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.

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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.

June 14, 1976: Frog Legs for Dinner

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(Pictured: the surface of Mars as seen from the Viking 1 spacecraft, 1976.)

June 14, 1976, was a Monday. It’s Flag Day, and Liberty State Park opens across from the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey. Presidential candidates Morris Udall and Frank Church release their delegates and throw their support to Jimmy Carter, which should put him over the top for the Democratic nomination. The Supreme Court refuses to intervene in the Boston school busing controversy. Among the events on President Ford’s schedule today is a speech by telephone to the Bicentennial Exposition on Science and Technology, being held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He also receives the first volume of his public papers in a brief ceremony. The Viking I spacecraft, closing in on Mars, begins sending pictures back to Earth. Later in the week it will enter Martian orbit, and it will land on July 20th. Federal judge Oliver J. Carter, who presided over Patty Hearst’s bank robbery trial earlier this year, dies at age 65, and future pro hockey player Ryan Johnson is born. The Wayne Hays/Elizabeth Ray sex scandal continues to gather news headlines. High jumper Dwight Stones is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Newsweek runs a brief feature story about singer Tom Waits. California governor and Democratic presidential candidate Jerry Brown is on the cover of People.

The Monday specials at Conrad’s Supper Club in McFarland, Wisconsin, give diners a choice between a tenderloin and deep-fried frog legs, either one for $3.50. The Grateful Dead plays the Beacon Theater in New York; elsewhere in the city, Diana Ross plays the Palace Theater. Concert tours continue for AC/DC (Sheffield, England), Paul McCartney and Wings (San Francisco) and Bob Marley (Paris, France). On The Mike Douglas Show this week, the co-host is Barney Miller star Hal Linden. The Gong Show premieres on NBC. Only two big-league baseball games are broadcast nationally each week; tonight on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball, it’s the Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati. The Reds win in the bottom of the ninth when Ken Griffey singles home Dave Concepcion. A young Cubs fan in southern Wisconsin will watch the game, passing up the CBS reruns of Rhoda, Phyllis, All in the Family, Maude, and Medical Center.

The Cubs fan will not have to work on the farm today. After a hot and stormy weekend, the weather remains iffy, so he will spend much of the day with the radio on. At WLS, “Silly Love Songs” by Wings holds the top spot for a third week; new in the Top 10 are “Get Up and Boogie” by Silver Convention and “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore. The biggest move within the station’s top 45 belongs to Thin Lizzy again this week—“The Boys Are Back in Town” is up 11, from #33 to #22. Among the new songs on the chart this week are “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen and “Crazy on You” by a new band, Heart.

Perspective From the Present: This was a quiet summer week for 16-year-old me. I had a dentist appointment on Thursday and a softball game on Friday. I can’t be entirely sure I watched the Cubs/Reds game on Monday night, although I doubt I would have skipped it.

June 8, 1984: Press Your Luck

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(Pictured: Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia, on stage in the summer of 1984.)

June 8, 1984, was a Friday. Eight Midwestern states are hit by severe weather. Shortly before 1AM, an F5 tornado strikes Barneveld, Wisconsin, about 30 miles west of Madison. Ninety percent of the village is damaged or destroyed and nine people are killed. Other less-intense tornadoes strike five other locations in south central Wisconsin. President Reagan is in London for an economic summit. Today, CBS Sports executive Neal Pilson tells journalists that of all the pro sports, the NBA is the only one whose ratings haven’t eroded in recent years. Tonight, the Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-103 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals. The game on CBS is beaten in the TV ratings by a rerun of the ABC detective series Matt Houston. With Boston suffering through a heat wave and no air-conditioning in Boston Garden, the courtside temperature at gametime is 98 degrees.

On the game show Press Your Luck, an episode is broadcast in which contestant Michael Larson figures out a pattern that helps him beat the game; he wins over $110,000 before voluntarily stopping play. The show had been taped in May; producers could find nothing in the rules that let them out of paying him what was then the biggest prize ever won on a TV game show. Jamie Farr and Vicki Lawrence wrap up the week as celebrity guests on the game show Body Language. Other game shows on the air today include Family Feud, The New $25,000 Pyramid (with guest stars Linda Kelsey and Harry Anderson), and The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour.

New in theaters this weekend are Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver, and Gremlins. They will compete with the previous weekend’s top attractions, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In Houston, a concert at the Astrodome billed as the Texxas Jam stars Rush, .38 Special, Ozzy Osbourne, Bryan Adams, and Gary Moore. Billy Joel plays Wembley Arena in London, Joe Jackson plays Kansas City, the Grateful Dead plays Sacramento, and David Gilmour plays Chicago. San Francisco morning DJ Dr. Don Rose celebrates his 2,500th show at KFRC.

