August 30, 1968: Can’t Win a War

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(Pictured: Senator Eugene McCarthy speaks to protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on August 29, 1968. Comedian/activist Dick Gregory is to his right.)

August 30, 1968, was a Friday. Newspapers this morning headline the Democratic National Convention, which adjourned last night. Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine was chosen as Hubert Humphrey’s running mate; an effort to nominate Georgia state senator Julian Bond failed, as Bond is only 28 years old and therefore ineligible to serve as president. In his acceptance speech last night, Humphrey vowed to end the war in Vietnam, saying “The policies of tomorrow need not be limited by the policies of yesterday.” Speaking of the violence in the streets of Chicago he said, “Neither mob violence nor police brutality has any place in America.” Senator Eugene McCarthy told protesters in Chicago yesterday that he can support neither Humphrey nor Republican nominee Richard Nixon. Instead, he will work on behalf of Senate candidates opposed to America’s war policy. Today, the University of Michigan’s Michigan Daily reports student disgust at the outcome of the convention. One says it may represent a turning point in student activism: “They can’t win a war with the cops at this point.”

NBC and CBS lead their evening newscasts with convention and campaign coverage; ABC leads with the kidnapping of Stanley Stalford, Jr., the four-year-old son of Beverly Hills banker Stanley Stalford, snatched by a home invader yesterday. The Stalford family has agreed to pay the $250,000 ransom demanded by the kidnapper. The boy will eventually be rescued. In Vietnam, African American soldiers being held in a stockade at Long Binh riot. About 200 of them burn buildings and beat white inmates and guards. It will take a week to restore order. Actor William Talman, who played the part of D.A. Hamilton Burger on Perry Mason from 1957 to 1966, dies of lung cancer at age 53. Six weeks ago, he filmed an anti-smoking public service announcement for the American Cancer Society. Yesterday, Major General Ulysses S. Grant III, grandson of the Civil War general and president, died at age 87. In the majors, pitchers Catfish Hunter, Ferguson Jenkins, and Tom Seaver get wins in games today; Gaylord Perry takes a loss. All four will eventually be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Grateful Dead open a two-night stand at the Fillmore in San Francisco with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Sons of Champlin. The Doors play Merriwether Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, and Ten Years After plays the Marquee Club in London. Johnny Cash performs at the Grand Ole Opry. In a hotel room in Salt Lake City, Jimi Hendrix writes the liner notes for his forthcoming album Electric Ladyland. At WGEM in Quincy, Illinois, Jack Henry plays the hits on the Teentime show tonight from 7:30 til 10:30. Listeners who call in requests and dedications will speak to Teentime secretaries Kathy and Debbie, whose pictures are on the station’s Popometer Review this week. “1-2-3 Red Light” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company is the new #1 song in Quincy, taking out “Born to Be Wild.” The Moody Blues’ “Tuesday Afternoon” is up from #10 to #4. One of the songs new in the Top 10 is “You Got the Love” by Professor Morrison’s Lollipop, up to #9 from #27 last week. The highest debuting record on the survey is the Beatles’ brand-new “Hey Jude” backed with “Revolution” at #16.

Perspective From the Present: The official release date of “Hey Jude” was August 26, but WNAP in Indianapolis, KMEN in San Bernardino, and KPOI in Honolulu charted it before then. WGEM was among dozens of stations charting it in the days shortly following. Professor Morrison’s Lollipop was a group from New Jersey that made #88 on the Hot 100 with “You Got the Love,” a Kasenetz-Katz production on the White Whale label. It made the Top 10 in Indianapolis, Louisville, and Omaha, along with Billings, Montana; Jackson, Tennessee; and Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The WGEM survey in this week contained one fabulously obscure record, “People It’s Raining” by Melon Fields. The Internet knows practically nothing about it. Its only listings at ARSA are on surveys from WGEM, so I’m pretty sure Melon Fields was a local Illinois/Missouri act.

Visit The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ this week for more about the music, and other stuff, from this week in 1968.


