Category Archives: 1971-1980

“The Moody Blues”
Breakout Music: 1967-1972

[…] A 2009 TV ad featuring a memorable Moody Blues song riff is used to set up a longer story on how this British group found their grove in the late 1960s to become musical innovators with what became known as “progressive” and “orchestral” rock… A key album, Days of Future Passed, and two of its hit songs are explored – “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” – to showcase the Moody Blues lyrical and musical talents, who became fan favorites and an influence on other musicians of that era […]

“Music Rights Deals”
Selected Artists: 2020s

[…] In the early 2020s, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Sting, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and dozens of other rock stars, made mega-million dollar music rights deals, selling their song catalogs and/or royalty rights to the big music labels, new investment players, and other entertainment interests…These artists and their deals are profiled, along with brief career re-caps, song samples, and a listing of more than 50 other artists who have also sold music rights… A major shift and consolidation in music power is occurring, and streaming in the digital age is now one of the primary drivers […]

“Toxic Train Wreck”
Mississauga: 1979

[…] Toxic train derailment at Mississauga, Ontario in 1979 offers a case study of how a large town of more than 250,000 people dealt with a dangerous, near-midnight derailment of toxic chemical rail cars, including exploding propane cars, giant fireballs, and a leaky chlorine tanker… A suburb of nearby Toronto – the destination city only miles away – Mississauga had extensive and well-managed evacuations during a week-long ordeal… Given the fortuitous location of the derailment at an open space area, a much more serious outcome could have occurred had the train derailed at Toronto… Officials knew they had dodged a major catastrophe […]

“Political Science”
Randy Newman Music

[…] This story focuses on a satirical Randy Newman song from the 1970s, “Political Science,” in which an Archie Bunker-type narrator calls for dropping “the big one” – i.e., atomic bombs – on all those “undeserving and ungrateful nations” who disrespect America !… The song’s satire, however, has moved closer to reality over the years… Other Newman songs are also explored in this piece, along with his 12 studio albums, notable movie scores, honors & accolades, with photos, commentary & three full song samples […]

“Doing Great Things?”
Dow Chemical, 1960s-1980s

[…] In the mid-1980s, the Dow Chemical Co. began an upbeat advertising campaign with the theme, “Dow Lets You Do Great Things,” featuring a catchy tune and optimistic young graduates eager to join Dow’s business. The $50 million-plus PR campaign was designed to fix some bad corporate optics — including the likes of napalm, Agent Orange, and dioxin pollution that had plagued the company from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s. This story reviews that history, the college protests & clashes with Dow recruiters over napalm & the Vietnam War, the company’s environmental troubles, battles with EPA, a Jane Fonda controversy, and more — also covering the company’s more recent advertising campaigns, its environmental record, and worker/community safety issues […]

“Coal History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-2010s

[…] “Topics Page” with links to 10 stories at this website that focus on coal history, coal politics, coal activists, coal & Congress, strip mining, strip mining history, strip mining politics, famous books about coal and /or strip mining, environmental & community impacts of coal, and more […]

“A Dominion of Dollars”
Network: 1976

[…] Story explores famous scenes from a still-relevant 1976, Hollywood film satire about television power via news anchorman, Howard Beale, whose populist rants first get him fired… But after a ratings jump, he becomes a network darling and populist “mad-as-hell” hero, until he exposes a corporate takeover deal, prompting a famous scolding and “re-education” about “the dominion of dollars” – that there are no nations; only “one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work… — all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.” Includes film clip & links to related books [,,,]

“Richard Nixon History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-1970s

[…] This “topics page” includes links to Nixon & Watergate-related stories — among them: Nixon’s famous Checkers Speech; Nixon celebrities 1968; Nixon & Jefferson Airplane 1960s song, “White Rabbit”; Pentagon Papers history & Nixon “plumbers” unit; Nixon & Kent State; David Frost TV interviews w/Nixon post-Watergate; Paul Conrad Nixon cartoons; Nixon & the environment … and more […]

“Ford Helps Strippers”
…With Two Vetoes: 1974-75

[…] In 1974 and 1975, President Gerald Ford vetoed two successive strip mining reclamation bills sent to him by the U.S. Congress – bills that had gone through months of arduous debate and years of grass roots political activity. This story details those battles, including: background on strip mining’s impacts, citizen and environmental lobbying, key House and Senate players, important newspaper stories, a famous “protest convoy” of some 400 coal trucks that barreled through Washington, and more … With extensive sources and book list […]

“Poignant Elton”
On Birth & Old Age

[…] This story reviews two poignant songs from the Elton John / Bernie Taupin catalog of the early 1970s: “The Greatest Discovery,” from John’s second album, ‘Elton John’, and “Talking Old Soldiers,” from ‘Tumbleweed Connection’, his third album. Story includes full songs, listener comments, photos & related product links […]

“Ali’s Film History”
Muhammad Ali: 1970-2021

[…] On the heels of the Ken Burns four-part PBS documentary on Muhammad Ali released in September 2021, this story looks back at more than 20 other Ali films from 1970 through 2021 – documentaries, dramas, fictionalized accounts, and/or compilations… These films vary in quality and content, but they reveal something of the man and his impact on sport and culture, as well as those making the films… Still, absent all the Ali film making, there hasn’t been a good documentary that lays out Ali’s total career and post-career economic impact throughout the sports-entertainment realm, foundation world, and larger national and global economies […].

