by Darren Clarke, July 23, 2017
I learned a lot in the 70s starting with- Don’t put a popsicle in your pocket for later, don’t make your fort out of a cardboard box when it looks like it’s about to rain (though the smell of summer rain chewing up cardboard is fantastic), no matter how good of a fighter you are there will always be somebody that hits harder than you and who means it more, if it’s your allowance day and your mom asks you to go to the corner store for her- Go. If it’s not your allowance day and your mom asks you to go to the corner store for her- Go. Don’t say a word, just go (the other option still has you going to the corner store only in the wake of experiencing a massive dose of guilt) and finally, look both ways before you walk/run across the street.
If only for the challenges I faced in remembering to look both ways before crossed the street it’s a miracle I made it this far.
But here I am, 700 songs in hand. Just for you. So let’s get to it.
To start I’ll provide the iTunes and Spotify playlist links. Beyond those links the 700 (+) song playlist is captured on pictures from the 70s that I scored from both my Mom’s family photo collection as well as Wiki Commons (God Bless You). I will also share some of my experiences in the 70s and close with some choice chronological happenings in the decade as lifted from Wikepida’s year in music breakdown.
Here are links for both Spotify and iTunes.
The 70s to me was bare feet in the summertime, being outside in the dirt, in the grass, in the fields, in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, it was being introduced to (and sometimes learning) about a million things, some basic, some complex, it was about failing, it was about making the right choices, it was making the wrong choices (speaking of which), it was the plastic cowboy boots with no treads my mom bought for me one winter in Grade 7, it was road hockey until it was too dark to see the tennis ball, it was about unbridled joy, it was about music. It was about Rob Van Moorsel
Rob moved into our neighborhood when I was about six or seven. By way of introduction he showed up at my front door one winter wonderland kind of day and asked me to be his friend. Straight up, just like that, the first thing he ever said to me was, “Do you want to be my friend?”
And so we were.
I get nervous when I write about something important to me particularly a person. Human beings are rich with nuance and contradiction that isn’t easily tied up and provided in a bow. And nothing is more tempting to do when you’re writing than to tie stuff up in a bow.
Rob was much more than a caricature, he was a force of nature. Rob was gangly, he was gangly strong, his hair was a kind of tough curly dirty blonde mess, he was funny, he was charismatic, he was always looking to do something amazing.
Rob’s older sister Jane recently posted a meme on Facebook of a kid going over a ramp on a bike and asked me if it reminded me of Rob. Jumping over a ramp on a bike could remind me of no one else.
My street, Queen Street South in Thorold, was divided into pretty much two factions- the kids two years older than Rob and I, and the rest of us. They were a pretty muscular demographic spending much time tormenting us likely for that most basic of reasons- they could. But it wasn’t terrible, I’m okay, but it was coming back from our tackle football games beaten up, it was our forts being vandalized, it was the occasional wedgie, it was our go kart being destroyed because we beat theirs in a race.
Might is right.
The day of the ramp incident was overcast, it was dull grey. It was around supper time and we were all lackadaisically milling around kind of waiting to get called in to eat. My house was smack dab in the middle of our street across from the Stewart’s house. In front of the Stewart’s house we had made a small ramp- a thin, wide, wood board propped up by who knows what. People were taking turns lazily making small jumps until one of the older kids decided to make the ramp much steeper, ridiculously steeper. The older kids then decided to challenge us to jump the ramp. I wasn’t doing it, my little brother wasn’t doing it, none of us were doing it, except Rob.
Fact is that once the older kids decided one of us was going to do something, one of us was going to do that something. Rob was our champion that day.
I should note here that our street sloped significantly down. But when I think about it, it didn’t matter. Rob was not only seeing the challenge, he was raising it. And you have to know, this wasn’t bravado, this wasn’t anything other than Rob being Rob. That ramp was stupid steep. And we watched as, standing on the bike pedals, he wordlessly glided around the ramp on my new red bike and slowly rode the bike up the street.
I can still see the older kids reaction as they kept waiting for him to stop and turn around to face the ramp. But Rob just kept going and going to the very top of the street before finally turning back toward us and coming to a stop. The older kids were in awe. I don’t know what they expected but they certainly didn’t expect him to ride that far to make his approach.
