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Monday, January 9, 2017


To continue my series on #1 songs from Billboard in decadal segments, the 70's:

1970:  Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Two Jewish boys, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, met as children in 1953 and went to the same schools.  Here they are as Tom and Jerry.  They were unsuccessful at the beginning and kept splitting up until 1965 when their The Sounds of Silence became a major hit. They have won 10 Grammys, and their final collaboration in 1970 was Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  Since then they have had minor reunions, one released song, a couple of concert tours and a lot enmity.  They still entertain, but separately.  They are both now 75.

1971:  Three Dog Night, Joy to the World

Three Dog Night formed in 1967 with three performers, from left to right, Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton.  They soon added four more members and recorded 21 consecutive top 40 hits, with three reaching #1.  The name, of course, is from that outback tale of indigenous Australians sleeping with wild dogs, adding two more when it became freezing.  Hoyt Axton wrote the song.  Two original members passed away, but the group still tours.  They will perform in Chattanooga on January 19.

1972:  Roberta Flack, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Roberta Flack was 33 when she recorded this song, which in 1962 was first released by the Kingston Trio.  She is now 77, although records show she could be 79.  Flack is the only solo artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year on consecutive years, following with Killing Me Softly with His Song in 1973.  She entered Howard University at the age of 15 on a piano scholarship.  What made her career was Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial debut of Play Misty for Me by selecting TFTEISYF for his sound track.  He paid $2000, but made Flack very rich and famous.

1973:  Tony Orlando and Dawn, Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree

Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis was born in 1944 and had songs on the charts in 1961 when he was 16 years old.

He later become a vice-president at CBS records, and sang incognito with Dawn until one of their songs, Candida, then Knock Three Times, became hits.  When TaYRRtOOT became popular in 1973, he switched to singing, had a TV show and split up with Dawn in 1978.

He went on to perform in Las Vegas and  Branson.  He fought addiction to cocaine, obesity and depression, and suffered through the death of his sister and suicide of close friend, Freddie Prinze, in 1977.  His next public performance will be on January 20 when he appears at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, Canada.

1974:  Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were.  

The title says it all for the movie.  Barbra Streisand, a Marxist Jew with strong anti-war opinions, falls in love with Robert Redford, a WASP, who takes the easy way out.  They eventually marry have a daughter, divorce, each get remarried and re-meet in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  Their only memory is the way they were.  A sad love story, actually.  Below with current husband Josh Brolin.

You might be interested that in 1974, #99 was Wild Thing by The Troggs, #52 was Mockingbird by Carly Simon and James Taylor  (a re-make of the 1963 Inez and Charlie Foxx version), #46 was The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace, and #8 was Bennie and the Jets by Elton John.

1975:  Captain and Tennile, Love Will Keep Us Together

Husband and wife, Daryl Dragon (son of conductor and composer Carmen) and Cathryn Toni Tennile (she is four months older than me),  went on to release a series of successful songs, and together performed for almost 40 years until the Captain, who contracted Parkinson's, was unceremoniously divorced by Toni in 2014.  There is more to this story, for the simple fact is that they were mostly married for publicity convenience.

1976:  Wings, Silly Love Songs

Paul McCartney composed the song, his 27th to attain #1 ranking.  Other hits that year were:
1977:  Rod Stewart, Tonight's the Night

Who remembers that the track included some French by Britt Eckland, Stewart's girlfriend at the time, the release was considered to be suggestive and was banned here and there.  Some have interpreted the song as an incestuous pedophile's successful seduction of his daughter.  Watch the above video.  When Janet Jackson later covered it, there was a threesome with two women.  A retro twosome with a butterfly.  And here you thought these videos were so innocent.

1978: Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing

Andy was the younger brother of the Bee Gees.  He lived a fiery and short life, passing away essentially from drugs at the age of 30.  While they were all born in the UK, most of their early life was spent in Australia.  He drank beer at 11 and quit school two years later.  Shadow Dancing was written by all four Gibbs brothers, and Andy became the only solo artist to have his first three songs in a row reaching #1 in the same year, which was 1978.

1979:  The Knack, My Sharona

Supposedly written in 15 minutes by members of the The Knack, from the perspective of a 14-year old boy.  The inspiration was Sharona Algerian (right), who actually helped write the song.  She is now a real estate agent in Los Angeles.  The Knack members suffered deaths, brain tumors, etc., and are no longer performing.

#64 was Alicia Bridges' I Love the Nightlife, #61 Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing (the ten minute version--put it on full screen with high volume--the drummer is incredible), #53 Sister Sledge's We are Family, #49 Frank Mills' Music Box Dancer, #47, Kenny Rogers' She Believes in Me, #18 Blondie's Heart of Glass, #8 Village People's Y.M.C.A and #6 Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive.  Can't believe this was 37 years ago when I first went to work for the U.S. Senate in DC.

Next?  Either the disco '80's or, maybe, the '50's.


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