Friday, September 25, 1970

The Partridge Family debuted on TV: September 25, 1970

Originally posted September 25, 2011.

This American TV sitcom lasted four seasons, running 96 episodes on ABC. The show focused on a widowed mother and her five children embarking on a music career. The show was loosely based on The Cowsills, a music family who’d earned fame in the late ‘60s. The Partridge family focused on a recently widowed mother played by Shirley Jones. Her five children enlist her help to record a pop song. Her ten-year-old son Danny even hires a manager and the family musical group even hit the road for a tour.

Jones’ real-life stepson David Cassidy played Keith, the oldest of the kids. The other Partridges were played by Susan Dey (Laurie), Danny Bonaduce (Danny), Jeremy Gelbwaks (Chris), and Suzanne Crough (Tracy). When Jeremy’s family moved out of the Los Angeles area after the first season, Chris was recast with actor Brian Forster.

The Partridge Family produced eight albums, six of which went gold and three of which went top 10. David Cassidy and Shirley Jones were the only cast members actually featured on the recordings, singing lead and backup respectively. Studio musicians rounded out the group. The group charted nine Hot 100 hits, including the top 10 hits “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” and “I’ll Meet You Halfway”. The group’s debut single, “I Think I Love You”, charted on October 10, 1970 and went to #1. The song was written by Tony Romeo, who had written some of the Cowsills’ hits.

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Saturday, September 19, 1970

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young charted with “Our House”

Our House

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Writer(s): Graham Nash (see lyrics here)

Released: September 1970

First Charted: September 19, 1970

Peak: 30 BB, 20 CB, 32 GR, 20 HR, 20 AC, 9 CL, 13 CN, 51 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.21 video, 160.07 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rewind to 1968. Graham Nash was still a member of the British rock group the Hollies. Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell had released one album, which was produced by David Crosby, one of the original members of the Byrds. While the Hollies were on tour in Canada, Nash and Mitchell spotted each other at a radio station party and she asked the band’s manager to introduce them. SJ By year’s end, the two were living together in her home in Laurel Canyon.

Laurel Canyon is an area of Los Angeles that became celebrated in the mid’-60s through the mid-‘70s for its music and counterculture scene. Mitchell’s home arguably became Laurel Canyon’s epicenter. She said it was “a little house, kind of like a treehouse…It was a charmed little place…It had a kind of soulfulness…[It] was hippie heaven.” SJ

Nash would also leave the Hollies and form a supergroup with Crosby and Stephen Stills, formerly of Buffalo Springfield. One of the trio’s first gigs was a performance at the now-legendary Woodstock festival in 1969. They also released a self-titled album that year that went top-ten and achieved multi-platinum status.

Their next outing was even bigger. 1970’s Déjà Vu saw Neil Young, Stills’ former bandmate in Buffalo Springfield, join the fold. The quartet produced an album’s worth of folk-rock gems, including “Our House,” which was Nash’s “ode to countercultural domestic bliss,” WK inspired by what he called “an ordinary moment.” WK They went to breakfast on Ventura Boulevard and bought a vase in an antique store afterward. He said it “was a very grey, kind of sleetly, drizzly L.A. morning” WK and when they got home he lit a fire in the fireplace while she got some flowers for the vase. He sat down at her piano and, an hour later, had written “Our House.” WK


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First posted 4/25/2024.

Friday, September 18, 1970

Black Sabbath released Paranoid


Black Sabbath

Released: September 18, 1970

Peak: 12 US, 11 UK, 20 CN, 4 AU

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.2 UK, 4.52 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: heavy metal


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. War Pigs [7:57] (4 CL)
  2. Paranoid [2:48] (8/29/70, 61 US, 69 CB, 58 HR, 25 AR, 1 CL, 4 UK, 54 CN, 18 AU)
  3. Planet Caravan [4:32]
  4. Iron Man [5:56] (1/29/72, 52 US, 67 CB, 77 HR, 32 AR, 1 CL)
  5. Electric Funeral [4:53] (18 CL)
  6. Hand of Doom [7:08]
  7. Rat Salad [2:30]
  8. Fairies Wear Boots [6:15] (12 CL)
All songs written by Black Sabbath.

