March 19, 1971, was a Friday. Headline stories in the morning papers around the country include an antiwar protest in Boston outside a hotel yesterday, where Vice-President Spiro Agnew gave a fiery anti-media speech at a Republican fundraiser. A crowd estimated at 3,500 clashed with a group of hard-hats before being pushed back by police. Today, the prime interest rate is adjusted down, from 5.38 percent to 5.25 percent. (It will go back up in April.) In Texas, Amarillo Air Force Base closes. In the current edition of Life, TV critic John Leonard eviscerates the CBS-TV series All in the Family, which premiered in January, calling it “a wretched program” and “insulting.” The cover story, written by Norman Mailer, is about the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight of March 8, won by Frazier. Ali is also on the cover of the current Rolling Stone.
The Wisconsin state basketball tournament continues at the UW Fieldhouse. Semifinal games are won by Janesville Parker and Milwaukee Rufus King. Tomorrow, Parker will defeat King 79-68 for the championship. It’s the final one-class tournament; next year, the state’s high schools will be divided into two classes for tournament play. The Illinois tournament opens with four quarterfinals; Thornridge, led by future college star, NBA player, and TV broadcaster Quinn Buckner, defeats Kewanee 63-58, and will win the state crown tomorrow. In college hockey, Minnesota overcomes a 4-1 deficit to beat Harvard 6-5 in overtime and advances to the NCAA national championship game against Boston University. Tomorrow, Boston U will win the title, 4-2.
Shows on ABC tonight include The Partridge Family and The Odd Couple, plus the last original episode of That Girl, ending its run after five seasons. On NBC, The Name of the Game airs its final original episode. A Grateful Dead show scheduled for the former Chicago Coliseum (recently renamed the Syndrome) is scrapped when the venue abruptly closes. Fleetwood Mac plays Detroit and Grand Funk Railroad plays Fort Lauderdale. Led Zeppelin plays Manchester University in England. Sugarloaf, fresh off a post-show gig at the Grammys earlier in the week, continues a lengthy stand at the Whisky in Los Angeles. Keith Jarrett plays Minneapolis and Elvin Bishop plays San Francisco. Released today: The Yes Album and Aqualung by Jethro Tull.
At WLS in Chicago, “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” by the Partridge Family tops the station survey for a second week; Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” holds at Number Two. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye leaps from 14 to 6, while “What Is Life” by George Harrison moves from 19 to 11. The hottest records on the chart, however, are “Free” by Chicago, charging from 29 to 17, and “L.A. Goodbye” by the Ides of March, zooming from 28 to 19. When he’s not watching sports on TV, especially the state basketball tournaments, an 11-year-old kid in Wisconsin is listening to WLS constantly. He also watches The Partridge Family, and he bought “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” long before it was featured on the March 12 episode of the show.
Perspective From the Present: When Kinky Paprika wrote recently about the American Top 40 countdown from February 27, 1971, I commented that the music on the radio that week was the sound of an obsession being born. I had already decided, on or around my 11th birthday, that I wanted to do what I heard Larry Lujack, Chuck Buell, and the other guys on WLS doing. I still do. I filled in at Magic last week, five straight days on the afternoon show, and I can’t remember the last time I was so sure I was doing what I should be doing. All the rest is just trading my life for money.
One other thing: If you don’t dig “L.A. Goodbye,” which peaked at only Number 73 in Billboard despite reaching Number 5 on WLS, I don’t think we should see each other anymore.