The Pop History Dig

“Serenade: Steve Miller”
1975-1978

[...] The Steve Miller Band song, “Serenade” – sometimes overlooked or overshadowed by other more popular Steve Miller songs from the mid-1970s – is profiled here, along with song, lyrics, and a stab at what the verse is saying… “Serenade” was recorded in 1975 at the CBS studios in San Francisco and appears as the fourth track of the Fly Like an Eagle album, released in May 1976 [...]


“Linda & Jerry”
1971-1983

[...] This story tracks the 1970s-early-1980s relationship between rock star Linda Ronstadt and California politician Jerry Brown – and also the music and politics of that era… By 1975, Brown and Ronstadt were high-profile celebrities – he, California’s governor, and she, rising to the top of the rock music business…Story covers their unlikely relationship and rising careers through the 1970s – including the glare of Brown’s presidential bids in 1976 and 1980 – press & media coverage; speculation of a possible marriage between the two; four Ronstadt songs; and more [...]


“Paradise”
1971: John Prine

[...] In 1971, a country music song titled “Paradise,” by singer-songwriter John Prine, told the tale of 1960s-1970s strip mining in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where Peabody Coal Co., operating a gigantic strip mine shovel named Big Hog, supplied coal to a TVA electric powerplant… In the process, the small, rural river town of Paradise, KY was bought out and bulldozed… Story also covers other similar “small town removal” cases at the hand of strip mining… John Prine biography and recording history also included [...]


“Burn On, Big River…”
Cuyahoga River Fires

[...] This story explores the history of several Cuyahoga River fires in the Cleveland, Ohio region, circa 1890s to 1969; their influence on national environmental history & public policy; and some related music from Randy Newman, R.E.M., and Adam Again… Includes photos, political cartoons, and some music [...]


“Celebrity Gifford”
1950s-2000s

[...] Frank Gifford, a talented New York Giants football player in the 1950s & 1960s, became a popular figure in New York & nationally and a familiar face in print & TV ads. He also became one of the first professional athletes to successfully venture into TV sports broadcasting, first with CBS and later — for 25-plus years — on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” program. Gifford’s celebrity, in fact, would span nearly six decades, helped in later years by his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, books & magazine stories about him, his own publishing, and a controversy or two [...].


“Civil Rights Topics”
14 Selected Stories

[...] This “topics page” lists 14 stories at this website which include civil rights-related content. Among stories listed are several related to civil rights & music; civil rights & television; civil rights & art; and civil rights & politics – stories which include performers & artists such as: Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Norman Rockwell, Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Martha & the Vandellas, U2, and others. Also listed are stories on Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama, and others with sections on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King [...]


“Nader’s Raiders”
1968-1974

[...] Let loose on official Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ralph Nader’s teams of law school and college students were sent to investigate government agencies and corporations… A small cottage industry of publisher-worthy paperbacks resulted, some becoming bestsellers, all with messages that stirred the public policy pot. …Official Washington was challenged and changed, investigative journalism was re-ignited, and public interest advocacy became a much more prominent part of the culture. This article examines how the Nader teams and reports came about and what effect they had [...]


“Dark Side’s 40 Years”
1973-2013

[...] A 1973 rock music album by the British group Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ stayed on Billboard’s top 200 albums sales chart for 741 consecutive weeks, from March 1973 to April 1988, setting an all-time record….But the album’s Billboard chart heroics is less than half the story, as ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ – now in its 40th anniversary year – continues to be popular. This article explores the long-standing appeal of Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side’ album, how it enriched the members of its band, and how its has moved its listeners… Song samples included [...]


“Dion DiMucci”
1950s-2012

[...] Dion DiMucci – better known as “Dion” from his 1950s doo-wop fame – flourished as a pop recording artist through the 1960s. This story recounts parts of his career, touching on his family life, his battle with drugs, and how he explored various musical genres in later years, from Christian music to the blues roots of rock `n roll. Dismissed by some critics as being defined by his teen idol years, a range of artists – including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and others – have cited his influence. Six songs also included [...]