August 28, 1968: People Got to Be Free

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(Pictured: police drag away a protester at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.)

August 28, 1968, was a Wednesday. After delegates to the Democratic National Convention vote down a proposed peace plank in the party platform, protests continue in downtown Chicago. Tonight, the city’s police superintendent orders streets cleared, and police attack protesters with clubs and tear gas. TV cameras film about 17 minutes of the melee, which takes place while candidates’ names are being placed in nomination; protesters chant “the whole world is watching.” During his speech nominating Senator George McGovern, Senator Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut denounces “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago,” which prompts Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to shout an obscenity-laden response from the Illinois delegation. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey wins the nomination on the first ballot. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern also receive votes, as do New York favorite-son candidate Channing Phillips, North Carolina governor Dan Moore, and Senator Ted Kennedy. University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant gets 1.5 delegate votes; Alabama governor George Wallace gets one-half vote, as does Georgia Democratic Party chairman James H. Gray.

Before convention coverage begins on the networks tonight, their evening newscasts devote a great deal of time to events in Chicago. The second-biggest story on this day is from Czechoslovakia, which was invaded by the Soviet Union one week ago to crush the so-called “Prague Spring” liberalization movement. After being arrested and sent to Moscow last week, Czech leader Alexander Dubcek returned to Prague yesterday, promising to curtail his reforms. In a few months, he will be removed as First Secretary and replaced by a Communist hardliner. The networks also report on the assassination in Guatemala City of John Gordon Mein, U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, shot fleeing from rebels who had kidnapped him, and on the health of former president Dwight Eisenhower, who suffered his sixth heart attack earlier this month.

Thirteen games are played in the majors today, including three doubleheaders. The Cubs split with the Dodgers, the Reds take two from the Mets, and the Braves sweep the Phillies. In Detroit, the American League-leading Tigers beat the Angels 6-1; Denny McLain pitches a complete game to run his season record to 26-and-5. The Cardinals continue to lead the National League after an 8-1 win over the Pirates. Bob Gibson also pitches a complete game and gets his 19th win.

The New York Times publishes a death notice for Lamont Washington, who played the role of Hud in the New York production of Hair. He died yesterday of burns and internal injuries sustained trying to escape an apartment fire on August 10. The Grateful Dead plays San Francisco, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience plays Providence, Rhode Island. The Jefferson Airplane plays Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Who plays Santa Monica, California. In Hollywood, Elvis Presley finishes work on the movie Charro, which will be released next spring. In Nashville, singer Tammy Wynette is working at the Quonset Hut Studio with producer Billy Sherrill and a group of top session players. They record a song she and Sherrill finished writing earlier tonight, but Wynette dislikes her performance and will later ask Sherrill not to release it. He will do so anyway. “Stand by Your Man” will become one of country music’s most iconic hits.

At KOIL in Omaha, “People Got to be Free” by the Rascals takes over the #1 spot from Jose Feliciano’s “Light My Fire,” which slips to #2. “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream is #3. KOIL’s most-requested song of the week, “1-2-3 Red Light” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company, moves to #7 from #16. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By” is also new in the Top 10. The station charts 50 records; the biggest mover on the chart is “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley, up 13 spots to #32. New songs on the list include the Beatles’ “Revolution,” “I Met Her in Church” by the Box Tops, and a cover of “Like a Rolling Stone” by bluegrass pickers Flatt and Scruggs.

Perspective From the Present: This day could very well have been my first day of third grade, but there’s no way to know for sure. I do remember that we watched convention coverage from Chicago at our house that night, and we saw the rioting in the streets. I wish I could remember what I thought about it, or what my parents said about it, but after a half-century, there’s no way to know for sure about that, either.

Read more about events of 1968 this week at The Hits Just Keep on Comin’. Watch for another 1968 post here on Thursday.

August 20, 1969: Beginning and Ending

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(Pictured: heads at Woodstock, peaceful and loving and beautiful and otherwise, August 1969.)

