1973 — Pablo Picasso dies

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso was the co-founder the Cubist movement, the inventor of constructed sculpture, the co-inventor of collage, and a relentlessly innovative artist for most of his life. He is best known for his cubist works, such as the legendary 1937 painting “Guernica” and the 1967 sculpture known as the Chicago Picasso (for which he refused the $100,000 he had been promised, instead donating it to the people of Chicago).

In the last few years of his life, Picasso created a myriad of new paintings and sketches, and it was only after his death that the art critics of the world realised that Picasso had moved into neo-Expressionism before anyone else had even conceived of it: an innovator to his dying day.

Referenced in:
Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) — Paul McCartney and Wings

1973 — “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” premieres

“Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” was an iconic British sitcom in the 1970s. Its lead character, everyman Frank Spencer (played by Michael Crawford), went from disaster to disaster, and was terrifically annoying – yet somehow, Crawford’s performance (and the writing) never made him unsympathetic.

“Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” ran for a total of 22 episodes, split into three seasons (7 episodes in the first season and 6 in each of the other two) and three Christmas specials, the last of which screened in 1978. It has frequently been repeated in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth, being particularly popular in Australia (which, in turn, lead to a plotline about Frank moving to Australia in the final season).

Referenced in:
Kylie Said To Jason — KLF

1973 — Salvador Allende dies

More than 40 years later, it remains a matter of some dispute whether Salvador Allende, President of Chile, committed suicide (as the official version claims), or was assassinated. Given the circumstances of his death – he died on the same day that Augusto Pinochet, the commander in chief of the Chilean army, led a CIA-approved military coup d’etat against him, and the ‘official version’ is that of Pinochet, after all.

He was the President from 1970 to 1973, and although seen in the US as a Soviet puppet, was generally treated poorly by them. A lack of expected Soviet aid spending worsened the economic conditions in Chile, which created the conditions that led to the coup, although Allende’s economic reforms, which threatened the interests of the establishment while promoting those of the indigenous population, were also a factor.

Referenced in:
Mal Sacate — Kris Kristofferson

1973 – Jim Croce releases “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was to be Jim Croce’s last number one single – it was released only six months prior to Croce’s death in 1973. In the song, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown is a big tough guy from the South Side of Chicago, who doesn’t take crap from anyone – until one night he meets a man who is bigger and tougher than him.

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was the second single from Croce’s fourth album, “Life and Times”. It earned Croce two Grammy nominations (for Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year) and was still on the charts at the time of Croce’s death, having spent three months climbing to number one and three months descending.

Referenced in:
Bring Back That Leroy Brown — Queen
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1973 – The second Sunbury Pop Festival is held

The Sunbury Pop Festivals were intended to be Australia’s Woodstock. Four of them were held, in late January of each year from 1972 to 1975. The 1973 festival is one of the best remembered, largely due to the first release from Mushroom Records, “Sunbury 1973 – The Great Australian Rock Festival”, a three album set of the festival’s highlights.

About 25,000 people attended the 1973 festival, and performers who played there included The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, Spectrum, Max Merritt & the Meteors and Johnny O’Keefe (who was initially booed off the stage, but won over the crowd to such an extent that he ended up doing several encores). The MC for the festival was the comedian Paul Hogan.

Referenced in:
Sunbury ’73 — Chris Wilson
Sunbury 97 — The Fauves

1973 — Elvis Presley’s “Aloha From Hawaii” special is broadcast

Also known as “Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite”, this Elvis Presley concert was broadcast live from the Honolulu International Centre to South East Asia and Oceania. 28 European countries saw it the following day, while citizens of the USA had to wait until April to see it on tv (its original broadcast date conflicted with Super Bowl VII).

Of course, there was another way to see it: you could buy a ticket. Tickets went on sale in Hawaii a week before the concert, and all the funds raised by the concert (US $75,000) were donated to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund. That figure includes $1000 donated by Elvis himself, who took no payment for his performance. The concert cost an estimated $2.5 million dollars to stage, and Elvis Presley Productions claimed that 1.5 billion people watched it, a figure which has largely gone unchallenged (despite that fact that the total population of all the countries it was broadcast to was at that time less than 1.3 billion people).

Referenced in:
No More Fun — Roger Taylor

1973 – Charles Atlas dies

There was a time when, in just seven days, Charles Atlas could make you a man. Born Angelo Siciliano in 1892, Atlas (he legally changed his name in 1922) was the creator of a bodybuilding program that is probably best remembered for its advertising campaign. Atlas himself was famous for his body building, selling himself as one his program’s success story.

