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1973: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1973 was! 1973 was a wonderful year in terms of novelty music and subjects.

This was the year of the continuning Watergate hearings, every fall show introduced was cancelled by the fall 1974 season, ceasefire of the Vietnam war, the Yom Kippur war, UCLA won its seventh straight basketball championship with Bill Walton, and a man named O.J. Simpson set an all-time rushing record in the NFL. The Exorcist was a very big movie. All in the Family and The Waltons were the top TV shows. Other movies included The Sting, American Graffiti, and Deliverance, with the dueling banjos theme becoming a Top hit, and a parody of that with tubas was popular with funny music fans as well...

  • "Dueling Tubas", by Martin Mull
  • "Dead Skunk", by Loudon Wainwright III, which still gets a lot of requests today.

    In 1973, the Dr. Demento Show was three years old going very strong in Los Angeles and would go national the next year in 1974.

    ...in the background we hear "Space Race", by Billy Preston

    In 1973, when there were a lot of instrumental hits on the pop charts, Dr. Demento got to know some guys who had a 6 or 7 piece band who played a lot of street fairs and so on. They played kind of Spike Jonesey versions of old classical favorites and other old favorties. They were the first act to convince him to play an unreleased tape on his old KMET radio show. They had a tape recorder hooked up, although the reception was probably bad or they had a bad radio reception, on the night Dr. Demento introduced their tape and they taped it for their CD...

  • "March Of The Cuckoos (w/ Dr. D intro)", by The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band off their CD "Retro Rooter", a nice new CD full of their old 70's stuff. 1-818-563-2222 is their phone number to call.
  • "Funky Worm", by Ohio Players, another nice novelty hit from that year.

    ...and in the background, another one of the numerous instrumental Top 40 hits, "Bongo Rock", by The Incredible Bongo Band.

    Checking out the hits of 1973 this week on the Top 40, the instrumental version of 2001 Space Odyssey theme by Deodato was a big deal, and the headlines were dominated by a scandal called The Watergate, involving the President of the United States. The scandal involved the breakin-in of some Democratic Party offices of the Watergate building in Washington D.C. during the 1972 election campaign. President Nixon denied having anything to do with it, but when it became obvious out that he did have a great deal to do with it, he was forced to resign. Long before that came to a pass, much of the American public and much of that day's comedians decided that Nixon was guilty. Here is one of the many records that were inspired by the Watergate scandal...

  • "The Watergate Comedy Hour", by "The Watergate Seven" (Bob Ridgely, Jack Burns, Frank Welker, Jack Riley, and Avery Schriber)

    One thing that has not changed since 1973 is the The Rolling Stone magazine is still the badge of pop stardom.

  • "The Cover Of 'Rolling Stone'", by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show written by Shel Silverstein. One of the year's top novelty hits.

    ...and in the background, yet another instrumental hit, "Soul Mekossa", by ???

    It was also in 1973 that a bunch of country rockers had this big hit that tells you a whole lot about where this country was in 1973. By the 1980s, of course, the hairstyles might have been reversed, by then long hair had become very popular in the deep south and rebel from the coast might have sported short hair. This band also did a sequel involving a gay person, but that didn't become as popular as the original.

  • "Uneasy Rider", by Charlie Daniels.

    ...and in the background we hear another instrumental, a rocker, "Hocus Pocus", by Focus, which is kind of demented in itself

    Digging deeper in the vaults of 1973, we unearth this nugget. This was two years after the movie "Shaft" was released, but in the fall of this year, CBS had a TV series based on the movie that lasted only a season. Let's see what happens when he meets Superfly...

  • "Superfly Meets Shaft", by John & Ernest, a Dickie Goodman production.
  • "Basketball Jones Featuring Tyrone Shoelaces", by Cheech & Chong, from their popular album that year "Los Cochinos" or "The Pigs"
  • "Nixon Meets The Godfather", by David Frye doing both voices in this recording from another popular comedy LP inspired on the Watergate scandal. "Richard Nixon: a Fantasy" was the name of the album.

    ...and in the background, another awesome rock instrumental, "Frankenstein", by the Edgar Winter Group. The biggest instrumental hit song of the year, or just about any other year for that matter.

