes them to a club called the Village, where they end up playing an impromptu 35-minute set. At B96 in Chicago, Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” holds at #3 on the station’s new survey, behind “The Reflex” by Duran Duran and “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger, which remain at #1 and #2 again this week. “When Doves Cry” by Prince leaps from #11 to #4. Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” is the only other new song in the Top 10, at #9. Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation” makes the biggest move within the station’s top 40, up to #23 from #32 last week. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. is up to #26 from #34. (Ghostbusters has been the top movie at the box office since its release two weekends ago.)

In Macomb, Illinois, a local radio DJ who is also a crazed Cub fan has to shut off the Cubs/Cardinals game after Sandberg’s first home run so he can go to work. When he gets to the station, he starts recording the Cubs radio broadcast so he can listen to the end of the game later in the evening, when he’ll have some downtime. And later that night, he does.

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November 18, 1984: Dark Side

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(Pictured: a scene from the movie Eddie and the Cruisers, 1984.)

November 18, 1984, is a Sunday. By Congressional resolution, it’s the first day of National Family Week. The New York Times publishes several articles about Baby Fae, the anonymous child who died last Thursday after living 20 days with the transplanted heart of a baboon. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub tops the Times bestseller list for fiction; Iacocca: An Autobiography, by former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, leads the nonfiction list. Future Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ is born, although his parents name him Jonathan Lewis Seward. The Chuck Norris film Missing in Action tops the weekend box office. The New York City Opera’s production of Sweeney Todd closes after 13 performances.

In the National Football League, the Miami Dolphins suffer their first loss of the season after 11 straight wins, losing to San Diego, 34-28. The San Francisco 49ers are also 11-and-1 after a 24-17 win over Tampa Bay. Tim Lewis of the Green Bay Packers sets a team record with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 31-6 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Geoff Bodine wins the final NASCAR race of the season, but Terry Labonte wins the Winston Cup championship.

On ABC tonight, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the adventure series Hardcastle and McCormick are followed by the theatrical movie Stripes, starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. CBS primetime starts with 60 Minutes, then Murder She Wrote, The Jeffersons, Alice, and Trapper John, M.D. NBC’s lineup includes Silver Spoons, Knight Rider and the first part of the made-for-TV movie Fatal Vision, dramatizing the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. Metallica plays Paris and Queensryche plays Buffalo. Bruce Springsteen plays Lincoln, Nebraska and rushes the season a little bit by closing with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Jethro Tull plays Seattle, and Stevie Ray Vaughan becomes the first white artist to win the W.C. Handy Blues Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year. On this weekend’s edition of The Dr. Demento Show, “Earache My Eye” by Cheech and Chong tops the Funny Five countdown.

At WLOL in Minneapolis/St. Paul, “Out of Touch” by Hall and Oates is #1 for a second week. “I Can’t Hold Back” by Survivor is up to #2, and “Better Be Good to Me” by Tina Turner holds at #3. Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” is the lone new entry in the Top 10 at #8, replacing “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean, last week’s #10 down to #18 this week. The biggest mover on the WLOL chart is “Understanding” by Bob Seger, up seven spots to #20. The highest debuting song on the chart is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” at #32. At WLOL’s crosstown rival, KDWB, “Out of Touch” has fallen completely off the station’s survey from #4 the previous week. “I Can’t Hold Back” and “Better Be Good to Me” show up at #2 and #4 respectively. (Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is at #3). KDWB’s #1 single for a second week is “On the Dark Side” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band from the movie Eddie and the Cruisers. (It’s #10 at WLOL.) Paul McCartney’s “No More Lonely Nights” is the lone new entry in the KDWB Top 10. “Hello Again” by the Cars is KDWB’s hottest song, up nine to #20. The highest debut belongs to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” at #22. “Born in the USA” debuts on the KDWB chart at the bottom, #30.

June 8, 1984: Press Your Luck

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(Pictured: Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia, on stage in the summer of 1984.)

June 8, 1984, was a Friday. Eight Midwestern states are hit by severe weather. Shortly before 1AM, an F5 tornado strikes Barneveld, Wisconsin, about 30 miles west of Madison. Ninety percent of the village is damaged or destroyed and nine people are killed. Other less-intense tornadoes strike five other locations in south central Wisconsin. President Reagan is in London for an economic summit. Today, CBS Sports executive Neal Pilson tells journalists that of all the pro sports, the NBA is the only one whose ratings haven’t eroded in recent years. Tonight, the Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-103 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals. The game on CBS is beaten in the TV ratings by a rerun of the ABC detective series Matt Houston. With Boston suffering through a heat wave and no air-conditioning in Boston Garden, the courtside temperature at gametime is 98 degrees.

