Monday, July 1, 2024

Rock Radio 50 Years Ago ~ JULY 1974

Wild Summer of ’74!  

From HOT tunes to COOL news, Blast from Your Past is Rockin' the Summer, 50 Years Ago this Month. 😊 

Omigosh! I had such a tough time choosing which Song of Note and Quirky Band Name to feature! 

For sure, JULY 1974 was a classic! From the songs we sang along with to the bands we bounced to … there was and still is … never a dull moment in Rock & Roll Radio History. C'mon along as we Rock On

JULY 1974 Radio Muse & News  
Although there wasn’t much music news happening this month, I found a couple noteworthy people and moments that some of you may recall …

July 8th: Who remembers David Bowie’s (1947-2016) “Diamond Dogs” tour concert in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania? It began in Canada, mid-June, but the esteemed Tower Theater shows began on this day and earned the distinction as recording venue on four of the six concert nights for his first official album, David Live. When you rock 'n' roll with me | No one else I'd rather be    

July 29th: It’s always sad when a fave performer leaves us for Rock & Roll Heaven, but it hurts the most with the tragically young ones. Such is the case on this day 1974 when “Mama” Cass Elliot succumbed to a heart attack at the too-soon age of 32.
She did, however, leave on a high note. Her solo London concerts just ended with a heartwarming standing ovation on the final evening. The next day she spent in a full day of fun-friend visits. They included Mick Jagger’s 31st birthday celebration, a brunch in her honor organized by English singer/actor, Georgia Brown, and later a cocktail party hosted by journalist Jack Martin. Though treated for exhaustion just a couple months before, signs of heart issues were apparently dismissed. She died in her sleep, perhaps with the sound of a standing ovation crowd ringing through her dreams.

On Your Tinny Transistor Radio  

Then, as now, dissidence and uprisings were common and seemingly never-ending. The 2000s have a lot in common with the salacious and steamy 1970s. It seems in fifty years, we have learned little.
1974: a presidency in turmoil (Nixon), racial tensions (Boston busing for desegregation), and we were still avidly following the news of seemingly heiress-turned-terrorist (Hearst & SLA). Just for fun, we endured a 1960s hold-over in an “epidemic” of streaking.

Substitute a few circumstances and names, and you can plop them down in 2024. Both eras reflect a transitional period, as personal and political mores are challenged, revised, and reversed.

Yes, our tiny transistor radios brought us news of the day, but through it all, the Rock Radio DJs brought us music to soothe the savage beast …

Where were you slathering on the suntan lotion in July 1974? Atlanta, Dallas, or Milwaukee? Here’s a sample of what and who you were listening to …

From the memories of BFYP DJ Extraordinaire, Bill Gardner:

If you were hanging around in Dallas, Texas, summer of 1974, I’ll bet your fave DJ on KVIL was the affable Bill Gardner! Some time over that summer he trekked to New York City for the Billboard Radio Convention at the Plaza Hotel. He had to … so they could hand him the award for Air Personality of the Year in the Large Market category! 

Bill said when he sent the award image for this article, “Always thought it was hilarious that KVIL was SO new and unknown in '74, they actually misspelled the call letters on my award :-).” Yup. Sure enough, “KIXL” is big and bold. Knowing Bill, it has made his award even more endearing, along with the memories, “Shotgun Tom (Kelly; a San Diego treasured DJ) went with me and sat at the table with me in that swanky hotel.”

Justifiably, Bill was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2020. In the throes of Covid-19, there was no fancy hotel or long-winded speeches, but it was still a much-deserved honor. He suggested on his website that the YouTube video of his presentation might still be available if you search. I did it for you … check it out, along with a couple more fun items of Bill Gardner on YouTube!

In 1961’s WLS/Chicago station, popular DJ Art Roberts became known as Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky in a long stint that finally ended with a cross-country move to San Francisco’s KNBR in 1971. Apparently that wasn’t the New York native’s cuppa tea, where he only spent one year. Headed back to Chicago, he landed this time at WCFL—another iconic and pioneering station.

We catch up with Art and his happy attitude summer 1974 at WOKY, another legendary Rock station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he stayed for about five years.

On July 22, 1974, Art casually peeks out on fans from the cover of “WOKY Plays Favorites” music chart. Were you there to hear him noon to 3:00p? Check out what he was playing for you …

Monthly Song of Note  
Sex, drugs and Rock & Roll—it’s all here and then some!—in June 1974’s WOKY/Milwaukee music chart. In the running for our Song of Note:

I thought about going with “Rock and Roll Heaven” on this month’s chart at #14 by the venerable Righteous Brothers. (And half of the bros, Bobby Hatfield joined his heavenly mates in 2003.) After all, Rock & Roll is in the title, how could I go wrong! But … this is July—middle of summer when we want to be happy and free—while this song is sentimental and sweet, it is a well-deserved ode to many Rock & Roll icons who went before. Just a little too somber for summer fun.