August 20, 1969, was a Wednesday. Hurricane Camille continues to drop rain on the Eastern Seaboard; Nelson County, Virginia, records between 27 and 30 inches, causing the worst flash flooding in the state’s history. Los Angeles newspapers contain several stories on the recent murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people by persons unknown 11 days earlier. Food scientists from the University of Wisconsin perform tests on a 105-year-old crock of cheese recently salvaged from a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. Photographer Richard Avedon takes a portrait of Andy Warhol fingering a scar left after he was shot a year earlier; in 2006, the photo will be valued at approximately $100,000. WKPT, channel 19, signs on in Kingsport, Tennessee, giving the Tri-Cities area of Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City its first full-time ABC affiliate. In sports, the Buffalo Bills acquire quarterback Marlin Briscoe from Denver; the Bills will convert him to a wide receiver. The Chicago Cubs lose 6-2 to the Atlanta Braves, but continue to cruise along in first place, seven games ahead of the New York Mets, who beat San Francisco 6-0.

The East Village Other, an underground newspaper in New York, publishes an eyewitness report from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which concluded early Monday morning: “a few thousand of the absolutely most together and peaceful and loving and beautiful heads in the world are gathered in a grand tribal new beginning.” The Beatles work together in the studio for the last time, editing and remixing “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” at Abbey Road. Miles Davis continues work on the album Bitches Brew. Led Zeppelin plays the Aerodrome in Schenectady, New York, doing two shows, one at 8PM and another at 11. Yes plays the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Blind Faith plays San Antonio. At KHJ in Los Angeles, “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies dethrones the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” from the top spot; “When I Die” by Motherlode blasts from #12 to #4. Songs falling out of the Top Ten include “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” Records moving up include “Get Together” by the Youngbloods (to #8 from #18) and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” by Dionne Warwick (#10 from #22).

In Wisconsin, summer is slipping away; a nine-year-old about to begin the fourth grade knows nothing about Motherlode or Blind Faith, but years later, he will dig them both.

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.

August 12, 1977: Who Loved Me

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(Pictured: space shuttle Enterprise in flight on August 12, 1977.)

August 12, 1977, is a Friday. The first space shuttle orbiter, Enterprise, makes its first free flight (unbolted from a 747) over Edwards Air Force Base in California. NASA also launches the first High Energy Astronomy Observatory satellite to study cosmic rays. Following the victory of a secessionist party in national elections, riots break out in Sri Lanka. President Carter writes Congress a letter spelling out his position on the Panama Canal Treaty, which will give the canal to Panama if ratified. Future football star Plaxico Burress is born. Gene Littler leads after the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California. He will lose to Lanny Wadkins in a sudden-death playoff on Sunday.

On TV, The Merv Griffin Show features a tribute to Jack Benny, with five of Benny’s radio and TV cast members. Celebrity guests on The $10,000 Pyramid are Lucie Arnaz and Bill Cullen. On CBS tonight, it’s the second episode of A Year at the Top, a sitcom starring Paul Shaffer and Greg Evigan as musicians who make a pact with the devil in exchange for one year of success. It will be canceled after three more episodes. Elvis Presley tries to get a print of Star Wars to watch with his daughter Lisa Marie, but he cannot, so he settles for The Spy Who Loved Me instead. In four days, Presley will die. Johnny Winter plays St. Petersburg, Florida. KISS plays Seattle with Cheap Trick opening, and Peter Frampton plays Minneapolis. In Santa Cruz, California, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Neil Young play a benefit for the United Farm Workers. Tonight’s edition of The Midnight Special is hosted by the Bay City Rollers, and it features ELO, KC and the Sunshine Band, England Dan and John Ford Coley, and Roger Daltrey.

