June 28, 1978: Life and Times

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(Pictured: Joe Walsh on stage in the summer of 1978.)

June 28, 1978, was a Wednesday. The Supreme Court rules that affirmative action programs are legal but racial quotas are not, and is ordering the University of California Medical School to admit Allan Bakke, who claimed he suffered from “reverse discrimination” because he is white. All three networks lead their evening newscasts with the Bakke decision; other stories covered by all three newscasts include the mob-related murder of five men found in the basement of the Blackfriars Club in Boston and the wedding of Monaco’s Princess Caroline to entrepreneur Phillippe Junot, both today. At the White House, President Carter has an extremely busy day of meetings, but his workday ends early enough for a late-afternoon tennis game with the First Lady, followed by dinner with his sons and their wives, and a viewing of the movie The Cheap Detective in the White House theater. In Scottsdale, Arizona, actor Bob Crane appears in a dinner theater production called Beginner’s Luck and afterward goes out on the town with a friend, John Carpenter. At some point early tomorrow morning, Crane will be strangled and beaten to death. It will be 14 years before Carpenter is arrested for the crime, although he will be acquitted at trial. Forty years from now, the case will remain unsolved.

Division leaders in baseball are the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers in the American League and the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants in the National League. The Orioles and Rangers lose today, but the Phillies win and the Giants split a doubleheader with San Diego. On TV tonight, CBS airs The Carol Burnett Show and the movie Rancho Deluxe, a 1974 western comedy starring Jeff Bridges. On NBC, it’s The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, the interview show Headliners With David Frost featuring guests Warren Beatty, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, and Gerry Rafferty, and an edition of NBC Reports on advances in mental health treatment, hosted by Tom Snyder. ABC’s lineup includes Eight Is Enough, Charlie’s Angels, and an ABC News Closeup special talking with young criminals about why they commit crimes and how they choose their victims.

Tonight, in Monroe, Wisconsin, an aspiring radio DJ just out of high school spins tunes at the local roller rink. Weather Report plays Tokyo, the Rolling Stones play Memphis, and Barry Manilow plays Providence, Rhode Island. At WHB in Kansas City, Manilow’s “Copacabana” and the Stones’ “Miss You” are among the hottest songs of the week on the station’s new survey: “Miss You” moves from #28 to #13 and “Copacabana” from #39 to #27. Also hot in Kansas City: “My Angel Baby” by Toby Beau, up 15 spots to #11, and “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh, up 12 to #15 this week. “Love Will Find a Way” by Pablo Cruise and “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores debut at #18 and #19 on the station’s Top 40. “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb takes over the #1 spot on the chart, knocking Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” to #2. “It’s a Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler holds at #3. The O’Jays and Heatwave are new in the Top 10 with “Use Ta Be My Girl”(#4) and “The Groove Line” (#7).

Perspective From the Present: I’d forgotten about the roller rink job until recently. It was my first paying DJ job, on Wednesday nights during the summer of 1978. The place had a fairly bodacious sound system and a decent library of music. The owner even took out an ad in the local newspaper advertising his disco night and mentioned me by name. Needless to say, I was possessed with visions of grandeur, imagining the local celebrity I was about to become, and the girls I was going to mesmerize.

The first night, five people showed up. They were girls, at least. But they were all 13 years old or younger. I am not sure we ever attracted more than five people on any given night, or that they were ever older than 13. Wednesdays, it seems, were not big nights for people to go roller skating, and no publicity, bodacious sound, or famous local DJ was going to change that.

I doggedly did a DJ show for the first few weeks, although eventually I’d simply track a disco album and go play pinball in the game room. At the end of each night, I’d get paid in cash, out of the till and off the books—a sum that worked out to less than minimum wage. It was neither fair nor legal, but I was so young and so naive that it never occurred to me to say so.


June 23, 1984: Mr. Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 17, 1972: Too Late

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(Pictured: John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page, on stage in the summer of 1972.)

