February 29, 1968: Leap Day

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(Pictured: 1968 Grammy winner Boris Karloff.)

(There’s no 29th this year, of course, but I’m not waiting until 2020 to post this. And I have some experience in observing the 29th on the 28th anyway.)

February 29, 1968, is a Thursday. The big headline on the morning papers is about the withdrawal yesterday of former Michigan governor George Romney from the Republican presidential race just two weeks before the New Hampshire primary. In the latest New Hampshire polling, Romney trails former vice-president Richard Nixon 73-19, and he has failed to improve his standing with New Hampshire voters despite a well-financed and strenuous seven-week campaign. The Kerner Commission, formed after riots tore through American inner cities in the summer of 1967, releases its final report. President Lyndon Johnson will be forced to ignore many of its recommendations because the Vietnam War makes it impossible for the country to afford new social programs. Vietnam architect Robert McNamara spends his final day as Secretary of Defense, a post he has held since 1961. Last November, President Johnson announced that McNamara would become head of the World Bank. Clark Clifford takes over the post tomorrow. In the Panama Canal, a traffic record is set with 65 ships making the transit in a single day. In Amarillo, Texas, Western Plaza Mall opens.

In Norway, Leif-Martin Henriksen is born. He joins a brother, born on February 29, 1964, and a sister, born on February 29, 1960. Also born today: future pro football player Bryce Paup and future American Olympic curler Pete Fenson. In Madison, Wisconsin, you can book a weekend room at the Ramada Inn on East Washington Avenue with one double bed for $9, or with two double beds for $14, and cribs are free. The Thursday night top sirloin special at the Goalpost is $3.50, but the smorgasbord at the Golden Rooster is just $2.00.

Late-night talk show host Joey Bishop welcomes Henry Fonda, Sammy Davis Jr., and Lulu, while Merv Griffin’s guests include James Brown and Soupy Sales. On primetime TV tonight: Dragnet, Bewitched, and one of the last episodes of Batman, titled “The Joker’s Flying Saucer.” The Grammy Awards are presented: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles is Album of the Year, but Record of the Year and Song of the Year go to “Up Up and Away.” Bobbie Gentry wins Best New Artist, and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” wins two R&B awards. Boris Karloff and Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois win Grammys for the albums How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Gallant Men, respectively.

The Cowsills are among the artists performing at the Grammy show. Jimi Hendrix plays a Milwaukee club called the Scene. Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and his group play the Royal Albert Hall in London. Yoko Ono joins them on vocals for one number, “Emotion Modulation (A.O.S),” which is eventually released, although the rest of the show is not. Former Supreme Florence Ballard marries former Motown chauffeur Thomas Chapman. At WCFL in Chicago, the new Sound 10 Survey is released. “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat and “Spooky” by the Classics IV run the top for the second straight week. Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay” takes a huge leap from #16 to #7. “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations is also new in the Top Ten at #9. “Just Dropped In” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition moves from #18 to #12. One of the new songs in the top 20 is “Up on the Roof” by Chicago favorite the Cryan Shames.

Some 120 highway miles from Chicago, a future WCFL listener celebrates his second “real” birthday on Leap Day.  There’s a birthday party at some point around the 29th, and home movies are taken. He will look at them 50 years from now and find himself with no words to describe the feeling of watching eight or ten young boys playing party games, eating cake, and mugging for the camera. He recognizes all the faces, and he knows what became of some, but not all, of his best buds from a half-century ago.

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February 24, 1980: Closing Ceremony

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(Pictured: Americans Steve Christoff and Mark Johnson celebrate a goal in the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey game against Finland.)

February 24, 1980, was a Sunday. Two days after stunning the heavily favored Soviet team, the United States hockey team wins the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, with a 4-2 win over Finland. It’s the final day of the games; East Germany leads the medal count with 23, although the Soviets record the most gold medals with 10. Team USA records 12 medals: six goal, four silver, and two bronze. Besides the hockey gold, the other five American gold medals are won by speed skater Eric Heiden. Darrell Waltrip wins the Richmond 400, the third race of the NASCAR season. Two days before the New Hampshire presidential primary, several political commentators say that George Bush, who won the Iowa caucuses in January, is now the front-runner for the Republican nomination. NBC reporter Tom Pettit has suggested that Ronald Reagan, considered the leader of the pack before Bush’s surprise Iowa win, “is politically dead.” On Tuesday, Reagan will win New Hampshire with 50 percent of the Republican vote. On the Democratic side, President Carter will defeat Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy 47 percent to 37 percent.

