Category Archives: 1981-1990

“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 […]

“Applause for Du Pont?”
An Environmental Critique

[…]This story highlights a 1990-92 battle between Friends of The Earth and the Du Pont chemical company over a Du Pont TV ad that environmentalists charged “glossed over” the company’s pollution record, including stratospheric ozone damage … Story details some of the Du Pont record in those years (mid-1970s through early 1990s), while also covering later environmental & public health issues in current times through mid-2023 regarding Du Pont and the PFAS chemicals. Video of TV ad included, as well as photos, period newspaper clips, book covers & links […]

“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 […]

Glory & The 54th”
Civil War History

[…] “Glory” is an Academy Award winning Civil War film from 1989 that is focused on one of the first all-black Yankee regiments of fighting men – the Massachusetts 54th – heralded for its heroism in 1863… The film highlights the racial bigotry and discrimination the 54th faces in its bid to distinguish itself as a battle-worthy fighting force. Also noted and sampled in this story is the amazing “Glory” film score by James Horner and the Harlem Boys Choir, as well as the influence of a Boston Common sculpture on the film, and possibly, later African American Civil War memorials as well […]

“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 […]

“Charisse & Astaire”
Girl Hunt Ballet: 1953

[…] Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire were two of the most elegant and exacting dancers of the 1950s, appearing as a famous dancing pair in a number of Hollywood musicals. A scene from one of those films – the “Girl Hunt Ballet” sequence from the 1953 film, “The Band Wagon,” via YouTube – is used in this story to highlight their dancing talents… There is also some review of how 1953’s “The Band Wagon” and Fred Astaire, had some influence on Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” video of 1988 and others, as well as the Jackson film, “Moonwalker”[…].

“The Phillips Explosion”
Pasadena, TX: 1989

[…] Story recounts the horrendous 1989 explosions and fires at a Phillips Petroleum plastic plant where 23 workers were killed and more than 130 injured – including a damning U.S. Dept. of Labor/OSHA report on the causes of the accident… Key contributing factors that led to the calamity came a few years earlier, when Wall Street raiders T. Boone Pickens and Carl Icahn made separate takeover attempts at Phillips, which led the company to borrow heavily to fend off the attacks… Phillips then serviced its debt, in part, by cutting jobs and hiring less-experienced contract workers, which many believe jeopardized operating safety at the company and created the circumstances for the plastic plant explosion… Phillips had additional incidents in 1999 and 2000, and after a 2002 merger with Conoco, and later 2012 split, continued to have fires, explosions and other incidents […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“Republican History”

[…] A topics page offering a selection of stories on Republican politicians and Republican history, including those involving presidential campaigns and various candidates, among them: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and others… Spiro Agnew appears in one story about 1960s pop music lyrics; Geo. W. Bush & Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visit Graceland in another; and David Frost conducts his famous Nixon TV interviews in a third… Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen also have their “Republican moments” in a few of theses stories […]

“Ray At 1984 RNC”
Singing ‘America’

[…] Video clip from MSNBC television of Ray Charles performing “America The Beautiful” – which was the closing act of the 1984 Republican National Convention (RNC) nominating the Ronald Reagan/George Bush ticket that year… Clip captures Ray’s moving rendition of the song and the rousing response of the RNC audience […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“…A Richer Harvest”
Union Carbide Ads: 1960s

[…] Three of Union Carbide’s “giant hand” magazine ads from the late 1950s and early 1960s are used in this story as segues into some 1980s history on chemical plant safety and the use of toxic chemicals… Two of the ads tout the Union Carbide pesticide “Sevin” (carbaryl), and one boasts of the company’s agricultural science help to India, the latter of which leads into a review of the 1984 Bhopal toxic gas disaster and aftermath… Politics, regulation, and proliferating chemical use are also explored […]

“Disaster at Pittsburgh”
1988 Oil Tank Collapse

[…] On January 2nd, 1988, a giant oil storage tank owned by the Ashland Oil Co. split apart at the company’s Floreffe, PA complex south of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela River. The tank released its entire contents of 3.85 million gallons of diesel fuel, flooding the complex and polluting the Monongahela River. The tank failure would become one of the worst inland oil spills in the nation’s history, affecting water supplies for more than one million people in 80 downstream communities in PA, WV, and OH, some going without water service for up to eight days. Thousands of birds and fish were also killed […]

“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[…]

“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 […]

“Noteworthy Ladies”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 36 stories at this website on female careers in music, film, sport, politics, publishing and other endeavors… Some offer in-depth biographical profiles with extensive photos, and in the case of recording artists, mp3 song files… Among those featured, are: Ali MacGraw, Anna Q Nilsson, Ava Gardner, Babe Didrikson, Barbara Lewis, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, Billie Holiday, Carly Simon, Cyd Charisse, Dinah Shore, Gisele Bündchen, Grizabella from “Cats,” Janis Joplin, Lady Gaga, Keira Knightley, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Martha & the Vandellas, Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, Pearl White, Petula Clark, Princess Diana, Rachel Carson, Rosie The Riveter, Sarah Palin, Skeeter Davis, Taylor Swift, the Ronettes, The Shirelles, and Tina Turner […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“Flash Boy Lewis”

[…] In March/April 2014, a new book about high-speed computerized stock trading on Wall Street titled “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis created a firestorm of controversy by revealing unfair electronic practices, leading to charges of a “rigged market” and subsequent inquiries by the FBI, SEC, and other agencies, as well as action in Congress… Lewis, a prolific & colorful writer is featured as something of a literary “flash boy” in this piece, which covers his 15 books, 2 films & their impact, dubbing him “one of the nation’s most engaging interpreters of business culture,”[…]

“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 […].

