Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Rock Radio AUGUST 1973 Soaring Higher

BFYP BULLETIN 08/21/22: Looking for a way to assist the listeners of KPOA (Lahaina) & KPOI (Honolulu) in Hawai’i? iHeartMedia Honolulu offers a link for monetary donations through the Hawai’i Red Cross at KokuaForMaui.com. Please be generous—they need you.

In other radio news, San Diego’s Pala Rez Radio is hosting four hours of the Wolfman Jack Show every Saturday at 4:00p (PDT)! So cool! You can listen wherever you are on their free Rez Radio App available at Google Play and the Apple Store. Hi sweet darlin’s, this is Wolfman Jack comin’ to ya live from outer space!

And now, FYI, there are a few updates and more Radio DJ fun below. Check out a fresh DJ Bill Gardner note in ’73 Rockin’ News! So let’s flip on the studio mic, and Rock On back to AUGUST 1973

Rockin’ Cool on Higher Ground   

Welcome to AUGUST 1973! It’s mid-summer and often, tempers flare, fueled by the stifling heat. I tried to keep my cool, struggling to complete this article with sooooo many interruptions. It’s all here, with just a few “pretty pictures” to add in the next day or so. My suggestion if you find yourself in similar circumstances … grab a cool libation, a fan, and Rock with me!

Feeling the heat of long-ago top tunes, this is a good time to remind readers, today’s world is not relevant in history … reviewing life 50 Years Ago this Month however, is significant to today and reflects the growing pains that conceived today’s world.

When you view the Featured Radio Survey, for example, you’ll see titles like Cher’s “Half-Breed,” The Spinners’ “Ghetto Child,” and War’s psychedelic “Gypsy Man.” These titles and others from the era may be offensive to some in today’s society, and even 50 Years Ago they sparked debate for moral and political change. Just not as much as we obviously needed.

Life can be rough | Life ain't so easy | The going gets tough | When you're a ghetto child 

Although “Ghetto Child” was partially created and sung by black artists, The Spinners (still touring today!) lyrics never mention the child’s skin color. We knew then, as should be the case now, that a child living in poverty can be of any color and ethnicity.

Rather than becoming offended and simply refusing to read further, take a look at some of the lyrics behind the 50-year-old titles. Unfortunately, we’re not finished with societal changes for the better, so feel free to use this commentary as a catalyst for more thoughtful and peaceful conversation until we can get it right. You might be surprised at their insights. I know I was …

If all printers [and writers] were determined not to print [or write] anything ‘til they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed [or written] *Benjamin Franklin 

In the meantime, let’s take the higher ground to enjoy the memories or learn anew, life and Rock & Roll … 50 Years Ago 

AUGUST 1973 Rockin’ News  

I’m always excited to bring you tidbits featuring Rockin’ Radio DJs in my books and this month I heard from DJ Extraordinaire, Bill Gardner with a great pic of his AUGUST 1973 gig at KCBQ in San Diego! He even got a bus ad! Bill helped inspire the creation of my books, in a phone conversation we had about fifteen years ago, and continues to be my radio mentor. 😊 He also reminded me that our good friend, San Diego DJ emeritus, Shotgun Tom Kelly, enjoyed another 39 and Holding birthday this month! Happy UN-Birthday Shotgun!

August 2nd & 11th: I simply cannot ignore the dates Wolfman Jack was introduced to the world in George Lucas’s nostalgic American Graffiti film about the early 1960s. The teeny bopper movie premiered on the 2nd in Switzerland for the Locarno International Film Festival. Its romantic angst hit U.S. theaters on the 11th and endures today with cult status. Graffiti was the catalyst for Wolfman Jack’s exponential rise to the world’s favorite Radio DJ. P.S.: If you have been under the proverbial rock and never viewed the vintage movie, or are too young to remember it, American Graffiti runs through this month (at least) on Netflix.