On TV tonight, ABC broadcasts the closing ceremony from the Winter Olympics. CBS counterprograms the night with 60 Minutes, an hour-long episode of One Day at a Time, Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John M.D. NBC airs the made-for-TV movie Harper Valley P.T.A., based on the 1968 #1 hit by Jeannie C. Riley and starring Barbara Eden. It’s not just the top-rated show of the night, but it wins the ratings for the entire week. Mary Tyler Moore opens on Broadway in Whose Life Is It Anyway?, which will run for 96 performances and earn her a Tony award. Pink Floyd brings The Wall tour to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Weather Report plays Atlanta. The Jerry Garcia Band plays Stony Brook, New York, John Denver plays Lake Charles, Louisiana, Madness plays the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, and the Ramones play in Paris. The Ramones get a mention in the popular Sunday newspaper insert Parade, in an article headlined “Rock rolls into new wave,” which introduces readers to the “hard-boiled assessments of life” performed by the Ramones, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Knack, the B-52s, the Clash, the Police, and others. “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes is #1 on the Funny Five, part of this week’s Dr. Demento radio show. Also among the five: “Titties and Beer” by Frank Zappa and “Bounce Your Boobies” by Rusty Warren. Tonight’s edition of the King Biscuit Flower Hour features Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.

KQCR, Q-103 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, airs the Weekly Top 30, a syndicated countdown hosted by Mark Elliott, from 9AM til noon. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen is #1 again this week. Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” is up to #2, and last week’s #2, “Yes I’m Ready” by Teri de Sario and KC, slips to #3. “Working My Way Back to You” by the Spinners blasts to #4 from #14; “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert is at #5. Another major mover is “Desire” by Andy Gibb, up to #6 from #15. Other hot records include “Him” by Rupert Holmes, up to #12 from #23; “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd, making the biggest move of the week, from #27 to #13; and “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, at #16 from #26. “Refugee” by Tom Petty is the week’s top debut, all the way up at #17. The only other new song among the Top 30 is “Back on My Feet Again” by the Babys at #28.

Perspective From the Present: I watched neither the Miracle on Ice game nor the gold medal hockey game at the Winter Olympics. I most likely missed the gold medal game because I was working my weekend radio gig at KDTH. How I missed the win over the Russians, I don’t remember. I recall other guys in the dorm watching it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t. I liked neither living in the dorm nor the people I had to live with (although my own roommate was OK), and I kept my distance from them as much as I could.

February 18, 1977: Hot Line

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(Pictured: the Sylvers, 1977.)

February 18, 1977, is a Friday. NASA’s new craft, the space shuttle, makes a test flight bolted to a 747. The flight lasts a little over two hours and reaches an altitude of 16,000 feet. In a nod to Star Trek fans, the test vehicle is called the Enterprise. Today’s Washington Post contains a story by Bob Woodward about CIA payments to King Hussein of Jordan. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance continues a tour of the Middle East and meets with Hussein, as well as the president of Lebanon. Seattle’s first Fat Tuesday carnival week celebration gets rowdy, with reports of public intoxication, public drug use, and one case of public sexual intercourse, which attracts a crowd of 100. An exhibition of paintings by Andy Warhol closes in Washington. Character actor Andy Devine, who frequently appeared on TV and in westerns alongside Roy Rogers, Walter Brennan, and John Wayne and possessor of a distinctively scratchy voice, dies at age 71. Harley Race successfully defends his NWA heavyweight wrestling title by defeating Wahoo McDaniel in Richmond, Virginia. Two Japanese astronomers discover a new asteroid, to be named 5017 Tenchi. In Uruguay, a dog is killed by a UFO.

Celebrity guests on The $25,000 Pyramid this week are Joanne Worley and John Schuck. Tonight, the spy series Hunter premieres on CBS-TV, but will be canceled after only eight episodes. (A different show with the same title will run for nine seasons on NBC in the 80s.) Also on TV tonight: The Rockford Files.