On the new Billboard Hot 100 due out tomorrow, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper knocks “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” by Deniece Williams from the #1 spot. All but two of the top 10 singles were there last week; Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” and “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters are new at #9 and #10. Those two songs replace “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, which drops to #12, and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, which is down to #16. The hottest record within the Top 40 is “Legs” by ZZ Top at #25, up 11 spots from the previous week. Four songs are new in the Top 40: “Doctor Doctor” by the Thompson Twins at #32, “No Way Out” by Jefferson Starship at #35, “When Doves Cry” by Prince at #36 (in only its second week on the Hot 100), and “Don’t Walk Away” by Rick Springfield at #39. The highest debut on the Hot 100 is Elton John’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” at #49.

At WKAI in Macomb, Illinois, two months after getting hired, the new guy is working a split shift. He’s on the AM side from 11AM to 1PM  and he comes back to tend the automated soft-rock FM from 7 to midnight. He suspects this isn’t going to be the case for long—once the station’s new owner takes over, he expects a better shift and plenty of responsibility to go with it, but the sale isn’t final yet. In years to come, several songs popular in June 1984 will take him back to those night shifts, putting in his time alone in the building, at a station in the middle of nowhere, because that’s what young radio guys do.

June 2, 1976: Love Letter

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(Pictured: the Bay City Rollers on The Midnight Special, 1976.)

June 2, 1976, is a Wednesday. In yesterday’s presidential primaries, Jimmy Carter won South Dakota and placed second in Rhode Island to add to his lead in the Democratic delegate totals. In Rhode Island, the winner was “uncommitted,” which is widely interpreted as a win for California governor Jerry Brown, who was not on the ballot there. Idaho Senator Frank Church won big in Montana. On the Republican side, President Gerald Ford won in Rhode Island, but lost to challenger Ronald Reagan in South Dakota and Montana. Today, Ford welcomes King Juan Carlos of Spain to the White House. He is making a state visit in honor of the Bicentennial. Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles is the victim of a car bombing in Phoenix. He will die of his injuries later in the month; two men will be convicted of the bombing, reportedly ordered because Bolles had uncovered wrongdoing by a prominent businessman. According to the Associated Press, a French journalist has confirmed that the Khmer Rouge have massacred over a million people in Cambodia since taking power in 1975. Another AP story quotes Senator Church as confirming that both the FBI and CIA withheld information from the Warren Commission during its investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.

At Eagle supermarkets in Wisconsin, bone-in beef round steak is $1.17 a pound, and ground beef is 75 cents a pound. A 23-ounce can of Funny Face drink mix in strawberry, grape, lemonade, or cherry is $1.09, and a box of Fiddle Faddle is 52 cents. On TV tonight, some viewers will find their regular programming pre-empted by a broadcast of evangelist Billy Graham’s crusade in Taiwan. On ABC tonight, it’s The Bionic Woman, Baretta, and Starsky and Hutch. CBS airs Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which Phoenix evens the series at two games each by beating Boston in overtime, 109-107. At a wrestling match in Philadelphia, Muhammad Ali jumps into the ring and begins taunting Gorilla Monsoon, who responds by body-slamming Ali to the mat. It’s unknown whether the event was staged or real.

The Rolling Stones play Cologne, Germany, and KISS plays Zurich, Switzerland. Elvis Presley plays El Paso, Texas, and ZZ Top’s Worldwide Texas Tour plays Norfolk, Virginia. At WLS in Chicago,“Silly Love Songs” by Wings has taken over the #1 spot on the singles chart. “Shop Around” by the Captain and Tennille continues to blast up the chart, moving from #20 to #10. “Rock and Roll Love Letter” by the Bay City Rollers is also flying fast, moving from #24 to #12, as is the Rolling Stones’ “Fool to Cry,” moving from #33 to #20. The top album at WLS is Wings at the Speed of Sound, knocking Led Zeppelin’s Presence to #2.

In Monroe, Wisconsin, it’s going to be a pleasant day, with a high temperature in the low 70s. Tomorrow is the last day of school. It will also be the night the baseball team hands out its awards. A sophomore who has been team manager expects to earn a letter, which he does. The letter will be proudly affixed to a letterman’s jacket, which he will wear for the next several years. Many years hence, it will continue to hang in his closet, and every once in a while, he’ll take it out and look at it. And many years hence, he will unashamedly admit he digs “Rock and Roll Love Letter,” for its combination of relentless drive, boy-band bubblegum, and the way the singer promises to “keep on rock and rollin’ til my jeans explode.” And how, at the end of the instrumental break, they do.