August 6th: Can we imagine a world without the illustrious Stevie Wonder? It nearly happened fifty years ago. On a quiet road outside Durham, North Carolina, a logging truck lost its load in front of Stevie’s vehicle (driven by friend, John Harris). A log smashed through the windshield and struck Stevie, bloodying his forehead and knocking him out.

Stevie’s near-fatal accident caused a four-day coma from which he emerged when tour director, Ira Tucker, sang “Higher Ground” in his ear, to which Stevie responded with his finger, tapping out the tune. There is more to this song that touched his soul … scroll down to our monthly Song of Note  I'm so darn glad he let me try it again     

August 11th: Though never a fan of the genre, I admit, Hip Hop deserves a mention, as it ostensibly arrived on this steamy summer day in 1973. Credited with its format, DJ Kool Herc is considered legendary with turntables and continues to support the Hip Hop culture.

August 25th: Another spooky swing-and-a-miss by our crazy Universe as The Allman BrothersButch Trucks (1947-2017) crashed his car west of Macon, Georgia. The spooky part, is the accident happened a short distance from where Duane Allman lost his life a couple of years earlier. Butch managed to emerge with just a broken leg. Like Stevie Wonder, The Allman Brothers was also charting at the time, with “Ramblin’ Man” at #24, WFIL/Philadelphia.

On Your Tinny Transistor Radio  

While I love that WFIL/Philadelphia always promoted Dr. Don Rose (a BFYP storied DJ), but did they have to use the same photo over-and-over? LOL However, for their chart handout, week of August 27, 1973, they did congratulate Dr. Don for a well-deserved accolade. “Saluting Dr. Don Rose’ Billboard Magazine's Radio Personality of the month.” Cool. And WFIL was doing “Solid Gold” before it was even a thing—listing the top five hits from “one year ago today” (1972). This month, #1: “Brother Louie” by Stories.

Not to be outdone, Provo, Utah, was a rockin’ town back in the day. No, really, it was! Not only did 96-KOVO “The Fun One” for August 29, 1973, list a whopping “Top 60 Hitline,” but they proudly announced the two-day airing of Dick Clark’s “20 Years of Rock & Roll” program (1953-1973). Okay, the Top 60 was really the Top 40 singles plus a Top 20 album list, but it sounded good! Which tune took the top spot? Diana Ross’s steamy, “Touch Me in the Morning.”

So which one made the month’s Featured Radio Survey honor? Scroll on down …

Monthly Song of Note     
Religion, spirituality, and divine coincidences are all very subjective beliefs that often inspire great songs. But this month’s Song of Note combines all three wrapped up with a rather prophetic bow … fueled by a frenetic three-hour rush of inspiration, Stevie Wonder wrote “Higher Ground”—an introspective song exploring reincarnation and second chances in life, three months before his life-changing auto accident. By August 27’s chart, it hit #16 at WFIL.

Later quoted in the New York Times, Stevie said, “I would like to believe in reincarnation. I would like to believe that there is another life. I think that sometimes your consciousness can happen on this earth a second time around. For me, I wrote ‘Higher Ground’ even before the accident. But something must have been telling me that something was going to happen to make me aware of a lot of things and to get myself together. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more, and to value the fact that I am alive.”

I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then | Gonna keep on tryin' | Till I reach my highest ground   

Quirky Band Names  

We had a lot of funk back in the ‘70s … so you might think that Grand Funk Railroad‘s name emerged from the music genre. Um, apparently not. According to reports of the day, the group that charted this month at #23/WFIL with “We’re an American Band,” originated from members of Question Mark & the Mysterians and Terry Knight and the Pack—another couple of fun and quirky band names. As band manager, Terry named their new venture, Grand Trunk Railroad, but Michigan’s Grand Trunk Western Railroad—a real rail line—wasn’t having it. So Grand Funk they became, and with a few stops and restarts along the way, are still at it today.

Cross Country, however, barely made it to the next crossroad, lasting only until the following year, after hitting the charts with a notable cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” (#40/KOVO) To be fair, however, the trio (Jay Siegel, Mitch and Phil Margo) got together as a side gig while part of doo-wop-turned-folk-rock group The Tokens. They continued making music—until they could no longer—together and apart, through most of the early 2000s.

