|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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 nine years ago Saturday (November 1, 1975), "Island Girl" became the new #1 single in the United States. It stayed there at the top another two weeks and because of Billboard magazine's cutoff methods, it became the #65 song...of 1976, not 1975.
To commemorate "Island Girl's" rise to the top, host Casey Kasem noted how it was the fastest climbing #1 single in five years. Or, since "The Long And Winding Road" the Beatles did the same thing--taking only four weeks to reach the top.
This show marked the last of four times the biggest bogus story in AT40 history was ever told. Casey called it “one of the most incredible stories we’ve ever told.” As it turned out, it really was too incredible.
The song's writer, John D. Loudermilk, claimed his car got stuck in a snowdrift during a late 1959 blizzard and he was pulled out of his car by Cherokee Indians led by Chief Bloody Bear Tooth. Loudermilk said his car was thrown over a cliff and he was taken to the Indians’ camp, where he was held prisoner and tortured. He claimed the tribe released him only after promising he’d write a song about the Indians’ plight...which became the Raiders’ #1 hit played as an extra, “Indian Reservation.”
Yes, Loudermilk made up the story. He told it after receiving a late-night phone call from a Watermark writer. “He woke me up,” Loudermilk recalled. “Whenever that call came, it was well behind polite behavior. I think it was past midnight. I said, ‘This guy is so unthoughtful, I’ll just make up something.’ Then the whole thing snowballed. I let it run that way for years. There’s no hard feelings about it. Goofy guys do goofy things. I had no idea anybody would take it seriously.”
"Yesterday" by the Beatles was also played as an extra as Casey told how its original title was "Scrambled Eggs."
One of the darkest chapters in "American Top 40" history came 22 years ago Friday (October 31, 1992). "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men was in the midst of its 13-week run at #1 en route to becoming 1992's biggest hit. But that was moot.
The highlight--or lowlight in the opinion of some close to the show--was the content used on this show that was substitute hosted by comedian-actor-disc jockey Jay Thomas. It was typical example of how "American Top 40" had landed in the hands of people who had little or no understanding of what this show was about.
This incident wasn't Thomas' fault, however. Instead, the blame goes directly to the then-powers-that-be that allowed Thomas' comedy writer to write what turned out what could be construed as offensive sexist and racist jokes. Would Casey Kasem EVER allow such shenanigans? No way. For example:
*--To outtro song #39, “Am I The Same girl” by Swing Out Sister, Thomas said, “I used to dance the old white man overbite to that...you know?”
*--After noting how Bobby Brown decorated his mom’s home, Thomas jokingly made mention of it being featured in “Better Home Boys and Gardens,” adding “You can bet she wasn’t in the room when he recorded this song or else she’d have decorated his rear end.”
*--Thomas teased a feature by saying, “Bobby Brown and Elvis--what do they have in common. Been spotted in Houston?”
*-- While warming up the “Wayback Machine” for the flashback, Thomas said, “This is like making love with Madonna.”
*-- In his outro of "All I Want" by Toad The Wet Sprocket, Thomas said, “This group reminds me of my first kiss. Toad The Wet Sprocket. Think in your own head what I mean.”
*--On his backsell of “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue, Thomas said, “Love to see them singing in the shower. Wouldn’t you? I’d like to have a shot of that.”
*-- Finally, while featuring Madonna at #5 with “Erotica”, Thomas discussed the singer’s “Sex” book and how she was photographed pumping gas topless...and faceously asked, “Clean your headlights, mam?”
Some close to the show were outraged. One Watermarker observed, “Gee, they’re editing Shadoe’s jokes, fancy words, pauses and laughter...but Jay Thomas can come in and tell racist and sexist jokes. It makes no sense.”
Another said, “It’s sacrilegious. ‘American Top 40’ was never intended to be a show with that kind of humor. It’s always been the informative show. A little humor--even slapstick humor--is OK, but racist and sexist jokes? No way.”
Another said, “That went against everything ‘American Top 40’ stood for.”
You get the idea.