|On this day in AT40/AT20/AT10 history...|
(Editor's Note: Is there a past Casey show you'd like to see featured in this section. If so, feel free to e-mail Rob Durkee at Rockster2746@GMail.com with your memories of that show. About 3-5 paragraphs is plenty...but you can write more. Just don't write a novel. Please make sure you give plenty of advance notice. A week is preferred)...
Thirty eight years ago Thursday (August 27, 1977), the big story wasn't that "Best Of My Love" by the Emotions was the #1 song in the USA for the second of five weeks.
Instead, it was host Casey Kasem's salute to Elvis Presley, who'd died 11 days earlier. Casey's tribute included Elvis' 33 movies and how the King of Rock And Roll sold 500 million records....and was climaxed by airing a live version of "Suspicious Minds." In his intro into the tune, Casey called it "a song I'll never get tired of hearing." The same version would be aired on AT40 ten years later as a Long Distance Dedication to Elvis.
The last of the show's then three hours contained three stories. One was how "Stars Wars" at #10 was the first Top 40 hit for a symphony orchestra (the 96-member London Symphony Orchestra). Another was about Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album setting the 1970's record for most weeks at #1. This tied in with "Don't Stop" at #9.
The third Hour three story was the oft-told story about how Carly Simon saved her then-husband, James Taylor, from drugs. James was at #5 with his remake of the Jimmy Jones' hit, "Handy Man."
Finally, this show contained some ultra-trivia. B. J. Thomas was at #22 with "Don't Worry Baby" but his producer, Chris Christian, wasn't sure which version of the song he'd heard that inspired him to get B. J. to record the song. Casey's staff solved the mystery, figuring it out that it was a version recorded by Bruce Johnston.
Thirty seven years ago Wednesday (August 26, 1978), the most popular feature in the history of "American Top 40" was born. It started so innocently with this letter aired in the last of the show's then-three hours:
“Dear Casey: I live in a small town. And about 10 months ago, I fell in love with a girl named Desiree. This was the first time I’d ever heard the name. But a week after we met, Desiree had to move to Germany with her family because her father is in the Army and that’s where they sent him. It was a really sad experience for the both of us.
"Then, not long after she left, a song called ‘Desiree’ came out, where Neil Diamond sings about things similar to our relationship. Like, ‘I knew I could only have her ‘til the morning light and she continues on like the words of a song.’ And when that song came out, I felt it was written for me, which I know is not true but I like to believe it.
"Casey, to me that song will always mean something special. If you could play Neil Diamond’s ‘Desiree’ on ‘American Top 40,’ maybe my Desiree in Germany will hear it...and I know it’s for her. Sincerely, James.”
Host Casey Kasem did play "Desiree"--and it was the culmination of many years of Casey telling his staff to look out for the right kind of dedication letter to come along. Matt Wilson, who'd joined the AT40 staff a few months earlier--and is still on the staff today--discovered that first letter. Don Bustany, the show's co-founder, agreed that the letter was the right one.
After he played the song, Casey asked the listeners to get a piece of paper to write on...and after another song, he gave the show's mailing address.
Oh, and the #1 song 37 years ago Thursday was "Grease" by Frankie Valli.