Saturday, December 24, 1977

Bee Gees hit #1 with “How Deep Is Your Love”

First posted 10/23/2020.

How Deep Is Your Love

Bee Gees

Writer(s): Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 24, 1977

Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 2 HR, 14 RR, 16 AC, 3 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.96 UK, 2.88 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 451.5 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“How Deep Is Your Love” kickstarted one of the most successful soundtracks of all time, reaching #1 a week after the debut of the Saturday Night Fever movie. SF It was followed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 by two more Bee Gees songs (“Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”) and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” It was the best-selling soundtrack of all time until it was dethroned by 1992’s The Bodyguard.

“Deep” was also significant in that it ended Debby Boone’s 10-week reign at the top of the charts and became the first song to spend 17 weeks or more in the top 10 since Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” It held the record until Boyz II Men’s 19-week top-10 run with “End of the Road” in 1992. The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb has said it is his favorite Bee Gees’ song. WK

Robert Stigwood, who manged the Bee Gees, tapped them to contribute songs to his Saturday Night Fever movie. The group was tempted to give this song to Yvonne Elliman, but Stigwood said, “You’ve got to do this song yourself; you should not give it to anybody.” WK

When the song, which Billboard described as a “warm tender ballad,” WK reached #3 in the UK, Barry said, “With all the new wave and punk rock out, I would have thought something like ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ wouldn’t have a chance.” WK The song won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Group.

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Saturday, December 17, 1977

Elvis Costello gets banned from Saturday Night Live: December 17, 1977

Originally posted December 17, 2011.

Saturday Night Live made its name in the 1970s not just for its live sketch comedy, but for musical performances. For the December 17, 1977 broadcast, the Sex Pistols were scheduled to perform. Their criminal records complicated the process of getting them visas in time so Elvis Costello & the Attractions were invited instead. Ironically, one would have assumed no one was more likely to provide controversy than the Pistols, but Elvis proved them wrong.

Costello wanted to promote his upcoming new single “Radio Radio”. However, the powers-that-be wanted an already established song from his repetoire. Lorne Michaels, the show’s producer, also didn’t want them to perform the song because of its anti-media message ZM which criticized “the commercialization and payola of the airwaves.” RS Costello seemingly obliged, kicking into a performance of “Less Than Zero”. However, he’d barely started the song when he turned to his band yelling “Stop! Stop!” and then informing the audience, “I’m sorry ladies and gentleman, there’s no reason to do this song here.” He then launched into “Radio Radio” instead.

The move got Costello banned from the program for more than a decade. Michaels was not a fan of such spontaneous changes and was reportedly infuriated that it put the show off schedule. ZM Costello has said the move was inspired by a Jimi Hendrix performance on BBC television in which he was supposed to play “Hey Joe” but opted for a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” instead. That broadcast was stopped when it ran “longer and louder than the show’s producers intended.” WK

Costello finally appeared as a musical guest again in 1989 and also in 1991. For SNL’s 25th anniversary in 1999, the Beastie Boys were beginning a performance of their song “Sabotage” when Costello interrupted them and they played “Radio Radio” together.

Click here to see the 1977 performance of “Radio Radio”

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“You Light Up My Life” spent 10th week at #1

You Light Up My Life

Debby Boone

Writer(s): Joe Brooks (see lyrics here)

Released: August 16, 1977

First Charted: August 27, 1977

Peak: 110 US, 18 CB, 113 HR, 16 RR, 11 AC, 4 CW, 48 UK, 15 CN, 7 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.0 video, 16.5 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Despite the sentimental nature of this romantic love ballad, the story of how it ended up with Debby Boone isn’t quite so sweet. Joe Brooks wrote the song for the 1977 movie You Light Up My Life, which he wrote and directed. SF The story was about a girl, played by Didi Conn, who is trying to make it in show business. In the movie, she is seen singing the song in the studio. SF Conn lip synched it in the movie, but Kasey Cisyk, best known for singing jingles, actually sang it and her version was featured on the soundtrack. While Brooks was initially pleased with Cisyk’s version, her second husband, Ed Rakowicz, said Brooks retaliated against her for rebuffing improper advances. He wouldn’t speak to her and avoided making payments, eventually recouped in a lawsuit. WK

Brooks commissioned Debby Boone, the daughter of legendary singer Pat Boone, to sing a new version of the song. In an effort to mimic the original as much as possible, the same orchestra track and piano was used for Boone’s version. She has also said that Brooks allowed her no freedom in how to sing the song; she was directed how to sing every inflection so it matched the original recording. WK She has said in interviews that Brooks was so mean to her, that she was reduced to tears. SF

Her version of “You Light Up My Life” was released as the first single to her debut solo album of the same name. It became the biggest #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of the 1970s. Its 10 weeks on top of the chart made it the biggest #1 since Elvis Presley topped the charts for 11 weeks in 1956 with his double A-side hit “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.”

It scooped up a number of year-end awards, including a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, an American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It even garnered Boone a Grammy for Best New Artist. She never had another top 40 hit on the Billboard pop charts, but she did crossover to the country charts.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Debby Boone
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 475.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/30/2019; updated 4/28/2021.

