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October 1971








Disney World opens in Orlando, Florida, at a cost of at least half a billion dollars. The Florida Highway Patrol cancels all leaves and adds extra troopers, and workmen labor 'round the clock for its debut. But even with a wave of Tinkerbell's magic wand, the grand opening day draws a sparse crowd. Most of the early kinks are worked out by the time Julie Andrews hosts a TV special of the grand opening of the vast resort/theme park complex, and it will grow into the world's busiest vacation destination.
After years of singing in other stars' bands, including Long John Baldry's and Jeff Beck's, Rod "the Mod" Stewart establishes himself as a sar in his own right: on this date, both his "Maggie May" 45 and his Every Picture Tells a Story LP hit Number One. While maintaining his successful solo career, Stewart is also the vocalist for the Faces, a tandem career he'll keep up through 1976.

Joan Baez's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" hits #3. It is a cover version of The Band's B-side of "Up On Cripple Creek" from 1969.

The first nationally syndicated episode of Soul Train airs, featuring performances by Gladys Knight & the Pips (who fittingly kick things off with "Friendship Train"), Honey Cone and Eddie Kendricks. Soon young black America will ride along every week for not only the latest in sweet soul music but dance moves and hair and fashion tips. "I figured as long as the music stayed hot and important and good there would always be a reason for Soul Train, says host Don Cornelius. A far more integrated and diverse show than Dick Clark's American Bandstand, the ad-libbed but lip-synched Soul Train becomes a must-see at a time when blacks have few media role models (music video-driven BET won't start until 1980.

The Top Five
1. "Maggie May"/"Reason to Believe" - Rod Stewart
2. "Go Away Little Girl" - Donny Osmond
3. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" - Joan Baez
4. "Superstar" - Carpenters
5. "Ain't No Sunshine" - Bill Withers

Peter Bogdanovich's cinematic treatment of Larry McMurtry's novel The Last Picture Show opens featuring ex-model Sybil Shepherd as a teen temptress in a claustrophobic black-and-white snapshot of small-town life. It's a well-crafted story filled with gentle humor, disillusion and sexual passions which goes on to win eight Oscar nominations and two trophies, for veteran supporting actors Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman. Shepherd not only smolders onscreen but off, embarking on affairs with costar Jeff Bridges, screenwriter McMurtry, and Bogdonovich, the latter of whom she'll stay with, on and off, for the next seven years.
The cops-and-dope thriller The French Connection, featuring Gene Hackman as Detective "Popeye" Doyle, premieres. The crackling film features one of film's most riveting chase sequences ever when Popeye races in a car underneath an elevated subway line down New York City's 86th Street to catch a hit man of a suave drug kingpin (Fernando Ray). When director William Friedkin first approached NYC authorities, they denied permission for such a dangerous, unprecedented stunt. But one powerful transit boss made Friedkin an offer -- $40,000 and a one-way ticket to Jamaica -- that he couldn't refuse. The boss got fired, as he'd expected, but Friedkin got his scene, and the movie wins five Oscars.
In an odd mix of ancient pageantry and modern public relations that some liken to a Fellini movie, London Bridge reopens in the planned community of Lake Havasu, Arizona. Bought by the town's founder as a tourist attraction, the bridge had been dismantled on site and shipped to The Grand Canyon State for reconstruction over a three-year process. The lord mayor of London, in ceremonial black robes, and the governor of Arizona, in a large white Stetson hat, cohost the festivities. Thousands of multicolored balloons and hundreds of white pigeons fly, along with skydivers, rockets, and a hot-air balloon. "It's a super gimmick," says one British newsman. "It's all quite mad -- it could happen only in America!"
Early rock & roller Gene Vincent dies of a bleeding ulcer at age 36. Vincent, a sensation in Britain even more so than America, turned his convalescence from a Navy accident into a career as a pioneer rockabilly artist when he used the time to become a proficient guitar player. He signed with Capitol Records while still in a cast and on crutches, and with "Be-Bop-a-Lula," a song he bought from writer Donald Graves, achieved legendary status, and its influence continued to be felt decades later. Vincent had suffered from severe from severe leg pain ever since a motorcycle accident in 1955, and had become a heavy drinker. He also had nearly died in the same car crash that killed fellow rocker Eddie Cochran in England in 1960. In a remark made less than a month before his death, Vincent said, "I'm going through hell."

