In 1977, Memorial Day fell on May 30th. By official Presidential Proclamation 4504, Jimmy Carter designated the day
as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11 o'clock in the morning of that day as a time to unite in prayer
I'm not quoting this from memory - it came up during research for this post - as I don't remember Memorial Day 1977 as being any different than any other Memorial Day I recall from my childhood: We listened to WLRW while Dad grilled burgers in the backyard on his Weber charcoal grill. He placed his massive Pioneer speakers in the windows of the basement, propped up by foot-high stacks of Time-Life books taken from a nearby shelf, and we played "lawn games" like Jarts or Frisbee before firing up the Water Wiggle and Slip'N Slide to cool down, playing until the sun dropped and we packed up and went back inside.
Some years, we were out of school by Memorial Day depending on how many designated "snow days" we hadn't used. Other years, Memorial Day marked the last week of school and a series of half-days where we had to clean our lockers, our desks, and our rooms. I remember running home from that last of school and finding a strange car or RV in the driveway or parked in front of the house. Either later that same day or usually the next day, my sister and I would be taken away to spend the Summer in Texas or Missouri, sometimes we'd be together all Summer and sometimes we'd spend three months away from one another. My sister, three years my junior, remains a huge fan of Top 40 radio even today and her youngest daughter is also quite the fan, knowing the words to just about every song. Next week, on the day after Memorial Day 2017, I'll be driving the two of them up to a small airport in the 38th biggest city in America so they can fly out to visit Mom in Missouri. The Fishstick, as I affectionately call my niece, will be spending the Summer with her Grandma.
For the four-hour round trip, I plan on playing the songs from WLS's Forty-fives for the week of June 4, 1977, and am looking forward to hearing my sister repeatedly say "I remember this song! Haven't heard it in FOREVER!" while The Fishstick, age 13, chimes in with "Can we PLEASE listen to something else" from the backseat. She has been on enough road trips with her Uncle to know he controls the music and always brings great snacks so it should be a blast.
Superjock Larry Lujack was one of my two favorite jocks on WLS and his Animal Stories always got my elementary school mornings off to a great start. From what I've read since then, Uncle Lar has turned out to be one of the most influential and well-loved disc jockeys of all-time, with his legend looming larger each and every day as more and more of disciples testify on his behalf.
As an eleven-year-old Top 40 fan in 1977, none of the listed concerts would have appealed to me though Climax Blues Band's "Couldn't Get It Right", sitting up at number 6 that week on the survey, was/is one of my favorite songs. It would be another five and a half years before I attended my first concert.
The back of that week's survey featured the lyrics to the number 2 song on the front of the survey. "L'il Tommy" Edwards was a vital part of Animal Stories on WLS and served as the station's program director though I rarely if ever got to hear his midday show. I just read that Edwards retired in 2014 after a staggering 54-year career in radio, beginning as a sixteen-year-old in 1960. (Lujack sadly passed in 2013.) The survey was sponsored by Chicagoland Datsun Dealers. Datsun, which rebranded itself as Nissan in 1984, was the brand of car I ended up taking my driver's license test in back in April 1983.
I found the pic above of the same gold-green colored car that my parents bought new off the lot in 1976 or 1977 after Mom was t-boned while driving her beloved 1973 MG Midget. Loved that wood panel wallpaper! My sister ended up totaling the family F10 shortly after getting her license in 1985. I cannot remember the last time I saw one of these on the road - its like they all just disappeared.
Only the two albums above remained in their same chart positions from the prior week and, after this week, both would begin their steady declines down the survey. Though Hotel California and Leftoverture had been released a couple of months apart in 1976, they spent an incredible 34 weeks together on WLS's Thirty-threes survey.
The four albums above debuted on the Thirty-threes chart on June 4, 1977, though the top two discs did not have a single on the Forty-fives chart that week. Of the bottom two albums, Boz Scaggs was sitting on the bench at number 2, the peak position for his "Lido Shuffle" single while The Steve Miller Band was approaching at number 17 that week with "Jet Airliner" on their way to landing at number 7 in four short weeks.
As they had done every single week since the first WLS survey of 1977, both Barry Manilow and KISS managed to place multiple albums simultaneously on the Thirty-threes chart. At various times during the first six months of 1977, each act had up to three albums on the chart at once. The following week, Manilow's Live album would leap onto the chart way up at number 10 while KISS's Destroyer bottomed out at number 33 before leaving the chart a week later. Manilow enjoyed two weeks of once again having three albums on the chart before Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again fell off on June 25, 1977.
Five live albums were performing on the Thirty-threes chart that week though, over the next two weeks, both Frampton Comes Alive! and Diamond's Love At The Greek would leave the building as well as the survey. Frampton's album had spent nearly a year and a half on the survey and, along with KISS's Alive!, made it de rigueur for rock acts to release double albums culled from their concert tours. Of the five live LPs on the chart, only The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl, a hodge-podge of different performances from different dates and different years drowned out by the constant screaming of their female fans, was a single disc album.
The only track that remained static on the Forty-fives chart from the previous week was Climax Blues Band's "Couldn't Get It Right". The song would peak at number 4 the following week before sliding back down on the back half of a seventeen-week run.
The two biggest gainers on the survey both jumped up eleven places from the preceding week and though "Back Together Again" would never come close to former Number One "Rich Girl" for Hall & Oates unless you count the time (two weeks later) when "Back Together Again" was at number 35 and "Rich Girl" was at number 31. "Undercover Angel" was only in its second week on the survey and would hit Number One six weeks later, stay there for four weeks and then slide off the chart eleven weeks after that, ending up at number 3 on the Big 89 of 1977 after a 23-week run. Even forty years on and numerous listens later, both "Undercover Angel" and "Back Together Again" remain really big favorites here at The Hideaway. Actually, the only song on the list of forty-five I don't recall ever hearing on-air is Firefall's "Cinderella" but I like it nevertheless having heard it many times since. Nearly every single on the Forty-fives chart is special to me for one reason or another, which makes me more than a little excited for my little road trip on Tuesday. Especially the trip back - alone with the music and my memories.