Elvis plays Columbia, South Carolina, and KISS plays Madison Square Garden in New York City. Santana and Tower of Power open a two-night stand at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Al Stewart and Wendy Waldman perform in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and the Kinks are at Winterland in San Francisco. The Marshall Tucker Band plays Passaic, New Jersey; in 2007, the show will be released on DVD. In Cincinnati, ELO shares a bill with Steve Hillage and Gentle Giant, and Triumph plays San Antonio. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Greg Kihn Band are together for the third of four nights in Berkeley, California. After nine years in court, Neil Diamond buys the masters of his early recordings on the Bang label.

At WLS in Chicago, “Hot Line” by the Sylvers tops the new music survey that will be out tomorrow. Also on the WLS chart, Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band make strong moves into the Top 10. Also moving nicely: “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart from #16 to #11 and “Crackerbox Palace” by George Harrison from #34 to #26 (featuring what will in later years be called a music video, directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python). The single biggest leap belongs to “Boogie Child” by the Bee Gees, from #41 to #31. In southern Wisconsin, a sometime listener to WLS is in love for the first time. Even “Boogie Child” sounds romantic to him.

February 10, 1964: Last Night

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(Pictured: the Beatles onstage at Carnegie Hall, February 12, 1964.)

February 10, 1964, was a Monday. By a vote of 290 to 130, the House of Representatives passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and sends it to the Senate. President Lyndon Johnson makes a statement in the Cabinet Room regarding the certification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing the poll tax. The amendment which gained enough states for ratification late last month. Johnson also sends a message to Congress advocating adoption of a public-health program that will be known as Medicare, and he releases a report recommending a new system of satellites for global communication. Two Australian navy ships on maneuvers collide in Jervis Bay; 81 sailors die. Future media personality Glenn Beck is born. The Rotary Club of Dickinson, Texas, holds its first meeting. The Manley Popcorn Machine company, which makes commercial poppers and other concession equipment used in theaters, stadiums, and schools, gets a patent for a new control mechanism.

Guests on The Ed Sullivan Show last night included Terry McDermott, America’s lone gold-medal winner at the just-completed Winter Olympics, held in Innsbruck, Austria, and the Beatles. (Before the show, McDermott, who is a barber, was photographed pretending to cut Paul McCartney’s hair.) Today, the Beatles hold a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where they are presented with gold records for Meet the Beatles and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They will remain in the city until tomorrow, when a snowstorm will force them to take a train to Washington, D.C., for the first date on their American tour, on Tuesday at the Washington Coliseum. On Wednesday, the Beatles will return to New York to play Carnegie Hall. On TV tonight, ABC airs The Outer Limits and Wagon Train; CBS has episodes of I’ve Got a Secret (with special guest Jonathan Winters), The Lucy Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and East Side, West Side, which stars George C. Scott as a New York social worker. Tonight’s episode of the latter is the pilot, which has never been broadcast because some roles were recast with different actors before the series premiered last September. CBS is apparently running it at last because they’ve decided to cancel the show.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers record an entire album, to be called Free for All. An item in the Harvard Crimson announces that Bob Dylan will be the featured performer on Jubilee Weekend in April. Del Shannon will also appear.  At WIBG in Philadelphia, where DJs Joe Niagara and Hy Lit call themselves the fifth and sixth Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and “I Saw Her Standing There” are co-#1s on the station’s survey. The Beatles are also at #3 with “She Loves You” (tucked in behind Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”), at #13 with “Please Please Me” and “From Me to You,” and at #44 with “My Bonnie,” an old recording with Tony Sheridan. The hottest record on the survey does not belong to the Beatles, however: “Dawn” by the Four Seasons is up to #6 from #34. Others in the top 10 are Major Lance (“Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”), Rick Nelson (“For You”), the Marketts (“Out of Limits”), Andy Williams (“A Fool Never Learns”), the Impressions (“Talking About My Baby”), and the Tams (“What Kind of Fool”). Notable farther down: “My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut” by Donna Lynn (#71) and  “The Boy With the Beatle Hair” by the Swans (#84).

