Wired in ’76

(Pictured: Peter Frampton, 1976.)

(Before we begin: thanks to all who posed radio questions and/or answered them this week. We can keep that up as long as you like.)

This week, I went into the archives at American Radio History and found the edition of Billboard dated June 19, 1976, to see if reading about that summer is as much fun as listening to it.

Front cover: an advertisement in the lower right-hand corner touts the new album by “five teenage girls called the Runaways. The Runaways devastate their audiences with searing high-powered rock outbursts. . . .”

Page 3: Angel Records plans a promotional push for a three-year-old album by the Concert Arts Symphonic Band, conducted by Felix Slatkin, because it contains “Bugler’s Dream,” which will be ABC-TV’s main theme for the Summer Olympics in July. Angel hopes to turn it into a hit single.

Page 6: In advance of the upcoming Summer Consumer Electronics Show, a report on the slow growth of quadrophonic broadcasting blames broadcaster confusion over competing quad systems and the fact that few consumers own any quad equipment. The most sought-after technologies at CES, however, are expected to be car stereo and CB radio. Former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson believes interest in both has spiked because listeners are tired of the commercial interruptions on broadcast radio.

Page 16: Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Booker T. Jones will reunite for the first time in seven years to back Richie Havens. They’re making an album of Stax covers.

Page 17: Songs most added to radio playlists this week are “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, “If You Know What I Mean” by Neil Diamond, and “I’ll Be Good to You” by the Brothers Johnson. The Album Radio Action Report of top requests and airplay lists Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band, Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster Cult, The Royal Scam by Steely Dan, and Cardiff Rose by Roger McGuinn.

Page 28: The Don Martin School of Communications in Los Angeles reports that women make up 11 percent of the student body, the most in the school’s 39-year history. “A number of the women are already employed at radio stations,” says the school’s president, “but are studying to improve their positions.”

Page 43: Electric Factory Concerts is promoting four shows at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia this summer. The first, starring Peter Frampton, Yes, Gary Wright, and the Pousette-Dart Band was on June 12. Although no contract has been signed, the Rolling Stones are set to appear on July 11; on August 15th, Aerosmith, Foghat, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band will perform (plus two other acts to be announced) and on August 28th, it’s a possible Jefferson Starship reunion with Hot Tuna, plus Jeff Beck and “Robert Trower.” Meanwhile, another promoter’s five-concert July 4 weekend series at JFK Stadium is in jeopardy; it seems possible that some of the scheduled shows may come off, but some of the rumored headliners, including Chicago and the Beach Boys, will almost certainly not appear.

Page 53: New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball machines ended on June 1 after the mayor signed a bill legalizing games with the add-a-ball feature.

Page 70: Billboard reviews 50 albums this week. Spotlight picks are Wired by Jeff Beck and Rock and Roll Music by the Beatles. Also reviewed are 135 singles. Pop picks include Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton, “Another Rainy Day in New York City” by Chicago, Neil Sedaka’s “Steppin’ Out,” “Honey Child” by Bad Company, and “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs.

Page 74: Headline: “Is there a market for a group-funded rock LP?” In 1974, members of several Miami groups formed an all-star band and cut an album. Now, a couple of record executives and a group of 20 financial backers are trying to raise the rest of the money to get it released.

Page 76: On the Hot 100, the top four songs hold their positions from the previous week: “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, “Get Up and Boogie” by Silver Convention, “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore, and “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. On the album chart, Wings at the Speed of Sound knocks the Rolling Stones’ Black and Blue from the #1 spot to #3. Frampton Comes Alive is at #2. The highest debuting new album on the Billboard 200 is the David Bowie compilation Changesonebowie at #45.

The Stones did not appear in Philadelphia that summer. Two cuts with Cropper, Dunn, and Jones turned up on Havens’ 1976 album The End of the Beginning, but neither was a Stax cover. “Bugler’s Dream” did not become a radio hit, but it’s still television’s Olympic theme today. And although the Runaways sound OK to me now, I would have hated them in 1976.

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6 responses

  1. Thanks, JB. A fun read. 1976 was special time for me, as I was jocking in my wife’s hometown and we got to know each other at the time, but weren’t romantically involved. I moved on in ’77, 36 years went by, fate did what fate does and we got married a year ago. All those records mentioned in the piece have a special place in my heart.

  2. How does anyone not like “Chchchcherry Bomb!”

  3. Only Chuck Mangione is man (gione) enough to get his Olympic theme into the Top 40.

  4. I like the Frampton pic at the top – looks like he is gonna devour the mic.

  5. The Neil Diamond song, If You Know What I Mean seems AWOL even from Sirius. I occasionally have heard Chicago and Dorothy Moore, but very rarely. While great songs, they haven’t aged well.

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