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August 1977








Elvis: What Happened?, a sensationalistic account of Elvis Presley's personal life and his drug problems, is published by Ballantine. Written by ex-bodyguards Red and Sonny West and Dave Hebler, with The National Star's entertainment editor, Steve Dunleavy, What Happened? presented Presley as an overweight recluse obsessed with religion and the supernatural (according to the authors, Presley believed he possessed the power to heal), who attempted to have Mike Stone, the karate instructor with whom his ex-wife, Priscilla, was involved, killed. Within a few weeks, the authors will call a press conference to state that their reason for writing the book was not to make money but to save Presley himself. The book will sell over three million copies.
Revelations of a 25-year program of secret CIA-sponsored mind-control research involving drugs, hypnosis and other behavior- controlling devices are made public. CIA director Stansfield Turner admits the agency's role in such studies, which he reveals took place in over 80 institutions, 44 of which were universities. The next day Turner is granted expanded powers, including control over his own budget, over two new intelligence policy committees and over all foreign intelligence- gathering agencies.
Bedridden Scott Crull, age twelve, of Calumet City, Ill., is dying of cancer and has two months to live. Today he's elated when he gets to talk with his favorite baseball player, Bobby Murcer of the Chicago Cubs. Murcer phones Scott and promises to hit a home run for him that night (he not only hits one homer in Scott's honor, but two). Unfortunately, Scott was not told by his parents that he only had a short time to live, and upon hearing the news about his life expectancy on TV, he has to be placed under sedation, and dies two weeks later. A newspaper editorialist mourns for him, and ABC announcer Keith Jackson who unwittingly revealed Scott's limited time remaining to him over the air, as well: "He deserves to know that we understand his feeling of grief, of shame, and of innocence."
The Tom Robinson Band is signed to EMI. Robinson, an avowed homosexual activist, is one of the most politically minded songwriters of the British new wave, but TRB's biggest U.K. hit, "2-4-6-8 Motorway" (#5), will be in the rock & roll tradition of driving songs like "Little Deuce Coupe," "Route 66" and "Hod Rod Lincoln."
A new Panama Canal Treaty is announced between the U.S. and Panama, allowing the later complete control of the canal by the year 2000. The congressional ratification precess begins with former president Gerald Ford and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger expressing support, while Ronald Reagan along with a majority in Coongress and the public remain opposed.

"Son of Sam" serial murderer David Berkowitz is arrested in Yonkers, N.Y., and brought to detention in Manhattan.

Rolling Stone reports that Michael Jackson and actress Tatum O'Neal are an item. Jackson confirms a "hot romance... but we're friends, too."
At Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California's high desert, NASA tests the first space shuttle as the Enterprise flies on its own for the first time.
The Bachman-Turner Overdrive disbands. Formed in 1970 by Randy Bachman, an original member of the Guess Who, with his brothers Robbie and Tim in addition to C.F. Turner, the Canadian group recorded two albums for Warner Bros. under the name Brave Belt before signing with Mercury and releasing their first gold album, BTO. A second gold album, BTO II, and gold singles "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," followed. 1974's Not Fragile and Four Wheel Drive were platinum albums, and the musically and physiologically heavy band commanded huge concert audiences. BTO calls it quits just as their popularity is beginning to wane.

Cherie Currie quits the Runaways and is replaced on lead vocals by Joan Jett.

The King is dead. Elvis Presley dies in his Memphis mansion, Graceland, at age forty-two. According to Presley's girlfriend Ginger Alden, she had awakened in the afternoon, and, noticing he was not in bed, went into the master bedroom's bathroom, where she discovered him lying on the floor. Efforts to resuscitate Presley were unsuccessful, and at 3:30 p.m. today, he is pronounced dead at Memphis' Baptist Memorial Hospital. According to reports, the death resulted from coronary arrhythmia. Within the next several hours, Presley's death becomes one of the biggest media events in the past twenty years. Though Presley was the King of Rock & Roll, by the time of his death he had amassed an equally great and no less vervent following as a Las Vegas-style entertainer. Within hours, thousands of fans are en route to Memphis to pay their respects.
The day after Elvis Presley's death, President Jimmy Carter issues the following statement: "Elvis Presley's death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. More than twenty years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over, of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of his country." Or, as James Brown had once put it, "He taught white America to get down."

Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD) reports that in one day the number of orders for flowers to be delivered to Graceland, the late
Elvis Presley's earthly paradise, has surpassed the number for any other event in the company's history.
Funeral services for Elvis Presley are held at Graceland. Outside are over 75,000 mourners. Inside are 150, including his ex-wife, Priscilla, daughter Lisa, father Vernon, Ann-Margaret, George Hamilton and Colonel Tom Parker (in shirt sleeves and a baseball cap). Presley was entombed in a white marble mausoleum at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis near the grave of his mother, Gladys.
Groucho Marx dies in Los Angeles. With his trademark greasepainted moustache, bushy eyebrows, ever-present cigar, and rapier wit, Groucho duck-walked through more than a dozen classic comedies along with brothers Chico and Harpo, later making the transition to TV as host of You Bet Your Life. Groucho was no rocker, but in his final years did count rock stars like Alice Cooper and Elton John as friends. The story goes that one time when Groucho pointed his index fingers like guns at Elton, he responded, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player" -- which later became the title of Elton's 1973 album.
Voyager 2 is launched on an unmanned mission to fly by and study Saturn and Jupiter. In hopes of reaching intelligent life during the ship's intergalactic course. NASA includes onboard a stereo stylus, cartridge and 12" copper record album featuring Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and 26 other Earth "hits," including Mozart's Magic Flute, Louis Armstrong's "Melancholy Blues" and female Pygmy chants. "This is a present from a small, distant world..." begins President Carter's message therein.

The Republican party marks its lowest popularity rating in four decades, with the support of only 20% of American voters, according to a Gallup Poll.

The Top Five
1. "Best of my Love" - Emotions
2. "I Just Want to be Your Everything" - Andy Gibb
3. "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher" - Rita Coolidge
4. "I'm in You" - Peter Frampton
5. "Easy" - Commodores

Rolling Stone reports that California governor Jerry Brown has appointed Australian pop singer and feminist Helen Reddy to the state's parks commission. A noted conservationist, Reddy is also known for her significant fund-raising activities in support of Brown's unsucessful 1976 presidential bid.
Stiff Records releases Ian Dury's first solo single, "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll." Dury, a former member of Kilburn and the High Roads (a favorite act on the British pub circuit) recorded the song with High Roaders Chaz Jankel and Davey Payne, with whom he will soon form the Blockheads. Ian Dury and the Blockheads' "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" will be a million-selling international hit in 1979.

Kiss plays three back-to-back gigs at The Forum in Los Angeles, with some performances to be included on their Alive II album.

ERA supporters march on Washington, D.C., as President Carter declares Women's Equality Day.

A picnic at Levon Helm's home in Woodstock, New York, provides the occasion for the formation of the RCO All-Stars, with drummer Helm, pianist Mac "Dr. John" Rebannack, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald Dunn and harmonica player Paul Butterfield. Helm's former colleague in the Band, Robbie Robertson, is also at the picnic, but declines to join the group, which will set off on its first tour in the fall.
St. Louis Cardinals infielder Lou Brock breaks Ty Cobb's long-standing record as he steals his 893rd base.

Four are arrested in a plot to steal Elvis Presley's remains from a Memphis cemetery. Plans are immediately made to move his and mother Gladys's bodies to a garden at Graceland.

An advertiser boycott of the new ABC daytime-drama parody Soap, in which Billy Crystal plays a gay man, gathers steam as religious leaders express outrage over the show's outspokenness on sex and gay issues.

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