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October 1976








John Belushi comes out during the second verse of Joe Cocker's rendition of "Feeling Alright" on Saturday Night Live and performs his exaggaratedly spastic imitation of the British singer. The duet brings down the house, and Cocker, already familiar with Belushi's "tribute" to him, claims that since "(my) band likes it, I'm as happy as a pig in shit."
Blues singer Victoria Spivey dies at age seventy in a Brooklyn hospital. Spivey, a prolific songwriter and the owner of her own successful recording label, is also remembered for giving Bob Dylan one of his first New York City gigs, accompanying her and Big Joe Williams on harmonica during a session in 1961.

Quincy, M.E. premieres on NBC-TV. Jack Klugman plays the title role -- a Los Angeles medical examiner who discovers that catching killers is more exciting than dissecting their victims.

Although the media refrains from printing his exact words (something about the sexual, dress and bathroom preferences of blacks), Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz resigns amid controversy surrounding a racist joke he told to former White House counsel John Dean.

Former Cleveland Indians outfielder Frank Robinson becomes professional baseball's first black manager.

Hall and Oates' second album, Abandoned Luncheonette -- which contained their original hit vesion of Tavares' #1 R&B hit "She's Gone" -- is certified gold three years after its release.

Dr. John Merritt receives FDA approval to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from severe glaucoma.

In the second televised presidential candidates' debate, President Ford makes a serious current-events gaffe, asserting, "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe," thereby allowing Jimmy Carter to surge ahead in the polls.

Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots
receive a gold record for one of the more bizarre novelty hits of the decade, "Disco Duck (Part 1)," which will hit Number One on the pop chart in ten days. On December 13, it will become the fourth single ever to be certified platinum.

Screen villainy drills down to the nerve as director John Schlesinger's taut thriller Marathon Man premieres. Forced to venture to New York City to recover a cache of diamonds, ex-concentration camp commander Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Oliver) uses his dental training to interrogate a grad student (Dustin Hoffman) who he fears knows the reason for his visit. Schlesinger ramped up the tension, especially in a scene on crowded diamond-district streets where the Nazi goes to get an appraisal. "Szell! Szell! Oh my God, he's here!" cries an aging Holocaust survivor, ignored by the crowds who think she's a crazy old woman. Screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid), who masterfully adapted his own novel, won kudos, but not an Oscar -- that will come the next year for All the President's Men.

Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore receives a death sentence in Utah and demands swift execution by firing squad; a three-month legal contest, intense press coverage, several book deals and a suicide attempt will follow.
To the horror and consternation of England's conservative record industry, EMI signs the Sex Pistols, giving them an advance of 40,000 pounds (roughly $75,000).
The Top Five
1. "A Fifth of Beethoven" - Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band
2. "Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry
3. "Lowdown" - Boz Scaggs
4. "Disco Duck (Part 1)" - Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots
5. "If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago

The Who and the Grateful Dead play the second of two back-to-back shows at Oakland Stadium for Bill Graham's Days on the Green series. The unique plairing of the two stylistically divergent acts seems to split the shows, however, as, surprisingly, neither of the shows sell out.

Much to the horror of the giant British record corporation's more staid executives, EMI signs up the
Sex Pistols, the seminal punk band, outbidding Polydor with a contract worth forty thousand pounds (about $75,000).
Veteran soul vocal group the Spinners earn another gold record, for their sixth album, Happiness Is Being with the Spinners, which features their big hit single "The Rubberband Man" (#2 on the pop chart later this year, as well as Number One on the R&B chart).
Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life enters the pop album chart at No. 1, where it will remain into 1978. It is Wonder's first release since signing his $13-million contract with Motown. The three-record set will become a platinum seller, yielding hit singles with "Sir Duke," "Isn't She Lovely," "Another Star" and "I Wish."

The Top Five
1. "Disco Duck (Part 1)" - Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots
2. "A Fifth of Beethoven" - Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band
3. "Lowdown" - Boz Scaggs
4. "If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago
5. "Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry

Parliament, half of George Clinton's Parliament- Funkadelic empire, earns a gold record for The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, another in Clinton's long series of bizarre concept-message albums.
Led Zeppelin's film The Song Remains the Same, a mixture of concert footage and fantasy sequences, premieres in London.

"Devil Woman," the first Top Ten U.S. hit for veteran British teen-idol
Cliff Richard (who is by now a born-again Christian), enters the pop chart. "Devil Woman" will remain on the chart for twenty-two weeks, peaking at #6. Richard will go on to score minor hits in the U.S. with "I Can't Ask Any More Than You" (#80, late 1976), "Don't Turn the Light Out" (#57 in the summer of 1977) and "We Don't Talk Anymore" (#7 in 1979).
The Cincinnati Reds overwhelm the New York Yankees in four straight games to win the World Series.
Keith Moon plays his last North American show with the Who as he and the band conclude an extensive year of touring at Toronto's Maple Leaf Garden.

The third and final televised presidential debate reveals both Jimmy Carter and President Ford to be antiabortion, although Carter opposes a constitutional amendment banning the procedure.

The Top Five
1. "If You Leave Me Now" - Chicago
2. "Disco Duck (Part 1)" - Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots
3. "A Fifth of Beethoven" - Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band
4. "Lowdown" - Boz Scaggs
5. "Still the One" - Orleans

Walter Murphy's Big Apple Band earns a gold record for its debut album, A Fifth of Beethoven, which features the title single, a disco treatment of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony that hit Number One. The band's only other hit, also drawn from this album, will be "Flight '76," a discofied "Flight of the Bumblebee" (#44, in early 1977).
Kiss make their prime-time network debut on The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, which also features Florence Henderson, Margaret Hamilton, Betty White and H.R. Puff n Stuff's Witchypoo.

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