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March 1978








Charlie Chaplin's coffin is stolen from a tiny cemetery in Switzerland. The film legend, who'd died last Christmas Day, had lived quietly with his family in a baronial estate overlooking Lake Geneva for the last quarter century, after departing the United States at the height of the Cold War when he was attacked for his outspoken leftist views. Several months later, on May 17, police recover the body in a cornfield 10 miles to the east and arrest two Eastern European refugees who are later convicted of theft and extortion. The body is reburied under more than six feet of concrete.
"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," by veteran pop singer Johnny Mathis and new soul-pop singer Deniece Williams, enters the soul chart, where it will hit Number One for four weeks on April 15.

Bee Gees enter the soul singles chart with another hit from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, "Night Fever," which in fourteen weeks on the chart will hit #8.
Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed from the waist down outside a Georgia courthouse where he had been facing trial for the distribution of obscene material.
Steely Dan's sixth album, Aja, becomes their first album to be certified platinum. Two weeks later, their second album, Countdown to Ecstasy, will be certified gold, five years after its release.
Jazz guitarist George Benson's crossover to soul-pop continues successfully, as his cover version of the old Drifters classic "On Broadway" enters the soul singles chart, where it will rise to #2.

The Top Five
1. "Live is Thicker than Water" - Andy Gibb
2. "Night Fever" - Bee Gees
3. "Sometimes When We Touch" - Dan Hill
4. "Emotion" - Samantha Sang
5. "Lay Down Sally" - Eric Clapton

American Hot Wax, Floyd Mutrux' film about a week in the life of pioneer rock & roll disc jockey Alan Freed, premieres in New York City to respectable critical acclaim. It stars Tim McIntire as Freed and Laraine Newman of Saturday Night Live as his sidekick (though some observers feel Newman's character is closer to Carole King in her Brill Building days). Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Screamin' Jay Hawkins appear in specialty staged concert sequences. The soundtrack features Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly, the Drifters, the Moonglows, the Cadillacs, the Spaniels, the Zodiacs and others.
Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro is kidnapped by a group of Red Brigades terrorists in Rome after his car is assaulted and several of his bodygards are killed.

British punk band the
Stranglers begin their first U.S. tour, and the Jam begin their second U.S. tour.

After a long public battle, the Senate passes President Carter's Panama City Canal Treaty, guaranteeing that the Canal Zone will remain neutral territory after it leaves U.S. control on Dec. 31, 1999.

Elvis Costello's second album, This Year's Model, is released in the U.K.
The rock festival California Jam II is held in Ontario, California, with 250,000 in attendance to see performances by Santana, Dave Mason, Bob Welch, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Heart, Mahogany Rush and Rubicon. Portions of the festival are broadcast nationwide on ABC-TV.

The robbery-murder of bricklayer Tony Cimo's parents, William and Myrtle Moon, occurs while Rudolph Tyner is visiting their Inlets Bay, S.C., residence from his native New York City. It will be the basis of a 1986 TV film called Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo where, after Tyner was convicted and sentenced to death in 1979, the delays in executing him will cause Tony to arrange Tyner's prison murder through fellow inmate Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins in 1982. Cimo will be convicted of arranging Tyner's murder and sentenced to eight years, but paroled in 1986.

Way, way beyond just "Stayin' Alive," the Bee Gees dominate the Billboard pop charts in a run that rivals the Beatles in their heyday. This week the Brothers Gibb account for four of the top five singles -- having penned the aforementioned tune plus "Night Fever," brother Andy Gibb's "(Love Is) Thicker than Water," and fellow Australian Samantha Sang's "Emotion," which goes gold today.

The Top Five
1. "Night Fever" - Bee Gees
2. "Stayin' Alive" - Bee Gees
3. "Emotion" - Samantha Sang
4. "Lay Down Sally" - Eric Clapton
5. "Live is Thicker than Water" - Andy Gibb

The San Francisco City Council passes the city's -- and the U.S.'s -- most comprehensive homosexual rights bill after years of more homosexuals per capita, and the location where the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Biltis, was founded in 1953.
The Rutles' All You Need Is Cash, an affectionate satire of the Beatles, airs on NBC-TV. The Rutles are played by Eric Idle, of British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus; ex-Beach Boy Ricky Fataar; ex-Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Innes; and real-life British rock drummer John Halsey (who's worked with Roy Harper and Patto, among others). Paul Simon and Mick Jagger make cameo appearances as themselves. George Harrison appears as an interviewer. Among the songs featured: "Cheese and Onions," "Ouch!" and "I Must Be In Love." A Rutles soundtrack LP is released by Warner Bros. three days later, reaching #63 in its nine weeks on the U.S. album chart.

Win Anderson, who has been promoting a benefit concert for environmentalist group Friends of the Earth, holds a press conference in New York City substantiating rumors of a Beatles reunion.

After its rocky experience with the Sex Pistols, A&M sings a safer, more reggae-influenced act, the Police. The following April their single "Roxanne," from their #23 American debut LP Outlandos d'Amour, will make the Top 40.

The world's most renowned high-wire performer, Karl Wallenda, plunges to his death from a cable strung between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Earlier in the day the 73-year-old patriarch of the Great Wallendas dismissed questions about gusting winds, telling a circus coodinator that "the wind is stronger on the street than up there."

Rolling Stone reports that Fleetwood Mac is working out final arrangements to perform at Moscow's 3,000-seat Russian Concert Hall on July 8, 9 and 10. The band's legal adviser, Michael Shapiro, admits: "Everything, of course, depends on world peace."
British courts grant British record companies the rights to seize bootleg and pirate recordings.
Nineteen years after dying in a plane crash, Buddy Holly has his first and only British #1 album with 20 Golden Greats.
Daryl F. Gates becomes the 49th Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, making 1978 the year of three LA police chiefs [Edward M. Davis, Robert F. Rock, Gates]. During his 14 years as chief Gates will wage war on violent gangs and skirmish with city leaders, but his career will begin to unravel in 1991 after the Rodney King incident and eventually end the following year when he retires after 43 years on the police force amid controversy over his handling of the King incident, which brought allegations of long-term bigoted attitudes on his force. Gates died on April 16, 2010, at age 83.

In Stump v. Sparkman, the U.S. Supreme Court decides 5-3 in favor of judicial immunity for Harold Stump, an Auburn County, Indiana judge who in 1971 ordered a then 15-year-old girl whose mother said was "somewhat retarded" sterilized to prevent "unfortunate circumstances" from occuring as a result of her associating with older youths and young men.

Although George Lucas's Star Wars ruled the box office, 1977 proves to be Woody Allen's year at the Oscars; Annie Hall takes four awards (including Best Picture and Best Actress for Diane Keaton). Star Wars sweeps the technical side, with Oscars for Art Direction, Sound Original Score, Editing, Costume Design and Visual Effects.

begin a world tour in the U.S.; they will go on to Europe on May 15, then to Japan in November.

David Bowie's first tour in two years begins in San Diego, California.
In London, two members of the Clash -- bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon -- are arrested for shooting pigeons from the roof of a rehearsal hall.

Fresh from playing pub dates in their native Dublin, four high school mates who call themselves U2 audition for CBS Records. A couple weeks ago, they'd won a talent contest cosponsored by Guinness Harp Lager. Over the next year they sign with CBS and build a fan base in Ireland with radio play and record sales, but fail to stir any interest in England. At their first pub show in London next year, they're mistakenly introduced as "V2" to an audience of only nine people. Perhaps the 1980s will be better.


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