1974 at a glance:
- Peter Frampton released platinum live album "Frampton Comes Alive"
- "The Bionic Woman" with Lindsay Wagner debuts on ABC
- Taxi Driver" directed by Martin Scorseseis released
- "Rich Man, Poor Man" mini-series premieres on ABC TV
- AFC Championship Game: Pittsburgh Steelers beat Oakland Raiders 16-10
- Allman Brother's roadie Scooter Herring sentenced to 75 years for providing drugs for the group, based on Gregg Allman's testimony
- 10,000 Northern Ireland women demonstrate for peace in Belfast
- Muhammad Ali beats Ken Norton in 15 for heavyweight boxing title
- Hank Aaron hits 755th & last home run off Angels Dick Drago
- George Harrison appears on "Saturday Night Live"
- Comic strip "Cathy" by Cathy Guisewhite debuts
I was 20 and 21 years old in 1976.
In all seriousness, I simply hated 1976. It was boring, in-between, and I was suffering from a physical ailment called "Labrynthitis" that stole all the excitement of it. Actually, I think I'd rather have had root canal work done than live through 1976. So, with that bit of intro, here we go...
Ruffled and embroidered shirts were still pretty popular. I bought one at a popular clothes store at Mall 205. Thank God no pictures exist of me wearing it. Television was still great-especially the made for TV movies-but unfortunately, no new ground was being covered. The big 70's blast came to fruition around 1971, and by '76, the shock waves of revolution and innovation were quieting to a ripple. The Punk Rock movement was in full swing, as was Disco.
Great music was still being pumped out. A haunting ballad by Janis Ian "At Seventeen" was incredible. It seemed only popular with the girls, but I thought it was one of the best songs ever written. The Eagles released "Hotel California" and managed to latch onto the ultimately amazing Joe Walsh on guitar. Peter Frampton came alive. Every teeny bopper and hippie chick in the world seemed to fall in love with him. Did they know that he was with the not so sweet and innocent Humble Pie?
Rich Man, Poor Man1976 did bring us one of television's finest moments in the epic mini-series "Rich Man, Poor Man". The show made stars out of Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte. It was a great movie and spawned a sequel in 1978 titled "Rich Man, Poor Man Book II". Both series' highly elevated the character actor status of actor William Smith who played the iconic supervillain "Falconetti". Though the sequel was not nearly as good, it was engaging. The original "Rich Man, Poor Man" is excellent, and time well spent.
PONG!Soon after I'd turned 21, I discovered, in my favorite hangout Pub 205, a wierd game played on table tops called Pong. The screen served as part of the table top with glass covering it for safety. My friends and I were wildly fascinated by the "booop" sound it made, and the ball bouncing across a black screen. Ping Pong was the game, only it was played with controls instead of paddles. How Tech! The space age had arrived. Pong was awesmoe. Soon, it would be available for home televisions by Atari. However, the earlier versions were reputed to damage television screens.
AAAAGGGHHH! Disco Duck!
What the heck happened to this country?!The most frightening world event happened in 1976. Disco was in. I realize that there's no excuse for my using the "D" word, but "Disco," a derivation of the word "discotheque" burst onto the scene destroying everything in its path. Though it slowly scratched its evil way to the surface earlier in the 70's, the release of Paramount Pictures' "Saturday Night Fever" was a signal for all young soldiers to put on their "dancing shoes." Disco was the supreme evil. One should have carried a crucifix on a golden chain to ward off any performers, songs, or albums that represented the "D" word.
One may ask, "why was disco evil?" As is the case in most wars, the innocent are always the first to suffer. Disco stole our most cherished commodity back then: girls. Girls loved disco! Girls loved guys who loved disco. Girls loved to dance. The beat was strong and the music was moving. Unlike mainstream rock, disco didn't rely on lead guitars for soloing. Instead it used synthesizers with "stupid" programming, flutes, and strong drum beats. Even bass guitars would solo! Moreover, disco wasn't original; it was stolen from earlier 70's soul music which by far had more class. Disco T shirts with slogans like Death to Disco! were sold in mass quantities. Us guys were defending our homeland.