What a memory that is, Rob in his jean jacket at the top of Queen Street South poised to make a ride, a jump, none of us had ever contemplated. We all stood in stunned silence. And then he began to pedal.
Man could that guy go on a bike.
By the time he passed his own house and prepared for the ramp Rob was going absurdly fast. So it was that at full speed Rob hit the ramp, the wood thumping into place under the weight of the bike, and flew into the air. It was to that point spectacular. It would continue to be so.
Rob and the bike rocketed off the ramp at a 45-degree angle into the grey pre-supper sky, the perfect soaring coupling of man and bike. They arced in the air, the front tire of the bike pulling up and Rob’s body leaning back, they struggled against gravity, but in the end could not resist the pull back to earth, they struggled to stay together but in the end were separated.
And so it was that Rob landed on the cement sidewalk with a thud immediately followed by my bike clanging down right on top of him.
Rob’s dad Mr. Vanmoorsel came out of his house moments later, obviously concerned, to see what happened. That’s when you knew things were serious when you were a kid in the 70s, if a parent actually came and checked on somebody. Bloody noses, scrapes, small cuts, those were nothing. Maybe if you split your toe open running around in bare feet, maybe you would have your Mom come out to help you but probably not.
Mr. Vanmoorsel was a big man. A big strong man. He had the most beautiful vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle, a speckled Robin’s egg blue. He had apparently (I’m a noted non-expert in all things mechanical so bear that in mind) put a Volkswagon engine on the bike. On the odd occasion we would get rides on the back of the Harley and it was the greatest thing in the world. I vividly remember going through the cool darkness of the Thorold tunnel, summer sunlight lounging at the mouth of the tunnel, the wind on my bare shins, the hot rumble of the bike, holding onto the bike seat half fearful half amazed.
On this occasion Mr. Vanmoorsel was not happy (I imagine he was about as happy when he discovered in the worst possible of ways the booby trapped muddy hole we had dug in his back yard to try and take care of the older kids who were sabotaging our fort all the time). But I don’t think Mr. Vanmoorsel knew quite what to do. To make sure his son was okay or to find out how things had unfolded to get to Rob lying on the sidewalk dazed beneath my bike. There was no more excitement to be had that day though. Everybody went home and Rob ended up being no worse for wear.
It was an amazing thing to behold though.
Making the playlist got me reminiscing about my old friend- The two of us at his house one afternoon dressing up like members of KISS and doing an air band thing to a Simon and Garfunkel record because he didn’t have any KISS albums. The day we learned the word, “fuck.” It was winter, we were returning to school from our lunch break, we positioned ourselves on either side of a freshly shoveled driveway and threw chunks of snow at each other merrily shouting the word, “FUCK!” Rob was also king of exploration. The best example of this would be one morning on summer vacation when he came over and ask if I wanted to go to, “the Indian burial ground.” Of course I did. I went in the house and told my mom, “Me and Rob are going to the Indian burial ground,” and without a single question my mom agreed that it sounded like a fine thing for me to do that day.
For a long time when I told this story I would make light of our naiveté in believing there was an actual Indian burial ground in Thorold. Less than a year ago though I stumbled upon an article about an old Indian settlement that had been located where a subdivision now stood on the way to Brock University. This is exactly where Rob brought us. At that time there was no subdivision, just empty space. When we went there we didn’t see anything that seemed to indicate much of anything and ended up venturing into and down the Niagara escarpment forest.
After hours of wandering through the forest we continued to follow a stream through unfamiliar neighbourhoods. Much later that day we found ourselves in St. Catharines by what I would come to later know as Denis Morris High School. At the time we had no idea where we were. We loved that.
Different times right? Those were the days where the greatest sin on summer vacation wasn’t in starying off your street but rather in not getting the hell out of the house.
