By John Surgenor.
Irvine Beat FM Presenter.
Let’s take a journey through the golden year of 1977. I’ll keep it a brief journey through the music, entertainment, happenings, memories and some trivia of the year.
I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m John Surgenor and I do a golden hour show on Irvinebeatfm 107.2 and the website Irvinebeat.com every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 11.00 and 12.00hrs. I was asked if I could contribute something to our webpage and I decided I’d do a little escape into our pasts like I do on my show. I usually keep between 1960 and 1989 so this time it’s 1977.
What do you remember if anything about 1977?
This year was the one in which I got married. And what a summer it was. It was a gorgeous day for the wedding and was as warm as the previous if I remember right although 1976 is the year that gets mentioned so maybe it was warmer then. My reception was in the cooperative hall above what is now Iceland and the R&A Sports bar. My honey moon was in Aberdeen and we moved out of Irvine to the stockbroker belt of Dreghorn. I’ve lived in Dreghorn for over 40 years but will never be a Dreghornian?? Is that what it is? To be admitted to that club you have to be born there. I’m an Irvinite. Enough about me let’s get started.
Music – UK No.1s of 1977
The music of 1977 started like most years with the previous Christmas number one at the top of the singles chart. This year that was Johnny Mathis with “When a child is born” which stayed at the number one until the 15th January.
David Soul of Starsky and Hutch fame would be next to get to number one. His debut single “Don’t give up on us” would be a transatlantic number one for him. He would remain at the top for four weeks until 12th February.
As David Soul was an actor so would be the lass that would knock him off the top spot. Julie Covington was an American actress and her rendition of “Don’t cry for me Argentina” would spend one week at the top until 19th February.
Although he would be in the top six with his first six releases Leo Sayer would only get to number one with his 6th Single “When I need you” which took over from Julie and lasted at number one for three weeks until 12th March.
Like Julie Covington and Leo Sayer the next chart topper “Chanson d’amour” by Manhattan transfer would be an only UK number one for the act. Three weeks would be the stay for the band and that would be until the 2nd April.
Abba – 5 Weeks At Number 1
Abba’s 5th number one “Knowing me knowing you” would spend five weeks at the top until May 7th.
The next chart topper would be American singer Deniece Williams with her debut on the chart “Free” which would be her only number one. Deniece would stay top for two weeks until 21st May.
Rod Stewart would have a fourth number one with his double A sided “I don’t want to talk about it/First cut is the deepest”. The latter track was penned by Cat Stevens and had been in the top twenty in 1967 for PP Arnold. Rod would stay at number one for four weeks until 18th June.
After two top 10 hits country singer Kenny Rodgers would have his first number one when “Lucille” reached the top. Kenny would stay at the number one spot for one week until the 25th June.
The Jackson’s would be the next number one with their only UK number one “Show me the way”. Although this track never made number one in America they did have four number one’s back home as the Jackson 5. The lads stay would only last for one week July 2nd.
Another band with only one number one single was Hot Chocolate who would reach it with the Russ Ballard penned “So you win again” The track would spend three weeks at the top until the 23rd of July.
Queen of disco Donna Summer would top the chart for her only time next with “I feel love” which stayed for four weeks until 20th of August
In 1976 Brotherhood of Man broke the Eurovision song contest point’s record when they won the show. They would get to number one for a second time with “Angelo” which stayed top for one week until 27th August.
One week would again be the duration for the table topper when the Floaters “Float on” reached the pinnacle. The Floaters would be a purist’s one hit wonder as it was the only time they had a record in the chart and it had made the top. That would take them to 3rd September.
“The King Is Dead – Long Live The King”
The death of Elvis Presley propelled “Way down” to the top of the chart. Elvis had died on the 16th August at the age of 42. This would be his last number one until 2002. “Way down” stayed at number one for five weeks until the 8th October.
Elvis would make way for David Soul to get his second number one with “Silver lady”. Unlike his first number one this would not make number one in his homeland. Silver lady would be number one for three weeks until the 29th October.
The Spanish female vocal duo Baccara would be the next number one with “Yes sir I can boogie” which stayed top for one week until Guy Fawkes Night 5th November. Baccara were the first female duo to top the UK singles chart.
Like David Soul, Abba would have a second number one this year with “The name of the game”, their sixth table topper. Abba would have a four week run at number one this time until the 3rd of December.
Mull Of Kintyre
A wee song about a tourist attraction in Argyll and Bute would be the Christmas number one this year when Wings took “Mull of Kintyre” to the top of the charts. This would also be the biggest selling single of the seventies. Paul and Linda lived there at the time and their homage to this lovely land stayed at number one for nine weeks until 4th February 1978.