“Border Song”
Elton & Aretha: 1970-72

[…] “Border Song,” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, was originally performed by John for his 1970 self-titled second album, “Elton John.” Over the years, the gospel-styled song has come to be regarded as a message of tolerance, anti-bigotry, and human acceptance… And among the song’s notable cover versions is a 1970 single by soul and gospel artist, and civil rights activist, Aretha Franklin… She also included it on her “Young, Gifted and Black” album… Some collaboration between the two is also covered […]

“A Season of Hurt”
Aaron Chasing Ruth

[…] Henry “Hank” Aaron, professional Hall-of-Fame baseball player for 23 years, held the all-time home run record at 755 for 31 years between 1976 and 2007… This is the story of how he achieved that singular athletic accomplishment under much personal duress, battling the Jim Crow south in the minor leagues, and later, a very ugly chapter of American racism, hate mail, and death threats as he approached Babe Ruth’s home run record in the early 1970s… But Henry Aaron was much more than a baseball champion, as numerous civic and civil rights awards attest, as well as considerable business and baseball front-office success… And most of all, he was a good and decent man who had only set out from Mobile, Alabama to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing baseball […]

“Music in Film”
Songs & Soundtracks

[…] This topics page offers more that two dozen story choices that include some focus on the use of music in film, whether in soundtracks or with notable songs linked to particular movie scenes, TV shows, or conveying special emotional impact or other quality… Among topics, for example, are: Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” used in PLATOON and other films; “Philadelphia Morning” and other songs from Bill Conti’s first ROCKY film score; reggae music from THE HARDER THEY COME; the love theme from LOVE STORY; Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” song for WORKING GIRL; DIRTY DANCING songs, “Love is Strange” and “Do You Love Me?”; two theme songs from James Bond films; a story on THE BIG CHILL soundtrack; and others. Among artists with film songs profiled are: Louis Armstrong, the Beach Boys, Fats Domino, Bill Haley, the Righteous Brothers, Link Wray, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, Rogers & Hammerstein, and others […]

“Highway Wars”

[…] Citizen activists’ objections to, and battles with, Interstate Highway projects in several American cities is the focus of this story… Beginning with superhighway imagery dating from the 1939 World’s Fair and General Motors’ Futurama exhibit, “highways & horizons,” profiles of freeway fights in several American cities are offered, including those in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, along with a separate feature section – “Highways & Race” – on freeway dislocation of African American and other minority communities. Environmental activist contributions are also covered, as are “road gang” and highway trust fund politics… Also included are numerous photos and book-cover links to more than 30 freeway- and auto-related books and other sources […]

“MacArthur Park”
…And Jimmy Webb

[…]“MacArthur Park” is a song written and composed by songwriter Jimmy Webb in 1967 and first recorded by Irish actor and singer, Richard Harris. It became a No. 2 hit on the Billboard music charts in June 1968, also topping charts in Europe, Australia, and Canada….Added to this song’s considerable musical history – and perhaps more interestingly – are its cast of characters & storyline, most notably Webb himself, the talented Oklahoma songwriting phenom who finds quick L.A. success, wealth, & 1960s seductions before finally saving himself and his career.. All is covered in this story, with two full songs and lots of links & photos […]

“McCartney: Amazed”
The Paul & Linda Story

[…] The story of Paul & Linda McCartney, from the time of the Beatles break-up in 1970, through his first solo album, the successful Wings years, and beyond… Linda’s untimely death from cancer in 1998… Story also covers Paul’s later solo career, with links to albums, books, and Linda’s published photography… Paul’s song & lyrics for “Maybe I’m Amazed” featured for importance and meaning to the McCartneys [….]

“Paper Lion”
George Plimpton

[…] In the summer of 1963, a well known author and New York literary figure named George Plimpton – an amateur sportsman at best – set out to experience the role of quarterback on an NFL team: the Detroit Lions. He joined their summer practice under the ruse of a former Harvard QB trying out for a backup slot. His plan was to write about the experience, publishing the highly successful book, “Paper Lion,” later made into a film. Plimpton – a New Yorker with an upper crust pedigree, who edited “The Paris Review” and knew everybody from Hemingway to JFK – continued to infiltrate other professions and write about them: boxing, baseball, basketball, soccer, auto racing, trapeze acrobatics, as well as tamer ventures, including stints with the New York Philharmonic, as a stand-up comic and Playboy photographer…In any case, this piece chronicles the very interesting life of George Plimpton […]

“The Santana Sound”
Woodstock: 1969

[…] A new and exciting sound was in the air at the Woodstock music festival of August 1969… It wasn’t exactly rock ‘n roll; it was something else. But it was powerful, rhythmic, and beckoning – and it was coming from a new band few had heard of – Santana, led by Mexican American guitarist Carlos Santana…. Santana’s Afro-Latin instrumentals at Woodstock had the whole place rocking, and soon sent this unknown group soaring to the top of popular music – and on to 50 years of continued music making… This story recounts Santana’s Woodstock launch and impressive album production since, offering music samples “Jingo” and “Soul Sacrifice” and period photos […]