Then we come to … well, we all know Paul Simon, but did you know he included the Dixie Hummingbirds as featured backup on “Loves Me Like a Rock”? Charting at #7 for KOVO this month, the primarily gospel group added a little soul as they had been to music since 1928! Beginning as the Sterling High School Quartet (Greenville, South Carolina), when they went pro and changed their name, founding member, Jim B. Davis said, “I figured that was the only bird could fly both backwards and forwards. Since that was how our career seemed to be going [laughs], I figure that was a good name, and the guys went along with it.”  

AUGUST 2023 Music Events & More    

August 9th-17th: With a hunka-hunka burnin’ love, it’s Elvis Week! And Graceland is going all out this year, with an “Aloha from Hawaii 50th Anniversary Concert (Aug 16) featuring Elvis on the big screen backed by a live band.” How cool is that?! If you can make it to Memphis, it should be an amazing week. But if not, you won’t be left out, “Virtual Elvis Week brings all the excitement of Elvis Week 2023 right into your home.” Visit the Graceland link to learn details.

August 12th: It’s a shame there is no sponsoring link for National Vinyl Record Day. It was obviously created by someone* who no longer cares (or can). Pity. As Oldies Vinyl Records are enduring even into today’s world; while current artists have learned that they still sound better in vinyl than any other musical medium (except, hopefully, live). If you are an oldie-but-a-goodie, grab your youth and gently lay it on the ol’ turntable for a languid afternoon of reminiscing. 

*With a little digging, I found NVRD creator, Gary Freiberg, but no recent information of his status. He began the annual honor in 2002, petitioned the USPS for a Vinyl Record Stamp around 2010. His idea was solid. Quoting from a Goldmine Magazine article, said Freiberg, “Everyone has their own soundtrack, as Dick Clark called it. When you hear a song and instantly, fondly remember a good time or people, you relate to that song.” (FYI, there is a “NationalVinylRecordDay.org” site, but seems to be no relation to Freiberg’s day or its origin.) [Image: 1967 vinyl picture record, Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band] 

August 20th: Flip the switch and fire up your ol’ transistor radio, pioneering Radio fans! It’s National Radio Day! Sadly, another orphaned celebration, with no “official” site—although Wiki links it to WWJ/Detroit, Michigan. (WWJ, along with KDKA/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, WHA/Madison, Wisconsin, and KCBS/San Francisco, all claim to be “broadcasting’s oldest station” in the U.S.) You can peruse a little Radio history here.

Of course, this day is a natural for Blast from Your Past, since we are all about Rock & Roll Radio Disk Jockeys and the music they sent to us over radio airwaves in its heyday, 1954-1979. When Rock & Roll came along, Radio was never the same! Thank goodness! We lay the groundwork and celebrate the medium in Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years (1954-1959) and continue the fun in … The Swinging Sixties. Swing on by Amazon and pick up a copy! Enjoy the momentsagain

BFYP Featured Radio Survey  
AUGUST 29, 1973 ~ KOVO/Provo, Utah won out over WFIL for FRS, mainly because it’s the only Utah survey in the BFYP Collection. We have tons of WFIL, so you’ll see more of them soon, I’m sure. For now, we’ll enjoy 96/KOVO “The Fun One” showing its ‘70s artistic flow and hip listener song choices … 50 Years Ago this Month in Rock & Roll Radio! Where were you that
groovy day when your radio played 

 Let’s Celebrate AUGUST 1973 and Rock On!   

BFYP Book 1 (1954-1959) on Amazon
BFYP Book 2 (Swinging ‘60s) on Amazon 
Blast from Your Past Gifts
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* In the Ben Franklin quote above, the bracketed text is obviously my addition. But as it’s said about undisputed truths (though also too often, subjective and misguided rhetoric), truer words were never spoken.

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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 Brownielocks.com’s calendar site. Enjoy! 

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