So today is April 6th, also known as New Beer's Eve (prohibition was lifted conditionally on April 7th). However, this is yet another Friday work day, so for me I'm still about 24 hours away from celebrating. Among the things that happened today in 1970 was an incident called the Newhall Massacre. If you want the full story, you can wiki it here, but the ten cent version goes like this- two ex-cons got together in the LA area for mayhem, and found themselves in a vicious shootout with no less than 4 policemen (all of whom were killed) and a heroic former Marine who tried and failed to help them. Eventually the ringleader took his own life in a hostage situation and the other surrendered when he at last ran out of loaded weapons. The aftermath led to better shotgun traing for officers, training officers with the same ammo that they are issued ( the four young cops, were trained with .38 special ammo and sent to the streets with more powerful .357 mag ammo, and lack of being used to it led to several misses by the fallen officers), and the issuance of speedloader weaponry instead of having to load each shot individually ( a handicap the killers didn't share).
Also this day in 1970, Dr. Sam Sheppard passed away at the age of 46. Sheppard was accused of killing his wife and did 10 years hard time before the conviction was thrown out in a retrial; his story became the basis of The Fugitive. And yes, there was music, sweet music, as well.
Today, we'll see what Peter O'Toole's first movie role and the Beatles have in common; the artist that had so many sales that he asked his record label to stop keeping count; what really brought down Rick Nelson's plane; and a far calmer top ten than the last two weeks. Shall we...?
Nine songs debut in the hot 100 this week, three of them of note. The Gentrys- remember, the band led by Jimmy Hart? -come in at 95 with their cover (and a very decent one) of Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl. Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders comes in at 84 with Miss America. And way up at 72 lies Steppenwolf and Hey Lawdy Mama. 42 years old this week, and now let's look at this week's other birthdays.
Turning 30 this week is Dan Fogelberg's Kentucky Derby tribute, Run For The Roses. Hitting 35 this week are Dean Friedman's Ariel, The Trammps' Disco Inferno, and Pablo Cruise's debut Whatcha Gonna Do? Turning 40 is the heart-tugging Oh, Girl by the Chi-Lites, as well as David Bowie's Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. A buttload of songs turn 45 this week: The Supremes' The Happening; The Happenings' (like how that worked?) I Got Rhythm; Happy Jack from the Who (Lorraine, give Rex my regards); the best of all Neil Diamond songs- Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon; Jefferson Airplane's Somebody To Love; and last but not least, Engelbert Humperdink's Please Release Me (which was much better than my Mom's version). And hitting the big 5-0, Elvis' All Shook Up (coming in at #13) and the flip side Peace In The Valley, as well as Chuck Berry's School Day. B-b-b-blow out the candles...
The big mover is in the top 40; the big dropper is Smith's Take A Look Around, dropping 23 to #58. Which takes us to #50 and our Where Are They Now victim- Rick Nelson who was at 50 with Easy To Be Free. We all know what happened with him- and most of us heard the rumor that he and his gal-pal blew up the plane free-basing coke. But that wasn't the exact story. Read on:
When questioned by the NTSB, Pilots Brad Rank and Ken Ferguson had diversely different accounts of key events. According to co-pilot Ferguson, the cabin heater was acting up after the plane took off. Ferguson continued that Rank kept going back to the back of the plane to see if he could get the heater to function correctly and that Rank told Ferguson several times to turn the heater back on. "One of the times, I refused to turn it on," said Ferguson. He continued, "I was getting more nervous. I didn't think we should be messing with that heater en-route." After the plane crashed, Ferguson and Rank climbed out the windows, suffering from extensive burns. They shouted to the passenger cabin, but there was no response. Ferguson and Rank backed away from the plane, fearing explosion. Ferguson stated that Rank told him, "Don't tell anyone about the heater, don't tell anyone about the heater."
Pilot Rank, however, told a different story: Rank said that he was checking on the passengers when he noticed smoke in the middle of the cabin, where Rick Nelson and Helen Blair were sitting. Even though he never mentioned a problematic heater, Rank stated that he went to the rear of the plane to check the heater, saw no smoke, and found the heater was cool to the touch. After activating an automatic fire extinguisher and opening the cabin's fresh air inlets, Rank said that he returned to the cockpit where Ferguson was already asking traffic controllers for directions to the nearest airfield.
