One Day in Your Life: December 7, 1981

December 7, 1981, is a Monday. President Reagan tells reporters that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sent assassination teams to murder top U.S. officials, after an American official is killed by suspected Libyan gunmen in Paris yesterday. (Later in the week, Reagan will call on Americans in Libya to leave, and forbid any other Americans to enter.) Reagan also meets Colonel Joseph Engel and Captain Richard Truly, the astronauts who flew the space shuttle Columbia on its second mission last month, and nominates Robert Bork to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven coal miners are killed in an explosion in Knott County, Kentucky. Spain officially joins NATO.The Oakland Raiders score 16 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-27, on Monday Night Football. At baseball’s annual winter meetings, the Chicago Cubs trade pitcher Doug Capilla to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Allen Ripley. (Tomorrow, they will make a major trade, acquiring three players from the Philadelphia Phillies, including infielder Keith Moreland and pitcher Dickie Noles, for pitcher Mike Krukow.) Future NFL defensive lineman Tank Johnson is born. William Edmunds, who played minor roles in Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life, dies at age 95. The Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest holds its first meeting in Seattle. Joe’s Pizzeria and Vittoria opens in Summit, New Jersey.

The cover story in Time magazine is “Crazy Over Cats,” inspired by the proliferation of cat-related popular culture, including Garfield, the musical Cats, and the book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. People‘s cover story is about Johnny Carson’s return to his hometown to film a documentary. Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. TV shows on the air that night include M*A*S*H, That’s Incredible!, Lou Grant, Knots Landing, and Little House on the Prairie. The Grateful Dead plays Des Moines. Badfinger plays Cleveland. Eric Clapton plays Budokan in Tokyo. Frank Zappa plays Salt Lake City. The Rolling Stones play suburban Washington, D.C.

At WLS in Chicago, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John takes over the Number One slot from “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates, which slips to Number Two. Among the biggest movers on the chart are “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart (26 to 14), “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie (45 to 24), and a live version of “Closer to the Heart” by Rush (44 to 30). These records indicate the hard-rockin’ direction the station has taken in 1981, particularly in morning drive and at night. Yeah, they’re still playing Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, and “Endless Love,” but also Triumph’s “Magic Power,” “Nicole” by Point Blank, “Heavy Metal” by Don Felder, and Diesel’s “Sausalito Summernight”—one of the greatest driving-with-the-radio-on records in this or any other universe. Too bad it’s winter.

“Sausalito Summernight”/Diesel (buy it—on a somewhat pricey inport, alas—here)


7 responses

  1. “We left for ‘Frisco in your Rambler…The engine’s thumpin’ like a disco
    We ought to dump her in the bay.” More great lines from one of my favs.

  2. Another fav was at #31, “No Time To Lose” by the Tarney/Spencer Band. I picked up the 45 a few months ago and it still rocks.

  3. Not only was WLS rockin’ with their current playlist, they were rockin’ out at night with an “album cut” category which included, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, “All Good People” by Yes, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” by Bad Company, and the long version of “Freebird” from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Album cut currents they were playing in late 1981 included, “Escape” by Journey, “Little T & A” by the Rolling Stones, “Woman in Black” by Foreigner, and “Poor Man’s Son” by Survivor. Yeah, ‘LS absolutely rocked out at night!

  4. Ac/Dc played in Philadelphia 12/07/1981

  5. You forgot the most important event! My Birthday!

  6. This was also the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the peak of the Adam Walsh murder & the day I was born!

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