    We'll close our tribute of 1973 with a recording made this year that is looking back to an earlier decade. In any given time in recent history, you'll always find nostalgia for the music and culture of 15 to 20 years earlier, and the 1970's were no exception. We were looking back to the 1950's with TV shows "M*A*S*H" covering the Korean war, and in early 1974, when this year's OPEC oil embargo resulted in America to observe Daylight Saving Time that month, another 1950's looking back series, "Happy Days" premiered, spinning off "Laverne and Shirley" along the way. But it was this comedian that fondly looked back at the decade when things were supposedly better then...

  • "Fabulous 50's", by Robert Klein, whose albums are available on Rhino CDs.

    Events in 1973

    01/06, the five-minute animated lesson series "Schoolhouse Rock" premiered on ABC TV with the "Multiplication Rock" series. The short animated features used Rock music to teach children educational basics between Saturday morning cartoons. And they're back: the Shoolhouse Rock tribute album by contemporary artists have made the series cool all over again.

    01/13, R.C., "Superfly" by Curtis Mayfield peaked at #8 on the pop singles chart.

    01/18, John Cleese's final episode on Monty Python's Flying Circus on BBC.

    02/03, R.C., "Love Jones" by Brighter Side Of Darkness peaked at #16 on the pop singles chart; Cheech & Chong parodied it into "Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces".

    02/08, Carly Simon is awarded a gold record for her single "You're So Vain," the only Number One song of her career. Many speculate as to the identity of the song's subject. Many assume it's Mick Jagger, whose voice can be clearly heard singing behind Simon in the chorus. However, it turns out that the subject is actor Warren Beatty.

    02/24, R.C., "Dancing In The Moonlight" by King Harvest peaked at #13 on the pop singles chart. This song was used in the cult film "Dracula Bites The Big Apple".

    02/24, R.C., "Dueling Banjos" by Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart; Martin Mull parodied it into "Dueling Tubas".

    03/07, One of the rare instrumentals to go gold this decade is "Dueling Banjos," performed by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel.

    03/10, Record stores are stocking a couple of new songs. The Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" and Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years."

    03/17, "Little Willy" by Sweet entered the Top 40 chart.

    03/17, R.C., "The Cover Of The Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show peaked at #6 on the pop singles chart. Shortly afterwards, they did appear on a cover of that magazine.

    03/29, after their single "The Cover Of Rolling Stone" was first played, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show were actually pictured on the front of that particular magazine. The next week, their single went gold. Inside, a "Rolling Stone" writer confirmed that members of the group (Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show) bought five copies of the mag for their moms, just like in the song's lyrics!

    03/31, R.C., "Dead Skunk" by Loudon Wainright III peaked at #16 on the pop singles chart.

    03/31, Lou Reed entered the U.K. and U.S. singles charts with "Walk On The Wild Side".

    03/31, R.C., "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" by Deodato peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart.

    04/01, John & Yoko formed a new country with no laws or boundaries, called Nutopia; its national anthem is silence, which Roseanne would be able to sing very well.

    04/07, R.C., "Space Oddity" by David Bowie peaked at #15 on the pop singles chart.

    04/07, R.C., "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart. Somehow, power blackouts are demented. Lawrence had become well known as the comedienne who was Eunice's mother on "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Mama's Family".

    04/21, Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" was released

    04/28, R.C., "Walk On The Wild Side" by Lou Reed peaked at #16 on the pop singles chart.

    04/28, R.C., "The Cisco Kid" by War peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart.

    05/05, R.C., "Little Willy" by Sweet peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart.

    05/12, R.C., "Dueling Tubas" by Martin Mull peaked at #92 on the pop singles chart; it was a parody of "Dueling Banjos" by Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell.

    05/19, R.C., "Daisy A Day" by Jud Strunk peaked at #14 on the pop singles chart.

    05/26, R.C., "Funky Worm" by Ohio Players peaked at #15 on the pop singles chart.

    05/26, R.C., "Super Fly Meets Shaft" by John & Ernest peaked at #31 on the pop singles chart.

    05/29, Mike Oldfield releases his "Tubular Bells" LP. The title track became the theme for "The Exorcist."

    06/13, "Class Clown" album by George Carlin was certified Gold by the RIAA

    06/16, "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple entered the Top 40 chart.

    06/19, "Frankenstein" single by the Edgar Winter Group was certified Gold by the RIAA

    07/02, "Match Game '73", TV Game Show, returned on CBS with host Gene Rayburn, became '74, '75, '76, '77, '78 and '79, ending that April when "General Hospital" opposite it made their ratings terminal and it left the CBS sked. Over the years, the panelists included Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson (who hosted his own game show Family Feud beginning in 1976), Fannie Flagg, Joyce Bulifant, MacLean Stevenson and most of the other M*A*S*H cast, Betty White, as well as numerous celebrities from prime-time and even CBS's own soap operas as well.