“The Saddest Song”

[…]“Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber might also be called “Adagio for Tears” since it is known for evoking very powerful emotion and sadness among its listeners. Used in film scores from “Elephant Man” to “Platoon,” Barber’s Adagio has also been used at prominent state & celebrity funerals, such as those for FDR, JFK. Grace Kelly & others – also played following 9/11. Electronic dance and trance DJs have recorded versions as well… This piece looks at the history and reception of “Adagio for Strings” and its related choral version, “Angus Dei”[…]

“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 […]

“U2’s MLK Songs”

[…] In 1984, the Irish rock group U2 included two songs in homage to Martin Luther King on their album, The Unforgettable Fire – “Pride (In the Name of Love),” a song about Martin Luther King’s non-violent activism in the U.S. civil rights movement, and “MLK,” a dreamy lullaby alluding to life struggles… This brief story explores the history of those songs, their making, and reception […]

“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 […]

“What A Wonderful World”
Louis Armstrong:1967-68

[…] In 1967, at the age of 66, jazz master Louis Armstrong recorded a song titled, “What A Wonderful World.” Armstrong’s very poignant, gravelly-voiced version of this song – brimming with his ebullient character and optimism – is regarded as a classic… However, this song had a rough beginning as it was opposed by an ABC Records executive… And 20 years after its first release, it was revived, by above all things, a Vietnam War movie […]

“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 […]

“Love Me Do”

[…] This story covers the history of the Beatles’ first hit song, “Love Me Do,” their first recording sessions at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London, how their manager Brian Epstein pushed to get them a recording contract in the early 1960s, and how their relationship with recording engineer George Martin developed around that song and thereafter…The story also includes mp3 versions of 4 songs and also tracks 20-year and 50-year history surrounding “Love Me Do” & the Beatles […]

“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 […]

“Reagan & Springsteen”

[…] In September 1984, during the U.S. presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan made remarks in a speech at Hammonton, New Jersey invoking the name of rock star Bruce Springsteen that created a bit of controversy about Reagan’s intent and the nature, politics, and meaning of Springsteen’s music […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

“Love is Strange”

[…] In January 1957, a new song with the title “Love is Strange” by two artists known as “Mickey & Sylvia” became a top hit on the R&B and pop music charts and a million-seller… Thirty years later, the song had a revival of sorts with the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing” when the song was used as a background piece for a practice dance session with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey […]

“Big Chill”Promo

[…] This is the movie trailer for 1983’s “The Big Chill,” a film about eight former 1960s’ college friends who gather for an unscheduled reunion following a friend’s untimely suicide. The film became something of a landmark in its influence on the subsequent use of original, pre-existing rock songs in commercial advertising […]

“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 […]

“Pepsi’s Madonna Video”
TV Ad: 1989

[…] Short 2 minute video of a March 1989 TV ad for Pepsi entitled “Make a Wish,”
featuring pop music star Madonna singing & dancing. This ad was subsequently
pulled after it generated controversy. Link to a more detailed story at this website is included […]

“Max Headroom”

[…] In 1987-88, a sci-fi television show named “Max Headroom” used humor and satire to critique the TV ratings game…Featured briefly on ABC-TV in America, and also used in Coca-Cola advertising, Max Headroom became a pop culture figure for a time, but the TV show was pulled off the air…Today, the show still has something of a cult and on-line following and remains one of television history’s more engaging self-critiques […]

“Levi’s – Be My Baby”
1989 TV Ad

[…] A video of a 1989 Levi’s jeans TV ad that uses the Ronettes’ classic 1964
song “Be My Baby” as background… Ad story: A good Samaritan in the middle of nowhere, pulls his pick-up truck over to the side of the road to help a distressed driver and discovers a beautiful woman […]

“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 […]

“Memory & Cats”

[…] In the 1981 stage production, Cats, there is the very poignant song, “Memory,” performed by the aging female feline, Grizabella, who has seen better days. Cats – the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that was originally produced in London – became one of the all-time theater box office successes, with “Memory” as one of its most beloved and signature tunes […]

“Harlem Nocturne”

[…] “Harlem Nocturne” is a saxophone-saturated song that has had a long shelf life. It first found fame in the late 1930s’ jazz and big band era…More than 20 years later, and again nearly 50 years after its first release, “Harlem Nocturne” found popular appeal – first in a sultry1959-1960 version by The Viscounts from New Jersey, and again in the 1980s’ as the signature crime show theme song for “The Mike Hammer” TV series… This story includes the full song and covers its history […]