June 17, 1972, was a Saturday. President Nixon signs the Public Buildings Amendments of 1972, but notes that a couple of provisions are unconstitutional. Earlier in the day, five burglars are arrested inside the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., suspected of having broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. In Boston, nine firefighters die when a section of the burning Hotel Vendome collapses. The Libertarian Party holds its first national convention in Denver; the American Mathematical Society holds its 695th meeting in Seattle. Rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun retires from NASA, and the United States ends its occupation of Okinawa, which had gone on since 1945. Tropical Storm Agnes moves into the southeastern Caribbean. Tomorrow it will become a hurricane, and for the next week will drop heavy rain on the East Coast. Severe flooding will occur in New York and Pennsylvania. Total damage from Hurricane Agnes will be estimated at $3 billion, and 120 people will die. Pop singer Julie London, now one of the stars of Emergency!, is on the cover of TV Guide. WNEW-TV in New York City shows Island of Lost Souls as this week’s Creature Feature, while WPIX counters with a Chiller Theater presentation of Killers From Space.

As the final event of a weeklong religious revival, a giant Christian music festival is held in downtown Dallas; its headliners include Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Organizers claim it attracts 200,000 people. Elvis Presley plays two shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, at Chicago Stadium. The Grateful Dead, with Pigpen McKernan onstage for the last time and New Riders of the Purple Sage opening, plays the Hollywood Bowl, Muddy Waters plays Montreux, and Led Zeppelin plays Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. The Eagles, whose debut album is officially released today, open for Jethro Tull in Las Vegas.

At WAVZ in New Haven, Connecticut, their Hit Power survey for the week lists 60 songs, and the sap quotient is high: “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr. tops the list; Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Jimmy Osmond, and Wayne Newton are also on the air. But there’s classic soul aplenty to take the curse off: “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites, “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers, and “Too Late to Turn Back Now” by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, all in the Top 10. The hottest record on the survey, leaping from #31 to #16, is “People Make the World Go Round” by the Stylistics. The highest debuting new single of the week is “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones, from the nation’s top album, Exile on Main Street, which had been dropped from the station’s survey the week before but is back on again.

In Wisconsin, a 12-year-old boy just out of the sixth grade is playing Little League baseball with more enthusiasm than talent, and doing farm work with no enthusiasm at all. What he really loves is the radio. For him, it really is too late to turn back now.

June 14, 1994: Questioning

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(Pictured: a crowd gathers outside the condo belonging to Nicole Brown-Simpson on June 13, 1994.)

June 14, 1994, was a Tuesday. Headlines this morning include the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson, wife of O. J. Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, who were found stabbed early yesterday. Police have already questioned the ex-football star as a potential witness. President Clinton and the First Lady were questioned separately under oath on Sunday as part of the special counsel’s investigation of the Whitewater land deals in Arkansas. Some questions involved the death of former aide Vincent Foster. A jury in Anchorage, Alaska, has ruled that victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill can seek damages for negligence from Exxon and the ship’s captain, Joseph Hazelwood. A fireball was seen in the sky across the northeastern United States and in Canada last night; a meteorite that landed on a farm in Quebec is the largest ever recorded in Canada, weighing 2.3 kilograms. Today, Erie, Pennsylvania, is flooded after getting three inches of rain in about two hours.

Much of tonight’s primetime TV lineup is reruns. On ABC, it’s Full House, Roseanne (the top-rated show of the night), Coach, NYPD Blue, and the sitcom Phenom, about a teenage tennis star being raised with two siblings by a single mom. CBS repeats an episode of Rescue 911 and the TV movie My Son Johnny starring Michele Lee and Ricky Schroder. On NBC, After the Headlines is a new where-are-they-now special about recent newsmakers hosted by Kathleen Sullivan; it’s followed by two episodes of The John Larroquette Show and a new edition of Dateline NBC. The Fox lineup includes South Central, Roc, and two episodes of Tales From the Crypt.

At Madison Square Garden in New York, the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, beating the Vancouver Canucks in the deciding seventh game of the final. After the game, Canucks fans riot in downtown Vancouver, resulting in about $1.1 million in damage. The Canucks will not return to the Cup final until 2011, when they will again lose in seven games, and their fans will again riot. Madison Square Garden will be the scene of the NBA Finals tomorrow night. It’s Game 4 between the Knicks and the Houston Rockets; the Rockets lead the series 2-1. Pitcher Monte Weaver, who won 71 games in a nine-year major league career spent mostly with the Washington Senators during the 1930s, dies one day short of his 88th birthday. Composer, conductor, and arranger Henry Mancini dies of pancreatic cancer at age 70.