    07/14, R.C., "Watergate" by Dickie Goodman peaked at #42 on the pop singles chart.

    07/21, R.C., "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart.

    07/24, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" single by Jim Croce was certified Gold by the RIAA

    08/01, George Lucas's "American Graffiti" motion picture set in the early 1960s and featuring a soundtrack of 50s rock 'n roll classics was officially released (it had a preview in June). It starred a whole bunch of actors who would later get jobs on TV and do more movie work; it featured Ron Howard who later went on to Happy Days and then directing many critically acclaimed movies, Richard Dreyfuss who was made a star, Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins (later Dynasty), Cindy Williams (Laverne and Shirley), Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Indiana Jones), Suzanne Somers (Three's Company, Step By Step), Paul LeMat, Joe Spano, Mackenzie Phillips (One Day At A Time), Debralee Scott (Welcome Back Kotter), Susan Richardson (Eight Is Enough) and "Wolfman Jack" (Midnight Special).

    08/04, R.C., "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke (That Cigarette)" by Commander Cody peaked at #94 on the pop singles chart.

    08/11, R.C., "Lord, Mr. Ford" by Jerry Reed peaked at #68 on the pop singles chart.

    08/11, R.C., "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels peaked at #9 on the pop singles chart.

    08/11, R.C., "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Cryptkickers reentered the chart and peaked at #10 on the pop singles chart.

    08/25, R.C., "Brother Louie" by Stories peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart.

    09/00, "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert", TV Music; debut in syndication.

    09/07, Frank Zappa's album [17] OVER-NITE SENSATION was released including the tracks "I'm The Slime", "Dirty Love" and "Montana".

    09/08, "Star Trek Cartoon", TV Cartoon Show, debut on NBC. Whimsical Will did some voice work there, he says.

    09/10, BBC-1 banned airplay of the Rolling Stones' song "Star Star" -- from the band's "Goat's Head Soup" album -- because the lyrics included the "f" word.

    09/15, R.C., "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV reentered the chart for some mysterious reason and peaked at #87 on the pop singles chart.

    10/15, "Tomorrow", TV Talk Show, with Tom Snyder; debut on NBC. Haw-haw-haw-haw-haw-haw-haw! "From those of us working the late shift in Southern California, sweet dreams." Tom Snyder would use this phrase to close his late-night show. Tom would yuk it up with some of TV's most interesting chatter -- right after the "Tonight" show. NBC would later add critic, Rona Barrett, to the show. "Tomorrow" ran until January of 1982.

    10/20, "The Six Million Dollar Man", TV Scifi Adventure; debut on ABC.

    10/20, R.C., "Basketball Jones Featuring Tyrone Shoelaces" by Cheech & Chong peaked at #15 on the pop singles chart; it was a parody of "Love Jones" by Brighter Side Of Darkness.

    10/30, a New York radio station aired the unedited "Seven Words You Cnnot Say on Television" off Geroge Carlin's LP "Class Clown." A man complained about the offensive words and complained to the FCC. The FCC essentially put the station on "probation" with the threat of considering revoking its license if the station airs any more offensive material.

    11/20, comedian Allan Sherman...who had a hit in 1963 with the novelty tune "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah!"...died from respiratory failure at the age of 48.

    12/03, Ringo Starr releases what will be his second straight Number One single, "You're Sixteen." Both "You're Sixteen" and his previous hit, "Photograph," are off Starr's Ringo LP. What's so strange about this song? You're sixteen, you're jailbait, I'm doing time.

    12/09, The Royal Canadian Air Farce first aired on CBC Radio in Canada.

    12/19, Johnny Carson pulled a good one this night before a nationwide late-night audience on NBC. Carson started a fake toilet paper scare, when he mentioned during his "Tonight Show" monologue that a Wisconsin congressman had warned that toilet paper was disappearing from supermarket shelves. Toilet paper soon became a scarce commodity in many areas of the United States after the gag.

    12/26, "The Exorcist" starring Linda Blair (with Mercedes McCambridge's voice as the possessing devil), Ellen Burstyn, and Max von Sydow premiered in 24 theaters around the USA while Blair did a 360 degree turn. It was rated R.

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