May 21, 1985: A Recall

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(Pictured: adoring fans reach out and touch Billy Ocean, 1985)

May 21, 1985, was a Tuesday. By presidential proclamation, it is National Maritime Day, honoring the American merchant marine. It is also National Medical Transcriptionist Week. At the White House, Ronald Reagan meets with the president of Honduras. The Associated Press reports that the gross national product is expanding at the slowest rate since the 1981-82 recession. Hundreds of members of the Church of Scientology, including John Travolta, picket the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, to protest a $39 million fraud judgment against the church. In Orange, California, Patti Frustaci gives birth to the first set of septuplets ever born in the United States. (One is stillborn; three more will die.) Also born: future big-league pitcher Andrew Miller and Mutya Buena, future member of the Sugababes and collaborator with Amy Winehouse. Also dying: 10 people in Newton Falls, Ohio, killed by a tornado.

Ford Motor Company issues a recall on the 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis, the 1985 Mercury Capri, and the 1982 Ford Escort. The World Series of Poker wraps up in Las Vegas; Bill Smith wins $700,000 at the final table. A European patent is granted for an annular clamping member, which is used to attach a gear or pulley to a shaft, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throws out a Georgia law making sodomy a crime. On TV tonight, there’s the sitcom Hail to the Chief, about the first female president, played by Patty Duke. The made-for-TV movie Do You Remember Love? stars Joanne Woodward as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, and an episode of the PBS documentary series Frontline looks at the challenges facing America’s growing senior-citizen population. The top-grossing theatrical movie of the week is Code of Silence starring Chuck Norris. Also in theaters: Beverly Hills Cop, Mask, Desperately Seeking Susan, Witness, Amadeus, The Care Bears Movie, and The Killing Fields.

The Eagles’ 1974 album On the Border is released on CD for the first time. Madonna plays St. Paul with the Beastie Boys opening. Three Dog Night plays Kansas City. Eric Clapton plays Toronto. Stephen Stills plays Davis, California. Phil Collins plays Hampton, Virginia. “Everything She Wants” by Wham is the new #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, bumping “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds to #2. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears and “Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer are at #3 and #4, up six spots each from last week. Two new songs move into the Top 10: “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean at #8 and “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones at #10. They replace “We Are the World” by USA for Africa (now at #14) and “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge (now at #17). New in the Top 40: “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran (#36), “Oh Girl” by Boy Meets Girl (#39), and “Lucky in Love” by Mick Jagger (#40).

In a small college town in Illinois, which is emptying out as the students leave for the summer, the young program director of the local Top 40 station is hearing almost all of these records several times a day, but he doesn’t mind. For the first time since graduating from college, he’s got the kind of job he really wants, and it feels like the sky’s the limit.


November 19, 1985: Star Stealer

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(Pictured: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev relax by the fire in Geneva on November 19, 1985.)

November 19, 1985, is a Tuesday. Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev are in Geneva, where they will hold their first summit meeting starting today. Other headlines in the morning papers: U.S. Navy intelligence agent Jonathan Pollard was arrested yesterday for passing classified material to Israel, and in the Monday night football game, the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 23-21, but lost their quarterback, Joe Theismann, to a gruesomely broken leg suffered when he was tackled by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants. The injury will end the quarterback’s career. Also announced yesterday, winners of the Cy Young Award for best major league pitchers: Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets and Brett Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals. On the comics page in 35 newspapers across the country today, readers return to a new strip that debuted yesterday: Calvin and Hobbes. Lincoln Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, dies at age 83, and future Pittsburgh Steeler Patrick Bailey is born.

Top movie at the box office last weekend: the vampire comedy Once Bitten, starring Lauren Hutton and an unknown named Jim Carrey in his first starring role. The weekend’s other major new release, the animated Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, came in at #10 for the weekend. Other top movies include the thrillers Jagged Edge and Target, Death Wish 3, and Back to the Future, still among the nation’s box-office Top 10 after being in theaters since the Fourth of July. TV shows on the air tonight include the detective series Riptide starring Joe Penny and Perry King, The A-Team, Growing Pains, and Moonlighting. The play I’m Not Rappaport opens on Broadway. AC/DC plays Washington, DC, and Dire Straits plays Stuttgart, West Germany. The Charlie Watts band continues a six-night stand at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. At the China Club in New York City, a birthday party for rock drummer Steve Ferrone turns into a superstar jam when David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Steve Winwood join Ferrone on stage. Seeing that the band needs a guitarist, Bowie makes a phone call, and 20 minutes later, Rolling Stone Ron Wood shows up to play. In Macomb, Illinois, a local radio announcer and his wife are packing to move from a one-bedroom basement apartment to a big house they’re renting.