Perspective From the Present: Donna Lynn was 14 in 1964, and she actually got a whole album out of her novelty single. It features chipper-sounding versions of several recently popular songs and something called “I Had a Dream I Was a Beatle,” which sounds almost exactly like “My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut.” The Swans’ “The Boy With the Beatle Hair” was released on Philadelphia’s Cameo label. Both made the Hot 100; Lynn got to #83 and the Swans to #85 , peaking in early March.

But the Beatles proved to have somewhat greater staying power.

February 1, 1968: Hippie Hooray

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(Pictured: Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched, from an episode aired on February 1, 1968.)

February 1, 1968, was a Thursday. Two days ago, North Vietnam began a major offensive in South Vietnam on the holiday known as Tet. In Saigon today, South Vietnamese police chief Nguyen Loc Loan executes Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem while reporters watch. Photographer Eddie Adams captures the pistol shot to the prisoner’s head; the photo will become one of the most famous ever taken. Video of the execution will be broadcast by NBC News tomorrow night. Among his public events today, President Lyndon Johnson sends his annual economic message to Congress and awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to Air Force Major Merlyn F. Dethlefsen for heroism in Vietnam.

The minimum wage in the United States goes up for many workers, from $1.40 to $1.60 an hour. Certain service workers can be paid less; their minimum wage goes from $1.00 to $1.15. In Memphis yesterday, 22 black sewer workers were sent home without pay due to inclement weather while their white supervisors were permitted to stay and get paid. Today, black sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, aged 36 and 30, are accidentally crushed to death by the compactor mechanism in their truck. The incidents will lead sanitation workers to go on strike on February 12, a job action eventually supported by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In New Hampshire, former vice president Richard Nixon announces his candidacy for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi announces his retirement, which has been rumored since the Packers won Super Bowl II last month. He will remain as general manager. Former pro golfer Lawson Little, who won the U.S. Open in 1940, dies at age 57. Nine months to the day after her parents’ wedding, Lisa Marie Presley is born. Also born: future actor Pauly Shore and future hockey star Mark Recchi.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy terrorizes the boys. On TV today, Bobby Darin co-hosts The Mike Douglas Show. Guests include actress Geraldine Chaplin and jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Shows on ABC tonight include The Flying Nun, That Girl, and Bewitched, with an episode titled “Hippie, Hippie, Hooray,” in which mistaken identity leads to big laffs when Samantha’s sister Serena becomes a hippie and gets on the front page of the local newspaper. (Elizabeth Montgomery is on the cover of TV Guide as Serena this week.) NBC’s lineup includes Daniel Boone, Ironside, and Dragnet. CBS kicks off primetime with the Western drama Cimarron Strip. Janis Joplin of Big Brother and the Holding Company signs with Columbia Records as a solo performer. The Velvet Underground, whose new album White Light/White Heat was officially released on Tuesday, play an album release party at Aardvark Cinemathique in Chicago. The Grateful Dead plays Seattle. In San Francisco, the Jimi Hendrix Experience plays two shows at the Fillmore with Albert King, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Soft Machine; the Jefferson Airplane plays the Matrix, the tiny club where they debuted in 1965; the show is recorded and will be released in 2010. Also in San Francisco, the Santana Blues Band wraps up a three-night stand at the Straight Theater. Your $1 ticket also entitles you to see the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita.

In Cleveland, at 3:05 this afternoon, WKYC debuts a format it calls Power Radio, which is intended to better compete with local station WIXY and CKLW from Detroit. The top four songs on WKYC’s new survey are in the same positions as last week: “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces, “Spooky” by the Classics IV, and “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” by the Foundations. “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs blasts to #6 from #17. “Everything That Touches You” by the Association is up 15 spots, from #37 to #22. Also moving fast: “Words” by the Bee Gees, up 12 to #23 and “Tomorrow” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock,” up 10 to #30. The highest-debuting new song on the survey is listed as “Sittin’ on the Dock” by Otis Redding, ranking at #29.

Perspective From the Present: On this day, I was in a new school. In January, I had been among the students moving from the early-2oth-century monolith Lincoln School to the newly built Northside School in our town. Northside was the most modern of buildings—by 1968 standards. Today, it’s the oldest elementary school in town.

One online calculator indicates that the 1968 minimum wage of $1.60 an hour is equivalent to over $11.00 today. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 would be equivalent to a little over $1.00 in 1968.

