August 26, 1974: From the Sidelines

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(Pictured: John Denver.)

August 26, 1974, was a Monday. By Congressional resolution, it’s Women’s Equality Day. Aviator Charles Lindbergh, first to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927, dies at age 72. President Gerald Ford, in office just 17 days, issues a statement on Lindbergh’s death. Following a cabinet meeting that focuses on the economy, he speaks to 160 baseball players set to compete in the Little League World Series. This evening he briefly attends a reception in honor of Herb Stein, outgoing chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. NBC Nightly News leads with Lindbergh’s death; CBS and ABC save it for the end of their broadcasts, leading instead with Ford’s cabinet meeting and an economic summit set for the end of September. Six named typhoons are currently located in the eastern Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico: Ione, Kirsten, Joyce, Lorraine, Maggie, and Polly. It’s the largest number of simultaneous Pacific storms since records have been kept; the number won’t be equaled again until 2015. The recently renamed U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, now known as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, announces a new emblem to go along with its new name.

In sports, seven games are scheduled in the majors. The division-leading Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Los Angeles Dodgers all have the night off, but the Oakland A’s lose to the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1. There was one game in the World Football League yesterday; the Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Hawaiians 14-8 to start the eighth week of the regular season. Five games will be played on Wednesday and one more on Thursday. This week, John Matuszak of the NFL’s Houston Oilers will jump to the WFL’s Houston Texans, signing a million-dollar contract and debuting in Wednesday’s game against the New York Stars. During the second quarter, he will be served with a restraining order, and he will have to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines.

Elton John is featured in the current People magazine talking about his forthcoming film role in Tommy, his homes in Beverly Hills and London, and his new and record-setting $8 million contract with MCA Records. In St. Paul, Minnesota, oldies station WYOO adopts a new identity during a live broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair. U100 has a high-energy rock format intended to compete with WDGY, KDWB, and KSTP. The format and station identity will last until 1976. The Washington Post publishes a lukewarm review of Joni Mitchell’s Saturday night concert in Columbia, Maryland. Tonight, Rush plays Cleveland, only its second headlining show with new drummer Neal Peart, who replaced John Rutsey earlier this summer. Deep Purple plays Hartford, Connecticut, and Chicago plays in suburban Detroit. Liza Minnelli plays the Ohio State Fair and Elvis plays Las Vegas. Aerosmith plays Worcester, Massachusetts. At the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, John Denver’s shows this week are being recorded for an album that will be called An Evening With John Denver, to be released in 1975. Tonight’s performance of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” will eventually be a #1 single.

At WMYQ in Miami, “The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace holds at #1. Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” is #2 and “Having My Baby” by Paul Anka is #3. Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” leaps from #10 to #4. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim at #8 and “Wildwood Weed” by Jim Stafford at #9. The hottest record in Miami is “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe” by Barry White, up to #12 this week from #28 the week before. Another major mover is “Wild Thing” by Fancy, up to #13 from #22 last week. Three songs are new on the WMYQ survey: “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” by Stevie Wonder, “Then Came You” by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners, and “Earache My Eye” by Cheech and Chong.

Perspective From the Present: It is possible that this day was my first day of high school in Monroe, Wisconsin. We usually went back to school before Labor Day, although not always on the Monday before. Whenever it was, my first day of high school should remain one of the more memorable days of my life, but as I wrote a few years ago, I actually don’t remember anything about it at all.

For more about the World Football League and this bygone week in television, click here

2 responses

  1. The top three list from Miami makes me shudder. All hit #1 on Billboard too, and they’ve all aged badly and get spotty oldies airplay today, not that they were great shakes to begin with. Yet at the same time, as this chart notes, classics like I Shot the Sheriff, Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe, You Haven’t Done Nothing and Then Came You were thriving on the radio and record stores and hitting #1 nationally as well. That’s 1974 for you, with great records mixed in with several other hits of the time that make you say “Huh?!”

    1. A confluence of things in 1974—the peak year of singles sales before a rapid decline—but the buyers were largely pre-teens and young teens. Programmers who followed the singles charts exclusively were going to end up with a lot of dreck from that year on.

      Those who were paying attention to LP sales as well could figure out that Paper Lace, Paul Anka and Andy Kim weren’t as big as Eric Clapton, Bad Company and Stevie Wonder, but in ’74, most Top 40 stations still wanted big teen numbers and Buzz Bennett showed us all that the way to do that was to play to the pre-teens.

      Ultimately, it killed Top 40 for most listeners over 16—and the chickens would come home to roost in a defection to album rock stations over the next few years.

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