The Grateful Dead play Seattle, Phish plays Des Moines, and Danzig plays Philadelphia. The first Bluegrass Night at the Ryman is held in Nashville, starring Bill Monroe and Alison Krauss. On the Billboard Hot 100, “I Swear” by All 4 One is in the fourth of what will be 11 straight weeks at #1; a country version of the song by John Michael Montgomery is at #84. Madonna’s “I’ll Remember” and “Any Time Any Place” by Janet Jackson hold at #2 and #3. “Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base is #4. The Ace of Base album The Sign spends a second week at #1, its first at the top since the week of April 2. Although six other albums will have longer runs at #1 in 1994, Billboard will rank The Sign as the year’s #1 album.

Perspective From the Present: At some point in June of 1994, I got a part-time radio job at KRVR in Davenport, Iowa, the station that had fired me in 1990. Although it was staffed by then with several brand-name jocks who’d been in the market a long time, it was not an especially good station, largely btecause A) adult contemporary music at that moment was pretty terrible and B) the station was running a very soft, very white version of the format. It privileged bland records by rock stars (such as Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”) and beat-free AC sludge (epitomized by the inexplicable, 15-years-out-of-date success of “Beautiful in My Eyes” by Joshua Kadison). In 1995, KRVR would change format to classic rock. All the full-timers would get fired, but we part-timers did not.

If you watched The John Larroquette Show, chances are good you haven’t forgotten it. The former Night Court star played the recovering-alcoholic manager of a bus station in St. Louis, and it was, at least during the first season that wrapped in the spring of 1994, one of the darkest (and best) comedies ever on television. It’s never been released on DVD and isn’t on an official streaming site, but some episodes are available at YouTube.

June 8, 1976: Happy Days

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(Pictured: Shirley, the Fonz, and Laverne.)

June 8, 1976, is a Tuesday. A heat wave continues in the Midwest. At an appearance last night in Bowling Green, Ohio, President Ford was momentarily stunned by an exploding flash bulb. Among his appointments today, Ford gets a briefing on the Teton River Dam collapse in Idaho last Saturday, meets the attorney general of Mexico, and greets finalists in the National Spelling Bee. It’s also the final primary day of the 1976 campaign, with contests in California, Ohio, and New Jersey. Jimmy Carter will not clinch the nomination, but he will win enough delegates to make him the prohibitive favorite. On the Republican side, Ronald Reagan wins California, but Ford takes Ohio. There’s no Republican contest in New Jersey.

ABC’s Tuesday night lineup includes Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and a 1968 theatrical movie called Prudence and the Pill. CBS counters with a repeat of Really Rosie, an animated adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children’s book starring the voice of Carole King. Also in the CBS lineup tonight, Good Times and M*A*S*H. NBC’s shows include the trucker drama Movin’ On and Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson. Future pro tennis player Lindsay Davenport is born, and former NBA player, coach, and general manager Bob Feerick dies at age 56. The major-league baseball amateur draft begins. Pitcher Floyd Bannister is taken first overall by the Houston Astros. Future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, and Wade Boggs are selected in later rounds, as are pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell. In Wisconsin, a baseball fan with more interest than ability attends his first softball practice of the summer. The church league season begins on Friday night.

AC/DC plays Portsmouth, England, Bob Marley plays Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Eagles play Seattle. At WLS in Chicago, “Silly Love Songs” holds the #1 position on the singles chart; the four songs behind it were also in the top five last week, but have shuffled positions: “Shannon” by Henry Gross, “Happy Days” by Pratt & McClain, “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross, and “Welcome Back” by John Sebastian. New in the top 10 is “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop. The biggest moves on the chart belong to “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy (#44 to #33), “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers (#34 to #25) and “More More More” by the Andrea True Connection (#35 to #27).

The softball player knows that there will be hay to make in a day or so, which means he will be expected to spend his mornings and long afternoons driving a tractor in the heat. There’s no radio on the tractor, but it doesn’t matter. All the songs that matter are in his head.

June 4, 1966: A Share of Problems

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(Pictured: Gemini 9 astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. The two would also fly to the moon on Apollo 10; Cernan would be the last American to walk on the moon, aboard Apollo 17.)