For years Rob and I were best friends and then we weren’t. We were different people for sure, Rob was mechanical and intuitive, I was, well, whatever the hell I am. Our friendship had been based on simply enjoying the world together. From goofing around in science class until our science teacher literally kicked us in the ass, to setting a can of gas on fire in his parents garage (my idea I believe), to riding bikes all over Thorold, to falling in love with Lisa Foster, to trying to figure out how to disguise our numerous cuts so that we could get into the Big Pool in Thorold for a swim, to shooting each other with a BB gun, to me running him over when we were go-karting at Crowland in Welland, to us watching his hamster on the front lawn store grass in his cheeks. We were experiencing, we were learning, we were living.
I’m not sure why Rob and I stopped being friends. I think maybe we got separated at school. Rob wasn’t great at school if I recall and the 70s were long before anybody stopped for a moment to consider that people might not all have the same learning style, that there were different type of smarts beyond book smarts. But yeah, somewhere around Grade Eight we sort of went our separate ways. I think we weren’t even talking to each other for a time. I have no idea why. Maybe it was just that those differences that never mattered before suddenly seemed to matter.
We were young.
Years passed until one Saturday when I was sixteen, working part-time as a stockboy at the discount store Bargain Harolds, my mother came into work and told me she had to talk to me. We went to the back storage room and my Mom explained to me that Rob had died in an accident in the Niagara Gorge.
I’ll be honest with you. I went for a walk around the Pen Centre. I went outside and I tried to feel something that I thought I should feel. But I didn’t get it. It seemed so abstract. To a certain extent I still don’t get it. It just seems like to me like it seemed then, like I haven’t seen my friend for a really long time.
As I created this playlist I was amazed how much great music there was in the 70s. I assembled a similar playlist for the 80s that was 400 songs. 400. And it was easy to take 1,000 songs and chop it down to 400. Not so easy with the 70s.
There is way too much great music from the 70s for me to whittle things down to 400 tunes. Not only is the music great it all seems connected by a kind of Zeitgeist, a spirit of time that imbues different styles of music with a common DNA in a natural warmth, an earthiness, an earnest love of creating. The best of the 70s simply shows up at your door and asks if you will be its’ friend.
I think of Rob when I listen to the music because he had that effortless greatness about him, that real charisma that stands the test of time, it’s not a put on, it’s not a gimmick, it’s not trying to sell you on anything, it is the best of all things in life, it is genuine.
What happened to the seventies? The 80s has great music, amazing music, but it seems to me it lacks that certain je ne said quoi, that effortlessness, that ease, that warmth.
But maybe it’s just me.
In 2005, at age 46, Julio Franco was not only still playing Major League Baseball but still doing it pretty fantastically. Chatting with a friend about the Julio Franco phenomenon at the time I suggested that maybe Julio Franco was simply a mirage created by our collective thirst for never-ending youth, that Julio Franco’s accomplishments were more a manifestation of what we would prefer to have happen than what actually was happening.
Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m aligning myself with reality or simply making it up as I go.
Nobody has ever loved anything simply because they should. Your true loves tend to generate from a more honest, a more primal place than that. I think pretty much everybody has a moment where they think another person will eventually see that they should love them for whichever reasons- you both like poetry, you both don’t like movies with Whoopi Goldberg in them, you both like Sunday drives, you both don’t like peanut M & M’s.
But then you realize, 1) You can’t force these things, it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that natural swing, 2) Nobody likes movies with Whoopi Goldberg in them.
So other decades, it’s not you, it’s me (but it could be a little bit you).
What were the 70s in general? I don’t know. Maybe it was everybody having the same days of the week off, maybe it was practically everybody working 9-5, maybe it was your Mom being at home and your dad working. The 70s for me were supper with the family, going to the corner store with a quarter in your pocket and sitting out front eating your Mr. Freeze’s. It was Burt Reynolds movies at the Drive In. It was getting up to change the channel. It was racism still being overtly in the public domain. It was the era of the Love Canal environmental catastrophe being symptomatic of a larger issue. It was Watergate. The 70s were women’s rights finally beginning to get the attention they deserved.