Legendary DJ Cousin Brucie Morrow does his final show on WNBC in New York; he’s leaving the air to become co-owner of a station group. At WISM in Madison, Wisconsin, “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb holds at #1. “Higher and Higher” by Rita Coolidge is right behind, and “Best of My Love” by the Emotions makes a strong move from #7 to #3. New songs in the Top Ten include “Just a Song Before I Go” by Crosby Stills and Nash and “Easy” by the Commodores. The fastest mover on the survey is “Swayin’ to the Music” by Johnny Rivers, up to #18 from #25. The highest-debuting new song on the chart is the London Symphony Orchestra’s version of the Star Wars theme, at #26. Also debuting are songs by Carly Simon (“Nobody Does it Better”), the Bee Gees (the live version of “Edge of the Universe”), and a Canadian band called Driver (“New Way to Say I Love You”).

In a small town south of Madison, a young radio geek awaits the return of his girlfriend from a month in Europe. He is supposed to go to the airport in Chicago with her parents to pick her up today, but when her return is delayed until tomorrow, he goes out with friends tonight. When he gets home around midnight, there’s a phone message saying that the plane is coming in very early on Saturday morning, and if he wants to ride along to Chicago, he needs to be ready to leave town by 2AM. And he will be.

August 5, 1976: What’s Happening

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(Pictured: a cast shot from What’s Happening!!, 1976.)

August 5, 1976, is a Thursday. In Wisconsin, it’s a pleasant summer day with cooler weather on the way tonight. Governor Patrick Lucey announces that he will appoint University of Wisconsin law professor Shirley Abrahamson to the state Supreme Court as the first female justice. She will serve as Chief Justice from 1996 until 2015, and will retire after the 2019 elections at age 84. A lube, oil, and filter for most American cars at Firestone stores in Madison costs $5.88; Goodyear shops will do it for $4.88. In Washington, President Ford welcomes Olympic hero Jesse Owens and his wife to the White House and presents Owens with the Medal of Freedom. Ford also meets with members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the upcoming Republican National Convention, hoping to keep the support of the state’s delegates despite rival Ronald Reagan’s selection of Pennsylvania Republican senator Richard Schweiker as his potential running mate. Officials are still trying to figure out what mysterious disease has sickened and killed attendees at the American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Today, they’ve ruled out swine flu.

Ohio State’s athletic director decries recent reports of recruiting violations in its football program as “the worst kind of character assassination.” The merger between the National Basketball Association and the rival American Basketball Association, announced in June, becomes official today. Four ABA franchises, the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets, and San Antonio Spurs, join the NBA; players from the Kentucky Colonels and St. Louis Spirits are dispersed among the existing NBA clubs. Future major-league outfielder Bobby Kielty is born. On TV tonight, What’s Happening!! premieres on ABC, right after a Welcome Back Kotter rerun. NBC counterprograms with It’s OK, a special starring the Beach Boys with special guests Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Elvis Presley wraps up a three-night stand in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before taking a three-week break on his current tour. Jean-Luc Ponty plays Austin, Texas, and the Eagles play Portland, Oregon. The Doobie Brothers play Norfolk, Virginia, and Jethro Tull opens a two-night stand in Chicago. At WLS in Chicago, “Afternoon Delight” hit #1 on the survey dated July 31, just ahead of “Rock and Roll Music” by the Beach Boys and last week’s #1 song, “Got to Get You Into My Life” by the Beatles, which falls to #3. “Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts is new in the Top 10 at #10. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls takes a mighty leap from #23 to #12; moving from #27 to #19 is “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine, a spoken-word weeper that currently tops the nation’s country chart. There’s little movement on the WLS album chart: nine of last week’s Top 10 albums are still in the top 10, although they’ve shuffled around a bit; the Beatles’ Rock and Roll Music is still at the top. New at #10 is Spitfire by the Jefferson Starship, up from #31. The Beach Boys’ 15 Big Ones soars to #13 from #33.

A reluctant 16-year-old farmer and radio addict has been clocking a few hours on a tractor every day this week, but not on this day. He looks forward to tomorrow night’s softball game, and once the hay is made, to spending a few days in Madison next week with his cousin. A family trip to Chicago and to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee are also coming up. The family has to squeeze as much into August as possible, because summer is fleeting.

