I know I’ve touched on it in the past, but as I was growing up, I was exposed to a surprisingly diverse amount of music. The 70’s really came across to me as a melting pot of all types of music, churning around and creating new genres that hold up to this day. Where would hip-hop be without disco and soul? Where would modern rock be without prog rock? And where would pop music be without, well, everything else?
My mom’s vinyl collection probably seemed pretty pedestrian at the time, but to me, it was awe-inspiring. The Beatles, James Taylor, Electric Light Orchestra, Melanie (look THAT one up, kids), Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, and Barry White all populated my early musical education. Between those records and the AM transistor radio that used to hide under my pillow late at night, I became a sponge for pop music.
As the 70’s ended, and I was able to assert myself a little more on what music I would listen to, I stuck pretty close to the pop charts. First 45: it’s a tie between “The Rainbow Connection” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. First LP: “Hi Infidelity”. Yeah…all over the place. I would listen to the American Top 40 every Sunday, and I would track the pop hits on index cards religiously. The lady at the Central Library in Syracuse must have known my voice when I would have to call and get chart positions I had missed that previous Sunday from the new issue of Billboard magazine. For the longest time, my most cherished possession was a vinyl copy of American Top 40 that I had won for sending in a postcard. I need to check to see if my mom still has that.
The radio wasn’t the only thing fueling my musical appetite, though. A show appeared on TV that changed my musical landscape forever: “Solid Gold”. [I know a few of you just groaned. Admit it.] To see the (supposedly) hottest hits of the week accompanied by interpretive dance blew my young mind. One that stood out in my mind was “Love on the Rocks” by Neil Diamond. I’m not sure why, other than is there any more appropriate way to hear that song than with half-naked women writhing on short pillars of varying heights? If there is, I can’t think of it.
One of the most successful artists of that period was Olivia Newton-John, and I was pretty intrigued by her music. There’s no doubt in my mind that, while I liked her 70’s music, she cemented it with “Physical”. That song went on to be one of the biggest songs of all time, but the song that sticks with me to this day is “Make A Move On Me” from the same CD. Here’s a video of Olivia performing the song on a Solid Gold-like show called “Superstar”. Don’t you just LOVE the pirate wear?
Shamefully i can still do a move perfect remake of Olivia’s Physical without even thinking about it. Now where are my leg warmers…
ONJ was my first celebrity crush and “Physical” the first 45rpm single that I purchased. She really paved the way for my eventual Madonna fandom, believe it or not. One thing though? That mullet was such a bad idea!
OMG…I bet you wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer too, didn’tcha? 😛
My first LP was Blondie’s Parallel Lines bought at an Albertson’s grocery store (yeah, it had a music/record section). It was an “oldie” when I snatched it up, but it was an awesome intro into disco, ska, and alternative music.
John, this is a really great post – and I know who Melanie was! I was similarly inspired by my mum’s old records (Barbra Streisand, ABBA, Donna Summer – and she had the nerve to be surprised when I turned out gay!) and ONJ is probably my second favourite singer of all time . Her work in the late 70s and early 80s was flawless. She was on Solid Gold quite often – there is lots of fabulousness just waiting for you on youtube!
Paul, you should charge admission for those moves, seeing how you’re all buff from the Wii Fit (and Steps, of course).
Dan, there are MULTIPLE bad ideas in ONJ’s fashion palette. Where do we start?
Yuri, are you kidding? I was a pudgy kid. Even then, I knew my place…BEHIND the camera.
Mike, I spent a whole night a week ago going through Solid Gold clips. My brain hasn’t really recovered yet.