(Above: Baseball comes to Canada, April 14, 1969.)
April 5, 1969
Leading the news today: a sniper takes to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and begins shooting at random from his car parked on the shoulder. Two are killed and fifteen are injured. The gunman later shoots his wife and turns the gun on himself. He’s identified as Donald Lambright, the son of comedian Stepin Fetchit.
The next day – April 6 – actor Paul Rudd is born. Yeah, he’s fifty. Former MLB star Bret Boone, son of former MLB star Bob Boone, is also born that day.
On Monday, April 7, the United States Supreme Court rules in Stanley v. Georgia that the possession of obscene material is in fact protected by the First Amendment. Fifty years later, students in my Communications Law class will doze off as I talk about it.
The following day is Opening Day for the Major League Baseball season, and there are four new teams – the Montreal Expos, the San Diego Padres, the Seattle Pilots, and the Kansas City Royals. All four teams win their openers.
The number one song in the country is still “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe, but we get a new one on the next chart.
There are a bunch of new adds to the chart this week – 19, to be exact:
“I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothin’ (Open The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)” – James Brown (debut at #61). It’s easy to forget that James Brown charted 99 (!) records on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s because Oldies radio typically played about three. This one ends up at #20, and should get a lot more airplay than it does. (I’ve linked to the nearly ten minute version here, because airplay be damned.)
“To Know You Is To Love You” – Bobby Vinton (72). The remakes continue. This version will crawl into the Top 40 and land at #34. It also turns up in Dickie Goodman’s “On Campus,” and eventually I’ll get around to writing about him.
“Pinball Wizard” – The Who (73). This week we’re getting a lot of classic rock staples. We don’t think of The Who as a singles band – they never had a #1 hit and only one Top Ten (no, it was “I Can See For Miles”). This one ends up at #19.
“Atlantis” – Donovan (75). Of these two songs, I don’t hear this one much. In fact, I don’t hear it without thinking of the National Lampoon Radio Hour parody of Donovan. Either way, this will head all the way to #7 and be a bigger hit than anything The Who did, which bothers me a bit.
“In the Bad Bad Old Days” – Foundations (77). Here, we have an “oh, wow.” Less “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and more of this, please. The charts disagree, as it stiffs at #51.
“Grazin’ In the Grass” – Friends of Distinction (80). I once teased this record on the air telling the audience that we’d learn to conjugate the verb “dig it.” Perhaps that’s why I am not on anymore. It’ll go on to be a huge hit, landing at #3, even before being included in Anchorman.
“Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)” – Peter Sarstedt (85). This was a #1 song in the UK in March. No, really. It’ll only make it to #70 and yet still earn a spot on my guilty pleasure playlist… on your back, and on your legs, a-dontcha know….
“Love Is All I Have To Give” – The Checkmates, Ltd. (86). Have I mentioned yet just how many positively solid songs there are added to this week’s chart? Here’s another one that I do not hear anywhere the correct amount. This doesn’t move much higher, stopping at #65. They’ll do better next month.
“Badge” – Cream (87). Eric Clapton and George Harrison wrote it, and that’s all you need to know. It’s the last single for the band and only makes it to #60, which is a) a shame and b) didn’t stop me from playing it a lot anyway.
“More Today than Yesterday” – Spiral Starecase (88). I can’t not think of my first stint at WCFL-FM/Morris when I hear this record. It’s on the first volume of Rhino Records’ Have A Nice Day: Hits of the 70s collection, despite being from ’69. Those CDs were at the core of the station’s rotation in the early days, and I loved talking this one right up to the first utterance from Pat Upton’s mouth. It’s a fantastically fun record.
“Back In the USSR” – Chubby Checker (90). This right here is why you come to this blog, isn’t it? It’s… good? I mean, it’s actually… I like it, and I am not sure how to feel about that. It’ll stop at #82 and stop Chubby’s hit parade until he comes back in 1982 with “Running.”
“These Eyes” – Guess Who (91). I have played this record on the radio at least a hundred times, and I’d play it again if I had a studio, it’s that good. This is one of those “I can name that tune in one note” type of records. It only makes #6, which is lower than I would have guessed.
“Morning Girl” – Neon Philharmonic (93). This is another one of those records that I will always play given the chance, and I should have done a “Pop Perfection” post on it. It’s one that I will belt out in the car if it comes up on my iPod while driving. “Put your dreams away/And read your box of Cheerios/And powder-puff that pretty nose/And go out and find your man where the wild wind blows…” see, you just did, too. It’ll be the band’s only Top 40 hit, landing at #17. (1970’s “Heighdy-Ho Princess” spends two weeks on the chart and only makes it to #94.
“Gitarzan” – Ray Stevens (94). Get it! Get it! Another guilty pleasure. “Shut up baby, I’m tryin’ to sing.” This is also a bigger hit than anything The Who put on the chart, since it goes to #8.
“California Girl (And the Tennessee Square)” – Tompall and the Glaser Brothers (97). Oh, wow, indeed. This only made #92, which is criminal. I see that, and I think “It must have been a regional hit.” Sure enough, it was: this very week it’s sitting at #1 (!) on the survey for WMUS in Muskegon, Michigan. It’ll hit #4 in Boston and #8 in the Twin Cities. Not bad for a few guys from Nebraska singing about two other states.
“Rhythm of the Rain” – Gary Lewis & the Playboys (98). Seriously, enough with the remakes already. This makes it to #63 and is significant as it’s the last record that Gary and the band charts. It’s also making me look for my original singles.
“Idaho” – Four Seasons (99). This got referenced on the KSTT chart last month. It goes no higher than #95 nationally, but does a little better in a few locales. It’s a little weird – it sort of sounds like a 4S record, but then not really. It’s the first time the band is billed on the label as “The Four Seasons Featuring Frankie Valli” since 1963, but that doesn’t sell many copies.