Monday, May 1, 2023

Rock Radio MAY 1973 Chart-topping Sunshine

Rockin’ Your World in the Sunshine of ’73   

I had to look twice at the WCFL/Chicago music chart for May 19, 1973—yep, it says MAY at the top and not October! You wouldn’t know it, seeing the top two spooky tunes on their Super CFL Survey. “Hocus Pocus” by Focus (I kid you not) moved up a notch to #2 from the previous week.
       Not a music expert, I’m so glad
Wiki included this info definition of the Dutch band’s rondo role in “Hocus Pocus”: “… consisting of alternation between a powerful rock chord riff with short drum solos and then varied solo ‘verses’ … which include yodeling, eefing, organ playing, accordion, scat singing, flute riffs, and whistling.” Whew! They deserved their spot in the top five, just for such complicated musicianship—or is that magicianship?!
       But it took second place to … I swear, it’s true … “
Frankenstein,” an instrumental by the Edgar Winter Group that staggered up to WCFL’s #1.
       It’s tough enough to grab music charts’ top spot, but doubly difficult for instrumentals. Why the title of “Frankenstein” you might ask? Apparently, it was too long for release at first; after scores of edits and parts and pieces were spliced and diced, Winter began referring to it as a “monster-like, lumbering beat,” and it stuck. *See below how it fits into today’s International Drum Month!

So after the doom and gloom of monsters and magic, let’s get into May 1973’s bright sunshine! Rockin’ you … 50 Years Ago this Month

Then MAY 1973  

May 4th: Were you one of the lucky ones who rocked with Led Zeppelin in their heyday? Starting on this day they toured the U.S. for two months, setting concert records, most notably in Tampa, Florida. Playing to 56,800 of their most fanatic fans, they topped The Beatles’ previous record. 
       However, while their album, Houses of the Holy hit #4 on CFL’s LP list, the band were a no-show on the singles chart; but the tour yielded footage for their 1976 concert film of the same name as their popular, “The Song Remains the Same.” 

May 5th
: It didn’t take long for Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album released this day, to picture stardom with its “Kodachrome” grabbing WCFL’s May 19, #39 spot on its way to the top. I bet you still remember the words … come on, sing it! … When I look back | on all the crap I learned in high school …     

On Your Tinny Transistor Radio
Larry Lujack … just mention his name in a roomful of people and everyone who ever grew up in, moved to, or simply passed through 1970s Chicago, will exclaim, “Oh yeah, he was the greatest DJ ever!”

As many DJs did back in the day, he figured the gig was easy money while in college and honed his early skills in the Midwest, where he was born Larry Lee Blankenburg. Somewhere along the road of life, he adopted “Lujack” to honor his Chicago Bears football hero, Johnny Lujack.
       But radio hooks ya …Larry soon shuffled to the Pacific Northwest for DJ jobs and as far south as San Bernardino, California, where he settled at KFXM in its 1963 heyday of Top 40 hits. Still not settled, he eventually headed east again in the mid-sixties, and bounced between WLS and WCFL for the best twenty years of his career.
       We didn’t have the politically correct restrictions then as now, so our DJs were funny without malice, naturally. It was assumed we all had a sense of humor and could laugh at ourselves, as well as others …
       Larry personified DJs of the ‘70s with a caustic wit and mordant demeanor, giving his radio listeners mental relief in a wayback, also tumultuous, era.  

Monthly Song of Note  
"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" is a great Spring song leading into summer, as it climbs the chart at WCFL/Chicago to #10, soon to become one of Stevie Wonder’s best tunes …
       The simple song with a catchy, stick-in-your-head melody was nominated that year for both Record and Song of the Year. But did you notice, the first few lines of the song are not Stevie’s vibrant voice?
       Ever a promoter of other good people, Stevie gave great sessions musician, Jim Gilstrap, along with backup singers, Lani Groves and Gloria Barley, a vocal promo. yeah, that’s why I’ll always stay around   

Quirky Band Names
Rising up the chart a few notches,
Gunhill Road took a stand at #24 on WCFL’s chart this month for “Back When My Hair was Short.” Still kickin’ it, their website proudly states how their name came to be, when formed in Mt. Vernon, New York, “…. and named for an iconic street in the Bronx.”

Dr. John’s moniker took a much longer and winding road, through the early years of Malcolm John Rebennack Jr.’s tuneful career. His name changes are as tough to pin down as his music was; the New Orleans native’s wiki bio even had a tough time categorizing him, with a “Soul, funk, New Orleans R&B, swamp rock,” description. With so many sounds to choose from, his charted “Right Place Wrong Time”—a dilemma we can all identify with—is at #35 this month. 

But the most quirky fun has to be Focus. After their magical “Hocus Pocus” song background above, their name is aptly as intriguing—okay, maybe just ‘cause I’m a writer and word etymology is a passion of mine, but profound reports tell us, “…Focus is a Latin word that is the same in many languages. It means concentration, which is the meaning of what Focus does." 

Now MAY 2023
Rockin’ Today Join me in a drumfest for International Drum Month! Although no one claims the month’s honor, the PlayDrums site works for getting you in the beat.

For a long time in early Rock music, drummers were simply those who kept the beat steady and framed the background for guitarists and singers. Through the mid-sixties and seventies however, drummers found their voice and clamored to be recognized for their intricate, delicate, and resounding solos that often became the focal point of a popular song.
        Can you spot some iconic songs with memorable drum runs in the May 19, 1973, WCFL/Chicago Top 40 survey? A starting hint: Edgar Winter Group’s instrumental, Frankenstein, is a prime example, with Winter and their drummer, Chuck Ruff, wowing fans with a freaky-fine performance. There are more … take a look at the Featured Radio Survey

BFYP Featured Radio Survey  
MAY 19, 1973 ~ WCFL/Chicago again, features the ever-popular DJ Larry Lujack on the cover, makin’ his DJ job look easy! Want to know what Canadians were listening to this month? Moody Blues, Donny Osmond, and Vicki Lawrence all made the top ten of “Montreal’s Super Hits” … 50 Years Ago this Month in Rock & Roll Radio! Where were you that
groovy day when your radio played 

Let’s Celebrate MAY 1973 and Rock On!   

BFYP Book 1 (1954-1959) on Amazon
BFYP Book 2 (Swinging ‘60s) on Amazon 
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ORIGINAL POST ~ LR / BFYP LATE NOTE 05/01/2023 @ 1:00a:  Yup, it’s-a-comin’! Just not ‘til later. Please bear with me as I finalize a fun month of Oldies Rock Radio History. Coming up is a quirky look at the top two tunes on WCFL/Chicago’s May 1973 survey, along with monthly happenings Quirky Band Names, Song of Note , and iconic Rock Radio DJ, Larry Lujack! C’mon back … there’s MORE … 50 Years Ago this Month.

LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and author by way of Rock & Roll. Two books (of three planned) 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 … Book 3 – The Psychedelic Seventies!

Note: FYI – All links in the BFYP site are personally visited, verified, and vetted. Most are linked to commonly accessed sites of reputable note. Occasionally, since I often feature real people and/or singular sources there may be an unsecured link. As with everything cyber-security, use at your own discretion and risk. No compensation is received for any mentions of businesses, products, or other commercial interests. *All holiday and special event days are found at’s calendar site. Enjoy! 

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