(Editor’s note: This is our second 1968 post in the last couple of weeks. I suspect there are going to be more as this year unfolds.)

February 28, 1977: Every Piece

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(Pictured: the Electric Light Orchestra takes a bow in February 1977.)

February 28, 1977, is a Monday. President Jimmy Carter is in the Oval Office by 7AM today; his agenda includes afternoon meetings with five Democratic governors in town for the National Governors’ Conference, and with Mr. and Mrs. John Denver. At a press briefing, Carter’s deputy press secretary Walter Wurfel is asked about Carter’s statement during his presidential campaign that he would make available “every piece of information this country has” about UFO sightings. Wurfel says Carter was referring only to information that wasn’t “defense sensitive.” Any sensitive information would remain secret. Carter has family time in the evening, including about an hour in the White House bowling alley with the First Lady, his son Jeff, and other guests. Future country star Jason Aldean is born; Jack Benny’s sidekick Eddie “Rochester” Anderson dies at age 71. Linda Ronstadt is on the cover of Time; the cover story about her has a distinctly sexist edge. Ralph Nader is on the cover of People. In today’s Peanuts strip, Snoopy and Woodstock converse.

Jack Albertson of Chico and the Man gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On Dinah!, Dinah Shore welcomes author Alex Haley and several members of the cast of Roots, which aired last month and became a cultural phenomenon. Merv Griffin welcomes country singer Mel Tillis, actor David Soul, and Ed McMahon. On CBS tonight, long-running hits The Jeffersons and Maude are sandwiched around two newer sitcoms, Busting Loose, starring Adam Arkin as a young man who’s just moved out of his parents’ house, and All’s Fair, starring Richard Crenna and Bernadette Peters as a conservative newspaper columnist and liberal photographer who fall in love despite their political and age differences.

Ray Charles plays the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles; during the show, a fan jumps on stage with a rope and tries to strangle him. Concert security subdues the man before Charles is injured. The concert continues without further incident and no police report is ever filed. In Toronto, Keith Richards is arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play St. Louis. Genesis plays Buffalo, New York. The Electric Light Orchestra concludes a three-night stand at the Uptown Theater in Chicago. At WABC in New York City, George Michael is on the evening shift. On the station’s new Musicradio survey, officially out tomorrow, “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary Macgregor holds at #1 for a fourth week; “New Kid in Town” by the Eagles, which tops the Billboard Hot 100, holds at #2. The hottest song on the survey is Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” moving to #7 from #17. Also new in the Top 10: “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart at #8. The survey lists the Top 10 albums but doesn’t number them; first on the list is the soundtrack from A Star Is Born. Also listed: Hotel California, Pink Floyd’s Animals, Songs in the Key of Life, Boston, Rumours, Year of the Cat, Night Moves, Wings Over America, and Jethro Tull’s Songs From the Wood.

Perspective From the Present: The album charts from the winter of 1977 remain astounding after all this time. One album not listed is one I wanted for quite a while and received for my birthday, probably during the weekend before: Olé ELO, a compilation by the Electric Light Orchestra. My girlfriend gave it to me under protest, saying that an album didn’t seem like a personal-enough gift. Although I don’t recall the details after all this time, she probably gave me other, more personal gifts that weekend as well.

February 20, 1980: Come Sit Next to Me

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(Pictured: Freddie Mercury and Brian May of Queen, onstage in Chicago, 1980.)

February 20, 1980, is a Wednesday. At 12:01AM Eastern time, a deadline passes for the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan, which they had invaded the previous December. They do not. Thus, the United States will boycott the upcoming Summer Olympics in Moscow. In hockey at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, Team USA defeats West Germany 4-2 to advance to the medal round. On Friday, the Americans will face the Soviet Union; nobody gives them a chance to win. The European Community places a tariff on certain types of synthetic carpet yarn shipped into the UK. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, dies at 96; the Washington socialite is said to have once remarked, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” At the White House, President and Mrs. Carter host a state dinner for the president of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moy. An experimental onion field at Oregon State University is fertilized. With the New Hampshire primary just five days away, a CBS/New York Times poll notes that many supporters of Republican candidate George Bush don’t know what he stands for.

