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August 16, 1977 – Not a good day for music – not in 1977 and not in 2018. This day in 1977 we lost the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. And ironically, we lost The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin, on this day in 2018.
Whereas there had been reports for the past year that Aretha Franklin’s health was taking various turns for the worst, the death of Elvis Presley came as a shock – except perhaps to those closest to him. Both made incalculable contributions to Popular Culture through Music – both were icons – both were one-of-a-kind.
On this day in 1977, the day did not start out as anything particularly unusual – President Carter was being brief on Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s upcoming trip to Beijing. The trip was being hailed as a wonderful opportunity to normalize U.S./Chinese relations – missing from the discussion was the subject of Taiwan, the age-old problem that put the damper on many such attempts at discussions in the past.
The chief U.S. negotiators of the Panama Canal treaty Agreement were slated to appear on Capitol Hill to detail the proposed treaty to a special session of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. The Panel had control over monies used to operate the Canal and several Representatives voiced the opinion they weren’t ready to see what they called “The American Canal in Panama go down the drain”. The Carter Administration had already won support of the Canal agreement from former President Ford and former Secretary Of State Kissinger. Ford called the Treat an “important step forward”. It would give control of the waterway to Panama at the end of 1999. And UN Ambassador Andrew Young just returned from a 10 nation tour of the Caribbean and Latin America, voicing enthusiasm and adding that for the previous 15 years, the U.S. had no Caribbean policy and Young said Mr. Cater wanted to remedy that.
And of course, the big news of the day – August 16, 1977 – the day Elvis Presley died.
All that, and a lot more for this August 16, 1977 from CBS Radio News On the Hour.