Sunday, August 2, 2020

Rock Radio AUGUST 1970 Sweat, Snow & War

BFYP BULLETIN 08/09/20: Sadly, just days after I posted August's BFYP blog, Pat O'Day, the DJ spotlighted with our Featured Radio Survey, passed to DJ Heaven (at 85 years old, Tuesday, 08/4/20). Pat's, popularity as a pioneering West Coast DJ was legendary. This feature has now turned into a tribute ... RIP, Pat.
And now, flip on the mic
, let's Rock On back to Pat's era,1970 ...

Summer Sweat, Snow, and War 

Except during a World War, more than ever in our lifetime we’re dealing with extreme highs and lows, and too many personal tragedies. With slightly less calamity, we look back on the 1970s.

No matter our capacity for empathy, we cannot take on the mourning of every loss; so often, we express our profound grief for celebrities, as an alternative. The 1970s would prove to be a tough decade of deaths for young artists. But August 1970, the summer heat covered us in sweat, no tears …

50 Years Ago this Month ~ AUGUST 1970  

August 8th: The Capitol Theatre (Port Chester, New York) hosted Janis Joplin where she introduced
the first incarnation of “Mercedes Benz.” Talk about spontaneity … reportedly, Janis was stirred by the first line of a song by poet, Michael McClure, "Come on, God, and buy me a Mercedes Benz."
She and music buddy Bob Neuwirth found their mutual muses in a local area bar where they penned the anti-establishment song and introduced it in the second show.
Sadly, barely two months later, we Rock & Roll fans still suffered from the death of Jimi Hendrix (September 18), when we met with another painful loss in Janis’ death on October 7th.
Janis recorded the a cappella “Mercedes Benz” in one take, October 1, 1970, but never saw it released on the B-side of her May 1971 posthumous hit, “Cry Baby.” She died three days after the recording session. (I never thought “Mercedes Benz” received the respect it’s due. Definitely better than a B-side release.)

On Your Tinny Transistor Radio ~ AUGUST 1970       

Pop music station, KFRC/San Francisco, blasted the summer with fan-favored hits in its 08/17/70 chart listing. Two weather extremes, with hits like Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime,” and Anne Murray’s “Snowbird” grabbed our attention in the top ten. The snowbird sings the song he always sings ♪ but … ♪ It’ll soon be summertime | And we’ll sing again
            Then, as now, the summer airwaves reverberated with riots and protests. In a 5-week top-of-the-heap run reflecting the global mood, “War” by Edwin Starr clung to #1. Grasping its heels at #2, Dawn’s love song, “Candida,” headed up by lead vocalist, Tony Orlando, challenged the musical ravages of “War” … did it kick the protest song off the chart the following week?
            Nope. “Candida” slipped to #4 in the third week of August, taking the place of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” (Creedence Clearwater [Revival]) that skipped up to #1 and finally knocked “War” one rung down, to #2.
            A notoriously misunderstood song jumped 7 rungs up that chart’s ladder in one week, to land at #18. Apparently, the meaning of “25 or 6 to 4” made popular by Chicago, took on a life of its own, beyond composer Robert Lamm’s original thought. Just time, people, just time … not referring to illegal happy drugs or code for a renowned person. Simply, the time he began writing the song … it was, oh, 25 or 26 minutes to 4:00 a.m.! Gotta love it.
            And what dynamic DJ graced the broadcast air at KFRC summer of 1970? Avid listeners may remember the affable Frank Terry (1939-2007), on your 610 radio dial from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Frank had the scoop on the sweltering hot tunes!
We’re not all about the left-coast here. What was the other side of the country doing for musical fun? Check it out …

At the tail end of the summer, WLOF/Orlando, Florida, featured popular DJ Pat O’Day in a handsome caricature on the cover of its “Fun 40 Hits” survey (08/28-09/04/70). Did “War” headline its chart, too? Take a peek … 50 Years Ago this Month in Rock & Roll Radio! Where were you that groovy day when your radio played …

Celebrate AUGUST 1970 and … Rock On!  

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LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and author by way of Rock & Roll. Two books (of three) are published in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!

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