Album Chart of 1977
The year started with Glen Campbell’s 20 golden greats at number one which had been at the top for six weeks. On the 8th January we would have our first 1977 number one which was Queen’s second number one album “A day at the races” a name taken from the Marx Brother’s film. This was the first album produced solely by the lads and would include “Someone to love” and “Tie your mother Down”.
Queen would spend one week at number before “Abba” came along with “Arrival” which contained three big hits in the shape of “Money money money”, “Knowing me knowing you” and Dancing Queen”. This album would get them noticed throughout the world. They would hold onto top spot for one week.
Queen would be unceremoniously knocked off the top by the yodelling country singer Slim Whitman who would become the oldest man at this time to top the album charts with a new album. This new album was “Red river valley” which was his second number one album. It had lots of country standards in it but curiously also “Una paloma blanca” which had been a hit a couple of years previously for the George Baker Selection. Despite that it stayed at number one for three weeks.
The next number one album would again be a 20 golden greats this time it would be the Shadows 20 golden greats. This album had many of the big hits including Apache, FBI, Foot tapper and Wonderful land. The Shadows remained number one for six weeks.
A portrait of Frank Sinatra would be the next album at number one. Frank would stay there for two weeks before the real arrival of the ABBA album “Arrival” which previously been number one for one week had a nine week stay at the top.
The Beatles Knocked Off No.1 Spot By The Muppets!
Lots of old names in the chart this year and it continued with the Beatles coming in at number one with their “Live at the Hollywood bowl” which only had the one week at the top before being knocked off the top by the Muppets. Yes. The Muppets. They would spend one week at number one with “The muppet show” highlighting songs like “The tattooed lady”, The great Gonzo eats a rubber tyre” and “I’m in love with a big blue frog. Seventies pop fans knew good music when they heard it and very diverse in their tastes.
The Muppets week in the limelight came to an end with an original soundtrack album. The soundtrack would be of “A star is born” giving Barbara Streisand her first UK number one album. The album would stay at the top for two weeks.
Another star of the sixties had come back to the singles charts in the mid seventies and had been the Christmas number one singles king at the end of last year and that was Johnny Mathis. His album “The Johnny Mathis collection” would top the chart for four weeks giving him his first UK number one album. Only Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra had more hit albums than Johnny in the US.
Progressive rock band Yes were next to top the album chart with their second number one album “Going for the one” which contained their only top ten single “Wonderous stories”. Rick Wakeman was back for this album as he had left to pursue a solo career after some differences surfaced around their first number one album “Tales from Topographic oceans”. Going for the one would stay top for two weeks.
A third twenty greats album would top the charts this year when Connie Francis would go top with her “20 All time greats”. This would be another sixties great topping the album charts in the latter half of the seventies. Connie would be number one for two weeks.
The late Elvis Presley would get his shot at the top of the UK albums chart as he did in the singles chart in this the year of his death. He would spent one week there with his “40 greatest hits” twice as many as anybody else as you would expect.
Back to “20 golden greats” and this time it would “Diana Ross and the Supremes”. This would be the year the “Supremes” would disband but Diana would still have many more years in our charts. The girls would spend a lengthy seven weeks at the top of the chart.
40 Golden Greats
Not to be outdone by Elvis, Cliff brings out a “40 golden greats” album with the Shadows who have already been at the top for six weeks with 20 Golden greats earlier this year. The boys would be top for one week before being knocked off by the Sex Pistols “Never mind the bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols” which would be top for two weeks. It went gold after only a few weeks and would spend a year in the top 25 in the UK album chart.
Dave Gates’ “Bread” would take over from the Sex Pistols with “The sound of Bread” staying at the top for two weeks. Extremes indeed, Cliff then Sex Pistols then Bread at number one.
The year would end with a various hits album “Disco Fever” taking over the number one spot over Christmas and New Year.
Quiz Time – The 59 Second Flashback
Here are 5 x Top 10 UK hits from 1977. How many of the artists can you identify? 1 minute – 5 songs – name the artist. The answers are down at the foot of this page. Good luck with the 1977 music quiz. It’s not easy!
New Kids On The Block
A new band from Woking (Where my Aunt Ruby lived) entered the chart for the first time this year. The Jam, who were Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler would just scrape into the top 40 with their debut chart song “In the city”. Their next single also this year would give them a top 20 entry when “All around the world” made it as high as number 13. It would be 1979 before they made top 10 with the first of their 4 number ones following. Their last number one would be in 1982 when the band split. They would also have their most successful album “The gift” in 1982.
