(Pictured: the Sex Pistols on stage in December 1976.)
December 2, 1976, was a Thursday. The weather across the Midwest and the Northeast is bitterly cold with heavy snow in some areas. Fidel Castro, who has been prime minister of Cuba since 1957, becomes president of Cuba, a position he will hold until 2008. A Utah judge has ordered the firing-squad execution of Gary Gilmore be carried out on Monday after Gilmore turned down a further stay of execution. Sentenced to death in October for two murders, Gilmore has waived all appeals and wants his execution to go forward. (It will, but not until January.) The state of Illinois holds a legislative hearing on a proposal to reinstate the death penalty. An amendment has already been stripped from the bill that would require legislators who vote for the death penalty to witness executions. President Ford holds meetings with the National Security Council, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, and the chairman of a commission on governmental salaries. He also holds a budget meeting. Ford’s half-brother, Bud King, is killed in a traffic accident in Tennessee. Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh, who won two World Series titles with the team and retired at the close of the 1976 season, dies of a stroke at age 59. In Britain, the country is abuzz over a TV interview yesterday in which members of the Sex Pistols used obscene language while talking with interviewer Bill Grundy. The Chicago Tribune reports on a study suggesting that young people who consume popular food additives such as caffeine and monosodium glutamate may be risking their health. Hanley-Dawson Cadillac in Chicago will sell you a new 1977 Coupe de Ville for $7,995. In today’s Peanuts strip, Linus discusses his grandfather.
On daytime TV, guests on Dinah! with Dinah Shore include Orson Welles, Dyan Cannon, and Rob Reiner. On TV tonight, the ABC lineup includes Welcome Back Kotter, the holiday special Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, and The Streets of San Francisco. CBS airs The Waltons, Hawaii Five-0, and Barnaby Jones. NBC has the first episode of the nine-hour miniseries Once an Eagle, about two soldiers and their experiences in the World Wars. The Jacksons are on the cover of Jet and Linda Ronstadt is on the cover of Rolling Stone. Linda and her manager strongly dislike some of the sexy Annie Leibovitz photos that accompany the cover story. Lynryd Skynyrd plays St. Paul, Minnesota, KISS plays Memphis, and Elvis Presley opens an 11-night stand at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Bee Gees play Madison Square Garden in New York, Aerosmith wraps up a two-night engagement in Detroit, and Black Sabbath plays Providence, Rhode Island, with opening act Montrose.
At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart spends the second of what will be five weeks at #1. “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille holds at #2. Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” “Disco Duck,” and “You Are the Woman” by Firefall round out the Top 5. “Beth” by KISS is the only new song in the Top 10, moving from #11 to #8. “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, “You Don’t Have to Be a Star” by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and “Livin’ Thing” by ELO are all up seven spots, from #23 to #16, #29 to #22, and #33 to #26 respectively. Two other songs farther down the chart make eight-place moves: “Love Ballad” by L.T.D. (#38 to #30) and “Baby Boy” by Mary Kay Place, singing as aspiring country singer Loretta Haggers, her character from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (#39 to #31). On the album chart, the top three hold their places from the week before: Frampton Comes Alive at #1, Boston at #2, and Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life at #3. The fastest-moving albums of the week are Elton John’s Blue Moves (#20 to #14) and the debut album by Firefall (#29 to #23).
Perspective From the Present: WLS never had a stronger lineup than it did in 1976, with Larry Lujack and his newscaster Lyle Dean in the morning, Tommy Edwards on middays, Bob Sirott in the afternoon, John Landecker and Steve King at night, and Yvonne Daniels on overnights. You can hear the last part of Daniels’ show and a bit of Sirott filling in for Lujack on the morning show on December 2, 1976, here.