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February 1979








Jailed for 22 months on a seven-year sentence, American heiress Patty Hearst is released from prison on "time served" after her sentence is commuted by President Carter.
Ex-Sex Pistol bassist Sid Vicious dies at age 21 of heroin overdose in the apartment of his present girlfriend, Michelle Robinson, in New York City's Greenwich Village. Since being charged with the murder of his teen girlfriend Nancy Spungen in 1978 -- Vicious' death leaves the case unresolved -- Vicious had been in and out of jail and detention centers, being detoxified from heroin addiction all the while. Apparently, he had detoxed himself well enough that when, the night before his death, he took a strong shot of heroin at his girlfriend's house party, it was too much for him. The death is ruled accidental.
A sold-out crowd packs into the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, for a concert commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper after their performance at the Surf. Wolfman Jack hosts the show, which features Del Shannon, Jimmy Clanton and the Drifters. One-time Cricket guitarist Niki Sullivan attends.

Top of the charts: Chic's "Le Freak" (pop single); the Blues Brothers' Briefcase Full of Blues (pop album).

The Pointer Sisters' version of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" turns gold the same month as it reaches #2. The tune also is covered by New York City singer Robert Gordon.
Stephen Stills becomes the first rock performer to record on digital equipment in Los Angeles' Record Plant Studio. However, his digital material is never released, and Ry Cooder will become the first rock performer to release a digitally recorded major-label album (Bop Till You Drop).

Researchers identify a coin found near Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1961, as a Norse penny minted between 1065 and 1080.

DEA agents arrest eight Chicago Bond Options Exchange traders for cocaine distribution.

Hardcore, director/screenwriter Paul Schrader's allegedly autobiographical film starring George C. Scott about a father from Grand Rapids, Mich. (Schrader's own hometown) who undertakes a relentless search to find his runaway daughter in the porno centers of California, gets its world premiere in New York City, and debuts in Los Angeles six days later.
"Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" becomes the third No. 1 single (after "Maggie May" in 1971 and "Tonight's the Night" in 1976) for raspy-voiced mod English rocker Rod Stewart. One of the decade's most popular showmen, Stewart will get an affirmative answer to his "sexy" question five months later when he marries for the first time, to former model Alexa Hamilton, actor George Hamilton's ex-wife. They will have two children before splitting up five years later, but a succession of several other lovely young ladies, including Kelly Emberg, Rachel Hunter and Penny Lancaster, will also fall under Rod the Mod's spell, Hunter and Lancaster also marrying him, and all of them having his children, a total of seven (so far).

The Top Five
1. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" - Rod Stewart
2. "Y.M.C.A." - Village People
3. "Le Freak" - Chic
4. "A Little More Love" - Olivia Newton-John
5. "Fire" - Pointer Sisters

Stiff Little Fingers, a punk band from Ulster, Northern Ireland, release their debut album, Inflammable Material, which contains their punk anthem "Alternative Ulster" and will go on to become the first independently released punk LP to enter the U.K. LP chart.

ABC premieres the 3-hour Elvis Presley biopic Elvis: The Movie, starring Kurt Russell and Season Hubley, to huge ratings. It even outdraws the first half of a second airing of Gone With the Wind on CBS, and a repeat broadcast of the hit 1965 musical The Sound of Music on NBC.

Aretha Franklin opens a stand at Harrah's resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Despite initial opposition from the NYPD and Mayor Ed Koch, The Guardian Angels, a non-profit international volunteer organization of unarmed citizen crime patrollers, is founded in New York City, later spreading to many other cities both in the U.S. and around the world. It inspires a 1981 TV movie called We're Fighting Back, scripted by T.S. Cook of The China Syndrome fame.

While the women on TV's Charlie's Angels changed outfits on average eight times per show, a guest appearance by Farrah Fawcett (who left the show in 1977) easily breaks the record: in one hour-long program she changes clothes 12 times.
The Grammy Award winners for 1978 are announced. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album wins Album of the Year and garners the Bee Gees Best Pop Group Vocal and Best Arrangement for Voices for the hit "Stayin' Alive." Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" wins Record and Song of the Year, Donna Summer's "Last Dance" wins Best R&B Female Vocal and Best R&B Song. Earth, Wind and Fire win Best R&B Group Vocal for "All 'n' All," Best R&B Instrumental for "Runnin'," and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists for their version of the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life." Best New Artist is female disco duo A Taste of Honey. Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording is Muddy Waters' I'm Ready.

RCA records begins distributing A&M Reords releases, ending A&M's long reign as the country's largest independent label.

The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra appears on The Mike Douglas Show with guest soloists David Brenner, Cheryl Tiegs, Lee Grant and Lou "The Hulk" Ferrigno.

Elvis Costello, heretofore considered one of the most arrogant of punkish performers, reveals his country roots at an unannounced solo acoustic performance at Hollywood country music club the Palamino, where Costello performs a bunch of songs by country great George Jones, and his own "Stranger in the House," which Jones will later cover.
The Clash, kicking off their first American tour -- dubbed Pearl Harbor '79 -- make their first U.S. stage appearance at New York City's Paladium. Bo Diddley opens for them. Fittingly, the first song the Clash play in America is "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A."

Former Playboy bunny Debbie Harry and her band Blondie hit the charts with "Heart of Glass" (#1), their first of nine hits in a little over three years.

As an outgrowth of Vietnam's contintued involvement in the Cambodian civil war, Communist China attacks Vietnamese troops along the length of Vietnam's border. Three weeks later, Chinese forces will begin to withdraw, but hostilities will persist.

ABC begins airing Roots: The Next Generation, the week-long sequel to its history-making 1977 series Roots.
In a Rolling Stone article titled "Advertising Creeps into Rock," it is reported that rock band Journey has developed an advertising relationship with Budweiser beer. Such business ventures will become commonplace over the next few years, with the most visible example being the Who's shilling for Schlitz beer. Deals are also struck between Pabst beer and the Marshall Tucker Band, Panasonic and Hall & Oates, and JVC and Sea Level.
Elvis Costello's Armed Forces turns gold, the first of his albums to do so. It is a much more textured album than his first two, dominated largely by keyboards, and shows Costello to be one of the finest -- and most prolific -- songwriters in contemporary rock.
The soundtrack album of the Sex Pistols film The Great Rock N' Roll Swindle is released, though the film itself -- a series of "lessons" in rock subversion by Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, featuring cartoons, staged sequences and actual concert footage -- has yet to find any distribution anywhere due to legal wrangles. The soundtrack features Sid Vicious' version of "My Way" and a hilarious disco sendup of the Sex Pistols' three biggest singles, "Anarchy in the U.K.," "God Save the Queen" and "Pretty Vacant."
In London, the Sex Pistols court case, in which they hand their manager Malcolm McLaren try to divvy up the band's earnings, it is revealed that only 30,000 pounds are left of the bands' £800,000 gross.

CBS premieres two short-lived sitcoms: Billy, a "Walter Mitty-esque" series starring Steve Guttenberg, which is canceled after only seven episodes; and Flatbush, which will be canceled after only three episodes after being deemed offensive to Brooklynites.


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