Leading lights of the UK punk rock explosion: Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, John Mellor and Topper Headon on drums would take “White heat” into the charts for their debut. They would enter the charts 17 times before their split in 1986 making the top 20 on only four occasions without making the top 10. In 1991 a re-release of “Should I stay or should I go” would get to number one.
On the album front they would have two albums reach number two in the album chart and their best album “London calling” would also make top 10 reaching number nine. This album received a lot of plaudits, none better than the “Rolling Stone” voting it the best album of the eighties.
Entertainment in 1977
This would be the year Top Gear was first seen on our TV’s on BBC Midlands. Angela Rippon and Tom Coyne presented the series at the start and it was only once a month. In 1978 the BBC mainstream took it over and it became a weekly 30 minute show on BBC 2. It would be 1988 before Jeremy Clarkson entered the fray.
We were also introduced to CI5 in the shape of the Professionals which would run until 1983. George Cowley (Gordon Jackson) was head of CI5 while his top men were Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw) and William Bodie (Lewis Collins). Doyle had been a detective on the police force while Bodie was an ex paratrooper. They didn’t always go by the book but always won out and made good chemistry on the screen.
Next up would be the TPF (Tooting Popular Front) led by the urban guerrilla “Wolfie” Smith. Who was Citizen Smith. Robert Lindsay was the unemployed revolutionary who really just wanted to dodge employment. The sit-com was written by John Sullivan, the man who also wrote, only fools and horses. Citizen Smith ran until 1980.
The American sit-com Love Boat would run from 1977 to 1986. It was stories based aboard the S.S. Pacific Princess.
Jesus of Nazareth was screened this year it dramatized the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus based on the bible readings. There was an amazing array of talent on show. Jesus was played by Robert Powell and it was a big success with positive reviews and ratings success. Robert would go on to play Richard Hannay in the 39 Steps.
Gordon Burns hosted the Krypton Factor this year. The title is reference to Kryptonite which is both a source of energy for superman and a killer depending on it being green or red. It was a contest based on physical and mental tests. The show ran until 1993 and made a comeback in the 21st century.
Denis Norden’s “It’ll be alright on the night” was first shown in 1977 and would run until 2006 with Denis and then until 2016 with Griff Rhys Jones. The show would re-run bloopers from behind the scenes in Film and TV.
The “Secret Army” started its life this year. The series tells the story of the Belgian resistance movement in occupied Belgium. Jan Francis runs the secret army (Lifeline) helped by Bernard Hepton the proprietor of a local Café. Bernard had played the commandant at Colditz in the series from the early seventies. The secret army would run for three series until 1979.
I can name that tune in one note. I never knew how they could do that but it did get achieved. “Name that tune” was a very popular quiz show that ran until 1988. Tom O’Connor was the original presenter from 1977 until 1983 when it would be taken over by Lionel Blair until 1988. Jools Holland presented a version of the show in 1997.
“Robins nest” came out of “Man about the house” which had ended in 1976. Robin Tripp (Richard O’Sullivan) and his girlfriend Vicky Nichols (Tessa Wyatt) take over an abandoned Chinese restaurant and make it Robins nest. Tony Britton played Vicky’s dad while David Kelly played the one-armed kitchen hand.
Des O’Connor Tonight
Des O’Connor would run his variety chat Show “Des O’Connor tonight” on the BBC until 1983. After that he would be poached by ITV after which the show would continue until 1999.
Frances Pocherello (Eric Estrada) and Jonathon Baker (Larry Wilcox) were the trouble magnets in CHIP’s (Californian Highway Patrol). The lads Ponch and Jon and their motorbikes would entertain us until 1983.
Take Hart took to our screens in 1977. Tony aided by his Plasticine friend Morph showed us what you could with disposable everyday items and plenty of drawing and craft tips. This popular show lasted until 1983.
Also in 1977 Bruce Forsyth stood down from the Generation game after six year. Larry Grayson would take over the helm.
Films of 1977
This is the year when the Star Wars franchise started. Luke Skywalker was played by Mark Hamill while his side kick in the Rebel Alliance would be leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Mark would team up with Hans Solo (Harrison Ford). The rebel alliance was against the Galactic Empire based in the Death Star space station. The commanding officer for the enemy was Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). Second in command was Darth Vader (David Prowse) the green cross code man. Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) a former Jedi master helps the Alliance against the Death Star.
Saturday Night Fever
Another massive film this year was “Saturday Night Fever” which made the Bee Gees hip again. The film was based round Tony Manero (John Travolta) a working class lad who turns into this dancing superstar out of hours. His dance partner is Stephanie Morgano (Karen Lynn Gorney). The soundtrack to the album was a mega seller and gave the Bee Gees three US number ones in Staying alive, Night fever and How deep is your love.