Albums released this week include Radio by LL Cool J and Rock a Little by Stevie Nicks. The lead single from Rock a Little, “Talk to Me,” is the highest-debuting single on the latest Cash Box chart, at #48. The hottest record on the chart is “Say You Say Me” by Lionel Richie, moving from #39 to #32 in its second week on; nearly as hot is #60, “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends (Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, who sounds in bad need of throat surgery). At the top of the chart, “We Built This City” by Starship jumps from #5 to #1, knocking “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer to #2. The video for “We Built This City” is a strange one, failing to use the images the song provides (most notably the radio reference in the middle), opting instead for shots of people staring. In years to come, the song will top a couple of lists of the worst records ever made.

August 16, 1985: Live Every Moment

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(Pictured: REO Speedwagon in the summer of 1985.)

August 16, 1985, was a Friday. The lead story on all three network newscasts tonight is reaction to a major speech by South African President P. W. Botha, who made no promises of any policy changes by the country’s apartheid government. Nevertheless, Reagan administration officials say the speech contained principles that could help bring an end to apartheid; Democrats in Congress suggest that a South Africa sanctions bill likely would pass, and probably with enough support to override a presidential veto. Another of the stories covered by all three networks is the aftermath of Monday’s toxic chemical leak at a Union Carbide plant in West Virginia. NBC Nightly News closes its broadcast with a profile of New York real estate developer Donald Trump. New York City’s utility companies are struggling to keep up with the demand for electricity during a ferocious heat wave. Several downtown buildings suffered power failures yesterday, and Mayor Ed Koch urged businesses to close and send their employees home. Authorities actually tried to keep people from entering Lower Manhattan by closing streets and reversing incoming traffic lanes on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, causing massive traffic jams. Today, the remnants of Hurricane Danny, which made landfall in Louisiana yesterday, cause a tornado outbreak in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

A full schedule of games is played in the majors. In Chicago this afternoon, the Cubs blow a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth only to push across a run in the bottom of the inning on a bunt single by Chris Speier to win 6-5. The St. Louis Cardinals take a one-game lead in the National League East when they beat Montreal 6-1 and the New York Mets lose to Pittsburgh 7-1. NFL training camps are open; a full schedule of preseason games will be played on Sunday. New movies opening this weekend include Volunteers, starring Tom Hanks and John Candy, the zombie comedy Return of the Living Dead, and Year of the Dragon. Older releases still packing theaters include Back to the Future, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

In Malibu, California, Madonna and Sean Penn get married, on Madonna’s 27th birthday. Celebrities attending include Tom Cruise, Cher, Carrie Fisher, David Letterman, and Christopher Walken. The Replacements play New York City and R.E.M. plays Toronto. Whitney Houston plays Houston, Texas, and Diana Ross plays Denver. Joan Armatrading plays Salt Lake City and Jane’s Addiction plays Hollywood. Donny and Marie Osmond play Salinas, California. Marie is a guest on this weekend’s edition of the syndicated TV show Solid Gold. Tonight’s network TV lineup is mostly reruns. On ABC, it’s Webster, Mr. Belvidere, Benson, an episode of Off the Rack, a sitcom set in in a Los Angeles garment manufacturing company starring Ed Asner and Eileen Brennan, and a special called World’s Funniest Commercial Goofs. CBS starts its night with The Dukes of Hazzard, then repeats the 1982 TV movie Not Just Another Affair, which stars Victoria Principal as a marine biologist trying to maintain her virginity until her wedding night despite being engaged to a randy lawyer played by Gil Gerard. NBC airs Knight Rider, an episode of a short-lived variety series The Motown Revue Starring Smokey Robinson, and Miami Vice, the highest-rated show of the night.

On the American Top 40 show that will be heard around the country this weekend, “Shout” by Tears for Fears spends another week at #1. “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News moves from #5 to #2, leapfrogging “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart and “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” by Sting. Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” makes the week’s biggest move, up eight from #25 to #17. “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang is up seven spots, from #22 to #15. Six songs are new in the Top 40. The highest debut belongs to “Live Every Moment” by REO Speedwagon at #35. “Dress You Up” by Madonna makes its Hot 100 debut at #36.

In Macomb, Illinois, a young radio guy prepares for another weekend. Earlier this month, he and his Mrs. drove an hour-and-a-half to Peoria on a Tuesday night to see Huey Lewis and the News with the Neville Brothers. Today, his ticket stub is tacked to the bulletin board in the kitchen of the couple’s one-bedroom basement apartment. Thirty-three years later, he suspects he might still have it somewhere, because a memento from such a fine night doesn’t get thrown away.

October 28, 1985: Blown Call

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(Pictured: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar, ejected from Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, gives umpire Don Denkinger a piece of his mind about Game 6.)