TV shows on the air tonight include Charlie’s Angels, Diff’rent Strokes, and Hello Larry. Steve Martin sits in for Johnny on The Tonight Show; his guest is Andy Kaufman. Iggy Pop plays Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. In the UK, Peter Gabriel plays Exeter University and Joy Division plays High Wycombe. The Joy Division show will be released in 2007 as part of the two-disc reissue of Still. In the early-morning hours, after a night of partying, a friend puts Bon Scott of AC/DC into his car to sleep it off. Returning later in the day, the friend finds Scott lifeless. At a hospital, Scott is pronounced DOA.

On the Billboard Hot 100 that will come out this weekend, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen will take over the #1 spot from the Captain and Tennille’s “Do That to Me One More Time.” Several significant rock bands are in the Top 40 apart from Queen: Fleetwood Mac (“Sara” at #10), Pink Floyd (“Another Brick in the Wall” at #15), Led Zeppelin (“Fool in the Rain” at #21), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (“Refugee” at #23 and “Don’t Do Me Like That” at #26), and the Eagles (“The Long Run” at #27). A couple of pop acts who haven’t scored major hits since 1971 are back on the radio as well: the Dirt Band’s “An American Dream” is at #14, and “Three Times in Love” by Tommy James is at #38. At a small college town in Wisconsin, a longtime Tommy James fan is glad about that.

February 18, 1979: Destiny

(Pictured: the Jacksons, onstage during the Destiny tour, 1979.)

February 18, 1979, is a Sunday. The top headline on the Sunday newspapers regards China’s military invasion of Vietnam. Americans are concerned about rising gasoline prices, which have reached 70 cents a gallon in the Midwest. Also in the Midwest, a major snowstorm strikes, taking aim at the East Coast, where it will drop 18 inches of snow. Snow is also recorded in the Sahara Desert, in southern Algeria, for the first time in history. Over eight inches of rain falls in Greenville, South Carolina. The all-time low temperature record is tied in New York State, when a reading of 52 below is recorded at Old Forge in Herkimer County. President and Mrs. Carter spend the weekend at Camp David, although they zip back to Andrews Air Force Base at midday for a ceremony marking the return of the remains of Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs, who was killed in a firefight after being kidnapped last week. Following their return to Camp David in the afternoon, the Carters go cross-country skiing with family and friends. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper runs a feature story about the history of Coca Cola and illustrates it with a photo of the handwritten original recipe for Coke, thus revealing the drink’s secret formula, but nobody notices until 2011.

The Daytona 500 is broadcast live in its entirety for the first time. Richard Petty wins after a last-lap crash involving Cale Yarborough and  Donnie Allison, who are battling for the lead. Yarborough and Allison get into a fistfight on the track after the crash. Amy Alcott wins the LPGA Elizabeth Arden Golf Classic. On ABC, the first episode of Roots: The Next Generations airs. Other shows on TV tonight include Battlestar Galactica and All in the Family. On the radio, The Dr. Demento Show, heard around the country this weekend, features an interview with voiceover artist Mel Blanc; “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes, who also guest on the show, tops the weekly Funny Five countdown.

The Jacksons’ Destiny tour plays Manchester, England, the Outlaws play New York City, New Riders of the Purple Sage play Rutgers University, Status Quo plays Zwolle in the Netherlands, Frank Zappa plays Hammersmith Odeon in London, and Frank Sinatra plays Chicago. Rod Stewart tops the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week with “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.” (Stewart’s album Blondes Have More Fun holds at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.) “YMCA” by the Village People sticks at #2. The lone new entry in the Top 10 is “I Was Made for Dancing” by Leif Garrett. There’s very little movement within the Top 20; the Bee Gees’ “Tragedy” leaps to #19 from #29, where it entered the Hot 100 the week before. The highest debuting song within the Top 40 is “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits at #33.

In Wisconsin, a college-radio DJ spends the weekend back home with the family. He’ll return to school that night, weather permitting, to a single room in the dorm, a luxury made possible when his roommate decided to quit school after one semester. He hates living in the dorm, but he loves radio, and radio is what he’s there for.

February 10, 1990: Knocked Out

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(Pictured: Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.)

