(Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. Photo credit: KSU photojournalism student and Valley Daily News staffer John Filo, who won a Pulitzer prize for this image.)
May 2, 1970
It’s a Saturday, and just after midnight hundreds of Kent State students went into downtown breaking windows and causing commotion in an anti-war protest. This led to the imposition of curfew for that Saturday night. Demonstrators set fire to the ROTC building on the campus, leading Kent, Ohio mayor Leroy Satrom to call in the Ohio National Guard to restore order. The demonstrations reach a fever pitch on Monday the 4th when the Guardsmen fired into a crowd, killing students Jeffrey Miller and Sandra Scheuer (age 20) and Allison Krause and William K. Schroeder (age 19). It’s believed that one shot led the group to fire; 28 guns unloaded 61 shots in thirteen seconds.
That same Saturday Dust Commander won the Kentucky Derby by five lengths, and Lloyd Bentsen and George H.W. Bush won primaries for Senate seats.
On the charts: it’s the second of two weeks at #1 for the Jackson Five’s “A B C.” Also appearing for the first time this week:
“Daughter of Darkness” – Tom Jones (debut at #49). It’s always a good start when Tom Jones leads off. This will go on to hit #13 on the pop chart and – as you might have guessed – did much better on the Easy Listening chart, where it spends a week at #1.
“O-o-h Child” – The Five Stairsteps (#66). Technically this is the B-side of “Dear Prudence,” which charted on March 21. Never mind that tune. This is the sort of song that, if it doesn’t give you chills, I can’t help you. I’ve played this at least a thousand times on the radio and it still sounds so damned good. It also hit #27 when Dino did it in 1993, but let’s not hold that against the record. No, actually – it’s not as bad as other versions over the years. There’s also been decent covers, like Lisa Loeb’s version from three years ago. (And, any students of mine who find this piece are saying “Hey! Guardians of the Galaxy!: Whatever gets the good songs in their hands.) It peaks at #8 with local airplay pushing it higher.
“Soolaimon (African Trilogy II)” – Neil Diamond (#68). Instant flashback to the giant console my parents had in the living room growing up, overflowing with Neil Diamond 8-tracks. I’m hard-pressed to think when I’ve heard this since. This one stops at #30; there’s two much bigger hits coming from Neil before the year is over.
“Sugar, Sugar” – Wilson Pickett (#76). In which The Wicked Pickett redeems bubblegum. This is a sort of “oh wow isn’t strong enough” wonderful. It’s also the flip side of “Cole, Cooke and Redding,” which charted April 4. This actually goes on to hit #25, so I am unsure about why it generally gets zero plays a year. It charts at #1 on WWRL/New York.
“Brother Rapp” – James Brown (#77). There’s an Eddie Murphy routine about just having James scream the lyrics, because it will work. Comedy has its roots in truth. This does cross over into the Top 40, stopping at #32.
“Grover Henson Feels Forgotten” – Bill Cosby (#80). There was a time when anything that Bill Cosby touched turned to gold, or at least something valuable. This spoken word piece will only make it to #70, probably because if you saw Cosby’s name and came looking for comedy, you went away empty-handed. This makes it up to #4 on KIKX/Tucson, Arizona and #7 at KRPL in Moscow, Idaho. It also does well in Jackson, Michigan, right down the road from me.
“(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On a String” – The Chairmen of the Board (#86). It should be fairly soon that Sirius XM sets up the “beach music” channel they trot out every summer. Normally the channel is a mixed bag; for every great rare soul shot they play they inevitably dig out some 1990s-recorded ode to beach music itself, which shouldn’t count. Anyway – the channel does serve as a reminder that the C of the B had more than just the one record that Oldies radio beats to death. This is the follow up to January 17th’s “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” and it squeaks into the Top 40 at #38.
“Them Changes” – Buddy Miles & the Freedom Express (#87). Have I mentioned yet how strong the music is this week? Imagine being on the staff of an AM station somewhere in 1970 and all these records come in the mail at the same time. This list might have been the first hour of my show, and I’d be leading in the ratings. This only makes it to #81 nationally, but it’s a #11 record in Chicago on WVON.
“Mississippi Queen” – Mountain (#88). What, the list isn’t good enough for you? I have the prescription for what will fix your opinion: cowbell. This one’s a #21 record. I will admit to disliking when it came up on my show, however, as it always seemed to hit right around bathroom time, and at just over 2 minutes that’s a risk. Where’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” when you need it?
“Lucifer” – Bob Seger System (#91; re-entry). Normally when songs drop off and re-enter the list I just point you back to the original entry for the link. This one’s too good to make you work. (If you want to see it anyway, it was April 4.)
“Darkness, Darkness” – The Youngbloods (#93). This is a record that was released in 1969 and missed the charts. After the re-release of “Get Together,” itself a minor record from 1967 that soared high in 1969, it came back for another round. Lightning didn’t strike twice, as this one only made it to #86 and the band never saw the Hot 100 again. This is a #1 record on KYNO in Fresno, California.
“Question” – The Moody Blues (#94). Down here at the bottom of the charts lies a record that became a staple of the Classic Rock format. They hadn’t seen the Top 40 since 1968’s “Tuesday Afternoon,” which remains a record I like to use to see if I have the stereo set up properly. This one makes it to #21 and will be the only record the band charts in 1970. Fear not; they’ve still got about eighteen years of hits to come.
“Love Like a Man” – Ten Years After (#98). This is the debut record for this British band, who will have one record that stops at exactly #40 and a few also-rans. This one only spends this week and next on the chart and doesn’t move from this position. You’d have needed an FM radio, most likely, to have heard it in 1970.
“Check Yourself” – I.A.P. Company (#99). I.A.P. here stands for the Italian Pavement and Asphalt Company. That’s about all I have on this New Jersey group, other than that this isn’t a bad record. It’ll go to #97 next week and then disappear. I wouldn’t have guessed that Clarksburg, West Virginia was the hot spot for this tune, but it’s a #6 record there on WHAR.
“Darling Dear” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#100). We could have started this week’s list at the bottom and still started strong. This is technically the flip side of “Point It Out,” which charted on December 13 of last year. It’ll only spend this one week at #100, which is a darned shame. Then again, I’d listen to Smokey Robinson sing the phone book if he had the right backing band.