In 1977 the idea of a personal computer that could be used at home for real, practical purposes took off – because you could actually buy one. The Apple II, the Radio Shack TRS-80, and the Commodore Pet all hit the market this year and the home computer age was upon us. The new Democratic President of the US was Jimmy Carter, who pardoned Vietnam draft dodgers and tried to get Americans to understand that they needed to use less oil. The Alaskan pipeline brought us more of the stuff even as we were trying to use less. The first GPS satellite system was planned by the Department of Defense. The Food Stamp Act of 1977 started the popular program, and the World Trade Center was completed.
What happened in 1977′s music?
Elvis died at the age of 42 from a heart attack, a plane crash claimed the lives of 3 of the southern band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Marc Bolan of T.Rex was killed in a car accident. The last Led Zeppelin concert in the US took place, unbeknownst to the band. It was a year of pop and disco, in many ways the most representative musical year of the 70s. Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffet, Leo Sayer and ABBA were the biggies, but so was Steve Miller, who reinvented himself to become a hitmaker on the top 100. The only other hippie-era San Francisco band still doing it for real was the Grateful Dead, but they were in a lull, making second-rate records, the same as a lot of other stalwarts on the charts.
The year saw the appearance and dominance of 3 albums that still claim to be the biggest selling records in history. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours became their highest selling and charting LP, even though many fans liked the previous album more. Rumours became an iconic album of the 70s, along with Hotel California by the Eagles. Actually released in late 1976, it yielded several hit singles and battled it out for the top spot with Fleetwood Mac all year long. And with the surprise smash record of all time, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack with songs by the Bee Gees.
Disco tops out
Talk about reinvention – the Brothers Gibb started their careers during the British Invasion in the mid-60s and then took a hard right into disco pop territory. So many songs from the Saturday Night Fever movie became hits that there was really no other competition, but the Village People, Donna Summer and Chic managed to ride in on the Brits’ coat-tails. Disco was all over the radio, the nation’s theaters, and the world’s top singles charts. How much longer could this trend go on? Unfortunately, it has never really stopped, but has morphed and transformed itself in ingenious ways.
A Punk rocker by any other name…
This was also the year of the real explosion of punk rock – or was it New Wave? Whatever it was called, some of the best albums of the genre and of all time came out in 1977. Never Mind the Bollocks was the Sex Pistols’ debut, and it was a controversial delight, as was the Clash’s first self-titled record. The Ramones, the ones who in many ways started it all, finally released not one but two albums to critical and popular acclaim (ok, not as popular as disco), as did Blondie, the Jam, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, and Television. Most of these albums are considered to be in the historical top album lists, classics in their own right.
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