Total Running Time: 41:51

The Players:

  • Ozzy Osbourne (vocals)
  • Tony Iommi (guitar)
  • Geezer Butler (bass)
  • Bill Ward (drums)


4.368 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Quotable: Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history.” – Steve Huey, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

After Black Sabbath (originally called Polka Tulk Blues Band) TL recorded their debut self-titled album, they toured Europe for six weeks and then headed right back to the studio. Considering the negative reviews from the rock press, Geezer Butler said, “it felt like the four of us against the world.” LW They didn’t realize what a loyal fan base they were developing in the U.S. Their main goal was to prove to their families that they weren’t wasting time on music. LW

The result is what has become an essential album in the history of rock music. “Radical songwriting. Ear-shattering riffs. Unforgettable vocals. An all-time great rhythm section. Even a slower love song set in outer space. Paranoid had it all.“ NPR

The Writing and Recording
The songwriting was much more systematic than on the first album. “Guitariist Tony Iommi would start with one of his killer massive roaring riffs. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne then worked on the melody for the vocals, followed by bassist Geezer Butler who would write most of the lyrics. Drummer Bill Ward would then top it off with a pounding beat to complement Butler’s thunderous bass.” CR

With only six days in the studio (an eternity compared to the one day they had for their first album), LW they recorded the songs as if playing a live concert. The songs had largely been written on the road while the band toured in support of Black Sabbath.

The Sound…and Satanism?
Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound – crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock – and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics.” AMG The album “perfectly captured the rage, confusion and, yes, paranoia of the Vietnam era” GW as well as “the oligarchic structures that suppressed the working class” PF with songs that focused on “war, drug abuse, death and destruction.” CR It’s as if “the band members were tasked to deliver warnings of doom to the world.” CR

When the album was released, “the world was convinced that these working class chums…were either satanists or an incredible facsimile.” TL Frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s biting-the-heads-off-bats incident didn’t come until he’d embarked on a solo career, but he had people nervous with his “declaration that he had sat through The Exorcist a gazillion times.” TL

Mostly, though, the band owed its infamous reputation to their creation of “a primal howl of fear and loathing” GW via “Tony Iommi’s crushing, granite-fuzz guitar chords, the Visigoth rhythm machine of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler’s” RS “massive bass riffs,” TL and Ozzy’s “agonized bray.” RS When he “screams, he sounds like he wants to drag you down to the bottom of the ocean and eat your brain.” VB

“The anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path.” AMG “Iommi’s stump-fingered leads and down-tuned riffs provided the perfect platform for songs about war-mongering generals, boots-wearing skinheads and nuclear fallout.” GW Throughout the album “the subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music.” AMG

Their Background
The band wouldn’t be the same without their factory hometown of Birmingham, England. Joel McIver, who wrote two books about them, says, “You cannot separate the environment of Black Sabbath from the music that they made.” NPR The town was ravaged by bombing in World War II and the future looked bleak for anyone born in the late 1940s, such as the members of Black Sabbath. As McIver said, “your future was 45 years on a factory assembly line.” NPR

Template for Heavy Metal
Frankly, “you don’t know metal until you have heard the classic Black Sabbath Paranoid album.” CR It carved out “an essential metal template.” PF It is “monolithic and primally powerful,” AMG “heavier than seven lead elephants [and] metaller than a fork factory.” VB It was the group’s most successful record and “stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time,” AMG helping to “launch heavy metal not just as a genre but also a veritable industry.” PF

“Nearly every heavy-metal and extreme rock band of the last three decades…owes [it] a debt of worship.” RS It “set the standard against which all heavy music would forever be judged.” GW Quite simply, “Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history.” AMG It is “the landmark in the history of heavy metal.” CR

“War Pigs”
“Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like” AMG the “apocalyptic songs…War Pigs and Iron Man which are no less great for being totally incomprehensible.” TL Butler said the band “wrote ‘War Pigs’ because many Americans were frightened to mention anything about the wary so we thought we’d tell it like it is.” PF