He died of a heart attack while out jogging at the age of 80, although given the Siciliano family’s history of heart attacks, it’s impressive that he lived to be that old. He was survived by a son, Hercules, and a daughter, Diana.

Referenced in:

Charles Atlas — A.F.I.

1973 – Bobby Darin dies

In 1968, Bobby Darin was doing well for himself. He’d had a string of hits over the last decade, starting in 1958 with “Splish Splash”, and continuing with “Dream Lover”, “Beyond the Sea” and “Mack the Knife” that had brought pleasure to millions. And then things went bad for him in a hurry. A close friend of and campaigner for Bobby Kennedy, he was present when Kennedy was shot and killed. Later that same year, he learned that the people he had always believed were his parents were actually his grandparents, and the woman he had thought was his sister was actually his mother.

Darin’s health, never great, took a turn for the worse under the stress of it all. He underwent heart surgery in 1971, and in 1973, developed an infection which led to sepsis that eventually killed him. He was only 37 years old. And not being done making the world a better place, he donated his body to science.

Referenced in:
Rock and Roll Heaven — The Righteous Brothers

1973 – Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” reachs #1 in the US

It’s a rare country and western song that breaks out of its genre to become a mainstream hit, but Charlie Rich’s 1973 song “The Most Beautiful Girl” is such a song. It reached #1 on the US, Belgian and Canadian charts, #2 in the UK and Ireland, and various top ten positions in Australia, France, Holland, Denmark and Norway. It took three months to climb to the top of the US charts, and held that exalted position for two weeks (it was knocked off by Jim Croce’s masterpiece, “Time In A Bottle”, which is certainly no shame).

Referenced in:

Putnam County — Tom Waits

1973 – Picasso draws his last known work, “Couple”

In his last years, Picasso’s productivity dropped off from the manic peaks of his youth. To be fair, he was in his nineties by then, and in all his decades, had created more than 50,000 works of art ranging from sculptures to sketches, in addition the paintings he was most famous for. He had certainly earned a quiet retirement, and he seemed for the most part content with his lot, if disappointed by his exile from his native Spain.

His last sketch, entitled “Couple” shows that although he may have slowed down with age, he has lost none of his skill or talent. His last painting had been created some years earlier, but showed a similar spirit. Picasso would die only a little later in that same year, during a dinner party with some friends. His last words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Referenced in:
The Last Picasso — Neil Diamond

1973 — Timothy Leary is arrested in Afghanistan

Tim Leary had been free for a couple of years when the feds caught up with him in Afghanistan. He’d broken out of the California state prison where he’d been sent, and knocked around the world for a couple of years looking for a place to stay. He’d even been placed under “revolutionary arrest” by Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria, although not for long.

The United States did not, at that time, have an extradition treaty with Afghanistan, and Leary’s arrest there was as controversial as anything else about the man. He was busted while disembarking from a plane, which according to treaty was supposedly US territory.

They brought him back home and dropped him into solitary at Folsom, in the cell next Charlie Manson. The two did not get along at all, as murderers and pacifists so frequently don’t.

Referenced in:
Broadway Melody Of 1974 — Genesis

1973 – Amin’s regime denounced by US Ambassador

Thomas Patrick Melady is not, in the general run of things, a man given to hyperbole. Today, he is one of the senior diplomats working for the United States, and a respected authority on African and European affairs. Among his greatest accomplishments was influencing the Vatican (during his term as Ambassador to the Holy See, from 1989 – 1993) to recognise the nation of Israel. He’s a serious man, is what I’m saying.

His first ambassadorial role was as US Ambassador to Burundi from 1969 – 1972. He then had the misfortune to become the new Ambassador to Uganda in 1972, a post he left the followiung year. In this role, he watched the early days of Idi Amin’s rule with mounting horror, describing the man in a telegram he sent to Washington on January 2, 1973, as “racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous, and militaristic”. The United States closed its embassy in Uganda 38 days later, and did not reopen it until 1979.

Referenced in:
Idi Amin — Down I Go

1973 — The Great King Rat dies

Only three facts are known about the circumstances of the Great King Rat’s death: the proximate cause was syphillis, it was forty-four years to the day since his birth, and the date was May 21st. Even the year is an estimate.

It is known that the Great King Rat was, at the time of his death, a notorious dirty old man, and my feeling is that he was probably involved with organized crime syndicates in London. Given the cause of his death, it seems likely that he did not use condoms.

Referenced in:

Great King Rat — Queen