October 28, 1985, was a Monday. The headline on the nation’s sports pages today is the meltdown of the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost Game 7 and the World Series to Kansas City last night 11-0. On Saturday night, the Cardinals had lost Game 6 on a call by umpire Don Denkinger that TV replays clearly showed to be wrong. In tonight’s NFL game, the Los Angeles Raiders run their record to 6-and-2 with a 34-21 win over San Diego. Future NFL player Early Doucet is born, and former player Tommy Thompson dies. Chris Evert takes over the #1 ranking among female tennis players from Martina Navratilova, who had taken it from Evert two weeks only, and who will get it back a month from now.

A series of stories in the current Time magazine dissects the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro earlier this month, and the joint American-Italian operation that intercepted a plane carrying the Palestinian hijackers. People‘s cover story is on the best and worst-dressed people of the year. Portions of Massachusetts are declared a federal disaster area after Hurricane Gloria struck the East Coast in late September. TV preacher Pat Robertson will claim the hurricane missed his headquarters in Virginia because of his prayers. A total eclipse of the moon is visible throughout all of Asia, but cannot be seen in North and South America.

Top movies at the box office this past weekend included Jagged Edge, Krush Groove, Commando, and Back to the Future. Among the soaps on daytime TV today: Ryan’s Hope. Tonight, PBS airs a documentary about the Statue of Liberty, directed by Ken Burns. On network TV, it’s the made-for-TV movie A Time to Live, starring Liza Minnelli in a role that will win her a Golden Globe award for Best Actress, and the retooled sitcom What’s Happening Now. Joan Rivers is guest host on The Tonight Show with John Larroquette and Howie Mandel. The Grateful Dead opens a two-night stand in Atlanta, Eric Clapton plays Milan, Italy, R.E.M. plays London, and Miles Davis plays Copenhagen, Denmark. Barbra Streisand shoots a video for “Somewhere” at the Apollo Theater in New York.

On the American Top 40 show broadcast over the preceding weekend, Charlie Van Dyke filled in for Casey Kasem. Seven songs entered the Top 40 for the first time. The highest debut was “Soul Kiss” by Olivia Newton-John at #34, followed by Scritti Politti’s “Perfect Way” at #35, plus new hits by ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Alive and Kicking, Ray Parker Jr., and Klymaxx. The biggest upward move within the 40 was made by Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings,” up eight spots to #27.  The biggest drop belonged to “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang, down 13 spots to #26 in its 17th week on the Hot 100. Whitney Houston took the #1 spot with “Saving All My Love for You,” knocking last week’s #1, “Take on Me” by a-ha, to #3. “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder was at #2. The show included two Long Distance Dedications: “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto and “You’re Only Human” by Billy Joel.

Perspective From the Present: We lived in a one-bedroom basement apartment in the fall of 1985. It was in what was otherwise a commercial building, owned by the insurance agent whose office was across the hall, with an optometrist and some other office upstairs. We’d been there exactly two years at that point, but would soon move to a rented house. I can still see myself in that little apartment, sitting in the big easy chair I scrounged from my parents’ basement, watching the sixth and seventh games of the World Series. But when I went to look at the Google Street View of the address not long ago, I didn’t recognize it at all.

September 11, 1985: Twice a Day

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(Pictured: Pete Rose follows through on his 4,192nd hit. The catcher is Bruce Bochy, who would go on to manage in the majors, winning three World Series in five years with the San Francisco Giants.)

September 11, 1985, was a Wednesday. Headlines in the morning papers include a request by the Reagan Administration to raise the federal debt ceiling to an unprecedented $2.078 trillion in October. Also yesterday, incumbent mayors Ed Koch in New York and Coleman Young in Detroit won primary elections. In such heavily Democratic cities, winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election. A Colorado resident named Dennis Whiles turns himself into immigration authorities in San Pedro, California. His real name is Georg Gaertner, and during World War II, he escaped from a camp for German prisoners of war in New Mexico, a secret he kept from his wife of 21 years until recently. His surrender is timed to coincide with the release of a book he co-wrote about his experience; authorities say that his lengthy marriage means he probably won’t be deported. A wire-service story reports on a survey that says 50 percent of career women are dissatisfied with the frequency of their sex lives. The psychologist conducting the survey also says that women “like the idea of starting and finishing the day in a warm, emotional way.” This prompts the Los Angeles Times to headline the story, “Career Women Tell Survey They’d Like Sex Twice a Day.”