“Elton John’s Decade”
The 1970s (w/Bernie)

[…] In the 1970s, there were few musicians more successful than Elton John, the British singer and piano player who partnered with lyricist Bernie Taupin to turn out some of the decade’s most signature and enduring popular songs… This story details Elton John’s extraordinary rise in the 1970s – his litany of albums, chart-toping singles, his concert success, his stage antics, his wealth, and his personal demons… But also his generosity on a number of fronts, his AIDS Foundation, and his support of various social causes… But in the end, it is the legacy of the Elton John / Bernie Taupin song catalog of indelible music that has enriched the world for more than 50 years […]

“Buffalo Creek Disaster”
Coal Dams Fail: 1972

[…] In the early morning hours of February 26th, 1972, a series of coal slurry impoundments owned by the Pittston Coal Co. in the upper reaches of the Buffalo Creek watershed in Logan County, West Virginia burst, sending a tsunami-like wall of thick, black coal wastewater crashing down the hollow, wiping out homes and lives in more than a dozen small towns over 17 miles… In the end, more than 125 people were killed, at least 1,000 injured, with some 4,000 left homeless… Pittston Coal Co. called it “an act of God,” but several investigations would conclude that “acts of man” had everything to do with what happened at Buffalo Creek… Today, nearly 50 years later, there are more than 1,400 coal waste and coal ash impoundments and landfills across America, many posing public safety hazards and environmental threats […]

“Harry Chapin”
Taxi & Beyond

[…In early 1972, a little-known American musician named Harry Chapin was launched into national prominence after singing a poignant song titled ‘Taxi’ on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’… Chapin would go on to have a prolific recording and concert career, and also became a committed social activist working on world hunger and other issues, often donating his concert proceeds to charitable causes… His musical legacy includes No. 1 hit, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” plus other singles and albums…He died in a car crash at 38; received Special Congressional Gold Medal posthumously for his activism at Carnegie Hall musicians’ tribute…]

“Crosby, Stills & Nash”
1969 & Beyond

[.. ] In late May of 1969, an album of music with some stunningly beautiful songs was issued by a group named Crosby, Stills and Nash… Three of those songs are reviewed, along with some history on the impact of this group on singer-songwriter, folk-rock era of the early and mid-1970s, as well as political/counterculture influences…. Listener and musician comment are also enlisted in song reviews, and story is enlivened with photos, album covers, and lyrics, as well as a listing of books and photos on David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young [….]

“Fonda Fitness Boom”
1980s & Beyond

[…] Jane Fonda, Hollywood film star and sometimes controversial activist, became a national fitness leader in the 1980s. Her rise to this position was something of an accident, but it would bring her a new identity, a new career path, and a considerable cash flow….Although a controversial anti-Vietnam War activist in the 1970s, during the 1980s and beyond, she became a trusted fitness leader for millions, touching off an exercise boom and a home video revolution. The “Jane Fonda workout” permeated the larger culture as her best-selling books and videos swept over America… This story recounts that history as well as much of her biography in film and her various activist involvements up through the 2010s […]

“Goffin and King”
Love & Music: 1950s-2010s

[…] For a time in the 1950s-1960s era, Carole King and Gerry Goffin made beautiful music together…They became, at a young age, one of America’s most creative and productive songwriting teams, as well as husband and wife…. They rose to fame turning out pop and rock `n rolls for the fabled New York City / Brill Building song publisher, Aldon Music. Their story is one of great accomplishment, though touched by personal sorrow, love undone, and rocky travels ahead for each…. This story tracks some of that history, its music, and cultural context [….]

“The Pentagon Papers”

[…] In 1971 a secret history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was prepared by the Pentagon, which became an explosive document when it was leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post, revealing that the American public was misled, deceived, and lied to about the real nature of U.S. involvement in Vietnam for more than two decades. These “Pentagon Papers” became the source of one of the country’s fiercest battles over freedom of the press vs. government secrecy; a battle given dramatic form in the 2017 Steven Spielberg Hollywood film, “The Post” – which, with other popular history surrounding these papers, is also explored in this story […]

“Reggae Breaks Out”
Jimmy Cliff: 1972-74

[…] In 1972-73, “The Harder They Come,” a film about a struggling Jamaican youth who becomes a music star and then a criminal, arrived at the box office with a very appealing soundtrack of Jamaican reggae music. The soundtrack gradually became a breakthrough for reggae in the U.K., the U.S., and beyond… The Jamaican songs – by Jimmy Cliff and several other Jamaican artists – are loaded with political nuance and social commentary, frequently referring to oppression, inequality, and social injustice. This piece explores the music (offering 9 full songs), the artists, and the times […]

“The DeLorean Saga”
Car Guy: 1960s-1980s

[…] John DeLorean had been a rising star on the GM fast track; a good bet to run the place as CEO. But DeLorean had done the unthinkable: he quit his high-level post (some say he was fired), heading off to found his own auto company… DeLorean had ruffled feathers at GM and didn’t exactly fit in; dating starlets, roaring around in Italian sports cars, and advocating “socially responsible” auto technology… He also wrote a “tell-all” book about GM, and for a time looked as though he might pull off the impossible with his gull-wing sports car… But in L.A., he was caught (but not convicted) in a career-damaging cocaine drug bust… Still, his legend and car culture contributions were memorialized in the “Back to the Future” films, and his cars are still sold today […]