On the game show Press Your Luck, an episode is broadcast in which contestant Michael Larson figures out a pattern that helps him beat the game; he wins over $110,000 before voluntarily stopping play. The show had been taped in May; producers could find nothing in the rules that let them out of paying him what was then the biggest prize ever won on a TV game show. Jamie Farr and Vicki Lawrence wrap up the week as celebrity guests on the game show Body Language. Other game shows on the air today include Family Feud, The New $25,000 Pyramid (with guest stars Linda Kelsey and Harry Anderson), and The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour.

New in theaters this weekend are Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver, and Gremlins. They will compete with the previous weekend’s top attractions, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In Houston, a concert at the Astrodome billed as the Texxas Jam stars Rush, .38 Special, Ozzy Osbourne, Bryan Adams, and Gary Moore. Billy Joel plays Wembley Arena in London, Joe Jackson plays Kansas City, the Grateful Dead plays Sacramento, and David Gilmour plays Chicago. San Francisco morning DJ Dr. Don Rose celebrates his 2,500th show at KFRC.

On the new Billboard Hot 100 due out tomorrow, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper knocks “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” by Deniece Williams from the #1 spot. All but two of the top 10 singles were there last week; Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” and “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters are new at #9 and #10. Those two songs replace “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, which drops to #12, and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, which is down to #16. The hottest record within the Top 40 is “Legs” by ZZ Top at #25, up 11 spots from the previous week. Four songs are new in the Top 40: “Doctor Doctor” by the Thompson Twins at #32, “No Way Out” by Jefferson Starship at #35, “When Doves Cry” by Prince at #36 (in only its second week on the Hot 100), and “Don’t Walk Away” by Rick Springfield at #39. The highest debut on the Hot 100 is Elton John’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” at #49.

At WKAI in Macomb, Illinois, two months after getting hired, the new guy is working a split shift. He’s on the AM side from 11AM to 1PM  and he comes back to tend the automated soft-rock FM from 7 to midnight. He suspects this isn’t going to be the case for long—once the station’s new owner takes over, he expects a better shift and plenty of responsibility to go with it, but the sale isn’t final yet. In years to come, several songs popular in June 1984 will take him back to those night shifts, putting in his time alone in the building, at a station in the middle of nowhere, because that’s what young radio guys do.

May 8, 1984: Grace Under Pressure

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(Pictured: Joanie loves Chachi, presumably.)

May 8, 1984, is a Tuesday. The Soviet Union announces that it will boycott the upcoming Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Gary Hart wins Democratic presidential primaries in Ohio and Indiana; Walter Mondale wins Maryland and North Carolina. An American clergyman, Benjamin Weir, is kidnapped in Beirut; he will be freed in 16 months as part of the Reagan Administration’s covert arms-for-hostages swap with Islamic militants. The going rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rises to 15.5 percent; the prime interest rate is now 12.5 percent. Congressional Gold Medals are awarded to Harry Truman (in honor of his 100th birthday today), Lady Bird Johnson, and author Elie Wiesel. Tonight, the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers start their game at 7:00. They’ll still be playing at 1AM when the game is suspended after 17 innings; it will be finished on the night of the 9th with the Sox finally winning 7-6 in 25 innings, the longest game in American League history. Kirby Puckett gets four hits in his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins. He will be named the American League Rookie of the Year at season’s end, and will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. Top movies at the box office: Breakin’, Sixteen Candles, Romancing the Stone, and Police Academy. Set to open this coming weekend: The Natural and Firestarter. On TV tonight, Joanie and Chachi get married on a special hour-long episode of Happy Days. Also on TV tonight: The A-Team.

The New York Times reports that Larry Stock, who wrote “Blueberry Hill,” has died at age 87. The Grateful Dead plays Eugene, Oregon and INXS plays Hamburg, Germany. Rush opens the Grace Under Pressure tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Cure plays London. Album releases today include the compilation Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers and Roger Waters’ The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins tops the Cash Box singles chart for a third week; Lionel Richie’s “Hello” holds at #2. Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie” leaps from #20 to #11. Other strong upward movers from the chart: “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (#33 to #20) and “The Reflex” by Duran Duran (#42 to #30). “Stay the Night” by Chicago is the highest-debuting new song in the Top 100 at #57.  Also new: Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” (at #73), “King of Suede” by Weird Al Yankovic (at #87), and “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman (at #89). At a small radio station in Illinois, the new guy is working part-time nights; he will eventually graduate to a full-time gig, a split shift that has him working the noon hour and nights. It’s the sort of thing you can do when you’re 24 years old, you really need the job—and you really love radio.

Perspective From the Present: Less than three years into the video age, the form had already developed its own clichés. Several videos for this week’s top hits require a viewer to wait through a scene-setting prelude before getting to the music. This particular cliché often revealed that being able to sing is not the same as being able to act (Steve Perry, I’m talkin’ to you), although the material they’re given (whoever scripted the “Oh Sherrie” video, I’m talkin’ to you) doesn’t always help.