Nevermind the Bollocks, It's the Sex Pistols!
Punk was a new rage. I remember my first experiences with the strange new world of Punk Rock At first, I saw it as a sort stupid flash-in-the-pan that would evaporate as quickly as it came to light. Oh, how wrong I was. The Sex Pistols burst onto the scene like a bomb with frontmen Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.
Soon, the safety pin and razor blade world of punk was mega-popular, and a slew of new bands burst onto the scene. One in particular wasThe Clash. They were pretty darned good, and their album "London Calling" had songs I really liked. Pretty soon, the Punk wave turned to an offshoot known as "New Wave" which was a cleaned up version of punk that dominated the 80's. The girls that I knew may have loved to dance, but they did not love Punk Rock. In fact, I couldn't think of an easier way to clear out a room than to put on some Buzzcocks, Dead Boys, or The Damned. Soon, the punk movement began to change just a bit to become something more elite. Groups like Blondie made a huge splash onto the 70's music scene that created in itself, a counter-culture made up of a careful balance of punk rock and mainstream rock. The punk movement was now stronger than ever. Interestingly, it kept evolving, turning out better and better bands.
Dizzy, nautious, nervous, barely able to sit up. This was my life.
Where and how it hit me I have no idea, but in 1976 I was diagnosed with a bizarre affliction called Labyrinthitis which later morphed into Vertigo. 1976-77 were the most difficult years of my life because of this. The TV show Emergency! featured it as one of their emergency responses. This alone told me that I was not alone. I needed some help in describing Labyrinthitis, so I called on my old pal Wikipedia:
"A prominent and debilitating symptom of labyrinthitis is acute vertigo... Nausea, anxiety, and a general ill feeling are common due to the distorted balance signals that the brain receives from the inner ear."
What was even more fun than this, were the crazy tests I had to go through to find it. I had my ear drums injected with ice water, put into a chair that leaned way back and had to wear thick eyeglass lenses that distorted everything, plus I had to go through a multitude of blood draws to determine whether or not I had hypoglycemia. It was Hospio-Politico torture (I just made that up, cool huh?) which only gave me a verdict of "Labyrinthitis" with a dash of vertigo as my reward. Valium was prescribed to control the accompanying anxiety. Yes, I was legally and naturally high. Every movement practically needed something to support myself with. I still worked at Rol-A-Way and even that was a struggle. I was mostly okay in one position, so I ended up grinding parts a lot more than usual. This condition lasted, and became very strong in 1977, and continued through 1978 before the symptoms basically disappeared. Doctor's eventually couldn't pinpoint anything, and from then on, I was only hit by bouts of it every now and then. Anyway, that's my saga of the "LabyrinVertigo."
In 1976 television gave us its presentation of Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry's best-seller "Helter Skelter". This was an excellent made for television movie. Years later I saw an uncensored version on video which is even better. Uncensored movies were much better because usually deleted scenes are left in. The lead role was played with serious (no pun intended) conviction by actor Steve Railsback. The soundtrack Beatle tunes are all covered by an imitator band. What the movie was able to capture brilliantly was a sincere sense and flavor of 1969.
Happy Birthday America.
New Year's Eve of 1975-76 brought us the loudest ever, celebrating 200 years of American History. Though reprisals would come again on July 4th, 1976, this was the most robust New Year's Eve celebration I can remember. I'd stayed up with some friends listening to Triumvirate "Spartacus" a new album that basically was a carbon copy of anything that Emerson, Lake & Palmer had done throughout their entire career. I loved the album though, (and still do), and I think I played it all night because I remember watching the sunrise that morning listening to it.
Paul McCartney and Wings did a beautiful U. S. tour during this period which made it to vinyl. The album is called "Wings Over America" and it's fantastic. The concert exemplifies what the great Paul McCartney is capable of on stage, and that in Wings, he lives again as a Beatle and solo artist. The album is a magificent portfolio of past Beatles and Wings tunes performed reverently, faithfully and at times, vigorously.