The 70s were everybody in the neighbourhood coming over to our house to watch Muhammad Ali fight Earnie Shavers. It was my mother saying of Muhammad Ali, “He is such a handsome man.” The 70s were the Toronto Maple Leafs lead by Darryl Sittler and Lanny MacDonald. It was The Police’s Roxanne playing on the car radio because my father wasn’t paying attention to it enough to hate it and turn the channel. It was Stationwagon lead vacations with camping in random bits of wilderness as opposed to a formal campgrounds. It was the wilderness still being part of the city. It was cutting through people’s yards to get from one place to another. It was iceburg lettuce and only icebrug lettuce. It was marshmallow, Fluff, spread on toast at the Misener’s house. It was white bread and only white bread.
There was some not so good to the 70s for me as well. Stealing quarter-horses from my dad’s collection (1973 quarters with an RCMP Mountie on a horse on it, limited edition) and empty plastic milk jugs so that we could get the return money on it. All so we could get some ice cream at the corner store on the way to school. The ice cream was kind of a creamsicle (for the unitiated it was an orange vanilla contraption) in the shape of a witch or a vampire with a plastic stick in the middle that was also shaped like a witch or vampire. Eventually we got caught.
There’s disappointment, and there’s your mother being disappointed in you.
Thus ended my venture into the world of crime.
There was science class in Grade 5 where for the first time in my life I found myself struggling to keep up. So I stopped trying. I forged my parents signature on papers and let the homework and assignments build up. Eventually they called my parents.
More disappointment for my mother.
There was loving to play sports and hating to lose. Hating to lose. I wouldn’t figure out how to lose with dignity for some time. And that’s an important thing to learn.
There was walking through Prince of Whales school one night with my little brother and our buddy Chobes and being approached by some much older kids who gave me this option, “We can beat up your brother and Chobes or you can let me punch you in the face twice.”
I didn’t enjoy those punches.
But the great memories far outnumber the bad one’s.
Road hockey games with Gino Falova in front of his house. The boulevard filled with plowed snow. It was always Montreal verus Toronto. Gino being two years older than me was in charge of the imaginings. He played out, I was in net. Gino would be all the players- Lanny MacDonald, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull and Darryl Sittler for Toronto, Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Yvon Cournoyer (great name to say in a play-by-play- Corn-why-EH!!!!!!!), Larry Robinson (we would mimic the Forum’s announcer, “And dee first star, le premier etoile! Larry Row-bo-san!“). I would be the two different goalies, Ken Dryden for the Canadiens (or Wayne Thomas if I felt like changing things up) Doug Favell or Eddie Johnston for the Leafs.
Being that Gino was a Leafs fan (as was I) the Leafs always won these matchups. But they were close.
I can picture Gino running back and forth in his winter jacket and toque, making passes to himself, throwing hits, being hit, going in on breakaways, all the while providing an excited play-by-play, “Robinson passes to Savard… Savard to Lafleur… Lafleur is skating down the right boards! Brian Glennie throws a hip check! Lafleur goes FLYING!!!! Glennie comes away with the puck… he passes it quickly to MacDonald who is alone on a breakaway… he comes in, he shoots… WHAT A SAVE BY WAYNE THOMAS!!!”
You know who had a bad run in the 70s? Wile E. Coyote, “Supergenius.”
Things never worked out well for that guy (the ACME company on the other hand had a really nice run during that period particularly the Anvil division).
What else is there? Hong Kong Phooey with canine karate on Saturday mornings, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots having their heads knocked up, watching Spiderman cartoons before school wondering what exactly Spiderman was attaching his web to when he shot it straight up in the sky, “Mikey likes it!” “Conjunction junction what’s your function?” Yo Yo’s, “Breaker-Breaker,” CB Radios, Quickdraw Mcgraw, “Meet George Jetson, Jane his wife,” bologna sandwiches and Kraft Dinner for lunch break at home watching the Flinstones and Leave it to Beaver, Spirograph, “Roger Ramjet he’s our man, hero of he nation, for his adventure just be sure to stay tuned to this station,” Space Ghost, The Great Grape Ape, Smokey the Bear disappointed in our inability to prevent forest fires, the Native Indian fellow on commercials rightly saddened by our compulsive polluting of the environment, a lone lone tear sliding down his cheek as he looked at us hoping we might be able to change and live in harmony with the natural world… Lite Brite, Jello in the fridge, “You sunk my Battleship!” “Hey-hey We’re The Monkees, and people say we Monkey around!” The end of the CBC’s broadcast day Canadian National Anthem video created by the National Film Board of Canada (which they also played at the movie theatre) which builds to a musical crescendo in conjunction with Greg Joy making his Bronze medal jump at the Montreal Summer Olympics, a cold-sweating glass pitcher of freshly made Cool Aid filled with ice cubes awaiting you on a break from the summer heat.