February 10, 1990, is a Saturday. South African president F. W. de Klerk announces that Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years, will be released tomorrow. In Tokyo (where it’s already tomorrow), Buster Douglas knocks out heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in one of the greatest upsets in sports history. On the South Pacific island of Java, a volcano named Mt. Kelud erupts. NASA’s Galileo probe flies by the planet Venus, taking advantage of the gravity of the solar system’s inner planets to whip it toward its ultimate destination, Jupiter. In Las Cruces, New Mexico, two gunmen open up in a bowling alley, killing four and wounding three more. Decades later, the crime will remain unsolved. The Idaho lottery gives away a $2 million jackpot.

NBC-TV’s lineup tonight includes The Golden Girls, a Columbo TV movie called Agenda for Murder, and Saturday Night Live hosted by Quincy Jones. Eric Clapton plays the Royal Albert Hall in London with a full orchestra. The second part of the show features a two-movement piece called “Concerto for Electric Guitar.” Phish plays Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and Diana Ross plays Detroit. Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” knocks Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” from the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 1o0. Also in the Top 10: Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” (#3), “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith (#4), “What Kind of Man Would I Be?” by Chicago (#6), and Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” (#9). The biggest mover within the Top 40 is “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles (#39 to #28). The highest debut within the Hot 100 is Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville’s duet on “All My Life” (#47), the followup to “Don’t Know Much,” which is in its 20th week on the Hot 100 and still at #34.

In Iowa, a radio jock shows up for his Saturday shift as usual. It had been a late night the night before—a bunch of his colleagues had gotten together to bid farewell to a couple of sales reps who had been fired earlier in the week. What he doesn’t know as he arrives is that he’s about to join them.

Perspective From the Present:  My shift was supposed to end at 6:00 that day; when the PD showed up at 5:45, there was only one reason why he’d be there on a Saturday. (The story is told in detail here.) I was out of work for about six weeks (unemployed on my 30th birthday, as it turned out); the job I found turned out to be fun for three years, if not especially remunerative. And my radio career went on.

February 1, 1975: Please, Mister

February 1, 1975, is a Saturday. William Saxbe resigns as Attorney General to become U.S. ambassador to India. The resignation of Claude Brinegar, Secretary of Transportation since 1973, becomes official. Antwan “Big Boi” Patton of Outkast is born. Robert W. Straub is inaugurated as governor of Oregon. Two successful penalty shots are executed in the National Hockey League, by Steve Atkinson of the Washington Capitals and Lorne Henning of the New York Islanders. Shows on CBS tonight include The Jeffersons and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. James Garner of The Rockford Files is on the cover of TV Guide.

Little Feat plays the Olympia in Paris. Led Zeppelin is in Pittsburgh. Genesis appears live in Kansas City, Kansas. Joe Walsh plays New York City. Miles Davis does two shows in Osaka, Japan. The afternoon show will be released on his album Agharta; the evening show will be released on Pangaea. KISS wraps its Hotter Than Hell tour in Santa Monica, California, with opening act Jo Jo Gunne. Barry Manilow concludes a two-week engagement at Mr. Kelly’s in Chicago, where “Mandy” is at #1 on WLS for a second week. “Please Mr. Postman” by the Carpenters spends a second week at #2. “Lady,” by Chicago band Styx, slides in at #3, just ahead of “Best of My Love” by the Eagles at #4. Two songs enter the Top 10 for the first time: “Never Can Say Goodbye” by Gloria Gaynor and the hottest record on the chart, “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt, which jumps in from #25. On the WLS album chart, Greatest Hits by Elton John and Not Fragile by Bachman-Turner Overdrive continue in the #1 and #2 positions for a ninth straight week.

Over on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest debuting song of the week is “I’ve Been This Way Before” by Neil Diamond, which comes on at #73. (It will eventually peak at #34 and spend just three weeks in the Top 40.) Songs that will be more familiar in the future also debut, including “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns, “Part of the Plan” by Dan Fogelberg, and future #1 hits “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” by Freddy Fender and “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by B. J. Thomas. The oddest debut of the week is at #86: “Please Mr. President” by Paula Webb, a 10-year-old girl’s letter to President Ford, asking help with her family’s hard times. Although it will get only as high as #60, it resonates with lots of Americans during an especially difficult season in our national life.