Friday, December 16, 1977

Saturday Night Fever premiered in U.S. theaters: December 16, 1977

Originally posted December 16, 2011.

This 1977 drama told the story of Brooklynite Tony Manero, played by John Travolta. He lived with his unsupportive parents and worked a dead-end hardware store job. However, his weekends were devoted to dancing at the local discotheque.

British writer Nik Cohn provided the inspiration for the movie with his 1976 New York magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”. Cohn was a newcomer to the United States and a stranger to the disco lifestyle. Unable to grasp the subculture which he was expected to write about, he fabricated the article based on a Mod acquaintance. WK

The movie has been largely credited with popularizing disco around the world. It made Travolta a household name and the soundtrack, which prominently featured the Bee Gees, was one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, the film was the first example of cross-media marketing with a single being used to promote the film before its release. WK

The film was considered by many critics to be one of the best movies of 1977. It was featured in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made and in 2010 was selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Travolta earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

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Saturday, November 12, 1977

Billy Joel charted with “Just the Way You Are”

First posted 3/16/2021.

Just the Way You Are

Billy Joel

Writer(s): Billy Joel (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 12, 1977

Peak: 3 US, 7 CB, 3 HR, 2 RR, 14 AC, 1 CL, 19 UK, 2 CN, 6 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 66.17 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Billy Joel had thirty three top-40 hits, ten of which reached the top 10. When he had his breakout hit with “Piano Man” in 1973, he’d already been recording and performing since 1965. It wasn’t until 1977 and “Just the Way You Are,” though, that he landed his first top-10 hit in the United States and first chart entry period in the UK. It also topped the Billboard adult contemporary chart and won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.

Joel said the melody and chord progression came to him in a dream. He also shared that the title was inspired the last line of “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons. He wrote the song for Elizabeth Weber, his then-wife and business manager. WK He gave the “pure expression of unconditional love” to her as a birthday present. SF

Unfortunately, the two divorced in 1982, after which time Joel said he didn’t like playing the song live. WK He said, “Every time I wrote a song for a person I was in a relationship with, it didn’t last. It was kind of like the curse. Here’s your song – we might as well say goodbye now.” SF

Neither he nor the band liked the song. He said it was a “gloppy ballad” that would only get played at weddings. “It wasn’t even rock ‘n’ roll; it was like a standard with a little bit of R&B in it. It reminded me of an old Stevie Wonder recording.” SF He’d decided against including it on The Stranger, but Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow, who were both recording in other studios in the same building, encouraged him to put it on the album. WK Phil Ramone, the album’s producer, said they couldn’t afford to exclude the song because they didn’t have that much material to choose from. WK Paul McCartney has said it is one of the few songs he wished he’d written. SF

A variety of artists have covered the song, including Harry Connick Jr., Isaac Hayes, Diana Krall, Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, and Barry White.

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The Sex Pistols hit #1 in the U.K.

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols

Released: October 28, 1977

Peak: 106 US, 12 UK, -- CN, 23 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: punk rock


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

  1. Holidays in the Sun (Cook/ Jones/ Rotten/ Vicious) [3:20] (10/14/77, 20 CL, 8 UK)
  2. Bodies (Cook/ Jones/ Rotten/ Vicious) [3:02]
  3. No Feelings [2:49]
  4. Liar [2:40]
  5. Problems [4:10]
  6. God Save the Queen [3:18] (5/27/77, 1 CL, 2 UK)
  7. Seventeen [2:02]
  8. Anarchy in the U.K. [3:31] (11/26/76, 1 CL, 33 UK, 92 AU)
  9. Submission [4:12] (35 CL)
  10. Pretty Vacant [3:16] (7/1/77, 5 CL, 6 UK)
  11. New York [3:05]
  12. E.M.I. [3:10]

All songs written by Cook/ Jones/ Matlock/ Rotten unless otherwise noted.

Total Running Time: 38:44

The Players:

  • Johnny Rotten (vocals)
  • Steve Jones (guitar, bass, backing vocals)
  • Paul Cook (drums)
  • Glen Matlock (bass on “Anarchy in the UK”)
  • Sid Vicious (bass on “Bodies”)


4.518 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Quotable: “Punk’s ground zero.” – Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“One album was all they made, and probably all anyone could stand.” TL “For better and worse, this thirty-nine-minute blast of loud and proud scruffiness has become punk’s ground zero” TM or “the Sermon on the Mount of English punk — and the echoes are everywhere.” RS “No other band managed such a colossal reputation on the basis of such a brief resume.” VH1

“That's not to say it’s the best punk record, or even necessarily the first. But it was the first one to tantalize, to terrorize, and eventually galvanize a large part of the rock-speaking world.” TM It was “a shot of strychnine for a tottering empire” VH1 and where “British rock rediscovered its energy.” TB

“At a time when lofty virtuosos like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd were filling the airwaves with all sorts of well-crafted pretention, the Pistols came blasting out with poorly played (and even more poorly sung) three-chord guitar assaults” PK which had a “garage rehearsal atmosphere.” PR “Singer Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Sid Vicious made old-fashioned rock bad boys such as The Rolling Stones and The Who look like wimps in comparison.” RV