“Giant Shovel on I-70”
Ohio Strip Mine Fight: 1973

[…] Colossal earth-moving machines became symbols in the 1960s-1970s fighting over environmentally-damaging surface coal mining… These machines laid waste to tens of thousands of acres as they uncovered near-surface coal… A trio of these machines, then chewing through southeastern Ohio, became involved in a controversial proposal: to cross, and temporarily shut down, a major interstate highway to get to the coal on the other side. This story covers the history leading up to that crossing – a “line-in-the-sand” confrontation between those opposed to strip mining and those who saw it as vital for energy, jobs, and local economies […]

“Fats Domino”

[…]Fats Domino, a rhythm and blues piano player from New Orleans, was one of the early creators of rock ‘n roll music, although his considerable contributions to that genre are not always given the full recognition they deserve. This piece covers his career, his hit songs, and the role his music played in helping move the nation toward integration… Domino would sell more than 60 million recordings between 1949 and 1962, and in his full career, would be second only to Elvis Presley in total sales… Includes extensive photos and six complete songs[…]

“Democrats’ History”

[…] A topics page offering a selection of stories on Democratic politicians and Democratic history, including those involving presidential campaigns and various candidates, among them: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Bill Bradley, Jerry Brown, and others… Democratic celebrities are also featured in a few of these stories, including Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt and others […]

“Soylent Green”

[…]“Soylent Green,” a science fiction film with conspiracy and murder-mystery elements, tells the story of a dystopic New York City set in the far-off future after the world has gone to hell… Overpopulation, food riots, and severe pollution are the norm. Poverty abounds – except for the ultra rich – and every available space is crammed with desperate residents. Although dated by today’s standards, the film has its prescient moments, touching on present-day concerns such as global warming, polluted and dying oceans, the widening rich-poor chasm, overpopulation / immigration, the remoteness and unaccountability of ever-enlarging food corporations, and the emergence of a politically-corrupt corporate state […]

“Rock Around The Clock”
Bill Haley: 1951-1981

[…] One of the first major rock ‘n roll songs of the 1950s – and still ranked among the world’s all-time Top Ten best-selling singles – is “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets. It is widely considered to be the one song, more than any other (although a culmination of decades-long blues, R& B, and other influences), that brought rock `n roll into mainstream culture around the world. This story tracks the tale of that song, the rise and fall of Bill Haley (who became wildly popular in Europe for years but lost favor in the U.S.), the sometimes unforgiving nature of the music business, and the vagaries of pop music stardom […]

“Dutchman’s Big Day”
NFL Passing Record

[…] In 1951, Norm Van Brocklin, quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams professional football team, did what no other quarterback (QB) had done before or since: completing passes for a record-setting single-game total of 554 yards… His record still stands. This story also covers Van Brocklin’s career with the Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, his passing accomplishments in championship games, and his statistics in the context of other 1950s QBs… Also included is a listing of the 15 other QBs who have had 500-yard games, coming close to, but not surpassing, Van Brocklin’s record […]

“Mary Tyler Moore”

[…In the 1970s, CBS featured Mary Tyler Moore in a 30-minute sitcom as Mary Richards, an independent, professional woman working at a TV station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The top-rated, half-hour show soon had a following of millions… It became, in many ways a statement of the times; a weekly story about women coming into their own, asserting their place in the male-dominated work world….This story also covers the career, real life struggles, and politics of Mary Tyler Moore, and also profiles MTM Enterprises, a highly successful TV production company co-owned by Moore…]

“White Rabbit”
Grace Slick: 1960s-2010s

[…] At the peak of the psychedelic rock music era in the summer of 1967, a song named “White Rabbit” by the Jefferson Airplane (full song included) was a big part of that summer’s soundtrack. Written by Grace Slick, and based on the “Alice in Wonderland” story, the song not only became a Top 10 hit, it also became controversial and a lightning rod for Nixon-era social critics and politicians, including Vice President Spiro Agnew and TV personality Art Linkletter, both of whom would single it out publicly as among songs helping to lead young people into drugs use […]

“Sinatra Stories”

[…]This topics page includes links & thumbnail sketches for eight Frank Sinatra-related stories at this website: two about women he married, Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow; two about his politics during the JFK years with the Rat Pack and the years thereafter; two profiling songs and their context (“Cycles” and “Summer Wind”); another on his early years as a teen idol in the 1940s; and one his photographer role for Life magazine covering the 1971 Ali-Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden in New York […]

“Magazine History”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 18 stories at this website that feature or include magazine-related content from the last 100 years – including selected cover art, illustrator profiles, advertising art, political stories, civil rights stories, business stories, sports stories, and more… Cover samples are typically included throughout the stories from a range of magazines – Time, Life, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Fortune, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, New York Magazine, Wired, and others […]