Lines like “Satan laughing spreads his wings” furthered the image of the band as Satanic, but it wasn’t about the devil at all. Butler said, “To me, war was the big Satan. It wasn’t about politics or government or anything. It was evil. So I was sying ‘Generals gathered in the masses / Just like witches at black masses’ to make an analogy.” LW

It's also worth noting that the album was originally to be called War Pigs and the artwork had been designed with that in mind. As Tony Iommi said, “There’s a guy standing there with a shield and a sword, with the album title called Paranoid…’What’s that have to do with Paranoid?” Well, nothing really. But that’s how it was.” LW

“Iron Man”
Meanwhile, “Iron Man” “sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history” AMG and found a whole new audience as the title song for 2008’s super-hero movie, Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr. Of course, the original song had nothing to do with the Marvel Comics character. It is “a surreal fantasy” PF “about a man who travels to the future and sees the apocalyptic destruction on mankind.” CR When returning to the present, he is turned to steel by a magnetic field and is rendered mute, leaving him unable to warn anyone about the apocalypse. “He’s ostracized and ignored he lashes out, iron fists falling on the city with the weight of Iommi’s monstrous riff and Ward’s colossal Bonham drums.” PF

That song and the album’s title track even “scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play” AMG in an era “when it was far more fashionable to sing gentle acoustic songs about ‘getting back to the garden.’” GW The title cut, “a three-chord classic dashed off as last-minute album filler,” GW isn’t only a heavy-metal classic, but “presaged the coming of punk rock.” GW

Tony Iommi wrote the “simple riff that chugged, paused, and kept prowling, like a predator always in search of its next meal” PF while the rest of the band headed to the bar. PF The song “foregrounds an adolescent sort of worry – about being depressed and not understanding the symptoms or root of it, about crying when others laugh, about breaking up with someone because ‘she couldn’t help me with my mind.’” PF

The record company, Vertigo, heard a hit and issued the “three-minute assault” PF as a single just six months after the band had released its debut album. Vertigo also pushed for renaming the album Paranoid (instead of the originally planned War Pigs) “to remind potential customers of the song they’d seen four long-haired weirdos headbang to on Top of the Pops.” PF

“Hand of Doom”
“The drifting verses of Hand of Doom are direct arrows into…doom metal, turbocharged by sections that feel like nebulous hardcore.” PF “The song became infamous as a supposed endorsement of heroin, but it’s a warning for deployed soldiers taken with the newfound hobby of trying to kill time with drugs but only killing themselves.” PF

“Electric Funeral”
The band weren’t just tackling the tragedy of Vietnam, but the threat of the Cold War. “Anchored by a hangman riff and guided by Osbourne’s best sorcerer vocals, Electric Funeral lases out at the woe of that atomic age and the endless destruction it enables.” PF As Butler said, “It was always touch and go whether Russia would drop the atomic bomb on us or we would drop the atomic bomb on them.” LW

“Rat Salad”
“The starts and stops of Rat Salad and the way Iommi’s guitar line runs like razor wire between the rhythmic shifts, presage the instrumental ecstasy of math-rock, in spirit if not skill.” PF

“Fairies Wear Boots”
Fairies Wear Boots grew out of an incident in which the band members “were harassed and threatened by a gang of skinheads wearing Dr. Martens boots.” LW It “boasts one of the best grooves of Sabbath’s entire discography, some of Osbourne’s most effortlessly soulful singing ever, and a bridge and solo that feel…triumphant.” PF “The beginning…keeps folding and rising, only to empty into declarative verses, like the skeleton of power metal awaiting eventual flesh.” PF

“Planet Caravan”
Ozzy “delivers images of romantic escapism over circular bass and hand-drum patter during Planet Caravan…a clear antecedent for metal’s exploratory psychedelic side.” PF

Notes: A 2009 deluxe edition added a second disc of the album in a quadrophonic mix and a third disc of instrumental versions and versions with alternate lyrics. A 4-CD deluxe edition was released in 2016 which included two live 1970 shows, one from Montreux and one from Brussels.

