(Above: A memorial to those killed at Jackson State, 5/15/1970)
May 16, 1970
It’s the fiftieth birthday of tennis star Gabriela Sabatini.
Fifty years ago on May 15th another college campus shooting took place. This is the one we have a blind spot for in history, likely because it took place at a historically Black college. State police shot up a dormitory building on the second day of protests at Jackson State just after midnight, killing two students (Philip Gibbs, 21 and James E. Green, who was 17) and injuring twelve others. Over 150 rounds of ammunition were fired at a suspected sniper, who was never identified nor confirmed.
That same night “Get Smart” aired for the final time. Would you believe it ran for 138 episodes?
The following Monday – May 18th – the first-ever marriage license for a same-sex marriage was issued in Minnesota. Michael McConnell and Jack Baker applied for the license in Hennepin County. Baker argued that since there was no law saying they couldn’t, there was no reason to ban the union. The license was ultimately challenged and denied; in 1971 the couple were granted a license in Blue Earth County – which was challenged but never overturned. (Comedian Tina Fey was born that same day, in an unrelated story.)
On the charts: it’s another week at #1 for The Guess Who and “American Woman/No Sugar Tonight.” It’ll remain there for one more week after this. Also making their debuts this week:
“The Wonder of You”/”Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley (debut at #66). The biggest debut this week is one that I’ll never turn off. I’m not a big Elvis fan, but it’s impossible not to like “The Wonder of You.” The B-side, from From Elvis in Memphis, I can take or leave. “Wonder” only makes it to #9 here, but spends six weeks at #1 in the UK and a week atop the Easy Listening chart.
“Whoever Finds This, I Love You” – Mac Davis (#72). We’re off to a mellow start this week. This is the debut single for Davis, who of course will go on to host a variety of television shows throughout the decade. The timing’s a little off on this one: we typically don’t like our “end of summer” songs at the beginning of summer, so this only makes #53. On the Easy Listening side it’s a #25 record.
“Check Out Your Mind” – The Impressions (#76). Now we’re talking. This soul shot from Chicago makes it up to #28 on the pop chart. Interestingly, it’s not biggest on Chicago’s WVON; they play it as a #8 record, but it’s #3 on WSGN in Birmingham, Alabama and a #6 record on KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Come To Me” – Tommy James & the Shondells (#77). At first listen this sounds to be a derivative of “Ball of Fire,” which charted last fall. This doesn’t fare nearly as well, stopping at #47.
“Killer Joe” – Quincy Jones (#79). Here’s your “oh wow.” Drop the needle on this one, pour a strong cocktail, and forget about the world for a while. This is actually the pop debut for Jones, who of course was involved in a slew of records before this one (including producing Lesley Gore’s early hits, which still boggles my mind). It’ll only spend three weeks on the charts and stop at #74.
“Hey Mister Sun” – Bobby Sherman (#81). OK, the Quincy Jones record made it too cool in here. Let’s fix that. This eventual #24 hit epitomizes something I can’t describe clearly, so let me see how I can explain it. There’s a certain sound of pop in the early 70s that you just know it when you hear it. Compare this song to Frank Mills’ “Love Me Love Me Love” from 1972 and you see what I mean. (Maybe it’s just that these songs are basically the same melody through the verse. Maybe I’ve just heard too many songs.)
“Mississippi” – John Phillips (#83). Mama Cass wasn’t the only member of the Mamas and the Papas to have a solo hit. This is the only one to chart for Phillips, and it’ll make it to #32. It’s a #1 record in – not Mississippi, but South Dakota, Kentucky, and Queensland. That’s right – this was a big hit in Australia.
“So Much Love” – Faith Hope & Charity (#85). This must be the week where I hear a song and immediately think of another one. The intro to this screams “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” by Junior Walker and the All-Stars. It keeps that feel throughout, which is probably why I found myself tapping along with it. Why Faith, Hope and Charity? Probably because Brenda, Albert and Zulema doesn’t have the same ring to it. This one stalls out at #51.
“Red Red Wine” – Vic Dana (#87). If you liked the UB40 version of this and got excited when you saw the title, prepare to be disappointed. This is truer to the Neil Diamond original (he wrote it, after all) than perhaps Neil’s version itself. This makes it to #72 and serves as Dana’s last charting record. This is also a big hit on KIOA (#5), which makes me want to uncover old airchecks of the station and see how this and The Impressions segue.
“Let This Be a Letter (To My Baby)” – Jackie Wilson (#91). Absolutely nothing to dislike here. Even fans of Mr. Excitement need to make out every now and again. This only spends two weeks on the charts and stops at #91, but what a smooth record.
“I Want To Do (Everything For You)” – Raeletts (#97). Find me the station that plays this record and the last one together, and I’m not turning the radio off. This one also spends two weeks on the charts and disappears, hitting #96. (And yes, these are the same Raeletts that backed so many great Ray Charles singles.)
“Cottage Cheese” – Crow (#98). Technically a one-hit wonder, since “Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” from 10/25/69 was the only record to make the Top 40. This one seems like it should have done better than #56, which is as high as it got. This is a #1 record on WAKY in Louisville, Kentucky and on KOIL in Omaha, Nebraska and makes it to #2 on WOSH in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with a lot of Midwestern airplay.
“That Same Old Feeling” – The Fortunes (#99)
“That Same Old Feeling” – Pickettywitch (#100)
Here we have something interesting: these two are the exact same song, done by two Britpop groups. I guess this comes down to a matter of which one you prefer? The Fortunes version makes it to #62 and Pickettywitch makes it to #67, so it’s really not a lot of difference. For my money, I’ll take the Polly Brown vocal on the second one, which goes on to be a #2 record on KISD in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and makes #4 on Keener in Detroit.