Then I spotted it—the quintessential ‘70s sexy summer song with all the steamy ingredients of “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll”! “Wild Thing” by Fancy who gave it a second incarnation (originals: 1965 & ’66) and WOKY listeners gyrated it up to #10 in one giant leap from #16 the previous week. You’re welcome … Wild thing | You make my heart sing | You make everything groovy   

Quirky Band Names
I was totally tempted to crown
Blue Magic with “Sideshow” at WOKY’s #17 spot, simply for the song’s inspiration by a visit to an antique museum. But the name’s the game here and Blue Magic is fun, but there wasn’t much magic to their origin story.

Although Fancy’s “Wild Thing” made the cut for June’s Song of Note, due to lack of name origin, they were aced out of the Quirky Band Name Award by England’s Paper Lace.

The Paper Lace story also doesn’t note much of a name origin, other than relating the tidbit that Music Box became Paper Lace in 1969. OK. So why do they warrant our June Quirky Band Name Award? We’re back to the songs … Their version of “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” though sliding down, was #8 at WOKY, even after Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods charted with it at the top, back in June.

Annnnnd, Paper Lace gave us a second song on WOKY’s chart at #1—“The Night Chicago Died.” Apparently, Milwaukee listeners loved a good gloom-and-doom story with poignant purpose. Bottom line, Paper Lace’s feat of two songs in the Top Ten, set them ahead for a BFYP award.

JULY 2024 Music Events & More    
It’s history, but never forgotten. Special days for your Rockin’ memories calendar …

July 4th: America’s Independence Day! Well now, there are so many reasons to celebrate … or not … with it coming after last week’s presidential debate. As we question what this day means, I found a song in the Top Ten that, while not a patriotic song per se, could be an interesting metaphor in the relationship with our country. “Rock the Boat” (Hues Corporation) is afloat at #2 on WOKY’s Featured Radio Survey this month in 1974 … when we navigated the waters of another tumultuous era. Enjoy the lyrics and/or the tune as you watch the fireworks this day … and all the way through the impending skewed election Our love is like a ship on the ocean | We've been sailing with a cargo full of, love and devotion | So I'd like to know where, you got the notion | Said I'd like to know where, you got the notion | To rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby

July 5th: Most years, San Diego’s County Fair in Del Mar, closes with spectacular 4th of July fireworks. But this year, there are three more days of fun-in-the-sun and “Let’s Go RETRO,” segueing into Friday, July 5th’s Papa Do Run Run concert! Although they’re Beach Boy sound-alikes and love paying tribute to the venerable surf band, Papa Do Run Run is a classic in their own right, when in 1975 they topped the charts with the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School.” By 1978 their horizons expanded with the soundtrack gig for CBS film, Deadman’s Curve. Get your tickets asap!

July 7th: Amazingly, there is a National Day of Rock n' Roll! More amazing is there is no “official” supporting site. But you’re here, and we’re all about pioneering Rock & Roll, so do a little dance and Rock On!  

July 9th: “Always a hoot” it’s Dead Head Day.  Many Grateful Dead fans (Deadheads, if you will) celebrate this international day of respect for Jerry Garcia and the band. It was on this day in 1995 that the Grateful Dead as originated, wowed their fans for the final show at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. They didn’t realize then, it would be their last show together. Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack exactly one month later. Though there is no longer an official link for the tribute, the band lives on in some of its founding members, and links above all have history and current events.

July 30th: Are you a book reader? Do you wanna be? It’s Paperback Book Day! What better day to pick up a good book and settle in for a relaxing read. And we have just the book for you … Consider, all great music of the 1970s is a direct result of the incredibly innovative Rock & Roll of the 1960s. I can prove it … Get your copy of Blast from Your Past, Book 2 ~ Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties! I tell ya all about it …
Paperback / black & whitePaperback in collectible color

BFYP Featured Radio Survey  
JULY 22, 1974 ~ WOKY/Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While you were sippin’ on your Coke ‘cause “It’s the Real Thing,” getting ready to call the Mighty 92 for a song request, DJ Art Roberts was likely frantically juggling the next record, ad jingle, and another call on WOKY’s “Instant Request Line.” Bein’ a DJ wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, as they say. But it was apparently, a heck of a lotta fun … 50 Years Ago this Month in Rock & Roll Radio! Where were you that
groovy day when your radio played 

Let’s Celebrate JULY 1974 ~ 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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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 PastTM series, available on Amazon: Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959TM (eBook only; coming soon in updated print edition) and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging SixtiesTM (eBook & print). Coming soon-ish … Book 3 – The Psychedelic Seventies!TM 

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. This site is wholly owned by LinDee Rochelle & sponsored by PenchantForPenning.comTM. 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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