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March 1979








According to a Washington Post poll, 99% of Americans own TVs, although 41% like the programming less than they did in 1974.

Stephen Sondheim's malevolently magnetic "Sweeney Todd" opens on Broadway. Based on a blood-soaked tale first presented on the London stage in 1947, "Todd" goes on to sweep eight Tony awards including best musical, actor (Len Cariou), actress (Angela Lansbury), director, score, costume, and scenic design, plus nine Drama Desk awards.

Havana Jam, the first jointly sponsored U.S.-Cuban music event in twenty years, begins three days of performances today. Featured artists include Billy Joel, Stephen Stills, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, and Tom Scott and the L.A. Express. CBS Records will later release an album documenting the festival.
British blues rock singer Mike Patto, who had led the bands Patto and Boxer (both bigger hits with critics than record buyers), dies of throat cancer in London at age thirty-six.
A little over a month after buying it for a reported $20 million, MCA Records dissolves ABC Records.
In one of the first public acknowledgements of the hard times that are beginning to befall the record industry, Rolling Stone reports that due to the "skyrocketing costs of producing, promoting and supporting a new album, now put at between $350,000 and $500,000," labels such as Warner Bros. and other majors will begin limiting their new releases.
ABC-TV shows the rock documentary Heroes of Rock & Roll, narrated by Jeff Bridges and featuring clips of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and other rock greats, as well as the first film ever seen of Bruce Springsteen in performance (an excerpt from "Rosalita").
Disco's never been hotter as it burns up seven of this week's Top 10 singles spots. At No. 1 is Gloria Gaynor's defiant "I Will Survive," a comeback for the "Queen of Discos," as so dubbed by a group of deejays back in 1975. Since then she's relinquished the title to prolific hitmaker Donna Summer, whose "Heaven Knows" is No. 5 this week. Meanwhile, disco-flavored hits by Rod Stewart and the Bee Gees also land toward the top of the pop chart.

The Top Five
1. "I Will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor
2. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" - Rod Stewart
3. "Tragedy" - Bee Gees
4. "Fire" - Pointer Sisters
5. "Heaven Knows" - Donna Summer & the Brooklyn Dreams

At a Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio, Elvis Costello and his band and members of Stephen Stills' touring entourage (both Costello and Stills had played concerts in Columbus earlier in the evening) get into an argument that starts when Costello makes some typically nasty and disparaging remarks about America. When Bonnie Bramlett, one of Stills' backup singers, points out the connections between Costello's music and American R&B, Costello angrily calls Ray Charles "a blind, ignorant nigger" and James Brown "another dumb nigger." Bramlett then punches Costello and a full-scale brawl nearly erupts. Bramlett, who, in the later Sixties peformed with her husband Delaney and their all-star Friends, immediately reports the incident to the press. Costello will soon hold a New York City press conference to explain his remarks as "just a way to bring a silly argument to a quick end by saying the most outrageous thing possible. And it worked, too."
Twisted Sister, a Long Island bar band formed in 1973, is the first act to headline and sell out New York City's three thousand-seat Palladium without the benefit of a record, a recording contract or radio play. It will be another three years before Twisted Sister signs its first contract, with Secret, a British label, and four years before it lands an American deal with Atlantic Records.

Just twelve days before a nuclear reactor malfunctions at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania leads to a near-nuclear meltdown, The China Syndrome premieres. With a star-studded cast including Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway and Jack Lemmon, the controversial film includes a scientist noting that a possible nuclear plant accident could "render an area the size of Pennsylvania" permanently uninhabitable. Three Mile Island's shocking life-imitates-art incident galvanizes interest in the film, and it becomes a huge box office hit.

Zenon de Fleur Heirowski, guitarist with British punk band the Count Bishops, dies at age twenty-eight of a heart attack following an auto accident in London.
Declassified Pol Pot government records reveal that President Nixon's stated reason for sending troops into Cambodia in 1970 -- that the entire Communist effort against South Vietnam was based in that country -- was indeed true.
The cable industry-funded C-SPAN cable network goes live to 3.5 million households with a speech by Congressman Al Gore. The nonprofit network will soon expand its gavel-to-gavel coverage with Senate hearings, news conferences, speeches, and more.
The day before her own birthday, soul singer Chaka Khan gives birth to a son, Damien Milton Patrick Holland.
The Top Five
1. "Tragedy" - Bee Gees
2. "I Will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor
3. "What a Fool Believes" - Doobie Brothers
4. "Heaven Knows" - Donna Summer & the Brooklyn Dreams
5. "Shake Your Groove Thing" - Peaches & Herb

1950s rock 'n' roll pioneer Bill Haley records his last session. Songs include "I Need the Music" and "God Bless Rock 'n' Roll."

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin of Israel, bolstered by President Carter's intense involvement and support, sign a peace treaty at the White House. The agreement, founded on the success of 1978's Camp David Accords, calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, but still leaves uncertain the future of Jerusalem and the West Bank of the Jordan River. Again, Egypt is the only Arab state participating in the peace process.

Michigan State wins the NCAA basketball championship against Indiana State 75-64, kicking off a long-term rivalry between Michigan's Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who will go on to play for the L.A. Lakers, and Indiana's Larry Bird, who will join the Boston Celtics.

Amid all the Sex Pistols imitators comes Dire Straits, whose captivating single "Sultans of Swing" quietly sneaks its way up the chart to #4. The band is led by one Mark Knopfler, an Englishman who sings in a voice like Dylan's and plays a Stratocaster with the understated emotion of a young Eric Clapton. The debut album turns platinum.
The first major nuclear-power accident in American history occurs at the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, raising radiation levels over a four-county area and casting a pall over the future of nuclear energy. A combination of human, mechanical and design errors is blamed for the near meltdown that occurred after the reactor's core was mistakenly exposed to air. The China Syndrome, a film about safety problems at a nuclear reactor, is a box-office leader at this time, two weeks after its premiere.
David Bowie begins his first U.S. tour since 1978 in San Diego. It will end May 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Bowie has just recently finished filming on Just a Gigolo, which will be a commercial and critical flop.

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