“Ali-Frazier History”
Boxing & Culture: 1970s

[…] Promoted as “the fight of the century,” the March 1971 titanic boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali was that and more, as these two fighters came to represent differing sides of the social and political angst then eating at the nation… Both the personal and political histories surrounding this fight, and the legacy of all three Ali-Frazier bouts of the 1970s, including Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, are presented in this story, along with some photos taken by celebrity photographer Frank Sinatra […]

“Athletes Advertising”
Selected Stories: 1900s-2010s

[…] This “Topics Page” offers thumbnail sketches and links to 14 stories at this website that include history about famous athletes who have lent their name and/or image in print, radio, and/or TV advertising on behalf of various products or marketing efforts. Among those included are: Olympics star and pro golfer Babe Didrikson; football stars Frank Gifford and Sammy Baugh; 1930s aviatrix Elinor Smith; baseball stars Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and others; soccer legends Pelé, Zidane and Maradona; and 1930s tennis star, Ellsworth Vines […]

“Joni’s Music”

[…]Canadian born Joni Mitchell is one of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters of the late 1960s-mid-1970s period who came into mainstream notice with a series of albums — “Clouds,” “Ladies of the Canyon,” “Blue,” and “Court & Spark” – each with poignant, personal and moving songs. This story samples that music, Mitchell’s writing history, her biography & the social context, including Woodstock & Laurel Canyon period, later jazz explorations, and her music industry & personal relationships with David Crosby, David Geffen, Graham Nash, James Taylor, Charles Mingus & others […]

“Environmental History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to more than two dozen stories at this website, including those covering: Rachel Carson & her book “Silent Spring;” Kentucky author & activist Harry Caudill; Cuyahoga River pollution history; strip mining at Paradise, Kentucky; Union Carbide and General Electric advertising (Carbide on pesticides, GE on coal); and several stories covering oil industry mishaps in Montana, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh & the Gulf of Mexico […]

“Falter’s Art, Rising”
Saturday Evening Post

[…] In 2014-2015, a painting for a ‘Saturday Evening Post’ magazine cover illustration by artist John Falter came up on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ TV program, valued at between $200,000 and $250,000… Falter’s work, and that of other ‘Saturday Evening Post’ illustrators, has been rising in value in recent years… This piece explores Falter’s work for the ‘Post’ and some of the sales of those paintings in recent years […]

“Philadelphia Morning”
Rocky Music: 1976-1977

[…] In the very first “Rocky” movie of 1976 there is a key film segment backed by an understated but powerful piece of music titled “Philadelphia Morning.” It’s not a long piece of music, but in its own way it’s something of a masterpiece for what it helped to set up and convey in that film….This story explores the “Philadelphia Morning” segment and others in the Bill Conti soundtrack that helped make “Rocky” a dramatic and appealing film for many viewers and a blockbuster at the box office […]

“Offshore Oil Blaze”
Shell: 1970-71

[…] On December 1st, 1970, an offshore oil rig operated by the Shell Oil Co. in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and caught fire. Four workers were killed and 37 others were seriously burned, some jumping from the burning rig to save their lives…. The Shell platform and wells burned for nearly three months. A large oil slick formed, covering more than twenty miles at one point, oiling some Louisiana islands and beaches. Oil slicks of smaller size were visible in the Gulf five months after the incident… At the time, the Shell blowout was the worst offshore oil disaster to have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico […]

“Burning Philadelphia”
Refinery Inferno: 1975

[…] On August 17th, 1975 one of the oil industry’s most notorious fires began at the Gulf Oil refinery and tank farm in Philadelphia, PA when a giant 75,000-barrel storage tank ignited after being filled from a docked oil tanker… The blaze quickly spread to others tanks, went to 11 alarms, and threatened a major commuter bridge into the city… Believed to be under control a few hours after it began, it roared back to life a second time, taking the lives 8 firemen, injuring 14 others and causing a firestorm inferno that almost took down the entire refinery, and more […]

“Harry Caudill”
Writer & Activist: 1950s-1980s

[…]Harry M. Caudill (1922-1990) was a writer and activist who did battle with the coal industry and political establishment in a life-long effort to improve his Eastern Kentucky homeland and the larger Appalachian region. During the 1950s and 1960s, he rose on the issue of coal mining’s destructive effects on land and people, publishing a landmark 1962 book, “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” that helped convince JFK and LBJ to bring federal help to the region …This account provides an overview of his and his region’s struggles with coal mining, its environmental effects, and some of their battles[…]

“CBS Loved Lucy”

[…] “I Love Lucy,” a 1950s television sitcom starring comedienne Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, dominated TV like no other program had before, and few since. Generating 30-to-40 million viewers per episode, “I Love Lucy” (and subsequent Lucy shows) helped make CBS a leading television network, brought in tens of millions in advertising, and enriched Lucy and Desi beyond their wildest dreams, making them entertainment moguls with Desilu Studios… The“Lucy effect” has reverberated throughout the world for nearly 70 years – in TV reruns, TV publications, and the TV nostalgia industry – generating tens of millions well into the 2010s […]

“Legend of a Mind”
Timothy Leary & LSD

[…]“Legend of a Mind” is the name of a 1968 Moody Blues song about a man named Timothy Leary, a former Harvard University instructor and research psychologist who became something of a “pied piper” for LSD drug use in the 1960s… This story includes the Moody Blues song as intro and period piece, and also a detailed history on Leary & associates, as well Leary’s run-ins with Art Linkletter, Richard Nixon, his prison escape, and his global flight from the law […]

