(Pictured: Don Felder and Joe Walsh of the Eagles at work, circa 1980.)
June 28, 1980, was a Saturday. At Camp David, President Carter goes fishing, and he later sees the movie Urban Cowboy with the First Lady. The federal debt ceiling is temporarily raised to $985 billion. Helen Gahagan Douglas, the second woman to serve in Congress, dies at age 79. (Douglas was defeated for the U.S. Senate in 1950 by Congressman Richard Nixon, who accused her of being a Communist, “pink right down to her underwear.” In return, she nicknamed him “Tricky Dick.”) Comic actor Herbie Faye, who played dozens of roles on TV and in the movies starting in the 1950s, dies at age 81. Future NBA player Rodney White is born. The San Diego Air and Space Museum opens. On TV tonight, the last episode of The Stockard Channing Show airs, starring the Grease actress and future First Lady on The West Wing. Also on CBS tonight, The Bad News Bears, a sitcom based on the hit movie. An airplane disappears in the Bermuda Triangle, and Bigfoot is spotted in Snohomish County, Washington.
“Crying” by Don McLean tops the British singles chart in Record Mirror magazine. (It will hit #5 in the States the next spring.) Britain’s #2 hit of the week, “Funky Town” by Lipps, Inc., is knocked from the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after a four-week run by Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up.” “Let’s Get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson holds on in Britain’s Top 10 while remaining just outside in the States. The highest debut on the Record Mirror chart is AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” at #41; on the Hot 100, it’s “Play the Game” by Queen at #67. (“Play the Game” is at #15 in Record Mirror.) The Dead Kennedys play the Whiskey in Los Angeles, Jackson Browne plays the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago, Santana plays Knebworth in England, and the Eagles play Alpine Valley Music Theater near Milwaukee.
Perspective From the Present: I was at the Eagles show that night with a bunch of friends. In 2008, I found a bootleg of the show online. It’s not clear where it came from—some sources say it’s from the soundboard while others say it’s an audience tape. Given how easy it is to hear certain individual audience members (like the guy who keeps yelling for “Walk Away” throughout the entire show), I’m betting on the latter. Although we were thrilled at the time, the tape reveals that Don Henley wasn’t in particularly good voice at the start. As the show goes on, he gets better, although he’s singing at the very top of his range and frequently struggles to reach it, more so than he ever did on the band’s studio recordings. Often, that’s the only way the live performances vary from their studio originals—as always, the Eagles stuck to the script in concert. Nobody seemed to mind, however, particularly during the segment made up of “The Sad Cafe,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” and a medley of “Wasted Time” and “Desperado,” all played while a giant full moon was rising over the stage. We were surprised at the number of Joe Walsh tunes they played that night, although we shouldn’t have been; Walsh’s former bandmate Joe Vitale was onstage with them. Two of the band’s four encores were Walsh tunes—although they never did play “Walk Away.”
The Eagles show was our second trip to Alpine Valley—we’d seen the Doobie Brothers the summer before. This time, we knew that it would take hours to get out of the parking lot, so rather than tailgate beforehand, we fired up the grill and opened the coolers afterward. A college pal was on the air at an album-rock station in Milwaukee that night, and it was pretty cool to hear his voice blasting from dozens of car radios. The next night, I would be back on the radio myself in Freeport, Illinois, telling my listeners about the show. Altogether, that weekend is a pretty good rock ‘n’ roll memory from one of my favorite summers.