New this week in ’70: June 6

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, scalable vector illustration

(Above: Some say that Abraham Maslow built the pyramid.)

June 6, 1970

A major art theft takes place in London: two works were stolen from the home of Mathilda Marks-Kennedy and remain missing for decades. They turn up in 2014 in a home in Italy in the possession of a man who bought them second-hand and had no idea what he owned. He is allowed to keep one of them, Gauguin’s A Still Life of Apples and Grapes. The works are valued at a cool $50 million in 2014 when found.

June 7 is actually the big day, as far as matters that concern this blog is concerned: it’s the first time that rock music is ever performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. That’s the night that The Who perform Tommy live to a sold-out crowd. That same day pro bowling rookie Earl Anthony wins a tournament in Seattle. He’ll go on to win 42 more after that.

June 8 is the birthdate of both hockey star Mike Modano and U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who was targeted in an assassination attempt in Arizona in 2011. That same date Abraham Maslow dies at the age of 62; my teaching colleagues are more than a little familiar with the hierarchy of needs that he championed.

On the charts: it’s the second and final week at #1 for Ray Stevens and “Everything is Beautiful.” We’ll see what jumps up there next week.

Making their debuts this week:

Tighter, Tighter” – Alive & Kicking (debut at #73). This may be one of the best songs that Tommy James ever wrote. Rather than keep it for himself, he passed in on to labelmates Alive and Kicking, and they managed to take it up to #7. It turns out to be their only Top 40 hit; their second and final single will come later this year, so I won’t ruin it. (And, because I like my pop music properly punctuated, note that there is no “and” in the title of the record, but there is a comma – just like “Paint It, Black” has one.)

What Am I Gonna Do” – Smith (#76). This feels like it should have been a bigger hit than it was. This one maxes out at #73 and disappears after four weeks. It’s a top ten record in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on WUDO and makes it to #8 in Salt Lake City, Utah with moderate airplay in New Orleans, Columbus, and Grand Rapids.

(How ‘Bout A Little Hand For) The Boys In the Band” – The Boys In the Band (#77). Quick now – how many bands can you name whose debut single is the same as the band’s name? I came up with Big Country and these guys, and I’m not counting Wang Chung. This almost made it into the forty, stopping at #46. This is a top ten record all over the place, most notably on CKLW/Windsor-Detroit; Birmingham, Alabama’s WSGN; Flint, Michigan’s WTAC, and Rochester, New York’s WSAY, where it makes it to #5.

“Them Changes” – Buddy Miles (#82; re-entry). This originally hit the charts on May 2, so I’ll point you there. Look for it again in the summer of ’71, too.

Trying To Make a Fool Of Me” – Delfonics (#83). This is the third consecutive trip into the Top 40 for the band; their January 10 single “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” was a huge smash surrounded by two tunes that hit exactly #40. This one represents their last big hit, and has the “feel” of the others. This one makes it to #5 in Baltimore.

Teach Your Children” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (#85). My association with this one is so firmly on classic rock stations that it’s easy to forget that it was a strong single. CSN&Y had a string of pop hits, with seven in a row making the Top 40. This one’s right in the middle and peaks at #16.

Long and Lonesome Road” – The Shocking Blue (#87). This one kinda rocks. It’ll only make it to #76, but it strikes me as the sort of record I’d have gone out and bought save for being only a year old. This makes it to #8 on WHAR in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Steal Away” – Johnnie Taylor (#88). By no means confuse this record with the Robbie Dupree hit from 1980. This one is, shall we say, a touch more soulful. It’ll make it up to #37 with much higher airplay on legendary Black stations like WCHB/Detroit and WHBQ/Memphis.

The Sly, Slick, and the Wicked” – The Lost Generation (#89). Here’s your “oh wow” for the week. This is a terrific record from a legitimate one-hit wonder as far as the Pop charts are concerned. This is their only release to hit the Hot 100, and it goes up to #30. The group is from Chicago, but it’s Cincinnati radio that shows the song the most love, with it making #2 on WCIN and #4 on WSAI.

Melanie Makes Me Smile” – Tony Burrows (#91). Just last week we were talking about all the groups that Tony Burroughs sang for, and now here he is as a solo act. Of course, this record won’t do as well as any of those others, despite being completely interchangeable for any of them. You slap Edison Lighthouse on this and it charts higher than the #87 peak it hits. (Hell, Billboard spelled his name wrong the first time it appeared, going with “Burroughs” instead.) This one goes on my guilty pleasure list.

Maybe” – The Three Degrees (#93). Wow. I think we can chalk this one up as a lost hit. For a record that made it to #29 on the Pop charts, when is the last time you heard this one? On WICE in Providence, Rhode Island, this one is a #1 record, and it’s Top Ten on a wide selection of Black stations as well. The Chantels version sounded nothing like this.

Gimme Shelter” – Merry Clayton (#96). BUT – right here, THIS is the surprise find of the week. You may not know the name Merry Clayton, but you’ve heard her voice hundreds of times. She’s the backup singer who the Rolling Stones brought into the studio for their version of “Gimme Shelter.” (Until you hear her voice by itself, you may not know the exact words she was singing.) Here she is doing the whole darned record, and you’ll never hear it the same way again. This version spends seven weeks on the charts and makes it to #73. On WCOL/Columbus, it’s a #2 record.

Oh My My” – The Monkees (#99). Yes, The Monkees are still hitting the charts in 1970. This one is here for this week and next, moves one place, and fades away. They won’t be back on the charts for 16 years, when “That Was Then, This Is Now” hits #20 in 1986.

She Cried” – The Lettermen (#100). It feels like it’s been a while since we had a nostalgic throwback remake, so leave it to The Lettermen not to disappoint. This one only gets up to #73, but it gets a lot of Easy Listening airplay. It’s a #6 record on that chart.

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