British-born composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber rises to Broadway fame with the opening of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." Webber and his lyricist Tim Rice had worked previously on "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," staged in London, but "Superstar" marks their Broadway debut. The rock opera's concept album has already become a best-seller on the charts, generating two hits: "Superstar" by Murray Head, playing the part of Judas, and "I Don't Know How to Love Him," performed by Yvonne Elliman's Mary Magdalene (also later covered by Helen Reddy). Broadway's lights shine bright for more than 700 performances, and the religious experience also transfers to the big screen. The only performer to make the transition from record to stage to film is Elliman, who plays the part of Mary Magdalene in all three.

The House approves the full Equal Rights Amendment, 354-23, for the first time since its introduction in 1923, sending it to the Senate for further approval.

In Los Angeles District Court, Arco Industries -- a music publishing firm owning copyrights on all material released on Specialty Records -- files a $500,000 suit against Creedence Clearwater Revival's singer/guitarist/ songwriter, John Fogerty. The suit, which names as codefendants Creedence's label, Fantasy Records; Fogerty's publishing company, Jondora Music; and BMI, which licenses Fogerty's songs for broadcast, charges that Fogerty's song "Travelin' Band" "contains substantial material copied from the music of the song "Good Golly Miss Molly.'" The latter, Little Richard's 1957 classic, was released on Specialty, hence Arco holds the publishing rights it feels have been violated. The suit, however, is eventually dropped.
1950's teen idol Rick Nelson is booed when he performs new material at a Richard Nader-produced Rock 'n' Roll Revival oldies show at New York City's Madison Square Garden alongside acts like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Gary U.S. Bonds. After doing some familiar oldies circa The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet TV days, Rick (no "y" anymore) expands his repertoire with covers of Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me" and the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." The unappreciative crowd literally boos him off the stage, but he doesn't get mad -- he gets even and then some. As a result of this experience he pens the autobiographical "Garden Party," which will hit #6 in October 1972 and become his first million-seller in a decade. Sample verse: "If memories are all I'd sing, I'd rather drive a truck." Nelson's Garden Party album with his Stone Canyon Band will peak at #32 during its 18 weeks on the U.S. album chart.
In a seventh-game showdown, the Pittsburgh Pirates best the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1, to clinch the World Series title.
Mick and Bianca Jagger's only child, their daughter Jade, is born in the Belvedere Nursing Home in Paris.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda receives the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Tommy, Pete Townshend's rock opera about the deaf, dumb and blind boy cum messiah, spends its last week on the LP chart, two and a half years after its release. But Tommy isn't ready for retirement yet: He'll return in 1972 for a one-night-only London stage performance, and again in 1975 with the release of the Tommy movie, which will bring the Who's original two-record-set opera back into the Top Fifty.
The Allman Brothers Band's Live at the Fillmore East goes gold just four days before leader Duane Allman is killed in a motorcycle accident.
"Tired of Being Alone," the first of ten Top Twenty hits for soul singer Al Green, goes gold. Green later opts for a co-career as a preacher, and his musical interests return to gospel, which he sang professionally as a teenager.
In the first of a series of tragedies for the Allman Brothers Band, trail-blazing Southern country-rock guitarist Duane Allman is killed in a motorcycle accident while trying to avoid a big rig just outside the group's hometown of Macon, Ga. Duane, 24, had cofounded the Hour Glass, which eventually became The Allman Brothers Band, with his younger brother Gregg in the late Sixties, and was a much sought-after sessionman whose slide playing evoked the memory of the late bluesman Elmore James. In the eeriest of coincidences, just over a year later, bassist Berry Oakley will die in his own motorcycle accident not three blocks away. Duane and Berry's last studio recordings together are featured on the double album Eat a Peach.
John Lennon's Imagine hits Number One in both the United States and the UK. Lennon later says he dislikes the syrupy songs on Imagine other than its title track, which is an instant hit, a classic, and a plea for peace. He describes the overall sound of Imagine as "chocolate coated," but the album clicks with fans and is even more successful than his first solo effort, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Also containing two thinly veiled attacks on former friend and partner Paul McCartney ("How Do You Sleep?" and "Crippled Inside"), it is the ex-Beatle's only solo LP to sell a million copies during his lifetime and his most popular LP until Double Fantasy -- the album he recorded with Yoko Ono after a five-year sabbatical, and which became a Number One shortly after his assassination on December 8, 1980.

Melanie leaps onto the pop singles survey with "Brand New Key," a runaway hit that will spend three weeks at #1 beginning in late December. Misinterpretations of its overtly innocent lyrics will cause the song to be banned by several radio stations.


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