For all the talk about the 70s fashion, Punks and Shag Haircuts, the 70s were also a decade of strange new customs. Hot on the heels of Disco came other odd rituals; Wet t-shirt contests and Mud Wrestling. Somehow in keeping with the “do anything – anytime” anthem that ran in and out of our social structure, we were busy dismantling and deconstructing – life was a blank slate. It was pretty much all based on sex and hedonism – the 70s were a decade of wretched excess. Even more than the 60s, because the 60s there was still experimenting and figuring out and tinkering with dosages. By the 70s it was full-on Quaaludes, Coke spoons on Gold chains and high-octane Party Drinks. And even though we were hot in the grips of Women’s Liberation, looking at sexism and roles – there was still that overpowering desire to “take it all off and do it in the road”.
Growing up in the 70s you were a hotbed of mixed signals. Try as you might to maintain some semblance of order and caution, it was the howling chorus of “If it feels good, do it!” that took over the drivers seat most weekends. The notion of “Saving yourself for your wedding night” was an outmoded concept by the end of the 60’s, but during the 1970s it was downright quaint. Only during the following decade did things calm down and go in reverse – but that was a whole decade off.
And even what you were listening to on the radio was full of mixed signals. On the one hand, you still had AM radio, still hanging on as the bastion of the mainstream – with Disco, Soul, Arena Rock and singer-songwriters being the mainstream. And then you had FM, which was growing up – easing out of its experimental phase and turning into a commercial enterprise, but still the place you got your dose of Punk, New Wave and the offbeat. But how long that was going to last was something only the following decade would know for sure.
But you were stuck in the 70s and there was no turning back.
To give you a taste of the mainstream side of the 1970s, here is a 45 minute slice of a Rick Dees broadcast from KHJ on September 26, 1979, when Rick Dees In The Morning was the biggest thing on radio that year.
And it was his idea for the first televised Wet T-Shirt contest.
Oh swell . . .