“Serenade: Steve Miller”

[…] The Steve Miller Band song, “Serenade” – sometimes overlooked or overshadowed by other more popular Steve Miller songs from the mid-1970s – is profiled here, along with song, lyrics, and a stab at what the verse is saying… “Serenade” was recorded in 1975 at the CBS studios in San Francisco and appears as the fourth track of the Fly Like an Eagle album, released in May 1976 […]

“Linda & Jerry”

[…] This story tracks the 1970s-early-1980s relationship between rock star Linda Ronstadt and California politician Jerry Brown – and also the music and politics of that era… By 1975, Brown and Ronstadt were high-profile celebrities – he, California’s governor, and she, rising to the top of the rock music business…Story covers their unlikely relationship and rising careers through the 1970s – including the glare of Brown’s presidential bids in 1976 and 1980 – press & media coverage; speculation of a possible marriage between the two; four Ronstadt songs; and more […]

1971: John Prine

[…] In 1971, a country music song titled “Paradise,” by singer-songwriter John Prine, told the tale of 1960s-1970s strip mining in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where Peabody Coal Co., operating a gigantic strip mine shovel named Big Hog, supplied coal to a TVA electric powerplant… In the process, the small, rural river town of Paradise, KY was bought out and bulldozed… Story also covers other similar “small town removal” cases at the hand of strip mining… John Prine biography and recording history also included […]

“Burn On, Big River…”
Cuyahoga River Fires

[…] This story explores the history of several Cuyahoga River fires in the Cleveland, Ohio region, circa 1890s to 1969; their influence on national environmental history & public policy; and some related music from Randy Newman, R.E.M., and Adam Again… Includes photos, political cartoons, and some music […]

“Celebrity Gifford”

[…] Frank Gifford, a talented New York Giants football player in the 1950s & 1960s, became a popular figure in New York & nationally and a familiar face in print & TV ads. He also became one of the first professional athletes to successfully venture into TV sports broadcasting, first with CBS and later — for 25-plus years — on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” program. Gifford’s celebrity, in fact, would span nearly six decades, helped in later years by his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, books & magazine stories about him, his own publishing, and a controversy or two […].

“Civil Rights Stories”

[…] This “topics page” lists 14 stories at this website which include civil rights-related content. Among stories listed are several related to civil rights & music; civil rights & television; civil rights & art; and civil rights & politics – stories which include performers & artists such as: Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Norman Rockwell, Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Martha & the Vandellas, U2, and others. Also listed are stories on Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama, and others with sections on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King […]

“Nader’s Raiders”

[…] Let loose on official Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ralph Nader’s teams of law school and college students were sent to investigate government agencies and corporations… A small cottage industry of publisher-worthy paperbacks resulted, some becoming bestsellers, all with messages that stirred the public policy pot. …Official Washington was challenged and changed, investigative journalism was re-ignited, and public interest advocacy became a much more prominent part of the culture. This article examines how the Nader teams and reports came about and what effect they had […]

“Dark Side’s 40 Years”

[…] A 1973 rock music album by the British group Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ stayed on Billboard’s top 200 albums sales chart for 741 consecutive weeks, from March 1973 to April 1988, setting an all-time record….But the album’s Billboard chart heroics is less than half the story, as ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ – now in its 40th anniversary year – continues to be popular. This article explores the long-standing appeal of Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side’ album, how it enriched the members of its band, and how its has moved its listeners… Song samples included […]

“Dion DiMucci”

[…] Dion DiMucci – better known as “Dion” from his 1950s doo-wop fame – flourished as a pop recording artist through the 1960s. This story recounts parts of his career, touching on his family life, his battle with drugs, and how he explored various musical genres in later years, from Christian music to the blues roots of rock `n roll. Dismissed by some critics as being defined by his teen idol years, a range of artists – including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and others – have cited his influence. Six songs also included […]

“The Yogi Chronicles”

[…] Yogi Berra, the famous Hall-of-Fame, New York Yankee baseball player, in addition to becoming a sports celebrity of his day, also became something of cultural icon know for his “famous sayings” – sparking a bit of cottage industry in book publishing… Berra’s story not only captures the baseball aura of his times, but also shows how his sports popularity seeped into popular culture in a novel way, as Yogi Berra’s celebrity is now in its eighth decade […]

“Empire Newhouse”

[…] Advance Publications is a sprawling media empire of leading magazines, newspapers, cable TV and websites owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York. In recent years the Newhouse/Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest privately-held companies in the U.S. This article dips into the 90 years of Newhouse empire-building history, with some focus on the newspaper and magazine parts of the story, celebrity and political issues, and the Newhouse publishing and media impact on America culture…[…]

“Brian’s Song”

[…] Brian Lamb is the founder and creator of the C-SPAN public affairs TV network that covers Congress and a lot more… Lamb has consistently shown with his eclectic range of subjects and guests, how television can be used to inform citizens and elevate learning, doing so without bombast or celebrity fanfare. Lamb and C-SPAN have created a valuable “public learning commons” for millions. That story, and Lamb’s career, are explored in this article […]