June 4, 1966, was a Saturday. Today, the New York Times carries a three-page anti-Vietnam ad signed by hundreds of college professors; yesterday, a group of about 20 students walked out of commencement exercises at Amherst College to protest an honorary degree given to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Astronauts Gene Cernan and Tom Stafford are in orbit aboard Gemini 9, which was launched yesterday. The mission has had its share of problems: Cernan and Stafford are the backup crew, flying because astronauts Elliott See and Charlie Bassett were killed in an airplane crash in February; a scheduled May 17 launch was postponed when an unmanned vehicle that would be part of a docking exercise was lost in a launch failure. On this mission, the unmanned vehicle launched properly but the docking mechanism on it failed. (Docking maneuvers will be a critical part of any upcoming mission to the moon.) Tomorrow, Cernan will take a two-hour spacewalk, the second ever by an American, although it will be plagued by technical problems also. Gemini 9 will return safely to Earth on Monday. Civil rights activist James Meredith begins what he calls his March Against Fear, intending to walk 220 miles through Mississippi, to challenge the climate of intimidation and fear among black Mississippians registering to vote. Tomorrow, Meredith will be hit by three loads of buckshot and spend three weeks in the hospital. In northeastern Wisconsin, two F2 tornadoes strike near the Oconto county community of Gillett. Future opera singer Cecelia Bartoli is born.

Yesterday, Amberoid won the Belmont Stakes. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Kauai King finished fourth to continue the drought of Triple Crown winners going back to 1948. In major league baseball today, the Cleveland Indians retain a half-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles in the American League; both teams win today, although the second game on Baltimore’s doubleheader against the Kansas City A’s will be suspended by curfew in the top of the 12th; the Orioles will win the completed game tomorrow. The National League-leading San Francisco Giants lose to Philadelphia 6-1; Giants starter Juan Marichal gets the loss, his first of the season after winning 10 straight.

Andy Griffith is on the cover of TV Guide. Guests on today’s American Bandstand are Roy Orbison and the Sunrays. In San Francisco, the Grateful Dead plays the Fillmore and the Jefferson Airplane plays the Civic Center. In London, the Yardbirds work in the studio on an album that will be released in July and called Roger the Engineer.

The teen magazine KRLA Beat dated June 4 shows “A Groovy Kind of Love” by the Mindbenders atop the KRLA Tunedex, but a record store survey published by the station, also dated June 4, shows the #1 song in Los Angeles as “Searchin’ for My Love” by Bobby Moore, which does not appear among the 40 songs on the Tunedex list shown in KRLA Beat. Both show “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones at #3, although the survey also lists the B-side, “Stupid Girl.” Other songs found in the Top 10 of one or the other: “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, “Along Comes Mary” by the Association, “Hey Joe” by the Leaves, “My Little Red Book” by Love, “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, “Monday Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas, “Funny How Love Can Be” by Danny Hutton, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” by the Walker Brothers, “Double Shot” by the Swingin’ Medallions, “Dirty Water” by the Standells, “Hold On I’m Comin'” by Sam and Dave, and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield. Variations in the two surveys are likely because KRLA Beat is a national publication and goes to press well before its street date.

Perspective From the Present: “Searching for My Love” by Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces would get to #27 on the Hot 100. Danny Hutton’s “Funny How Love Can Be” bubbled under at #120. The song would eventually see the Hot 100 in a version by the English studio group First Class; Hutton would make it as one of the three lead singers in Three Dog Night. On the same page of KRLA Beat showing the Tunedex are head shots of the station’s DJs: Dave “the Hullabalooer” Hull, Bob Eubanks, Dick Biondi, Johnny Hayes, “Emperor” Bob Hudson, Casey Kasem, Charlie O’Donnell, and Bill Slater—enough major broadcasting talent to fill a Hall of Fame.

June 28, 1980: Coming Up

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(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.

June 25, 1976: Last Stand

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(Pictured: Muhammad Ali takes a shot from Antonio Inoki.)

June 25, 1976, was a Friday. It is the 100th anniversary of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn in Montana. In Wisconsin, it’s a cool day, although warmer than yesterday, when the temperature didn’t get out of the 60s. Looking ahead to the fall, Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey signs a bill appropriating $800,000 for a swine flu vaccination program. The United States Supreme Court rules that private schools may not discriminate against students by race, and that whites as well as blacks are protected against racial discrimination in private employment. Songwriter Johnny Mercer, who collaborated on such American standards as “Hooray for Hollywood,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” and “That Old Black Magic,” dies at age 66.