August 1, 1969: Are You Kidding?

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(Pictured: Joe Namath of the New York Jets, who probably wouldn’t have traded places with anyone else either.)

August 1, 1969, was a Friday. On his foreign tour, President Nixon has already visited the Phillippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. He starts today in New Delhi, India, before moving on to Lahore, Pakistan. He meets privately with the Pakistani president in the afternoon, then hosts a dinner for the American traveling party before turning in for the night. He will visit Romania and the United Kingdom before returning home next week. The Nixon trip leads all three network TV newscasts tonight. All three also cover an unfolding murder mystery in southeastern Michigan, where five young women have been found dead in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti since March. Also today, three California newspapers receive nearly identical letters claiming responsibility for three recent murders there. In years to come, the incident will represent the beginning of the Zodiac case—a mystery that will be unsolved 49 years later. In the Gulf of Mexico off St. Petersburg, Florida, 13-year-old Robert Wamser is attacked by a shark while swimming in three feet of water. He is in fair condition after surgery.

The College All-Star Game is played in Chicago. The annual game matches a team of top college football stars against the defending NFL champions. This year that’s the New York Jets, who upset the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl last January. Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who had retired in the offseason due to controversy over his investment in a New York City nightclub and un-retired just two weeks ago, is booed during the pregame introductions. A few high-profile college stars, including O. J. Simpson of USC, skip the game, preferring not to risk injury. The outcome is in doubt with two minutes to go, but the Jets hang on to win, 26-24. In baseball, the National and American Leagues are in their first season of divisional play. The hottest race is in the National League West, where Houston and Cincinnati are on winning streaks; five of the six teams in the division are now within 3 1/2 games of the lead, which is held by Atlanta. In the National League East, the Cubs have a seven-game lead on the Mets. In the American League, Baltimore is on cruise control in the East with a 14-game lead over Detroit; in the West, Minnesota leads Oakland by 3 1/2. The Twins win tonight’s showdown with the Orioles 4-3 despite leaving 15 runners on base.

The Atlantic City Pop Festival opens today; the three-day event features Iron Butterfly, Procol Harum, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Byrds, Janis Joplin, and lots of others. Tonight, the Beach Boys play the Schaefer Summer Music Festival in New York City. In Los Angeles, the Summer Shower of Stars series at the Hollywood Bowl features Blood Sweat and Tears. Led Zeppelin plays Santa Barbara, California, with openers Jethro Tull and Fraternity of Man. Elvis Presley continues an engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, his first concerts in eight years. Earlier in the day, he holds a press conference, at which he’s asked whether his return has anything to do with the success of Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck; how he likes fatherhood and what his life is like at Graceland; about his movie career and whether he dyes his hair; and finally, if there’s anyone he’d rather be. His response: “Are you kidding?”

At KTKT in Tucson, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” by Jackie de Shannon is the new #1, knocking “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans to #2. “My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder is #3. “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones vaults to #4 from #12 last week. Other major movers include “We Got More Soul” by Dyke and the Blazers, up to #9 from #16, Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” up to #15 from #26, and “True Grit” by Glen Campbell, up to #20 from #38. The hottest record in Tucson, however, is “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, which is up 23 spots this week to #12.

Perspective From the Present: I was nine years old and I looked at the newspaper regularly, but apart from the sports, I wouldn’t have cared about much of what I saw in it. On this day, I was probably looking forward to visiting my cousin for a few days. We exchanged multi-day overnight visits every summer. I remember the date of my 1969 visit for an odd reason: the Tate/LaBianca murders happened the next weekend, and I saw the story in the paper while I was there.

August 31, 1970: My World and Welcome to It

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(Pictured: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 31, 1970.)

