October 30, 1974, is a Wednesday. Last night here in the states (but at 4AM on the 30th in Zaire, where the fight is held), Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in the eighth round to regain the heavyweight championship in “the Rumble in the Jungle.” In one of four games played in the World Football League tonight, Southern California beats Charlotte 34-25. Today, President Ford holds a cabinet meeting. Among the subjects discussed: how to ensure better public compliance with the 55MPH speed limit. The Omaha Register newspaper reports on a Nebraska state trooper who claims to have been abducted by a UFO, and the Gettysburg Times covers the dedication of a new parking lot at the First Lutheran Church in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. A teenager named Laura Aime disappears after a Halloween party in Utah. She will be found murdered, and in 1988, serial killer Ted Bundy will confess to the crime. Chicken magnate Frank Perdue is involved in a fatal traffic accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike; he will eventually be charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the case will be dismissed.
Shows on TV tonight include Cannon and The Manhunter, starring Ken Howard, on CBS, Little House on the Prairie on NBC, and the TV movie Death Cruise on ABC. In the UK, filming continues on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Spirit plays Denver and Golden Earring plays Chicago. Eric Clapton plays Boston, Fleetwood Mac plays Jackson, Mississippi, KISS plays Columbus, Ohio, and David Bowie plays Radio City Music Hall in New York. At WDRQ in Detroit, “I Love Q, I Honestly Love Q” by Olivia Newton-John holds at Number One; another record that some radio stations have altered to promote themselves, “Life Is a Rock” by Reunion, is at Number 16. (In Chicago, it’s heard as “life is a rock but WLS rolled me” and “life is a rock but ‘CFL rolled me”). Al Green’s magnificent “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” leaps from 12 to 5, and “I Can Help” by Billy Swan vaults from 20 to 13. In Wisconsin, a high-school freshman hears Green’s chuckle at the start of “Sha La La” and knows precisely what it means—the song feels so good that you just can’t keep it in.
Perspective From the Present: Some of the stuff on the WDRQ chart that I never heard back then is mighty fine, like “Let’s Straighten it Out” by Latimore (Number Three). It’s a slow-cookin’ deep soul record that would barely sneak into the national Top 40. “Evil Boll Weevil” by Grand Canyon (Number 24) is a novelty record about Evel Knievel’s then-recent attempt to jump over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. It’s a break-in record, containing clips from other songs—the sort of thing that Dickie Goodman made famous way back in the 50s, and would do again with “Mr. Jaws” a year later. But the big hits of that week are some of the most evocative October records of all time, and they still take me back there.