Summertime in the 70’s a world without central air. A world where what is was like outside was pretty much like what it was like inside.
The music via random selections from the year in music pages in Wikipedia–
April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney formally announced the Beatles were breaking up.
April 17, 1970, Johnny Cash performs at the White House at the invitation of President Richard M. Nixon.
September 17, 1970, Jimi Hendrix makes his last appearance, with Eric Burdon & War jamming at Ronnie Scotts Club in London. Hendrix, aged 27, dies the following day from a barbiturate overdose at his London hotel.
February 3, 1971, Davy Jones announces he is leaving the Monkees.
June 20-24 , 1971, The first Glastonbury Festival to take place at the summer solstice is held in South West England. Performers include David Bowie, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Quintessence and Hawkwind.
July 4 , 1971, The Fillmore West is closed in San Francisco with a final show featuring Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Grateful Dead.
November 6, 1971, Cher earned her first solo number one hit in US (Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves) staying atop for two consecutive weeks. Eventually the song was certified gold.
1971, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition issued their Greatest Hits album, which will sell over 4 million copies worldwide by the end of the decade. They also star in their own TV series Rollin’ on the River which runs until 1974.
1971, Rick Springfield leaves Zoot for a solo career.
January 20, 1972, The début of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at The Dome, Brighton, is halted by technical difficulties. Dark Side of the Moon would be played in its entirety the following night, but it would be a full year before the album was released.
January 21, 1972 , Keith Richards jumps on stage to jam with Chuck Berry at the Hollywood Palladium, but is ordered off for playing too loud. Berry later claims that he did not recognize Keith and would not have booted him if he did.
February 13, 1972, Led Zeppelin’s concert in Singapore is canceled when government officials will not let them off the airplane because of their long hair.
February 14–18, 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-host an entire week of The Mike Douglas Show.
March 15, 1972, L.A. disc jockey Robert W. Morgan plays Donny Osmond’s “Puppy Love” non-stop for 90 minutes. Police are called, but no arrests are made.
November 3,1972, James Taylor and Carly Simon are married in a tiny ceremony in Simon’s Manhattan apartment.
December 31, 1972 The first New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, with host Dick Clark, airs on NBC (before moving to ABC) with Three Dog Night as the featured act. Blood, Sweat & Tears, Helen Reddy and Al Green also perform.
January 14, 1973, Elvis Presley’s Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite television special is broadcast in over 40 countries around the world.
January 17, 1973, The Rolling Stones’ benefit concert for Nicaraguan earthquake victims raises over $350,000. On December 22, 1972, an earthquake destroyed Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.
March 24, 1973, Lou Reed is bitten on the buttocks by a fan during a concert in Buffalo, New York.
July 3, 1973, David Bowie ‘retires’ his stage persona Ziggy Stardust in front of a shocked audience at the Hammersmith Odeon at the end of his British tour.
August 6, 1973, Stevie Wonder is seriously injured in a car accident outside Durham, North Carolina, spending the next four days in a coma
September 20, 1973, Jim Croce, Maury Muehleisen and four others die in a plane crash in Louisiana
October 19, 1973, The Who release Quadrophenia, one of their most critically acclaimed albums.
November 20, 1973, The Who open their Quadrophenia US tour with a concert at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, but drummer Keith Moon passes out and has to be carried off the stage. Nineteen-year-old fan Scot Halpin is selected from the audience to finish the show.
February 14, 1974, The Captain & Tennille are married in Virginia City, Nevada.
February 20, 1974, Cher files for divorce from her husband of 10 years, Sonny Bono.