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First posted 2/18/2008; last updated 3/14/2022.

Saturday, September 12, 1970

The Miracles “The Tears of a Clown” hit #1 in the UK

The Tears of a Clown

The Miracles

Writer(s): Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Hank Cosby (see lyrics here)

Released: August 27, 1967 (album cut on Make It Happen)

First Charted: August 1, 1970

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 2 HR, 13 RB, 11 UK, 7 CN, 7 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.9 video, 56.78 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Miracles formed in 1955 in Detroit as the Five Chimes. They changed their name to the Miracles in 1958 and were the first group signed to Tamla-Motown. HL They gave Motown Records its first million-selling single in 1960 with “Shop Around.” They had 26 top-40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the #1 song “The Tears of a Clown.”

Smokey Robinson not only fronted the group until 1972, but became the vice-president of Motown. When he was looking for help on a song in 1966, he asked Stevie Wonder for help at the office Christmas party. With producer Hank Crosby, Stevie wrote some cheerful-sounding music with a fairground calliope. HL Smokey decided it sounded like the circus SJ but wanted to write a sad lyric to accompany it. He was inspired by Pagliacci, the clown who has a “smile painted on his face – then he goes into his dressing room and cries because he’s sad..” SJ

The song was released on the Miracles’ 1967 album Make It Happen but nothing more happened with the song at the time. In 1969, the label’s manager in the UK decided to re-release some of the Miracles’ songs in that market. Despite the group’s overwhelming success in the U.S., the highest-charting song they had in the UK was “I Second That Emotion,” which had peaked at #27. The reissue plan sent “The Tracks of My Tears,” a top-20 hit in the U.S. in 1965, to the top ten in the UK in 1969.

The next single, “The Tears of a Clown,” did even better. Released in August 1970, it reached the top the next month. This prompted renewed attention for the song in America where it became a #1 song that December. It went on to sell two million copies, becoming the group’s biggest hit to date. HL

The timing was bittersweet for Smokey Robinson. He’d grown tired of touring and had told the group already that he was leaving. However, because of the delayed success of “Clown” he toughed it out another year. After he left, the group continued with Billy Griffin in the lead role, even landing another #1 hit with “Love Machine” in 1975.


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First posted 4/11/2023.

Friday, September 11, 1970

James Taylor “Fire and Rain” hit the chart

Fire and Rain

James Taylor

Writer(s): James Taylor (see lyrics here)

Released: February 1970 (album cut on Sweet Baby James)

First Charted: September 11, 1970

Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 3 GR, 3 HR, 7 AC, 1 CL, 42 UK, 2 CN, 6 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 42.17 video, 355.87 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Singer/songwriter James Taylor was born in 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. His 1968 self-titled debut didn’t make much impact, peaking at #62. He had been given a contract with Apple Records by Paul McCartney, but he couldn’t promote the album because he was seeking treatment for heroin addiction. SF He also “disliked the lavish production…and wanted something more acoustic-based.” HL He was dropped by the label and picked up by Warner Bros. SF

The move paid off. His second album, 1970’s Sweet Baby James, was a triple-platinum seller which reached #3 on the Billboard album chart. Its success was largely attributed to the single “Fire and Rain,” the song that music historian Steve Sullivan called “a stunning piece of song-poetry” SS that “defined the apex of the American singer/songwriter movement.” SS

Taylor was “surprised that such a deeply personal song would appeal to listeners.” SF He acknowledged, “The stuff I write does come from an autobiographical place.” HL The first verse was his reaction to learning of the suicide of his friend Suzanne. The second verse addresses his depression over the failure of his band Flying Machine, his efforts to kick heroin, and his time spent in a mental institution. SS The third verse is about “coming to grips with fame and fortune.” WK

Taylor started writing the song in 1968 while still in London. He continued working on it while in a hospital in Manhattan and later in drug rehab at the Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts. SF The song featured Carole King on piano. She wrote her iconic song “You’ve Got a Friend” (which Taylor took to #1) as a reaction to the line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend” in “Fire and Rain.” WK


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First posted 4/11/2023; last updated 4/28/2024.