“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 […]

“Wall Street’s Gekko”

[…] Hollywood imagery sometimes survives long after its initial introduction, moving its characters and message into mainstream culture… Hollywood’s big time deal-maker, Gordon Gekko, played to a tee by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film “Wall Street,” made “greed is good” the catch phrase of the go-go 1980s… Gekko is a character who has stayed with the culture for some years now, and is periodically mentioned whenever Wall Street excesses flow… This piece looks at the film’s history, the Gekko character, & their effect today as a 2010 sequel arrives […]

“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[…]

“Let The River Run”

[…] In 1988, Carly Simon wrote a popular song “Let the River Run” for the Mike Nichols film, “Working Girl” – a song that has had resonance beyond the film, not only for millions of young women in their careers, but also for others who find it powerful and inspirational… Simon’s song-writing and hit-making career in the 1970s, 1980s and beyond is also covered […]

“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 […]

Sting: “Russians”

…In 1985, British rock star and songwriter, Sting, penned a song about the Cold War’s nuclear rhetoric, which was then running quite hot between the U.S. and Russia. Sting’s song was leveled at both sides — and it got people’s attention, also rising on the pop charts of the day…

“I Won’t Back Down”

…Rocker Tom Petty’s 1989 hit song, “I Won’t Back Down,” has become a popular tune in political campaigns — used by: George W. Bush, Senators Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, Bob Menendez, and John Edwards, to name a few… And also Eliot Spitzer…

“Rosie The Riveter”

Norman Rockwell’s ‘Rosie The Riveter’ cover for the May 29, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, was the first visual image to incorporate the ‘Rosie’ name.     “Rosie the Riveter” is the name of a fictional character  who came to symbolize the millions of real women who  filled America’s factories, munitions plants, and shipyards during World … Continue reading “Rosie The Riveter”

“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

“Nike & The Beatles”

…In mid-1987, Nike made a deal to use the Beatles song “Revolution” in their ad campaign, shelling out $500,000 to do so. However, Nike didn’t make the deal with the Beatles, but rather, with pop star Michael Jackson and EMI-Capitol Records…

“Big Chill Marketing”

[…] “The Big Chill” is a film about eight former 1960s’ college friends who gather for an unscheduled reunion and some personal soul-searching following a friend’s untimely suicide. The film’s soundtrack – an evocative collection of original 1960s rock ‘n roll tunes – was especially moving for many baby boomers who first saw the film, a fact not lost on Madison Avenue and subsequent commercial advertising […]

“Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”

[…] In December 1964, a song titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” began to be heard on the radio – a song about the painful ebbing away of a love relationship. Called “blue-eyed soul” by some critics, and a product of Brill Building songwriting and Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” orchestration, the song is powerfully performed – partly in call-and-response delivery – by tenor-baritone duo Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley. It became a million-selling No. 1 hit and would one day become one of the most played songs on the radio – with more than 8 million plays by 1999 and nearly 15 million by 2011 […]

“Do You Love Me?”
1962 & 1988

[…] “Do You Love Me?,” a song by The Contours produced at the Motown music studios, has had several good runs over the last 50 years. In 1962, it hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 3 on the pop chart, becoming a million seller. After the film “Dirty Dancing” used the song in 1987 to back a hot dance scene, the fortunes’s of “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)” rose again, cracking the Top 20 in 1988. And in recent years it has been used in various promotions and advertising, including a 2016 Super Bowl ad starring Janelle Monáe […]

“Bette Davis Eyes”

Bette Davis captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine, January 23, 1939. Click for copy.      In May and June of 1981, the most popular song around was a tune about a Hollywood actress — or more precisely, about her eyes. “She’s got Bette Davis eyes” was the refrain made famous by the top-selling song … Continue reading “Bette Davis Eyes”

“The Bourne Profitability”

[…] He’s been on the run since 1980 when novelist Robert Ludlum first created him for his popular spy thrillers, and he is still on the run today in a series of popular films, played by actor Matt Damon. The Bourne storyline, in fact, has proven to be a gigantic economic success […] and has created a global entertainment empire […]

“Madonna’s Pepsi Ad”

In the mid- and late-1980s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were engaged in game of one upmanship with their advertising dollars. An effective way to reach millions of consumers, they found, was to have popular recording stars perform in television ads. […] In January 1989, Pepsi announced they had signed pop sensation Madonna, and would pay her $5 million to appear in a series of TV ads […]

“Rocker Supreme”

[…]She walked away from her husband and a successful musical career with some loose pocket change, a gasoline credit card, and little else. It was early July 1976… For a time, she relied on friends and food stamps to survive… But Tina Turner never lost her moxie… By 2005, Tina Turner had become one of the most successful female rock artists of all time […]

“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 […]

“Disney’s Movie Vault”

In the early 1980s, as the home video market began to emerge, the Walt Disney Company was reluctant to release its classic animated movies into that market […], regarding them as a kind of Disney gold, only to be “marketed” through controlled release to movie theaters. But that philosophy would soon change as Disney began to see the huge sales potential […]

“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 […]