“Power in the Pen”
Silent Spring: 1962

[…] In June of 1962, a series of three articles under the title “Silent Spring” began appearing in The New Yorker magazine. The articles – excerpted from a blockbuster book of the same name by Rachel Carson – offered disturbing accounts of how chemical pesticides were contaminating the environment… A national uproar followed… This account revisits book, author, controversy & legacy at its 50th anniversary […]

“Beatles History”

[…] This “topics page” lists 14 Beatles stories published at this website, with links to each story, including: the first U.S. Beatles concert in 1964; the Beatles’ activities and rise in America during 1964; a profile of the song “Dear Prudence” & “White Album” history;” the Beatles & Nike battling over the use of “Revolution” in a Nike TV ad; history of Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson & the Beatles song catalog; John Lennon history during the time he wrote the song “Watching the Wheels,” and a story on the “Paul-is-dead” rumor & the time of the Beatles’ break-up […]

“Ray Sings America”

[…] There is probably no more soulful a version of “America The Beautiful” than that performed by legendary bluesman Ray Charles… A much-loved song by many Americans, the Ray Charles version has become something of a classic since Charles first recorded it in 1972… This story covers some of that history, as well as Charles’ performance of the song in an emotional closing at the 1984 Republican National Convention […]

“Rockwell & Race”

[…] In 2011, Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” depicting a famous 1960 school desegregation scene in New Orleans, was displayed in the Obama White House. This article explores that painting and other Norman Rockwell civil rights paintings, as well as related history on magazine cover art dealing with African American and civil rights topics during the late 1950s and early 1960s […]

“The Jack Pack”
Pt.2: 1961-1990s

[…] Part 2 of the history of Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack and their dealings with the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and his presidency thorugh 1963…. The story picks up at 1961 JFK inauguration and also covers Sinatra’s falling out with JFK, some history on Rat Pack & JFK friends such as Marilyn Monroe, and ends with a “Rat Pack Postscript” on lives & careers beyond the Rat Pack years […]

“The Love Story Saga”

[…] “Love Story” is the name of a 1970-71 best-selling novel and blockbuster film that swept the nation of its feet, surprising literary critics & Hollywood. Though considered sappy today, in the early 1970s both book and film were perfectly timed, and they permeated popular culture through and through, making bundles of money… Book’s tale, characters, biz history recounted here […]

“Enemy of the President”

[…] Paul Conrad is a political cartoonist who distinguished himself in the 1970s by being named to President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list”…This story takes a brief look at some of Conrad’s drawings of Nixon during the Watergate scandal, how they became a part of the culture of that era, and also a few other drawings he did on LBJ, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Sarah Palin […]

“The Paul-is-Dead Saga”
…And Beatles’ Demise:1969-1970

[…] In 1969, the year the Beatles made their “Abbey Road” album – and their last year as a functioning rock group prior to their break up – there was also a “pop rumor” that spread around the world that Beatle Paul McCartney had died in a car crash and had been replaced by a look alike… The story proved to be a giant hoax as Life magazine would report on its cover in early November 1969 […]

“The Loco-Motion”

[…]”The Loco-Motion” is the name of 1962 dance song authored by famous Brill Building song-writing duo, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, and recorded by a young artist known as Little Eva… Two other artists — Grand Funk Railroad, an American rock band of the 1970s, and Kylie Minogue, an Australian pop star of the 1980s, also had hits with the song. “The Loco-Motion,” it turns out, is one of a very few songs that managed to top the popular music charts in three separate decades […]

“Mia’s Metamorphoses”

[…] In the mid-1960s, a young actress named Mia Farrow was the TV celebrity de jour starring in a new kind of prime-time soap opera called “Peyton Place”…It now seems light years away from that earlier time, and Ms. Farrow, with an impressive film career behind her, has lived a life full of twists & turns, interesting people, and now international activism… Some of her story is offered here […]

“Watching The Wheels”

[…] “Watching the Wheels” is the name of a song written by former Beatle John Lennon during the end of his 1975-1980 “house husband” period of being a full-time father to his young son… The song also served in part as answer to those who questioned Lennon’s withdrawal from the music world at the time… This story provides some background on Lennon’s outlook & music as he emerged from that period, and his tragic death at the hand of a deranged fan […]

“Murdoch’s NY Deals”

[…] In 1976-1977, Rupert Murdoch, then a little-known Australian newspaper mogul, made a “big news” New York media grab, acquiring two premier New York media companies: the New York Post newspaper and New York Magazine Co., which then held three publications — New York magazine, The Village Voice, and New West… Story, deal history & personalities involved are covered, as well as hints of what followed with the Murdoch global media empire […]

“Early Beach Boys”

[…] In the early- and mid-1960s, the Beach Boys became one of America’s hottest and most successful groups, credited with inventing “California rock” and “sunshine pop.” Along with the Beatles, they also pushed out the boundaries of contemporary music on a new and imaginative front of songwriting and pop composition. Their music was happy, fun-loving and filled with beautiful harmonies – and it appealed to millions, then and 50 years later […]

“Apple, Rising”

