Super Seventies RockSite's Seventies Daily Music Chronicle

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July 1971

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Saturday

  1
Aqualung, the first U.S. Top Ten LP for Jethro Tull, goes gold. Aqualung signals a change in the group's direction, leaning more toward hard rock, with less of an emphasis on leader Ian Anderson's classical and baroque influences. They go on to be one of the biggest acts of the early Seventies.

North Carolina and Oklahoma's respective state legislatures put the 26th Amendment, which lowers the voting age from 21 to 18, over the top. Spurred on by the Vietnam War, it was a fast five-month march representing the quickest ratification of any constitutional amendment in US history.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday, director John Schlesinger's follow-up to Midnight Cowboy, opens with an even more sensationalistic slant than his previous Oscar-winning X-rated film: full frontal male nudity. Star Peter Finch will net an Oscar nomination for his work, considered quite brave in 1971 when playing a gay character is perceived as a career-killer.

2
Shaft, the first mainstream, commercially successful movie about a black private eye, is released and kicks off the blaxploitation genre with a hot mix of sex, drugs, and hot buttered soul. The movie catapults soundtrack composer Isaac Hayes to fame, assuming the nickname of his next album, Black Moses. Hayes, who will win a Grammy for best score and Oscar for best song ("Theme from Shaft"), tours internationally with a crowning gig at London's Albert Royal Hall and mixes easily on primetime TV with everyone from Jack Benny to The Osmonds. Keeping the blaxploitation genre going strong, next year Shaft's producer's son, Gordon Parks, Jr., delivers Superfly in the same vein. Its soundtrack, by Curtis Mayfield, delivers two breakout hits, "Superfly" and "Freddie's Dead."
3
Jim Morrison, singer, songwriter and poet, dies a mysterious death in his bathtub in Paris at age twenty-seven. The Doors' leader had gone to France in March to write and relax. Morrison, who charged through life with a penchant for excess, was a heavy drinker, and drugs were known to be part of his lifestyle. The official cause of death is listed as a heart attack, but conspiracy theories still abound: 45 years later, a former nightclub manager will write in a book that Morrison actually overdosed on heroin in a club's toilet, and drug dealers carted his body back to his apartment. Morrison in survived by his wife, Pamela.
4
Donald McPherson, lead singer and founder of the soul group the Main Ingredient, dies of leukemia at age thirty. McPherson formed the group in the Fifties, but it wasn't until 1966 that they had their first hit, "She Blew a Good Thing." The Main Ingredient will enjoy even greater success, however, with McPherson's replacement, Cuba Gooding, and their 1972 single "Everybody Plays the Fool" will become their biggest seller ever, going to #3.
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Legendary trumpeter and first ambassador of jazz, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, dies of a heart attack at age 69. Armstrong had 80 pop hits from 1926 through 1988, including the renowned "Hello Dolly." He also influenced hundreds of singers and musicians and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 as a forefather of rock music. A week later, thousands attend his traditional jazz funeral in New Orleans.
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British avant-jazz-rock band Soft Machine makes its first American appearnce since opening for a Jimi Hendrix Experience tour three years earlier at New York City's Gaslight Club. Among those in the audience is avant-garde jazz giant Ornette Coleman.
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Jim Morrison is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and offical word of his death is finally given in the press. Doors manager Bill Siddons explains why Morrison's death was kept secret for nearly a week, saying that those close to the late singer wished to avoid "the circuslike atmosphere that surrounded the deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix."
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Agnetha Faltskog marries Bjorn Ulvaeus in Verum, Sweden. Less than three years later they would have their first hit, "Waterloo," as half of the international success of ABBA.
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The Doors are awarded a gold album for L.A. Woman just thirteen days after the announcement of singer Jim Morrison's death. The LP includes two hits, "Love Her Madly" and "Riders on the Storm," and the title track becomes an FM radio staple for years to come.
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T. Rex's "Get It On" becomes the Number One single in Britain, and helps inaugurate the glitter-rock fad. Marc Bolan, born Mark Feld, has the look: a halo of dark, frizzy hair and a sullen pout that gives him a fashionably adrogynous air. However, his 16-U.K.-hit success never really makes it to the other side of the Atlantic: in the U.S. "Get It On" (retitled "Bang a Gong [Get It On]" so as not to be confused with a different song by the jazz/rock group Chase) reaches #10 in 1972, his only American smash.

Carole King's landmark album Tapestry hits the British album charts en route to #4. It was already #1 for 15 weeks in the U.S. while staying on the charts for an amazing 302 weeks and selling more than 15 million albums.

The Top Five
1. "Indian Reservation" - Raiders
2. "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move" - Carol King
3. "You've Got a Friend" - James Taylor
4. "Don't Pull Your Love" - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds
5. "Mr. Big Stuff" - Jean Knight

25
The Beach Boys are back. After suffering several years of snubbing, both by rock critics and the public, the Beach Boys stage a remarkable comeback beginning with the release of Surf's Up, an LP that weds their choral harmonies to progressive pop, and which shows youngest Wilson brother Carl stepping to the fore of the venerable outfit. The title track is expecially noteworthy, a surfer's lullaby cowritten in 1967 by Van Dyke Parks and the reclusive Brian Wilson, who withheld the song for fear that it wouldn't be accepted. Surf's Up is welcomed with open arms and hits #29, making it their highest charting LP in four years.

The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, expanding the 1970 law lowering the voting age to 18 in all elections.

26
Adding mobility to the moon program, the Apollo 15 mission blasts off, and five days later, astronauts David Scott and James Irwin are the first to ride across the moon's terrain in the Lunar Rover Vehicle.
27
George Harrison releases his statement on the Bengal Nation, "Bangla Desh," on which he implores, "Now I'm asking all of you to help us save some lives." The single's release comes just four days before Harrison's Concerts for Bangla Desh in New York City, where he closes both sets with the song.
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The second night of the Who's first of two 1971 U.S. tours is marred by tragedy when a twenty-two- year-old security guard is stabbed to death at New York's Forest Hills Stadium. The guard, George Byrington, is killed by Kerry Flaherty, a twenty-one- year-old ex-convict recently released from prison, where he was serving a sentence for a 1967 knife assault.

Gimme Shelter, the Maysles Brothers documentary of the Rolling Stones' 1969 tour, has its British premiere at the Rialto Cinema in London.

Kenneth Donaldson, 67, is released from Florida's mental health custody after 15 years of mere custodial confinment without receiving any psychiatric treatment and would be the plaintiff in 1975's "O' Connor v. Donaldson" ruling.

James Taylor tops the charts with "You've Got a Friend," written by his friend Carole King, and his life, which had been plagued with an inner turmoil of heroin addiction, rehab, and the suicide of a friend, turns around: TV appearances, the cover of Time magazine, sold-out tours, and a chance backstage introduction to fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon, whom he marries next year.

The Top Five
1. "You've Got a Friend" - James Taylor
2. "Indian Reservation" - Raiders
3. "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move" - Carol King
4. "Mr. Big Stuff" - Jean Knight
5. "Draggin' the Line" - Tommy James



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