Tonight, in the bottom of the first inning at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Pete Rose of the Reds singles off Eric Show of the San Diego Padres. It’s Rose’s 4,192nd hit, breaking the all-time record held by Ty Cobb. The Reds go on to win 2-0. On TV tonight, CBS airs an episode of I Had Three Wives, a short-run series starring Victor Garber as a private eye whose ex-wives—a lawyer, an actress with martial arts skills, and a reporter—help him solve cases. It’s followed by the TV movie Brass, an unsold pilot, starring Carroll O’Connor as the NYPD’s chief of detectives. ABC carries the sci-fi movie J. O. E. and the Colonel followed by a rerun of Hotel with guest star Elizabeth Taylor. NBC airs Highway to Heaven followed by the premiere of the new series Hell Town, starring Robert Blake, and the news program American Almanac, hosted by Roger Mudd. The Fall Preview edition of TV Guide is on sale in stores with listings for the week of September 14.

On the current Billboard Hot 100, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr is #1, taking over the top spot from “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, which falls to #2. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner and “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin have pulled a similar trade of positions at #3 and #4. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams holds at #5. The biggest mover within the Top 10 is “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits, moving to #6 from #10. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Don’t Lose My Number” by Phil Collins and “Pop Life” by Prince. Ready for the World’s song “Oh Sheila” moves from #26 to #18, the biggest move within the Top 40. The only other song new to the Top 20 is “Dress You Up” by Madonna at #17. Five songs are new in the Top 40; the highest debut is Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart” at #32. New at #33 is “Dancing in the Street,” a record Mick Jagger and David Bowie made for Live Aid in July. Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” is new on the Hot 100 all the way up at #43.

Perspective From the Present: I saw Rose tie Cobb’s record against the Cubs the preceding Sunday. I was at the height of my obsessive baseball fandom in 1985, although it would have been tempered by September. The Cubs had crashed at mid-season, losing the whole starting rotation to injuries and dropping 12 games in a row at one point, and were now firmly mired in fifth place. On this particular night, they beat the last-place Pirates 3-1. I don’t know if I watched, but if I had, I would likely have seen Rose’s record-setting hit. Nationally televised regular-season games were still relatively rare, but local broadcasters could pick up the Cincinnati TV feed whenever Rose came to bat.

July 13, 1985: Good Enough

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(Pictured: the Wembley Stadium throng at Live Aid.)

July 13, 1985, is a Saturday. President Reagan undergoes colon surgery, so for the first time in American history, a president hands over power to his vice president temporarily. George H.W. Bush is acting president for approximately eight hours while Reagan is under general anesthesia and in recovery. Public health officials in New Mexico are concerned about an outbreak of plague among cats, while celebrity watchers are abuzz over speculation that Britain’s Princess Diana might be pregnant. (She isn’t.) Two planes collide at an air show in Niagara Falls, New York, killing one pilot. Boy Scout Troop 180 of Yankton, South Dakota, is on a canoeing trip to the Boundary Waters, which will last until July 21. In a pregame ceremony, the New York Yankees retire the numbers of Roger Maris (9) and Elston Howard (32). Future major-leaguer and ESPN commentator John Kruk hits an inside-the-park home run while playing in the minor leagues for Las Vegas. Joe Aguirre, who played football for the Washington Redskins in the 1940s, dies at age 67. Future Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, who will play for his country in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, is born.

The animated Disney film Pinocchio is released on home video for the first time. Shows on TV tonight include The Paper Chase, which is airing on Showtime after being canceled by CBS four years previously. ABC airs edited highlights from Live Aid, two giant benefit concerts held today in London and Philadelphia. NBC counters with Diff’rent Strokes, Gimme a Break, Mama’s Family, and Hunter on NBC. CBS airs an episode of Airwolf. A Los Angeles TV station broadcasts the final episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, which has run on local TV there since 1981, and in national syndication from 1982 to 1984.

The Grateful Dead opens a two-night stand at the county fairgrounds in Ventura, California, and Queensryche plays Irvine, California. Depeche Mode plays Brest, France, and Stevie Ray Vaughan plays the Hague in the Netherlands. Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, knocking “Sussudio” by Phil Collins from the top. There’s little movement within the Top 10, although Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” (#9) and “The Goonies ‘R Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper (#10) replace Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Madonna’s “Angel.” Biggest movers include “Shout” by Tears for Fears (#23 to #14) and “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart (#29 to #20). Three songs are new within the Top 40: “Rock Me Tonight” by Freddie Jackson (#35), “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (#38), and “State of the Heart” by Rick Springfield (#40). “You’re Only Human” by Billy Joel is the highest debut of the week on the Hot 100, coming in at #50.

Perspective From the Present: I didn’t realize what a big deal Live Aid was going to be until that day, and I spent much of that afternoon at my radio station airing reports from the venues. That night, The Mrs. and I set up a second TV set in our crummy little one-bedroom apartment so we could watch the live MTV broadcast on cable and the rebroadcast highlights of the day on ABC.

You should read this 30th anniversary Live Aid retrospective by the Dude from Any Major Dude With Half a Heart, who attended the London show.