August 31, 1970, is a Monday. A nationwide manhunt continues for those suspected in the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin one week ago. A researcher was killed in the blast. Police in Philadelphia launch a preemptive strike on the Black Panthers, fearing violence at a Panther-sponsored “revolutionary constitutional convention” set for the coming weekend. The cover story on the latest Time magazine is “The Politics of Sex,” with a painting of “Kate Millett of Women’s Lib.” Dallas Cowboys running back Les Shy is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover story says, “Coach Tom Landry doesn’t deny his club’s tendency to choke when a title is at stake.” The Cowboys have lost critical season-ending games in each of the last four seasons. On TV tonight, all three networks present nothing but repeats. On CBS, there’s Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show (with guest star John Wayne), Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Wild Wild West. NBC and ABC present reruns of theatrical movies following episodes of My World and Welcome to It and It Takes a Thief respectively. Future pop star Debbie Gibson and future Christmas Story actor Zack Ward are born. Abraham Zapruder, who took the famous film of the Kennedy assassination, died yesterday.

The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival concludes early this morning in the UK. In the wee hours, after Jimi Hendrix plays his set, some among the crowd of 600,000 begin to riot. Leonard Cohen is asked to take the stage to calm the crowd, and he does. Richie Havens closes the show at dawn. That night, Hendrix moves on to Stockholm. Pink Floyd plays Kent, England. Led Zeppelin plays Milwaukee, a show that had been postponed days earlier after the death of John Paul Jones’ father. The local newspaper will say that Robert Plant “looks like an Appalachian jug band reject,” but will also praise his talent. At Criteria Studios in Miami, Derek and the Dominoes continue work on the album that will be titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Today they lay down tracks for “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush is released.

At KDWB in Minneapolis, Edwin Starr’s “War” takes the #1 spot away from “Make it With You” by Bread, which falls to #2. There are two new records in the Top 10: “Looking Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (at #7, up from #14, the biggest upward move of the week) and “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (at #10, up from #15). A couple of other songs take five-spot jumps: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (to #19 from #24) and “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk Railroad (#29 from #34).

Three hundred-and-some highway miles from the Twin Cities, in Monroe, Wisconsin, school has started again. A newly-minted fifth-grader is about to make a discovery that will change his life, but on this day, that discovery has not yet happened. Of more immediate interest on this day is his new teacher. She has a son the same age as he is. He doesn’t know that, and the two boys haven’t met. But they will, and for four years of high school, thanks to their close proximity in the alphabet, they will share a locker. And although they won’t see much of one another years from now, they’ll still be friends.

August 25, 1976: Late Summer Early Fall

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(Pictured: Bert Convy, aboard The Love Boat with Kristy McNichol, 1977.)

August 25, 1976, is a Wednesday. In Monroe, Wisconsin, it’s the first day of school. In France, premier Jacques Chirac resigns in a dispute over political strategy with president Valery Giscard d’Estaing and is replaced by foreign minister Raymond Barre. President Ford is on vacation in Colorado. Among his activities today: attending a picnic hosted by prominent Vail restauranteur/hotelier Pepi Gramshammer. The Russian space mission Soyuz 21 returns to Earth early; a crew member has begun displaying psychotic behavior possibly linked to toxic gases in the ship’s cabin. The Lincoln Park Carousel, which has stood in an East Los Angeles park since 1914, is burned by vandals. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park opens. Future actor Alexander Skarsgard, NBA journeyman Damon Jones, and New York Yankees pitcher Pedro Feliciano are born. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 in a 19-inning game that takes five hours, 26 minutes to play. Yankee Dick Tidrow enters the game in the 7th inning and pitches through the 17th.

On daytime TV, Dinah Shore welcomes Chuck Berry and M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell. Merv Griffin’s guests on his daytime show include singers Mel Torme and Cyndi Grecco and the group Silver. In primetime, a pair of half-hour, four-week summer variety shows premiere back-to-back on CBS: Easy Does It, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and The Late Summer Early Fall Bert Convy Show, which stars the erstwhile game show host. Also in the cast is comedian Lenny Schultz, who performs as Lenny the Bionic Chicken.

