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1971: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1971 was! 1971 was a wonderful year in terms of novelty music and subjects.

It's the year when the "Love Story" theme was played a lot back then on the radio and we needed comic relief, and it was the second year Dr. Demento was on the air in Los Angeles only back on the late KPPC, where he began the previous October, and on the Oct 22 of 1971, the whole staff of KPPC was fired in one fell swoop, Dr. Demento popped up doing a few shows on KPFK at 4am for a while, anybody remember those? But he landed on KMET in December that year.

  • "Dave", by Cheech & Chong

    There were a lot of great comedy albums that year including Cheech and Chong's debut album with the cut "Dave" being the best bit about two-man comedic confusion since "Who's On First." We don't know what kind of stuff Dave was holding, but the following stuff in the next item was basically legal...

  • "Ajax Liquor Store", by Hudson & Landry
  • "When You're Hot, You're Hot", by Jerry Reed from "Dr. Demento's Country Corn"

    In 1971, you can hear a Top 40 station play country, R&B, pop, bubblegum, instrumental, rock, soul, whatever, even sappy movie themes such as "Summer of 1942"

    In 1971, Top 40 stations even played comedy and novelty songs including the "Liquor Store" cut above, but not too many radio stations played this Zappa song below. This was the year he came out with the movie "200 Motels" and this was the most popular song from the soundtrack...

  • "Lonesome Cowboy Burt", by Frank Zappa

    Not all instrumentals from 1971 were sappy songs, in fact, there was the disco-ish "K-Jee" by the Nightlighters, and a remake of it popped up on the "Saturday Night Fever" movie soundtrack album, and there was also "Cool Aid" by Paul Humphreys.

    1971 was also a banner year for spoken comedy albums from Cheech and Chong, Hudson and Landry, Lily Tomlin, etc., and the rotund actor Victor Buono, best known for his King Tut villian in the 60's Batman series, but he also had a hit comedy album as well.

  • "Fat Man's Prayer", by Victor Buono from the CD "Dore Comedy Classics"
  • "Mr. Veedle", by Lily Tomlin from her LP (that's right, they made LPs back then!) "This Is A Recording" The "Mr. Veedle" that Lily Tomlin was referring to was supposed to be Gore Vidal (trivia note by Abrey Myers)!

    Firesign Theatre, four guys from L.A., were perhaps the best thing in comedy in the late 60s and early 70s, who did the ultimate theater of the mind, very subtle music and sound effects to set the mood, in fact, so many effects that you had to listen to it over and over again to get all of what's going on. A lot of what they did was ultimately inspired by old-time radio dramas with the sound effects and so on, but their thinking was as modern as Microsoft, but of course, this was all done before the age of computers in the mainstream.

  • "The Holygram's Song/I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus", by Firesign Theatre
  • "Saturday Morning Confusion", by Bobby Russell, on the "Dr. Demento Country Corn CD"
  • "Argument Clinic", by Monty Python, actually British audiences never saw this sketch until 1972, but this was taped in 1971, so he snuck it in.

    Events in 1971

    01/12, the innovative situation comedy "All in the Family" premiered on CBS featured the first toilet flush on TV. The show was produced by Norman Lear. It became "Archie Bunker's Place" in 1979. Carroll O'Connor starred as Archie Bunker, Rob Reiner as Meathead, Sally Struthers as Gloria and Jean Stapleton as Edith, 'The Dingbat'. "Stifle yourself!" Originally, ABC had plans to broadcast the series under the title, "Those Were the Days". Norman Lear's masterpiece makes its debut on CBS with the following disclaimer: "The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are."

    01/19, At the Charles Manson murder trial, the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" is played. At the scene of one of his gruesome murders, Manson had written the words "helter skelter" on a mirror.

    02/06, on the cover of TV Guide: "cast of The Odd Couple: Tony Randall and Jack Klugman". Other Articles: Men from Shiloh

    02/27, R.C., "Amos Moses" by Jerry Reed peaked at #8 on the pop singles chart.

