July 15, 1979: Summer of Summer

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(Pictured: Donna Summer.)

(Note to patrons: this post originally appeared at Popdose.)

July 15, 1979, was a Sunday. In the Soviet Union, it’s Metallurgist’s Day. With gasoline prices skyrocketing again and his approval rating at 25 percent, President Jimmy Carter delivers a prime-time address in which he addresses the energy situation, but also what he perceives as a crisis of confidence on the part of the American people. The speech will be remembered as the “malaise speech,” even though Carter never uses the word. His approval ratings will rebound before cratering again later in the week, when he will fire half of his cabinet. In Australia, souvenir hunters descend on the southwestern desert to find pieces of Skylab, which crashed there three days before.

The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum and Sophie’s Choice by William Styron top the New York Times Best Seller List for fiction; The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet by Herman Tarnower and Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin lead the nonfiction list. The Chicago Tribune reports that 2.3 million copies of John Irving’s The World According to Garp have been sold since its publication in 1978. The top movie at the box office this weekend is Alien starring Sigourney Weaver. A tropical storm that will be named Claudette forms in the Atlantic Ocean. Ten days from now, it will drop 43 inches of rain on Alvin, Texas, in just 24 hours—a single-day American rainfall record. Alvin is the hometown of baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan, who will be the starter for the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night in Seattle. Horseshoe Canada, the governing body for the game of horseshoe pitching, is created in Ottawa. Jerilyn Britz wins the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship.

Rick Garberson, drummer for the Akron, Ohio-based band the Bizarros, dies of carbon monoxide poisoning. Funeral services are held in Los Angeles for Minnie Riperton, the pop singer who died on July 12. Harry Chapin plays a show in Los Angeles, Devo plays Buffalo, and Ian Hunter plays Kansas City. Cheap Trick and Graham Parker share a bill in Chicago. Van Halen plays Midland, Texas, the Allman Brothers Band plays Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Cars play Columbus, Ohio. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer takes over the #1 spot from Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell,” which falls to #2. Summer’s former #1 hit “Hot Stuff” is at #3; this is its 10th straight week among the Top 3. (In all, Donna Summer will have a hit in the Top 10 of the singles chart from mid-May through the end of August; her Bad Girls album will spend six non-consecutive weeks at #1.)

A young disc jockey in Dubuque, Iowa, who is attending summer school classes at college when he’s not working, is fairly pleased not to be playing Donna Summer records, although what he’s playing instead is nothing to get very excited about: Kenny Rogers’ “She Believes in Me,” “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” by Dr. Hook, and “Shadows in the Moonlight” by Anne Murray), to name a few. He’s learning that the “real” world of radio is a lot different than the college world of radio. Although he probably wouldn’t want to admit it, it’s not as much fun.

2 thoughts on “July 15, 1979: Summer of Summer

  1. Shark

    July 1979: the first time I received a paycheck for working an airshift on the radio. I didn’t have to play a Donna Summer record, but I did play “2112: The Temples of Syrinx” by Rush out of the top of the hour ID at Midnight on a Friday night on WXXQ/Freeport, Illinois as my first song ever. Boy, was I nervous!

  2. Wesley

    Ah yes, the summer of 1979, when female vocals ruled the top of the Hot 100 for twenty weeks from Amii Stewart’s Knock on Wood on April 21 through Chic’s Good Times on Aug. 18. (Note that I’m counting duets like Reunited by Peaches & Herb here and there was one exception, The Bee Gees’ Love You Inside Out on June 9, and with falsettos like that, most listeners probably considered them feminine vocals anyhow.) Then came the studly Knack with My Sharona on Aug. 25, and until Feb. 16, 1980 only one record with female vocals topped the pop chart afterward, No More Tears by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand (note that it took two solo females for the first time ever) on Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 1979. I don’t know the significance of this other to say it’s something that I could share on here for this entry, so there you go.

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