March 12, 1974, John Lennon is involved in an altercation with a photographer outside The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California. Lennon and friend Harry Nilsson had been heckling comedian Tommy Smothers and were forced to leave the club.
- 200,000 music fans attend The California Jam rock festival. Artists performing at the event include Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Black Oak Arkansas, and the Eagles.
- Swedish group ABBA wins the 19th Eurovision Song Contest in The Dome, Brighton, England, with the song “Waterloo”, kickstarting their stellar international career.
July 4, 1974, Barry White marries Love Unlimited lead singer Glodean James.
July 29, 1974, Having performed at two sold-out concerts at the London Palladium, “Mama” Cass Elliot dies in her sleep after suffering a heart attack in a Mayfair flat in London, aged 32.
July 29, 1974, Neil Peart officially joins Rush.
August 16, 1974, Ramones´ first appearance on NYC´s venue CBGB. The venue would help establish their place at the forefront of punk rock.
October 3, 1974, Idi Amin, the President of Uganda, instructs his country’s acting high commissioner in London to recruit two six-foot-tall Scots bagpipers with military backgrounds to serve as his bodyguards.
December 31, 1974, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks join Fleetwood Mac.
February 13, 1975, The film Slade In Flame, starring the members of Slade, premieres at the Metropole Theatre in London.
April 7, 1975, Ritchie Blackmore plays a final show with Deep Purple in Paris before quitting to form his own group, Rainbow.
June 24, 1975, “Gens du pays”, the unofficial national anthem of Quebec, is performed for the first time by Gilles Vigneault in a concert on Montreal’s Mount Royal.
June 30, 1975, Cher and Gregg Allman are married in a Las Vegas hotel suite.
July 4, 1975, The Texas Senate declares the Fourth of July “Willie Nelson Day”, as over 70,000 fans visit Liberty Hill for the third annual picnic and country rock show headlined by Willie himself.
November 6, 1975, The Sex Pistols play their first concert at St. Martin’s School of Art in London.
December 10, 1975, The John Denver holiday special Rocky Mountain Christmas airs on ABC.
December 25, 1975, Bassist Steve Harris forms Iron Maiden, drawing the name from a torture device mentioned in The Man in the Iron Mask.
December 31, 1975, The fourth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve airs on ABC, with performances by Average White Band, Melissa Manchester, Freddy Fender, and Neil Sedaka.
April 24, 1976, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels makes a semi-serious on-air offer to pay the Beatles $3000 to reunite live on the show. In a 1980 interview, John Lennon stated that he and Paul McCartney happened to be watching the show together at Lennon’s apartment in New York and considered walking down to the SNL studio “for a gag” but were “too tired”. On May 22, Michaels raises his offer from $3,000 to $3,200.
April 29, 1976, When his tour stops in Memphis, Tennessee, Bruce Springsteen jumps the wall at Elvis Presley’s mansion, “Graceland”, in an attempt to see his idol. Security guards stop Springsteen and escort him off the grounds.
July 27, 1976, Tina Turner files for divorce from husband Ike.
August 16, 1976, Cliff Richard becomes one of the first Western artists ever to perform in the Soviet Union when he gives a concert in Leningrad.
October 31, 1976, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic begin “The P-Funk/Rubber Band Earth Tour” in Houston, a national live series highlighting one of the biggest and revolutionary stage shows in the history of the music industry (the rock group Kiss would be the other group to do a similar act), relying on elaborate costumes, special lighting and effects, and extremely large props including “the Mothership”, which would arrive and land on stage, all of what this band is generally known for. This live set would vary in length (on average of 3 to 5 hours long) and at high volume.
November 25, 1976, The Band gives its last public performance; Martin Scorsese is on hand to film it.
November 26, 1976, The Sex Pistols’ debut single “Anarchy in the U.K.” is released by EMI.
1976, The last practitioner of the rekuhkara form of throat-singing dies, in Hokkaido, Japan.
January 1, 1977, The Clash headline the opening night of London’s only punk rock club, The Roxy.
June 7, 1977, The Sex Pistols attempt to interrupt Silver Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II by performing “God Save the Queen” from a boat on the River Thames.