[…]Within five years of adding an assembly of micro-processing chips to a piece of plywood and calling it a personal computer, two guys working in a garage named Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs would be sitting atop a major new company named Apple Computer worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Their inventive moment and entrepreneurial follow-through set off a process that would dramatically change business, entertainment, popular culture, and more… The story of “early Apple,” 1976-1985, is told here, covering computer models, advertising, business history, competition with IBM, etc. […]

“Celebrity Buffett”

[…] Warren Buffett, the businessman-investor from Omaha, Nebraska, known for his stock picks and investment strategies, is one of the wealthiest persons on the planet. Although famous for years in the investment community, Buffett became more of a mainstream celebrity as his wealth grew and also as stories became known about the millions he made for folks of modest means. …Buffett’s story also shows that once he arrived in the media glare, he moved to use his fame, the media machine, and his philanthropy in ways to benefit society […]

“The Story in Your Eyes”
Moody Blues: 1971

[…] “The Story in Your Eyes” is the name of a popular 1971 hit single by the English rock band The Moody Blues, a song which also appeared on the album, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.” …The song provides one example of their music at about mid-career, as they still had another three decades of recording and performing ahead of them… To date, the Moody Blues have sold more than 60 million recordings worldwide, and some members of the original group, founded in 1964, are still performing as of 2010 […]

“Be My Baby”
Ronettes’ History: 1960s

[…] “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes was one of the defining rock ‘n roll songs of the early 1960s — a song notable for advancing a new sound that changed pop music…“Be My Baby” is also a bigger story — of lives entangled in the business of making music during 1963-66 and the fallout years later, including the demise of the group, ill health for one member, a prominent divorce for another, and a protracted legal battle over royalties and song rights[…]

“I Guarantee It.”
1969: Joe Namath

[…] In 1969, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath became famous for his prediction that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, which they did, 16-7… But Joe Namath the celebrity also became a key figure in changing the allure of pro football, making it more exciting & telegenic, more appealing to fans & advertisers, and generally helping improve its economic growth through the 1960s and 1970s […]

“RFK in Brooklyn”

[…] A large bronze memorial bust of Robert F. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator and Attorney General in the 1960s, sits in the center of Brooklyn, New York… Kennedy helped initiate an innovative urban program there in a community named Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1966-67 […]

“The Rocky Statue”

[…] In 1982, Sylvester Stallone, Hollywood movie star and producer of the Rocky film series, donated a statue of his Rocky Balboa movie character to the City of Philadelphia. It was left near the entrance to the Philadelphia Art Museum, where it touched off a controversy over the appropriateness of its location that would flare up several times over the course of more than 20 years […]

“Four Dead in O-hi-o”
Kent State: 1970

[…] “Ohio” is the name of a song that marks one of America’s darkest moments on the home front during the Vietnam War. The song came in reaction to the May 1970 shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio following protests over the U.S. invasion of Cambodia […]

“The Frost-Nixon Biz”

[…] In 1975, former U.S. President Richard Nixon made a business deal with British celebrity talk show host David Frost for a series of “tell us what happened” TV interviews on the Watergate scandal…The interviews aired much fanfare in May 1977… And over the next 30 years, a small cottage industry grew up around the event, spawning a series of books, VHS tapes, DVDs, stage productions, a Hollywood film, more books, and lots of continuing debate…This piece looks at that Nixon-Frost history, including how Frost landed the deal, the media fanfare then, excerpts from the interviews, and the subsequent “Frost-Nixon biz” that followed […]

“Stones Gather Dollars”

October 1989 edition of Forbes business magazine featuring Mick Jagger & Keith Richards among the world’s ‘highest paid entertainers’.     In October 1989, Forbes magazine featured rock ‘n roll stars Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on its cover. The story’s headline asked: “What’ll They Do With All That Money?” — then referring to … Continue reading “Stones Gather Dollars”

“Ted Turner & CNN”
1980s & 1990s

Ted Turner on cover of 9 August 1986 Time magazine, which said of his up-and-coming 24-hour news network: ‘…By any measure, CNN is in the big leagues of news.’     Ted Turner was vilified by the press in the late 1970s and early 1980s — called the “mouth from the South,” “Captain Outrageous,” “Terrible Ted,” and all … Continue reading “Ted Turner & CNN”
1980s & 1990s

“Candle in the Wind”
1973 & 1997

“Candle in the Wind” is a name of a song performed by Elton John and written by he and collaborator Bernie Taupin in 1972. The song was originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe who died at the age of 36 […] Following the death of Princess Diana, John and Taupin did a remake of “Candle in the Wind” as a tribute to Diana, a version which sold wildly throughout the world […]

“All Sports, All The Time”

[…] In 1978, an all-sports cable TV network was hardly a “no brainer.” The three major TV networks combined then broadcast only about 20 hours of sports a week […] But Bill Rasmussen, a former sportscaster and recently fired communications man for the New England Whalers ice hockey team, came up with the new concept in sports broadcasting. In a few short years, ESPN was big business […]

“Profiles in Courage”
JFK Book: 1954-2008

[…] “Profiles in Courage” became a best-seller and was ground-breaking in its day, becoming one of the first books used to advance a political career aimed at the White House […] The book gave Kennedy a certain political gravitas and national recognition he did not have before, lifting him from the ranks of unknown senators […]