(Pictured: Aretha at the Grammys, March 1971.)
There are moments—more scattered and less frequent than they used to be—when the summer of 1971 comes vividly back to me. I’ve written about it a lot over the years: about being a full-time child for the last time, about how radio school was in session, about the family vacation we took that year. Here’s more, from the edition of Billboard dated June 19, 1971.
—United Artists Records will showcase some of its artists on one night at the Hollywood Bowl later this month. Tickets will be 99 cents each with no reserved seats. Scheduled performers include Canned Heat, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sugarloaf, and War. UA estimates it will cost $25,000 to stage the show. All groups will work for union scale.
—UA has also taken a full-page ad to plug the band Cochise, their album Swallow Tales, and the single “Love’s Made a Fool of You.” UA calls the song “2:47 of screaming excitement. Already Cochise entered the Top Ten at WLS in Chicago and went to #1 in Peoria at WIRL. Rock and roll is NOT dead.”
—For the first time, head shops in Chicago are stocking classical recordings. Most head shops are mom-and-pop operations, and they want to stock music not found in the big national outlets. Young listeners are being exposed to classical music by free-form FM stations, some of whom are incorporating it into their programming.
—Some jukebox operators are not stocking certain big hits, either by customer request or at their own discretion, including “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer and Shipley (marijuana references), “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley” (controversial Vietnam content) and “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin (“too frantic,” according to one bartender). “Timothy” by the Buoys (cannibalism) has been yanked from some jukeboxes also, but one supplier in New Orleans says, “I wish I had bought more of it.”
—In Madison, Wisconsin, “Timothy” was rejected by jukebox supplier Pat Schwartz of Modern Specialty Company, but she says she was guided by local radio station WISM, which elected not to play the record. She expresses concern about “Bitch,” which backs the current Rolling Stones hit, “Brown Sugar.” She noticed it while typing jukebox labels. “This is a word I won’t allow my children to use, and yet here it is the flipside of the #1 record on the Billboard Hot 100.”
—An ad in the Radio/TV programming section is headlined “We Believe in the Tooth Fairy.” An impressive list of stations is already running the two-minute comedy serial produced by Chickenman creator Dick Orkin, including WLS/Chicago, WQAM/Miami, WDGY/Minneapolis, WKBW/Buffalo, WRIT/Milwaukee, and WOLF/Syracuse.
—Since January, Canadian stations have been required to program at least 30 percent Canadian-made musical content. Certain stations have found a loophole, counting as Canadian several R&B records by American artists, produced by Americans in American studios, but with rhythm tracks laid down in Toronto. Detroit/Windsor station CKLW counted Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” as Canadian content because two session musicians on it were born in Canada. The Canadian Radio and Television Commission is expected to refine the rule.
—Aretha Franklin is #1 on the Best Selling Soul Singles charts with the double-A sided “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “A Brand New Me.” Aretha Live at Fillmore West is #1 on Best Selling Soul LPs, where Marvin Gaye’s new album, What’s Going On, makes a strong debut at #5.
—On Hot Country Singles, Jerry Reed’s “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” is #1. Just one song is new in the Top 10: Stonewall Jackson’s cover of “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” currently a big pop hit for Lobo. Reed’s album, also titled When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, is #2 on Hot Country LPs, behind Merle Haggard’s Hag.
—On the Easy Listening chart, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters is in its fourth week at #1.
—“Rainy Days and Mondays” is one of several records leap-frogged this week by Carole King’s double A-sided “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” which goes from #6 to #1 on the Hot 100. Also jumped: last week’s #1, “Want Ads” by Honey Cone; two other former #1 hits, “Brown Sugar” and “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night; and Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy.” King’s album Tapestry is the new #1 on the Top LPs chart, knocking Sticky Fingers by the Stones to #2.