Jethro Tull’s Too Old to Rock and Roll tour continues in Calgary, Canada, while Lynryd Skynyrd’s tour moves on to Lewiston, Maine. Frank Sinatra plays Holmdel, New Jersey, Tom Waits plays Cleveland, and the Band plays Los Angeles. The Electric Light Orchestra plays St. Louis, with opening acts Mahogany Rush and Pure Prairie League. The self-titled debut album by a new group, Boston, is released. At WLS in Chicago, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee is at the top for a second week. New in the Top 10 are “Let ‘Em In” by Paul McCartney and Wings, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley, and “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac. The biggest movers on the chart are “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton (up 10 to #27) and “With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship (up 14 to #29). The Beatles compilation Rock and Roll Music spends its fifth and final week at the top of the album chart. Next week, it will be knocked out by Heart’s Dreamboat Annie, currently at #2.

Back in Wisconsin, a new high-school junior knows he is ready to return to school, because anything is better than driving a tractor in the heat. But the things he does not know are legion: He doesn’t know that he’s just passed the summer he will cherish the most as the years go by. Neither does he know that the coming fall will be a season he will never leave behind.

August 19, 1991: Every Heartbeat

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(Pictured: Amy Grant, 1992.)

August 19, 1991, was a Monday. In the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest by a group of KGB conspirators. Within a week, Soviet republics will begin to declare their independence; Gorbachev will resign as president on Christmas Day, and the Soviet Union will cease to exist. In the United States, Hurricane Bob makes landfall in southern New England. Six people are killed in Connecticut, and some locations on Cape Cod report wind gusts up to 125 MPH. Damage estimates will range up to $1.7 billion. In the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, riots break out after a Guyanese boy is struck and killed by a car containing a prominent Hasidic Jewish leader. In Gurnee, Illinois, the village board holds its regular meeting, disposing of all business in 57 minutes, and state inspectors visit the sewage treatment plant in Orting, Washington. Sports Illustrated features golfer John Daly on its cover, reporting on his out-of-nowhere victory in the PGA Championship one week before. For the second time this month, Steffi Graf regains the top spot in world ranking among female tennis players from Monica Seles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that singer Billy Preston was arrested yesterday on sex charges involving a 16-year-old boy; he will be sentenced to drug rehab and house arrest. Judas Priest plays Toronto and Phish plays Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Bob Dylan plays Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Primus plays Portland, Oregon. Guns n’ Roses plays Copenhagen, Denmark, and George Thorogood plays suburban Indianapolis.

On the Billboard Hot 100, “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams is #1 for the fourth straight week; “Every Heartbeat” by Amy Grant is #2. There’s precious little movement in the Top 40. “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch makes the biggest move, from #35 to #25; “My Name Is Not Susan” by Whitney Houston moves from #36 to #29. The highest debut within the Top 40 belongs to Huey Lewis and the News: “It Hit Me Like a Hammer” is at #35. Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” is new at #39.

Perspective From the Present: I have been told that in radio music research, 90s music doesn’t test as well with listeners as 70s and 80s music does, even among those who grew up in the 90s. That doesn’t mean there were no good singles on the radio, however. There are several on this chart. Two of them are “The Motown Song” by Rod Stewart and “Everybody Plays the Fool” by Aaron Neville. Both of them were far different on the singles than they were on their respective albums: On Rod’s album Vagabond Heart,”The Motown Song” name-checks the Temptations and brings them aboard for backup vocals, then buries them in the mix. (The single, which is also the version used on the video, is much, much better.) The album version of “Everybody Plays the Fool” is a limp momentum killer on the radio, while the 45/video version is remixed to amp up the energy, and makes it a much better record.

Also remaining really good and/or essential after all these years: “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty, “Walking in Memphis” and “Silver Thunderbird” by Marc Cohn, and “Losing My Religion” by REM. Largely forgotten but still remaining pretty good: “Power of Love”/”Love Power” by Luther Vandross.