The Omen opens in theaters around the country. On TV tonight, CBS airs Macho Callahan, a 1970 theatrical western starring David Janssen; ABC has two made-for-TV films back-to-back: The Desperate Miles and Panic on the 5:22. At midnight in Madison, Wisconsin, the long-running horror showcase Lenny’s Inferno features Vincent Price in four tales by Edgar Allan Poe.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali faces wrestler Antonio Inoki tonight (US time) in Tokyo in a hybrid boxing/wrestling match that is being billed as the World Martial Arts Championship. Their bout, televised in the States on closed circuit in theaters, will end in a draw and leave fans feeling shafted. Female players at Wimbledon threaten to boycott the tournament next year if the women’s prize money isn’t increased to equal the amount male players receive. In the majors, shortstop Mike Phillips of the New York Mets hits for the cycle in a 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. In church league softball, the Monroe United Methodist team loses (again), 8-6 to the Assembly of God.

Leonard Cohen plays Montreal, the Grateful Dead plays Chicago, and Elvis Presley plays Buffalo. Fleetwood Mac played in Milwaukee last night and is in Peoria, Illinois, tonight. ZZ Top takes the Worldwide Texas Tour to Cape Cod, and Aerosmith plays San Antonio. After four weeks at the top in Chicago, “Silly Love Songs” by Wings will be knocked out of the #1 spot on the new WLS survey that comes out tomorrow, replaced by the Captain and Tennille’s “Shop Around.” The hottest record on WLS is “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, which explodes from #13 to #5. “Sara Smile” by Hall and Oates is also new in the Top 10. “Got to Get You Into My Life,” the single released from the Beatles’ Rock and Roll Music compilation album, vaults from #29 to #19, chased closely by “Let Her In,” the first single by TV heartthrob John Travolta, which moves from #32 to #20. The single biggest move on the chart belongs to Heart, whose debut single, “Crazy on You,” jumps from #36 to #22. On the album chart, Wings at the Speed of Sound continues to hold the top spot, while Aerosmith’s Rocks, Fleetwood Mac, Frampton Comes Alive!, and Presence by Led Zeppelin continue to slug it out in the top five.

Perspective From the Present: The Ali-Inoki fight was considered farcical before it happened and a joke afterward. It was later revealed that Ali thought the bout would be an exhibition but Inoki thought it was to be a real fight; when it was over, Ali had a serious leg injury and Inoki a broken foot. After the fight, two athletes maintained a lifelong friendship.

June 20, 1980: Can’t Stop

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(Pictured: the empty set for The Hollywood Squares.)

June 20, 1980, was a Friday. The prime interest rate is lowered from 12.25 percent to 12 percent, down from its peak of 20 percent in May. National elections are held in Iraq. The annual Gay Freedom Parade is held in San Francisco. A Delta Airlines 727 bound for Tampa mistakenly lands at MacDill Air Force Base instead of Tampa International Airport. NASA announces that photos taken by the Viking Orbiter I spacecraft show “meteorological anomalies” on the surface of Mars. New garbage collection rates go into effect in Junction City, Oregon. The new children’s library, attached to the city’s 1904 Carnegie Library, opens in Macomb, Illinois. In one of the biggest fights in years, Roberto Duran upsets Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC welterweight boxing championship. Infielder Fred Patek, who is 5’4″, hits three home runs as the California Angels defeat the Boston Red Sox 20-2. NASCAR driver Martin Truex, Jr., is born, and Swedish composer Gustav Allan Pettersson dies at age 69.

The UA Cinema 6 theater opens in Amarillo, Texas. The Empire Strikes Back goes into wide release across the country, playing in 823 theaters. Other movies opening include Brubaker starring Robert Redford, Can’t Stop the Music starring the Village People, The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, and The Blues Brothers. After 14 seasons, the original Hollywood Squares goes off the air with its final broadcast on NBC. Two other game shows, Chain Reaction and High Rollers, are also seen for the last time. Wheel of Fortune, originally scheduled for cancellation, survives.

The Knebworth Festival in England features the Beach Boys, Santana, Mike Oldfield, and Lindisfarne. Fleetwood Mac plays at Wembley Arena in London. Led Zeppelin plays Brussels, Belgium. Back in the States, the Beach Boys appear in a taped performance on the late-night TV show Fridays. The Grateful Dead plays the West High Auditorium in Anchorage, Alaska, and Harry Chapin plays Cohasset, Massachusetts. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band play Detroit. The Little River Band plays Chicago.