“The Yogi Chronicles”
1940s-2012

[...] Yogi Berra, the famous Hall-of-Fame, New York Yankee baseball player, in addition to becoming a sports celebrity of his day, also became something of cultural icon know for his “famous sayings” – sparking a bit of cottage industry in book publishing… Berra’s story not only captures the baseball aura of his times, but also shows how his sports popularity seeped into popular culture in a novel way, as Yogi Berra’s celebrity is now in its eighth decade [...]


“Empire Newhouse”
1920s-2012

Filed under: 1921-1930,1931-1940,1941-1950,1951-1960,1961-1970,1971-1980,1981-1990,1991-2000,2001-Today — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — J.D. @ 12:26 pm

[...] Advance Publications is a sprawling media empire of leading magazines, newspapers, cable TV and websites owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York. In recent years the Newhouse/Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest privately-held companies in the U.S. This article dips into the 90 years of Newhouse empire-building history, with some focus on the newspaper and magazine parts of the story, celebrity and political issues, and the Newhouse publishing and media impact on America culture…[...]


“Brian’s Song”
C-SPAN

[...] Brian Lamb is the founder and creator of the C-SPAN public affairs TV network that covers Congress and a lot more… Lamb has consistently shown with his eclectic range of subjects and guests, how television can be used to inform citizens and elevate learning, doing so without bombast or celebrity fanfare. Lamb and C-SPAN have created a valuable “public learning commons” for millions. That story, and Lamb’s career, are explored in this article [...]


“Power in the Pen”
Silent Spring: 1962

[...] In June of 1962, a series of three articles under the title “Silent Spring” began appearing in The New Yorker magazine. The articles – excerpted from a blockbuster book of the same name by Rachel Carson – offered disturbing accounts of how chemical pesticides were contaminating the environment… A national uproar followed… This account revisits book, author, controversy & legacy at its 50th anniversary [...]


“Beatles History”
Ten Stories

[...] This “topics page” lists ten Beatles stories published at this website, with links to each story, including: the first U.S. Beatles concert in 1964; the Beatles’ activities and rise in America during 1964; a profile of the song “Dear Prudence” & “White Album” history;” the Beatles & Nike battling over the use of “Revolution” in a Nike TV ad; history of Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson & the Beatles song catalog; John Lennon history during the time he wrote the song “Watching the Wheels,” and a story on the “Paul-is-dead” rumor & the time of the Beatles’ break-up [...]


“Ray Sings America”
1972-2011

[...] There is probably no more soulful a version of “America The Beautiful” than that performed by legendary bluesman Ray Charles… A much-loved song by many Americans, the Ray Charles version has become something of a classic since Charles first recorded it in 1972… This story covers some of that history, as well as Charles’ performance of the song in an emotional closing at the 1984 Republican National Convention [...]


“Rockwell & Race”
1963-1968

[...] In 2011, Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” depicting a famous 1960 school desegregation scene in New Orleans, was displayed in the Obama White House. This article explores that painting and other Norman Rockwell civil rights paintings, as well as related history on magazine cover art dealing with African American and civil rights topics during the late 1950s and early 1960s [...]


“The Jack Pack”
Pt.2: 1961-1990s

Filed under: 1961-1970,1971-1980,1981-1990,1991-2000 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — J.D. @ 12:51 pm

[...] Part 2 of the history of Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack and their dealings with the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and his presidency thorugh 1963…. The story picks up at 1961 JFK inauguration and also covers Sinatra’s falling out with JFK, some history on Rat Pack & JFK friends such as Marilyn Monroe, and ends with a “Rat Pack Postscript” on lives & careers beyond the Rat Pack years [...]


“The Love Story Saga”
1970-1977

[...] “Love Story” is the name of a 1970-71 best-selling novel and blockbuster film that swept the nation of its feet, surprising literary critics & Hollywood. Though considered sappy today, in the early 1970s both book and film were perfectly timed, and they permeated popular culture through and through, making bundles of money… Book’s tale, characters, biz history recounted here [...]


