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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 30, 1980

Many claim that 2016 has been a terrible year, and frankly I agree!  Everything about this year has seemed very off.  But, thankfully, there's only four months left in it as I'm ready to post the last Tuesday Timeline in August.

So, drop your anchors and chill a while as I go over some of the historical happenings that took place on August 30.

1791 - HMS Pandora sinks a day after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef

1797 - British author and playwright Mary Shelley (d. 1851) is born

1800 - A slave rebellion is planned by Gabriel Prosser in Richmond, Virginia, but is postponed due to rain, giving the opposition time to find and arrest the group

1835 - The city of Melbourne, Australia is founded

1836 - Houston, Texas is founded by Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen

1908 - Actor Fred MacMurray (d. 1991) is born in Kankakee, Illinois

1914 - The Russians are defeated by the Germans in the Battle of Tannenberg

1918 - Baseball player Ted Williams (d. 2002) is born in San Diego, California

1942 - The Battle of Alam el Halfa begins

1944 - Baseball player Tug McGraw (d. 2004) is born in Martinez, California

1945 - Hong Kong is liberated by Japan by British Armed Forces

1963 - The Moscow-Washington hotline goes into operation

1967 - Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

1974 - A bomb is detonated at Tokyo's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Headquarters, killing eight and injuring 378

1981 - The President and Prime Minister of Iran are assassinated by the People's Mujahedin of Iran

1984 - Space Shuttle Discovery takes off on its maiden voyage

1992 - After eleven days, the Ruby Ridge standoff comes to an end, and Randy Weaver surrenders to authorities

1993 - Actor Richard Jordan dies at the age of 56

1999 - East Timor votes to declare its independence from Indonesia

2006 - Actor Glenn Ford passes away at the age of 90

2015 - Director/producer/screenwriter Wes Craven dies at the age of 76

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one whole year older; Vic Seixas, Bill Daily, Warren Buffett, Ben Jones, Sue MacGregor, Peggy Lipton, Timothy Bottoms, David Paymer, Frank Conniff, Ricky Sanders, Michael Chiklis, Paul Oakenfold, Lars Frederiksen, Cameron Diaz, Lisa Ling, Aaron Barrett, Andy Roddick, Joe Inoue, Holly Weston, and Tania Foster.

Okay, so what date are we going to go back in time to today?  

Let's try thirty-six years in the past to August 30, 1980.

Now, 1980 was a year in which music styles were greatly shifting.  The disco of the 1970s was fading fast, only to be replaced by songs recorded by singer-songwriters.  1980 was also the year before MTV debuted, and while some music groups had released promotional music videos for their singles, for the most part radio airplay was the preferred method for music promotion.

Sometimes I wish we'd go back to those days - especially after watching part of the trainwreck that was the MTV Video Music Awards that aired this past Sunday.

After all, it was during this time period that a young man from San Antonio, Texas was becoming a big star on both the adult contemporary chart and the Billboard Hot 100.  His debut album was released in December 1979 to glowing reviews, and all four single releases from that album became Top 20 hits between 1979 and 1980.

And it was on this date thirty-six years ago that the highest charting single from that album hit the #1 spot.

ARTIST:  Christopher Cross
SONG:  Sailing
ALBUM:  Christopher Cross
DATE RELEASED:  June 15, 1980

Yes, today's Tuesday Timeline subject is singer-songwriter Christopher Cross, who dominated the early 1980s music scene with easy listening hits and adult contemporary charm.  That's Christopher Cross, not to be confused with Kris Kross, the teen duo famous for wearing their jeans backwards and singing "Jump".

Christopher began his singing career the way that a lot of artists start off - by joining a band.  In this case, the then 27-year-old Christopher became part of a cover band calling themselves "Flash" in 1978.  He played with the band for a few months before going off on a solo career by signing a recording contract with Warner Music at the end of the year.  In 1979, he began work on his debut album, "Christopher Cross", and released it just before Christmas, without any idea of just how successful the album would become.

Little did he know that album would ensure that he entered the 1980s with a huge bang.

Part of the reason why the album was so successful was because of songs like "Sailing".  The year 1980 was a time in which singer-songwriters began to make a huge impact in the world of music.  It was a time in which Billy Joel, Robbie Dupree, Michael McDonald, and Juice Newton were emerging as real music stars, and Christopher Cross' formula of slow, calming ballads with his natural soothing voice was a winning combination for the changing face of pop music.  "Sailing" was a song that could take you to a place filled with peace, tranquility, and relaxation and just listening to that song made you feel as though you were on vacation chilling on a sailboat letting the ocean breeze caress your face. 

TRIVIA:  I guess it comes as no secret that the song is reportedly heavily played at Walt Disney World, huh?

Other hits from Christopher Cross' debut album included "Ride Like The Wind", "Never Be The Same", and "Say You'll Be Mine", but really it was "Sailing" that really became the true success story as it was that single that helped Christopher Cross set a record that to this day remains unbroken.

The success of "Sailing" ensured that Christopher Cross was nominated for a slew of Grammy Awards in 1981, and Cross ended up winning five awards total.  But as of 2016, Cross remains the one and only artist to win the coveted four-pack of what could be considered the most sought after awards of the show all at once.  He won Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist - all at the same time!  

I think it's safe to say that was the high point of what could have been considered a fantastic year for Christopher Cross, and this would lead to him releasing the main theme for the movie "Arthur" in 1981, as well as another successful album "Another Page", which included the song "Think of Laura". 

But by the time the mid-1980s came around, Christopher Cross all but disappeared from the public spotlight, and before you knew it, he was virtually unheard of.  But why was that the case?

Certainly it had nothing to do with talent.  He definitely still had it.  But unfortunately, by the time Christopher had released "Another Page", MTV was being broadcast in more and more homes, and the general mood was that how a band looked was just as important as how they sounded, and artists who used a lot of flair and flashiness were being put on heavier rotation than artists who merely sounded good.  So, because he didn't quite fit the stereotype of what the typical MTV viewer wanted at that time, his star faded into the pop music history books.

But despite this, Christopher never gave up on making music.  He released a total of twelve albums between 1985 and 2014, and while he certainly never had another Top 40 hit after "Think of Laura", his work was critically acclaimed, and to be perfectly honest sounds a lot better than some of the stuff that is passing as popular music these days.  And word on the street is that at the age of 65, Cross is working on another studio album that is set to be released either in late 2016 or early 2017.  It'll be interesting to see how it does.

But at least he can take comfort in knowing that he did have a #1 that charted thirty-six years ago today.

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