(Above: Mercury is really pretty small when compared to the Sun. We don’t get this view again until 2032.)
May 9, 1970
It’s the date that Walter P. Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, was killed in a plane crash just outside of Pellston, Michigan at the age of 62. His wife May was also killed in the crash. Younger readers of the blog who have driven on the freeway named for him near Detroit – now you know. That same day President Nixon makes a surprise appearance at the Lincoln Memorial just before five in the morning to chat with a group of protesters. Also that day: the planet Mercury passes in between the Earth and the Sun. Called a transit, it actually happens only a few times a century. It last happened on November 11th of last year and won’t again until November 13, 2032.
The next night the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1941, sweeping the St. Louis Blues with a 4-3 overtime victory.
Also in sports news – the following Tuesday (May 12) Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs becomes only the 9th player to hit 500 home runs in his career. That same day the International Olympic Committee decides that Montreal, Quebec, Canada will host the 1976 Summer Olympics. (Those are the first ones I have a clear memory of watching; I was only three in 1972 so I have no good firsthand memory of the Munich Games other than what I have seen from historical television footage.)
On the charts: the #1 songs don’t stay as long as they used to. There’s a new one this week: “American Woman/No Sugar Tonight” by the The Guess Who begins its three-week run at the top. The list of new records this week is also shorter, and debuts lower than we have seen in recent weeks.
“Baby Hold On” – The Grass Roots (debut at #79). This one will just sneak into the Top 40, stopping at #35. It’s the only single the band will put into the 40 this year, with one release coming later in the year peaking much higher (although not until 1971). In Lincoln, Nebraska and Fort Lauderdale, Florida it’s a #2 record. Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit partial to this record.
“Ride Captain Ride” – Blues Image (#85). This is a song that I have played probably dozens of times on the radio in my life. On the one hand, I don’t know that I need to hear it again. On the other, I don’t think I’d turn it off if I did. It’s a medley of their greatest hit; peaking at #4, they never again make the Top 40. (There’s a single that hits the Top 100 coming later this year, but let’s not spoil that.)
“Go Back” – Crabby Appleton (#86). This is another one of those records that my memory tells me I played more than I probably did. It seemed like every weekend I was at WCFL/Morris this was coming up on my list. It peaked at #36 and is the only charting single for the band. This is a #1 record on KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Into the Mystic” – Johnny Rivers (#90). I am not sure how to feel about this. The Van Morrison version is one that I’ll give a little extra volume to, especially by the second drink. This one? I’ll just say that it’s a #51 single at its peak. This version, while not terrible, isn’t, well, mystical.
“Baby I Love You” – Little Milton (#91). Here we have an “oh wow.” This is a version of the Jimmy Holiday original from 1966 (don’t confuse this with Aretha Franklin or the Ronettes, which are two completely different songs). It doesn’t do a whole lot more on the charts, finishing at #82, but this is a terrific piece of music. It peaks at #5 on WVON/Chicago.
“I Call My Baby Candy” – The Jaggerz (#92). This is a less terrific piece of music, but was more likely played on an AM station near you than Little Milton. The Jaggerz, who spent a week at #2 with “The Rapper” earlier this year, followed that up with this. This stopped nationally at #75, but is a Top 20 record in places like Pittsburgh, Akron, St. Louis, and Sarasota, Florida. One more single this summer and they’re done. Later in 1980, we get Donnie Ierace as a solo artist with a much easier spelling of his name.
“Tobacco Road” – Jamul (#93). You’ll never hear The Nashville Teens the same way again. This kinda rocks. The band hailed from San Diego, put this one single on the chart, and it spent two weeks here at #93 before disappearing. I can’t find any airplay data out of San Diego, but it was a #29 hit on WIRL in Peoria, Illinois. (Trivia: I later worked for a company that owned WIRL; a guy named Jim Glassman owned them, sister elevator station WSWT, and uber-elevator KRVR in Davenport, Iowa, which I have written about here and here.)
“Patch of Blue” – Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons (#94). I think that this was the only time the band was billed as “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons” on the label. No “featuring the ‘sound’ of,” no blending him in with the band. The gambit didn’t work, as this record got no higher than where you see it now. It’s not a bad record; it’s more likely that people just weren’t interested in a new 4 Seasons record in 1970. It’s a #15 record on WIBM in Jackson, Michigan.
“If You Do Believe In Love” – The Tee Set (#95). If you loved “Ma Belle Amie” on January 24, it was hoped you’d love this one, too. No such luck. This will climb a bit to #81, and then the band will fade from the charts forever with just the one Top 40 hit. This made it all the way to #3 on WOSH in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and was a big hit in Australia.
“Sweet Feeling” – Candi Staton (#96). This will make it up to #60 before it fades away. Her biggest – and only – crossover hit is yet to come in a few months. It’s a Top Five record on WCIN in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“She Didn’t Know (She Kept On Talking)” – Dee Dee Warwick (#99). Dionne’s little sister (and look-alike, to my eye) never managed a Top 40 hit on the Pop charts. This one stalled out at #70, but it’s Top 5 on Black radio in Baltimore and New York.
“And My Heart Sang (Tra La La)” – Brenda and the Tabulations (#100). If you only know Brenda and the Tabulations from trying to learn the lyrics to “Life Is a Rock,” you’re missing some decent soul. This one only hits #64 as a crossover, but is a solid Top 10 on most Black stations.