Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who I Am

As I begin this blog, I'd like to share a little bit about me with my readers and visitors. My name is Chris and I have been a 70s music fanatic since I was about 14 years old. Call it a sickness, but I love the stuff.

I was born in 1972 -- in fact, the same date as the Billboard chart that listed The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" at #1 -- and while I grew up in the 1980s, my first memories were of 70s music. I remember hearing Abba's "Dancing Queen" blasting across the parking lot of the complex we lived in in '77. I remember two of my classmates entertaining us in Mrs. Wood's 2nd grade class with their take on Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" I remember watching Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever and Grease at the movie theater. I even remember asking my father (who was in the U.S. Navy) why he didn't seem to care for The Village People's Navy song.

Around 1982, I was hooked on Top 40 radio and became a regular listener to Casey Kasem's countdown shows. It was a good time to be into hit radio, but several years later, the music seemed different. By 1987, I still listened to the hits but they didn't "speak" to me the same way. So, I did what a lot of kids do: I clandestinely scoped out my parents' old record collection and listened to them when nobody else was around. Although I initially became fond of The Beatles and The Four Seasons for the power in their music, I was also drawn to the stories in the songs by John Denver, Jim Croce and Carly Simon. I could relate to the guy who was making his way in "I Got a Name" because I was getting ready to take that path myself. At the same time, I became enamored of the grooves behind funk and disco. Before I knew it, I was listening to Barry Manilow and The Carpenters (still, when nobody else was around). I was adding Steely Dan, The Eagles and ELO to my collection of cassette tapes. I soon realized I was hopelessly devoted to the music.

Around the age of 20, I was a radio DJ in upstate New York. At WFNP (my college's station), I did several 70s-format shows under the DJ name Dr. Funk. They were very well-recieved and got a lot of requests. I later worked at WBWZ (Z93) in 1995/'96 when it was an all-70s format. I wasn't one of the big guys at that station; I did weekends and the occasional overnight shift. The best thing about working at a station during those hours is that usually, you're the only person there. Among the great reference materials at the station was the following book:

(Click the link and pick up a copy if you want...yes, a little commission from that gets sent my way, but I'll use any proceeds to get more info for my site).

The book has a copy of every Billboard Hot 100 chart from 1970-'79. With unlimited access to a copy machine and no office staff to wonder what the heck I was doing, I began making a database of every song that hit the chart, grouped by artist. I used the info for my radio shows until I left the business.

In 2000, I got a decent computer and begin surfing the Web on a regular basis. Out of my own curiosity, I began learning HTML and used the info I'd gathered in my radio days to build a website. The result: my website Top Hits of the 1970s. Ironically, I entered much of the HTML code for the site while doing part-time weekend work for a different radio station in Florida.

That's a short introduction. I'll stop by occasionally to share my insight about 70s music and culture. Before I leave, here's another book that is a great addition to the reference shelf of any fellow 1970s music fanatics. Written by Fred Bronson, the book has a lot of great lists: top songs by artists, producers, writers and record labels, top songs by subject matter, even the Top songs by year and decade beginning with 1956 and a list of the overall Top 5000 songs in the Rock Era. His lists for top songs by year and decade show up (in abbreviated form) on my website.

Until next time...ciao.

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