    03/06, R.C., "D.O.A." by Bloodrock peaked at #36 on the pop singles chart.

    03/26, "Benny Hill Show" tops TV ratings in Great Britian.

    03/27, The song "One Toke Over the Line," by Brewer & Shipley, was banned from airplay on WNBC in New York City and several other stations followed suit, claiming it referred to drug use. Shipley responded that the ban was comparable to book burnings of the 1930s.

    03/29, "Amos Moses" single by Jerry Reed was certified Gold by the RIAA

    05/01, R.C., "Timothy" by The Buoys peaked at #17 on the pop singles chart.

    06/06, after twenty-three years of presenting "ah-really-biiig-shew" every week, "The Ed Sullivan Show", TV Variety, aka Toast of the Town until Sep 18, 1955, aired its final edition on CBS, who cancelled it. The program provided America with an early look at some of rock-and-roll's biggest names, including the BEATLES, ELVIS PRESLEY, and the ROLLING STONES. Guests on the final airing tonight included Sid Ceasar, singer Jerry Vale, and Gladys Knight & The Pips. and for the last time, we saw Polish dancing bears, a little mouse named Topo Gigio, remembered The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, the comedy of Jackie Mason, John Byner, Rich Little, Richard Pryor and so many more. It was American TV's longest-running variery show. A Spanish variety show, however, has been on TV since 1963. so "Sabato Gigante" on Televisa holds that honor so far, going back to the days before The Beatles stormed the USA!

    06/26, R.C., "When You're Hot, You're Hot" by Jerry Reed peaked at #9 on the pop singles chart.

    08/00, Frank Zappa's album [12] FILLMORE EAST, JUNE 1971 was released including the track "Peaches En Regalia".

    08/07, Henry (Homer) Haynes of the country comedy duo Homer and Jethro died at age 54. The duo specialized in parodies of popular songs, such as "That Hound Dog in the Window."

    08/20, The first electronic pocket calculator was introduced. Made by Texas Instruments, it was battery powered and weighed 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg).

    08/28, R.C., "Signs" by Five Man Electrical Band peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart.

    09/25, R.C., "Whatcha See Is Wahtcha Get" by Dramatics peaked at #9 on the pop singles chart. The title is based on one of Flip Wilson's signature lines for his drag character Geraldine.

    09/25, R.C., "Saturday Morning Confusion" by Bobby Russell peaked at #28 on the pop singles chart.

    10/00, "The Electric Company", TV Childrens, which employed Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, and a couple of songs by Tom Lehrer, debut on PBS.

    10/00, Frank Zappa's album [13] 200 MOTELS was released.

    11/10, THE PREMIERE OF "200 MOTELS" FRANK ZAPPA's movie includes a cameo appearance from RINGO STARR

    11/16, Led Zeppelin's debut, actually released in early 1969, finally goes gold. By this time, the group is getting ready for their fourth album, "Led Zeppelin IV." It contains the classic "Stairway to Heaven."

    12/04, R.C., "Desiderata" by Les Crane peaked at #8 on the pop singles chart; it was parodied into "Deteriorata" by National Lampoon featuring Melissa Manchester the next year.

    12/11, Carly Simon releases the original "ketchup" craze: "Anticipation." Nowadays, squeeze bottles get it out a lot faster!

    12/11, R.C., "Ernie" by Benny Hill peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    12/16, Don McLean's eight-minute-plus version of "American Pie" was released and became one of the longest songs with some of the most confusing [pick your favorite interpretation] lyrics to ever hit the pop charts. It was a disc jockey favorite since there were few songs long enough for potty breaks at the time. "American Pie" hit #1 on January 15. 1972. Eight minutes was enough to complete the bathroom break. 27 1/2 years later, a parody of the song was finally made: "The Saga Begins" by "Weird Al" Yankovic!

    12/19, Stanley Kubrick's X-rated "A Clockwork Orange" starring Malcolm McDowell premiered in New York, Toronto, San Francisco and Hollywood.

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