June 20, 1977, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart drives his Porsche over the edge of a canyon, suffering multiple broken bones but surviving as a tree breaks his fall
June 22, 1977, Kiss are elected “most popular band in America” by a Gallup poll.
August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley is found dead at his home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
August 20, 1977, NASA’s unmanned probe Voyager 2 was launched carrying a golden record containing sounds and images representing life and culture on Earth, including the first movements of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Guan Pinghu’s Liu Shui, played on the guqin, and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”
October 9, 1977, Aerosmith cancels several tour dates after Joe Perry and Steven Tyler are injured by an M-80 explosive thrown onstage at the Philadelphia Spectrum, burning Tyler’s left cornea and cutting Perry’s left hand
October 20, 1977, A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes in a forest in Mississippi, killing songwriter & vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, background vocalist Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick and seriously injuring many of the remaining band members.
October 28, 1977, British rock band Queen release the album News of the World.
November 30, 1977, Bing Crosby’s final Christmas special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, airs on CBS (containing the notable segment of Crosby joined by David Bowie for the duet “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”)
December 14, 1977, Saturday Night Fever appears in theaters, igniting a new popularity for disco music and pushing it to the forefront of American pop culture, with the soundtrack to the film by Bee Gees (who had composed most of the tracks)
December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello makes his American television début on Saturday Night Live, but is banned after substituting the scheduled performance of “Less than Zero” with “Radio, Radio” instead
December 31, 1977, The sixth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with performances by Ohio Players, Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Andy Gibb
February 4, 1978, Elton John appears as the guest star on The Muppet Show.
February 10, 19878, Van Halen debuts with self-titled album; Eddie Van Halen introduces a powerful new sound and technique to world, while David Lee Roth is ushered in as the front man.
June 16, 1978, The film adaptation of the musical Grease, opens in theaters and is a box office hit.
July 21, 1978, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a much-hyped musical film starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees performing the music of The Beatles, opens in theaters. The film is savaged by critics and proves a box office disappointment.
September 14–16, 1978, The Grateful Dead perform three shows in Giza, Egypt, very close to the Sphinx and Great Pyramid.
December 31, 1978-
- The seventh annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with performances by Barry Manilow, Village People, Chuck Mangione, Tanya Tucker and Rick James.
- CBS airs New Year’s Eve with Guy Lombardo for the final time, nearly two years after the band leader’s death and ending a 22-year run that began in 1956.
January 6, 1979, ABC’s American Bandstand featured the debut of the “Y.M.C.A. dance” using the hand gestures forming the letters YMCA during a broadcast with the Village People.
February 7, 1979, The Clash kicked off their first concert of their first American tour at the Berkeley Community Theatre outside San Francisco. Bo Diddley opened the show.
March 10, 1979, James Brown performs at the Grand Ole Opry.
April 13, 1979, During a concert by Van Halen in Spokane, Washington, David Lee Roth collapses from exhaustion. A local doctor treats him for a stomach virus and advises him to “calm down”.
April 27, 1979, Ozzy Osbourne is fired as lead singer of Black Sabbath. He is replaced in May by Ronnie James Dio.
May 12, 1979, Disco occupied eight of the top ten spots of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, for two weeks. The charts were led by Peaches and Herb’s R&B ballad single “Reunited”.
July 1, 1979, The Sony Walkman goes on sale in Japan.
September 2, 1979, U2 enters the studio for the first time to record a locally released single.
November 26, 1979, Bill Haley & His Comets perform at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. This was Haley’s final recorded performance of “Rock Around the Clock”.
November 30, 1979, Pink Floyd released The Wall, rising to top spot on the US charts for fifteen weeks.
December 14, 1979, The Clash released London Calling.
December 26-29, 1979, The Concerts for the People of Kampuchea are held over four nights at the Hammersmith Odeon in London to raise funds for victims of war in Cambodia, Queen, The Who, The Clash, Wings, Elvis Costello and members of Led Zeppelin all take part.
December 31, 1979, The eighth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with appearances by The Oak Ridge Boys, Village People, Chic, Blondie and Barry Manilow.