“Enemy of the President”
1970s

[...] Paul Conrad is a political cartoonist who distinguished himself in the 1970s by being named to President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list”…This story takes a brief look at some of Conrad’s drawings of Nixon during the Watergate scandal, how they became a part of the culture of that era, and also a few other drawings he did on LBJ, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Sarah Palin [...]


“The Paul-is-Dead Saga”
1969-1970

[...] In 1969, the year the Beatles made their “Abbey Road” album – and their last year as a functioning rock group prior to their break up – there was also a “pop rumor” that spread around the world that Beatle Paul McCartney had died in a car crash and had been replaced by a look alike… The story proved to be a giant hoax as Life magazine would report on its cover in early November 1969 [...]


“The Loco-Motion”
1962-1988

[...]“The Loco-Motion” is the name of 1962 dance song authored by famous Brill Building song-writing duo, Carole Kind & Gerry Goffin, and recorded by a young artist known as Little Eva… Two other artists — Grand Funk Railroad, an American rock band of the 1970s, and Kylie Monogue, an Australian pop star of the 1980s, also had hits with the song. “The Loco-Motion,” it turns out, is one of a very few songs that managed to top the popular music charts in three separate decades [...]


“Mia’s Metamorphoses”
1966-2010

[...] In the mid-1960s, a young actress named Mia Farrow was the TV celebrity de jour starring in a new kind of prime-time soap opera called “Peyton Place”…It now seems light years away from that earlier time, and Ms. Farrow, with an impressive film career behind her, has lived a life full of twists & turns, interesting people, and now international activism… Some of her story is offered here [...]


“Watching The Wheels”
1980-1981

[...] “Watching the Wheels” is the name of a song written by former Beatle John Lennon during the end of his 1975-1980 “house husband” period of being a full-time father to his young son… The song also served in part as answer to those who questioned Lennon’s withdrawal from the music world at the time… This story provides some background on Lennon’s outlook & music as he emerged from that period, and his tragic death at the hand of a deranged fan [...]


“Murdoch’s NY Deals”
1976-1977

[...] In 1976-1977, Rupert Murdoch, then a little-known Australian newspaper mogul, made a “big news” New York media grab, acquiring two premier New York media companies: the New York Post newspaper and New York Magazine Co., which then held three publications — New York magazine, The Village Voice, and New West… Story, deal history & personalities involved are covered, as well as hints of what followed with the Murdoch global media empire [...]


“Early Beach Boys”
1962-1966

[...] In the early- and mid-1960s, the Beach Boys became one of America’s hottest and most successful groups, credited with inventing “California rock” and “sunshine pop.” Along with the Beatles, they also pushed out the boundaries of contemporary music on a new and imaginative front of songwriting and pop composition. Their music was happy, fun-loving and filled with beautiful harmonies – and it appealed to millions, then and 50 years later [...]


“Apple, Rising”
1976-1985

[...]Within five years of adding an assembly of micro-processing chips to a piece of plywood and calling it a personal computer, two guys working in a garage named Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs would be sitting atop a major new company named Apple Computer worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Their inventive moment and entrepreneurial follow-through set off a process that would dramatically change business, entertainment, popular culture, and more… The story of “early Apple,” 1976-1985, is told here, covering computer models, advertising, business history, competition with IBM, etc. [...]


“Celebrity Buffett”
1960s-2010

[...] Warren Buffett, the businessman-investor from Omaha, Nebraska, known for his stock picks and investment strategies, is one of the wealthiest persons on the planet. Although famous for years in the investment community, Buffett became more of a mainstream celebrity as his wealth grew and also as stories became known about the millions he made for folks of modest means. …Buffett’s story also shows that once he arrived in the media glare, he moved to use his fame, the media machine, and his philanthropy in ways to benefit society [...]


“The Story in Your Eyes”
1971

[...] “The Story in Your Eyes” is the name of a popular 1971 hit single by the English rock band The Moody Blues, a song which also appeared on the album, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.” …The song provides one example of their music at about mid-career, as they still had another three decades of recording and performing ahead of them… To date, the Moody Blues have sold more than 60 million recordings worldwide, and some members of the original group, founded in 1964, are still performing as of 2010 [...]