At WABC in New York, “Funky Town” by Lipps Inc. is in the third of what will be five straight weeks at #1. Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” makes a big move from #10 to #2. Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” is new in the Top 10 at #8; so is “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel, blasting from #26 to #10. The latter two replace the Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp” and “Lost in Love” by Air Supply, which fall to #11 and #12 respectively. “Back Together Again” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, which will reach only #56 on the Hot 100, has peaked at #13 on WABC. Among the new songs on the WABC survey is “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd.

Perspective From the Present: In the summer of 1980, I was working the album-rock night shift at WXXQ in Freeport, Illinois. It was the last summer I spent living in my parents’ house. One of my brothers had just graduated from high school, we had spent the last two years going to high school together and we’d do a year of college at the same place. My other brother had just finished seventh grade. Because I moved away in the fall, I missed the most significant of his growing-up years, before he graduated from high school in 1985. As a result, I did not know him—and I do not know him—nearly as well as I know our other brother. On my long list of regrets, that’s right up there.

June 17, 1994: Don’t Turn Around

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(Pictured: the opening ceremony from the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field in Chicago.)

June 17, 1994, is a Friday. Former football star O.J. Simpson, suspected of murdering his wife and a friend, fails to turn himself in to Los Angeles police, instead leading them on a low-speed freeway chase watched by millions on live television. Opening ceremonies for the 1994 World Cup, which is being played in the United States for the first time, are held at Soldier Field in Chicago; just after welcoming 750 million worldwide TV viewers, mistress of ceremonies Oprah Winfrey falls from the dais. In the inaugural game, Germany beats Bolivia 1-0. In the NBA finals, the Houston Rockets take a three-to-two lead in the series over the New York Knicks with a 94-81 victory in New York. (The Rockets will win the championship in seven games.)

The sale of Cheerios is up in the air at the moment, pending an FDA investigation of whether an unapproved pesticide was used on the oats in the cereal. DirecTV is first demonstrated to consumers at an electronics store in Mississippi; within ten months the system will have grown to one million subscribers across the country. The animated film The Lion King opens, but the top-grossing film of the weekend will be Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson and James Spader. Former White House aide Kathleen Willey writes a brief letter to President Clinton praising his recent D-Day speech; when Clinton is accused four years later of having groped Willey in ’93, Clinton’s office will release the letter and several others hoping to prove that his contacts with Willey were all above board. In Collinsville, Illinois, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is sold to new owners.

In Detroit, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss of KISS, along with assorted lawyers, cops, and a film crew, descend on a KISS fan convention to take back memorabilia they claim was stolen from a warehouse in New York City. The Grateful Dead and Cracker play Eugene, Oregon, and Metallica plays Middletown, New York. The Southern Spirit ’94 tour, which features Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Ted Nugent, plays St. Louis. Whitney Houston plays Hartford, Connecticut. Phil Collins plays the SkyDome in Toronto; among those in attendance is Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, who’s in town with his bandmates for the weekend to shoot the video for “Love Is Strong,” from their forthcoming album Voodoo Lounge.

On the Billboard Hot 100 that comes out tomorrow, “I Swear” by All-4-One is in its fourth of what will be 11 straight weeks at #1. (A country version by John Michael Montgomery, which peaked at #42, is hanging on at #87.) Ace of Base has two hits in the Top 10, “The Sign” at #5 and “Don’t Turn Around” at #6. In addition to Ace of Base, a Swedish group sometimes compared to ABBA, the chart has a distinctly 70s feel: Big Mountain’s reggae-style over of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” is at #7, Joshua Kadison’s “Beautiful in My Eyes,” which sounds like a lesser album track by Elton John, is at #19. General Public’s cover of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” is at #26, and Mariah Carey’s cover of Nilsson’s “Without You” is at #29. Also on the Hot 100: Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf (with “Objects in the Rear-View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”) , Aerosmith, and John Mellencamp (with another 70s cover, “Wild Night”), and Boston.

Perspective From the Present: “Objects in the Rear View Mirror” is far better than its title, which isn’t saying much, since that title is one of the worst in history. Seriously, though, the song is pretty good even though it’s three minutes too long, but that’s standard in the oeuvre of Mr. Loaf. The video, along with several others from the Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell album, is directed by Michael Bay, future director of The Rock, Armageddon, and several Transformers movies, among others.