July 3, 1981: You Cannot Be Serious

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(Pictured: John McEnroe at Wimbledon, July 4, 1981.)

July 3, 1981, was a Friday. It’s the legal holiday before Independence Day tomorrow. President Reagan is among those with the day off. He has no public events, takes only a couple of phone calls, and otherwise spends the day with the First Lady and an old friend from California. Outside the White House today, demonstrators protest a number of issues including budget cuts, defense spending, and Reagan’s foreign policy positions. In Israel, the outcome of Tuesday’s election is still in doubt. It is unclear whether the Likud Party retained enough seats in the Knesset for Menachim Begin to remain as prime minister, or whether the Labor Party’s Shimon Peres will take over. But the lead story on all three network newscasts regards the visit of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko to Poland, which has been the site of labor unrest and the Solidarity movement since 1980. Also in the news tonight is the possibility that Reagan might name Arizona appeals court judge Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first woman on the United States Supreme Court. A report on page 20 of today’s New York Times is headlined “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” It refers to a disease currently described as GRID, for “gay related immune disorder.” Actor Ross Martin, best known for playing Artemus Gordon on the 60s TV show The Wild Wild West, dies of a heart attack while playing tennis. He was 61 years old.

Tomorow, the Reagans will travel to Virginia to celebrate the First Lady’s birthday before returning to host a White House staff Independence Day party and to watch the DC fireworks from the Truman Balcony. Also tomorrow, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the first time, and the Beach Boys will headline a show on the National Mall.

Chris Evert Lloyd wins the women’s singles championship at Wimbledon, defeating Hanna Mandlikova in straight sets. She is the first woman in 14 years to win the title without losing a set. (Among those watching at Wimbledon today is Lady Diana Spencer, who will marry Britain’s Prince Charles later this month.) Tomorrow’s Wimbledon men’s final matches John McEnroe against Bjorn Borg. There’s no major-league baseball today due to the ongoing players’ strike. Players walked off the job on June 12 over free agency rules.

At the movies this weekend, popular options include Superman II, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and Bill Murray in Stripes. Rush plays Bloomington, Minnesota, with opening act the Joe Perry Project. The two bands will move on to Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee, for a show on the Fourth of July. Def Leppard plays Barcelona, Spain. Santana opens a two-night stand in Hyannis, Massachusetts; their show tomorrow night will be broadcast live on a nationwide network of album-rock radio stations. Bruce Springsteen plays East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Van Halen plays Detroit. In Eugene, Oregon, the Oregon Jam stars Heart, Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers, and Loverboy; the same four acts will be joined tomorrow by Ozzy Osborne for the annual Day on the Green in Oakland, California. Ozzy is in Bakersfield tonight. Heart, Travers, and Loverboy will be joined by Jimmy Buffett at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on Sunday.

At KEZR in San Jose, California, “Hearts” by Marty Balin jumps to #1. “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates is #2 and last week’s #1, “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes, is #3. The hottest record on the survey is the Greatest American Hero theme by Joey Scarbury, up 10 spots to #9. Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” is up one spot to #12. The highest-debuting song on the survey is “Cool Love” by Pablo Cruise at #24.

Perspective From the Present: the disease once known as GRID would later be named AIDS; the New York Times story on this date is the first mention of the disease in the national media. Baseball resumed with the All-Star Game on August 9. The Capitol lawn concerts continue to this day and are broadcast annually as A Capitol Fourth. John McEnroe won the Wimbledon men’s final but spent most of the match berating the officials. At one point, he disputed a call by shouting “You cannot be serious!,” which became an iconic moment in his career and in 2002, the title of his autobiography. I am guessing I worked a lot of radio over the holiday weekend, and on the Fourth, Ann and I watched the fireworks at the football stadium in our college town. I think. It’s been too long to remember.

4 thoughts on “July 3, 1981: You Cannot Be Serious

  1. Wesley

    You name four movies from 1981 and I went to see every one of them in the theater. Apart from a film festival or two, I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie theater at least four times in a year, much less during one summer.

    “Theme from the Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)” is another headache of a hit on top 40 radio in 1981, kept out of #1 by another one that hasn’t aged well, “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. It even did better on the pop chart than on the Easy Listening one (#3 peak). Ironically, singer Joey Scarbury worked with Mike Post on TV themes before and after this one hit, and Post’s recording of “Theme from Hill Street Blues,” the other TV theme to make the top ten in 1981, has held up much better, IMO.

    1. mikehagerty

      I pretty much agree with Wesley about “Theme from the Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)”, apart from one thing.

      The moment I heard it on the premiere episode, I said “That’s a hit.” And in the snakebit world of 1981 music, it was better than a lot of stuff.

      For me, “Greatest American…” was a comeback record. Joey’s “Mixed Up Guy” got to #24 at KHJ…but only #73 in Billboard.

  2. John Gallagher

    Several years ago, I moved Joey Scarbury into my cocktail/dinner music folder at weddings. The older guests seem to enjoy the movie and TV themes I have in that folder.

    It’s a shame that “Cool Love” from Pablo Cruise all but disappeared after 1981 from the radio. That songs (and it’s time, 1981) have a special place in my heart.

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