A bridge too far a film based on “Operation market garden in WW2 had Richard Attenborough as director. The film was a who’s who of famous actors, Sean Connery, James Caan, Michael Caine, Edward Fox, Gene Hackman and Anthony Hopkins to name just six. It was one of the highest grossing films of the year but nowhere near Star Wars.
American action comedy was a major player this year with Smokey and the bandit being the second highest grossing film after Star Wars. The film is based around “Bo” played by Burt Reynolds and his co-Bandit “Snowman” Jerry Reed. The lads are bootleggers attempting to smuggle 400 cases of beer. “Sheriff Buford T Justice” Jackie Gleeson pursues them throughout their journey.
Roger Moore’s third outing as James Bond was the “Spy who loved me”. James is looking for missing nuclear armed submarines. Richard Kiel would make his debut as super baddie “Jaws” while the love interest was the lovely Barbara Bach who would later become Mrs Ringo Starr.
“Jaws” was a big film in 1975 and “The Deep” was this year’s film based on a book by the same author Peter Benchley. Like in “Jaws” Robert Shaw plays a major part in the film. The film is more of a sunken treasure lark which also stars Jaqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte.
Sweeney was a film based on the TV show “The Sweeney”. The film starred John Thaw and Denis Waterman but also hit plenty other big stars like Scotsman Ian Bannen, Barry Foster, Diane Keen, Barry Foster and Linda Bellingham. It did well enough to have Sweeney 2 made.
Sport in 1977
Red Rum won his third Aintree Grand National this year having been second the previous two year and winner in 1973 and 1974. The greatest ever grand National horse also won both the Scottish and Aintree nationals in the same year of 1974. This is the only time a horse has done the double in the same year. Earth summit and Little Polvier have won both races in recent times but not during the same year.
This was also the year the great Pele hung up his boots.
Liverpool FC won their first European cup this year beating Borussia Munchengladback 3-1 in the final.
Virginia Wade won the Wimbledon Woman’s single title this year beating Betty Stove of the Netherlands 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the final in what was the tournaments centenary year. The next brit to hold a grand slam tennis title would be Andy Murray in 2012.
Ron Greenwood became England manager.
Charlotte Brew became 1st female jockey to ride in the Aintree Grand National.
Manchester United sack Tommy Docherty and sign Dave Seton as their new manager.
Celtic sold Kenny Dalglish to Liverpool for £440,000.
1977 Dual In The Sun. Tom Watson won his second Open championship with a win at Turnberry. His previous win had also been in Scotland at Carnoustie. On this occasion he beat Jack Nicklaus by one stroke.
Muhammad Ali beat Earnie Shavers after 15 rounds despite getting badly hurt in the second round and being past his best but still good enough to beat a top challenger like Earnie.
Niki Lauda took his second Formula one world championship title with James Hunt coming 5th.
News Events Of 1977
It was the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977.
Income tax was slashed to 30% this year.
3 Members of Lynard Skynard die in a plane crash.
Steve Hackett left Genesis.
The Chrysler Sunbeam is launched.
The Ford Granada is also launched this year.
In music we would have the first Brit awards. There would be join single winners in Bohemian Rhapsody and Whiter shades of pale with Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band getting the best album award some ten years after release.
Kilbirnie Ladeside won the Scottish Junior cup final beating Kirkintilloch Rob Roy 3-1 in the final
Jimmy Carter became the 39th President of the United States taking over from Gerald ford.
Marc Bolan died in a car crash.
Freddie Laker launched Skytrain.
You could purchase a Lion bar or a packet of monster munch for the very first time.
A handful of arrivals in 1977
Shakira (Colombian singer/songwriter) 2nd February
Tom Brady (American Football star) 3rd August
Tom Hardy (English actor) 15th September
Freddie Flintoff (English cricketer) 6th December
Luke Donald (British golfer) 7th December
A handful of departures in 1973
Anthony Eden (UK prime minister)
Joan Crawford (American actress) 10th May
Elvis Presley (American singer) 16th August
Groucho Marx (American actor) 19th August
Charlie Chaplin (Silent movie star) 25th December
That Was 1977
That’s my subjective brief journey through 1977. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Many thanks for joining me, good health, good fortune and God bless. Bye for now.
Other Years Featured In This Series
John presents the Golden Hour on Irvine Beat FM – Wed, Thu & Fri at 11am. Here are some other years that have featured in this series:
Answers to our 1977 Music Quiz (Above)
- Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motoway
- Elkie Brooks – Pearl’s A Singer
- Ram Jam – Black Betty
- Smokie – Needles And Pins
- Emerson Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man