|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 email@example.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 seven years ago Wednesday (April 1, 1978), "Night Fever" was the #1 song in the USA, but it wasn't even aired on "American Top 40" that weekend. Why, you ask? Because Casey Kasem was instead counting down the Top 40 movie hits of the 1960's and 1970's to date. The special was called "AT40 Goes To The Movies" and at #1 was the song that went on to become the #1 song of the 1970's, "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone.
This "American Top 40" show has special sentimental value to author Rob Durkee for two reasons. One, this was the first time Rob heard AT40 on an FM radio station. Previously, it was strictly AM stations where he'd heard AT40--Clark Air Base, Republic Of The Philippines, KEEL/Shreveport, KXOL/Fort Worth and WBBG/Cleveland.
WBBG was switching formats from a fairly easy listening music format to all-talk, so AT40 couldn't be heard after the March 25, 1978 show on that station. That was OK with Rob, because WBBG was a very weak radio station that could barely be heard in Elyria (West of Cleveland, where he lived) while it was concentrated on being heard primiarly on Cleveland's East side.
The other reason for the sentimental value of this show was the music itself. This was still a time where the Current Hit Radio (CHR) format was fairly flexible, so movie hits like "Born Free" (at #22 for Roger Williams), and "Exodus" (Ferrante And Teicher at #9) would be heard...and Program Directors weren't getting paranoid like they do today. Other easy listening movie hits heard that even traditional oldies stations wouldn't play today include "Moon River" (Henry Mancini, #15, from "Breakfast At Tiffany's"), "Never On Sunday" (Don Costa, at #18) and another Ferrante And Teicher song at #21, the theme from "The Apartment."
The idea of fragmented formats may have started nearly two years later, though. The July 1976 AT40 special that played all the #1 songs from 1937 to the then-present wasn't played by the all the "American Top 40" affiliates because of the distain for the Big Band-like songs of the 1930's and 1940's that were played.
Is it any wonder people enjoy the 1970's AT40 shows and specials?
Forty two years ago Tuesday (March 31, 1973), "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack returned to #1 for its last of five non-consecutive weeks at the top of the charts.
"Love Train" by the O'Jays had pushed the Flack song out of #1 the previous week. Ironically, five songs earlier, host Casey Kasem answered a listener's question about songs that rebounded back to #1 and how "Alone Again, Naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan was the last song to do it. Casey hinted, "It just might happen today" And it did.
The last of the show's three hours had other strong stories. Vicki Lawrence was at #10 with "Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" as Casey told about Vicki's big break--a fan letter to Carroll Burnett! At #2 was "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" as it was explained why Deodato recorded it--because he hated the other versions of the song!
"One Less Set Of Footsteps" was at #37 as Casey told how singer Jim Croce flunked National Guard basic training and had to go through it a second time. A repeat story was told at #32 ("Cook With Honey") as it dealt with how Judy Collins beat polio as a kid, then found out three days later that she had tuberculosis. Collins beat that ailment, too.
This show had a good oldies touch to it. Donny Osmond was at #23 with "The Twelfth Of Never" and the original 50's version by Johnny Mathis was aired in a drop-piece. Also, in a question letter, Casey told how one week in early 1961, the top three singles were all instrumentals: "Calcutta" (Lawrence Welk), "Exodus" (Ferrante And Teicher) and "Wonderland By Night" (Bert Kaempfert).