Rank was criticized by the NTSB for not following the in-flight fire checklist; opening the fresh air vents instead of leaving them closed, not instructing the passengers to use supplemental oxygen, and not attempting to fight the fire with the hand-held fire extinguisher that was in the cockpit. The board said that while these steps might not have prevented the crash, "they would have enhanced the potential for survival of the passengers." The words of the NTSB seem to echo that of firefighter, Lewis Glover, who was one of the first on the scene. Glover stated,"All the bodies are there at the front of the plane. Apparently, they were trying to escape the fire."
In my look back at the #1s on this date in history, my eye settled on Mr. Perry Como, who was #1 three times on this date: 1957 with Round And Round; 1954 with Wanted; and 1951 with If. Como racked up an incredible 108 top 40 hits ( the last was And I Love You So in 1974), 48 top tens (the last It's Impossible in 1970) and 14 #1s from 1945's Till The End Of Time to 1958's Catch A Falling Star. That's 14 #1s in thirteen years- one in '45, 3 in '46; then a mini-slump in 1947-8 (a slump that included 3 #2s and 2 #3s); then 2 in '49 followed by one each in '50-'54, '56-'58. But so humble a man was the multi-award-winning Como, that he asked his label to stop keeping track of his sales- and refused gold record certification on several of his hits. Though he died in his sleep 6 days short of his 89th birthday in 2001, he lived to see several tributes to himself- as well as fellow residents Bobby Vinton and the Four Coins- in their home town of Cannonsburg, PA.
5 songs debut in the top 40 this week. Climbing nine spots to 40 are Crosby Stills Nash And Young with their take on Joni Mitchell's Woodstock. Also up 9 is Tyrone Davis with Turn Back The Hands Of Time. Our big mover this week, up 26 notches to 36, are the country duo of Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan with their one substantial hit, the Tennessee Bird Walk. Up 15 to #27 comes Michael Parks with Long Lonesome Highway- the theme song of the TV show Then Came Bronson from the star of Then Came Bronson. And up 21 spots to 22 are the Guess Who with American Woman, the high debut in the 40 this week.
Raindrops have fallen off the charts, so we have two acts fighting over the grandpa chair at 16 weeks on the chart. Eddie Holman pauses on his way down at 46 with Hey There Lonely Girl, and Lulu at 33 with Oh Me Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby).
Well, I think I've hit all the specials except the six degrees, so I'll just say that two songs enter the top ten, two fall out. The droppers are The Rapper (6 to 11), and Evil Ways (10 to 13).
Bobby Sherman enters the top 10 at the leadoff spot, up 3 with Easy Come Easy Go. Badfinger climbs from 14 to 9 with Come And Get It. The Hollies hold at 8 with He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Simon And Garfunkel drop another 3 to #7 with Bridge Over Troubled Water (still trying to dope out how to work a "water under the bridge" joke). Frijid Pink moves up one to #6 with House Of The Rising Sun. Norman Greenbaum moves up 4 to #5 with Spirit In The Sky. Edison Lighthouse sneaks up one to #4 with Love Grows etc. etc. (I wouldn't do that to you people if you'd keep your title to six words or less!) And that brings us to our six degrees segment.
Instant Karma, holding at #3 this week, took John Lennon 10 days- count 'em, ten- from writing the song to the single in stores. One of the members of the Plastic Ono Band (which always made me wonder- if he had a human Ono, why did he need a plastic one?) was Klaus Voorman, who had met the boys when they were still the Quarrymen and Stuart Sutcliffe was the leader. In fact, there was talk of replacing McCartney with Voorman in a band tentatively named the Ladders. Voorman was involved in a lot of stuff between and betwixt, including being the bassist for Manfred Mann from '66-'69, including on The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo). The Mighty Quinn was written by Bob Dylan (who, BTW, covered House Of The Rising Sun before the Animals did) after he watched the movie The Savage Innocents. In the film, Anthony Quinn played an Innuit ("eskimo") who got into trouble trying to deal with 'civilization' and ended up being trailed by a mountie played by Peter O'Toole. It was O'Toole's first film role; but he had his name taken off the credits when he found out that the producer had dubbed over his voice. And there you are.
No change at the top; The Jackson 5 remain #2 with ABC, and the Beatles remain our top dog with Let It Be.
No great countdown Saturday... watch this space for details on the upcoming 80s countdown.