“While mostly accurate, dismissing Never Mind the Bollocks as merely a series of loud, ragged mid-tempo rockers with a harsh, grating vocalist and not much melody would be a terrible error.” AMG “Underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact. Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment” AMG as it “picks the scabs from the seamier side of society.” PR The Pistols’ “loud, snotty and angry” approach created “an us-against-them ideology that disaffected kids everywhere understood immediately” TM and “a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms.” AMG

“Recognizing that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, manager-Svengali Malcolm McLaren” AZ “seized upon the notoriety, using television appearances and outrageous altercations with media to fan the flames” TM as he “molded the Pistols into the most confrontational, nihilistic band rock & roll had ever seen.” AZ “Who cares if they were as manufactured as the Monkees, derivative of the New York Dolls, and better at getting press coverage than coming up with new songs – everyone who heard them went out and started a punk band, and the music world’s been a better place as a result.” PK

“The Pistols’ early singles Anarchy in the U.K. and God Save the Queen defined the raging style of British punk.” AZ “The British government was so afraid of their rising popularity and ability to influence the masses, the pop charts printed a blank space” when “Anarchy” hit #1. RV The song “embodies everything revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll should be. Raunchy riffs and throbbing percussion underline Rotten’s declaration, ‘I am an antichrist / I am an anarchist.’” RV

The latter song was equally incendiary with “its snarled refrains and bellicose chants” TM daring to “voice the opinion that the monarch ‘ain’t no human bein.’” TL “The Pistols released the song in time for the Queen’s Jubilee in celebration of Queen Elizabeth as an indictment the country's inability to provide for the working class.” RV

Holidays in the Sun “equates Nazism with the leisure activities of the upper classes: ‘I don’t want a holiday in the sun / I wanna go to the new Belsen,’ a reference to the German concentration camp. The song shows the Pistols at their finest” RV – “something offensive to hear…and more offensive to ignore.” TL

“Inspired by a mental patient who corresponded with the Rotten, the singer boldly tackles the abortion controversy on Bodies. Abortion gets the proper nihilistic treatment, with the lyrics taking the point of view of the mother, the fetus and a judgmental on-looker. Considering the band's liberal views, ‘Bodies’ comes off as surprisingly pro-life, with Rotten crying, ‘Mummy, I’m not an animal’ and declaring abortion a ‘bloody fucking mess.’” RV

The Pistols also “perfected one of rock’s great subgenres: the anthem of sneering indolence. No Feelings, Liar, and Pretty Vacant all portrayed Britain’s youth as numbed and hollowed out by hypocrisy and lack of opportunity, offering nothing by way of consolation but a blast of guitar and a keening snarl.” VH1

Other cuts include “the sinister Submission…and the hilariously knuckle-headed Seventeen, with its refrain, “I’m a lazy sod.’” TB The group also burned bridges with a kiss-off to previous record company A&M and “an earlier bust-up with EMI” TB on the not-so-subtly-titled EMI closing track.

“Already anthemic songs are rendered positively transcendent by Johnny Rotten’s rabid, foaming delivery.” AMG “Rotten, who had never sung before, had a gift for malice that he turned on the complacent England of the 70s.” TL “His bitterly sarcastic attacks on pretentious affectation and the very foundations of British society were all carried out in the most confrontational, impolite manner possible.” AMG He was “self-consciously repugnant” VH1 and “deeply bright, funny and so disgusted with the world that he allowed no nonsense of any sort to taint the purity of his guerrilla operation.” VH1 His “lyrics – direct, blunt, biting – were like antisocial haikus” VH1 and his “off-key sneering” TB made for “one of the most recognizable [vocal styles] in history.” TB

Of course, there was also “Steve Jones’ buzz-saw guitar” AZ which made “the songs explosive and catchy” TL “and (most importantly) bass player Glen Matlock’s hook-filled compositional skills.” AZ However, “by the time they recorded their lone 1977 album, Matlock had been bounced, replaced by the image-correct but utterly untalented (and ultimately group-dooming) Sid Vicious,” AZ “a tragic sideshow.” TL

“The Pistols paved the way for countless other bands to make similarly rebellious statements, but arguably none were as daring or effective.” AMG They unleashed “an undeniable force, leading to explosions of awesome magnitude that proved key to the then-developing ethos of punk.” TMNever Mind the Bollocks is simply one of the greatest, most inspiring rock records of all time.” AMG “No one inspired the revolution, chaos and hatred of the world like The Sex Pistols.” RV

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Sex Pistols
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Steve Huey
  • AZ review by Billy Altman
  • TM Tom Moon (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
  • PK Pop Kulcher 50 Greatest Rock & Roll Albums of All Time
  • RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London.
  • RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA.
  • TL Time (11/13/060. “All-TIME 100 Albums” by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light
  • VH1 VH1 (2003). 100 Greatest Albums. Edited by Jacob Hoye. Pocket Books: New York, NY.
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY.

First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 9/5/2021.