“Be My Baby”
1960s-2010

[...] “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes was one of the defining rock ‘n roll songs of the early 1960s — a song notable for advancing a new sound that changed pop music…“Be My Baby” is also a bigger story — of lives entangled in the business of making music during 1963-66 and the fallout years later, including the demise of the group, ill health for one member, a prominent divorce for another, and a protracted legal battle over royalties and song rights[...]


“I Guarantee It.”
Joe Namath

[...] In 1969, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath became famous for his prediction that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, which they did, 16-7… But Joe Namath the celebrity also became a key figure in changing the allure of pro football, making it more exciting & telegenic, more appealing to fans & advertisers, and generally helping improve its economic growth through the 1960s and 1970s [...]


“RFK in Brooklyn”
1966-1972

[...] A large bronze memorial bust of Robert F. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator and Attorney General in the 1960s, sits in the center of Brooklyn, New York… Kennedy helped initiate an innovative urban program there in a community named Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1966-67 [...]


“The Rocky Statue”
1980-2009

[...] In 1982, Sylvester Stallone, Hollywood movie star and producer of the Rocky film series, donated a statue of his Rocky Balboa movie character to the City of Philadelphia. It was left near the entrance to the Philadelphia Art Museum, where it touched off a controversy over the appropriateness of its location that would flare up several times over the course of more than 20 years [...]


“Four Dead in O-hi-o”
1970

[...] “Ohio” is the name of a song that marks one of America’s darkest moments on the home front during the Vietnam War. The song came in reaction to the May 1970 shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio following protests over the U.S. invasion of Cambodia [...]


“The Frost-Nixon Biz”
1977-2009

[...] In 1975, former U.S. President Richard Nixon made a business deal with British celebrity talk show host David Frost for a series of “tell us what happened” TV interviews on the Watergate scandal…The interviews aired much fanfare in May 1977… And over the next 30 years, a small cottage industry grew up around the event, spawning a series of books, VHS tapes, DVDs, stage productions, a Hollywood film, more books, and lots of continuing debate…This piece looks at that Nixon-Frost history, including how Frost landed the deal, the media fanfare then, excerpts from the interviews, and the subsequent “Frost-Nixon biz” that followed [...]


“Stones Gather Dollars”
1989-2008

October 1989 edition of Forbes business magazine featuring Mick Jagger & Keith Richards among the world’s ‘highest paid entertainers’.     In October 1989, Forbes magazine featured rock ‘n roll stars Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on its cover.  The story’s headline asked “What’ll They Do With All That Money?”  Forbes writer Peter […]


“Ted Turner & CNN”
1980s & 1990s

Ted Turner on cover of 9 August 1986 Time magazine, which said of his up-and-coming 24-hour news network: ‘…By any measure, CNN is in the big leagues of news.’     Ted Turner was vilified by the press in the late 1970s and early 1980s — called the “mouth from the South,” “Captain Outrageous,” “Terrible Ted,” and all […]


“Candle in the Wind”
1973 & 1997

“Candle in the Wind” is a name of a song performed by Elton John and written by he and collaborator Bernie Taupin in 1972. The song was originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe who died at the age of 36 [...] Following the death of Princess Diana, John and Taupin did a remake of “Candle in the Wind” as a tribute to Diana, a version which sold wildly throughout the world [...]


“All Sports, All The Time”
1978-2008

[...] In 1978, an all-sports cable TV network was hardly a “no brainer.” The three major TV networks combined then broadcast only about 20 hours of sports a week [...] But Bill Rasmussen, a former sportscaster and recently fired communications man for the New England Whalers ice hockey team, came up with the new concept in sports broadcasting. In a few short years, ESPN was big business [...]


JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”
1954-2008

[...] “Profiles in Courage” became a best-seller and was ground-breaking in its day, becoming one of the first books used to advance a political career aimed at the White House [...] The book gave Kennedy a certain political gravitas and national recognition he did not have before, lifting him from the ranks of unknown senators [...]


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