Yesterday Once More: 1970

A look back at Austin and the world fifty years ago
Yesterday Once More: 1970

Let's jump back 50 years to 1970. As a new decade begins, three-year-old Austin, Texas-based Sonobeat Records has released two albums – one on its own label and one on the nationally-distributed Imperial Records label – and 19 singles, all on its own label and all but one in stereo. Sonobeat will continue to record Central Texas artists apace with prior years but will dramatically pare back its 1970 commercial release schedule.

As the decade clicks over from the '60s to the '70s, Austin's music scene is smokin', with strong whiffs of the new "outlaw" country movement pioneered by Texas singers and songwriters that will emerge full-blown by 1972. 1969 was tumultuous culturally, socially, economically, and politically throughout the world, and 1970 will be just as chaotic. Not just a dividing line between decades, 1970 also marks the line of demarcation between the peace and love optimism of the '60s hippie culture and the darker and more cynical '70s.

Mariani: Re-Birth Day
Sonobeat's only 45 RPM single release in 1970 introduces Austin progressive rock trio Mariani, whose album Perpetuum Mobile Sonobeat will record later in the year.
1970 in and around Austin

Austin's population hits 253,539, posting an annual growth rate of 3.12%.

Money matters:
   • The inflation rate is a relatively high 5.72%.
   • Median household income hits $9,870, up 4.6% from 1969.
   • Gasoline averages 36¢ per gallon.
   • Buy a new car for an average of $3,450.
   • A movie ticket averages $1.55.
   • The minimum wage rises to $1.45 an hour in February, up 15¢ from the 1969 minimum.
   • The average price of a new home hovers around $23,450.
   • H.E.B. has Winesap apples for 19¢ a pound, Del Monte cream style corn for 18¢ per can, ground chuck for 79¢ a pound, and Secret anti-perspirant deodorant for 64¢.

In January, Austin's Independent School District, operating eight predominantly black schools, is determined to be in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, leading to a federal lawsuit in August, in turn leading to a series of reforms to meet federal desegregation guidelines.

At the end of April, the Austin City Council approves a $3,600,000 annual Model Cities Program grant application. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs approves the application at the end of September. The grant money will be used to redevelop downtown and East Austin.

In July, the Austin City Council passes an ordinance banning swimming anywhere on Barton Creek except at Barton Springs Pool; the ban is intended to control public skinny dipping.

Austin's original hippie music hall, Vulcan Gas Company, closes for good in July, the victim of rising downtown rents and the lack of a liquor license. It's successor, Armadillo World Headquarters, opens on Barton Springs Road a month later.

The University of Texas Longhorn varsity football team, under head coach Darrell Royal, wins out its 10-game regular season to become the Southwest Conference champions and shares the national championship title with Nebraska until losing in the Cotton Bowl classic to Notre Dame on January 1, 1971.

Favorite Austin music venues

Even in 1970, Austin offers almost every style of live music, seven days a week:

Action Club (5500 North Lamar)
Armadillo World Headquarters (525½ Barton Springs Road) • opens in August 1970
Big Gil's Club (5200 South Congress Avenue)
Broken Spoke (3201 South Lamar)
Bucket, The (23rd and Pearl Streets)
Carousel Lounge (1110 East 52nd Street)
Cave Boogie Joint (3409 Guadalupe)
Club Caravan at the Villa Capri Hotel (2360 North Interregional Highway [IH 35])
Club Seville, The, at The Crest Inn (1st Street and Congress Avenue)
Dance World Club (6208 North Lamar)
11th Door, The (11th Street and Red River)
I L Club (1124 East 11th Street)
Jade Room, The (1501 San Jacinto)
Nero's Nook (828 West Ben White Boulevard)
New Orleans Club, The (12th Street and Red River)
Old Playboy Lounge, The (817 East 53½ Street)
SHowplace, The (108 West 8th Street)
Skol Room, The (3709 Lake Austin Boulevard)
Skyline Ballroom (11306 North Lamar)
Speed Museum (formerly Chequered Flag) (1411 Lavaca)
Split Rail Inn (217 South Lamar)
Sportsmans Inn (Fredricksburg Highway)
Vulcan Gas Company (316 Congress Avenue) • closes in July 1970

As the world turns...

The world's population begins the '70s at 3,700,437,046 (more than doubling over the past 50 years to 7,713,468,100 as we enter 2020).

Kansas City defeats Minnesota in Superbowl IV (January 11).

The Boeing 747 makes its first commercial passenger flight (January 22) from New York to London.

Devastating earthquakes measuring at least 7.5 on the Richter scale – the first in January in China and the second in May in Peru – kill more than 75,000 (66,000 deaths are in Peru).

The Beatles finally break up (April 10) with each of John, Paul, George, and Ringo releasing solo albums during the year.

The Apollo 13 lunar mission launches on April 11, but an on-board oxygen tank explosion shortly after launch begins a sequence of increasingly more harrowing mechanical failures ("Houston, we've had a problem"), so the mission aborts; the astronauts safely splash down in the Pacific Ocean six days later.

The first Earth Day is celebrated (April 22) by more than 20,000,000 demonstrators across the U.S.; founder Gaylord Nelson is inspired in part by Rachel Carlson's best-selling non-fiction book Silent Spring, itself credited with launching the environmental movement.

U.S. President Richard Nixon signs into law a bill reducing the voting age from 21 to 18 (June 22).

The U.S. military invades Cambodia (May 1), followed by the tragic deaths, at the hands of National Guardsmen, of four students at Kent State University in Ohio during campus protests against the U.S. incursion into Cambodia and ongoing war in Vietnam.

Eleven years after construction begins, Egypt's Aswan High Dam on the Nile River is completed (July).

On August 3rd, Hurricane Celia, formed in the Caribbean near Cuba, makes landfall in Corpus Christi, Texas, leaving in its wake 28 dead and almost a billion dollars in property damage.

The Isle of Wight Festival (August) attracts 600,000 attendees, making it the largest rock festival of all time. Performers include Joan Baez, Chicago, The Doors, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, John Sebastian, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, and The Who.

Notable losses in 1970: blues musician Slim Harpo, film composer Alfred Newman (you hear his most famous composition at the beginning of 20th Century Fox movies: the Fox Fanfare; his son, Randy Newman, also is a film composer, perhaps best known for his song You've Got A Friend in Me featured in the animated film Toy Story), burlesque icon Gypsy Rose Lee, actor Ed Begley (father of actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr.), four students killed by Army National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio (the subject of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song Ohio), actress Billie Burke (best known as the good witch Glenda in The Wizard Of Oz), Canned Heat guitarist Alan Wilson, pulp fiction writer Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of fictional attorney Perry Mason), boxer Sonny Liston, Egyptian president Abdel Nasser and former French president Charles DeGaulle, singers Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Tammi Terrell (Tammi's duet with Marvin Gaye, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, is featured in the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack), and legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.

Among future celebrities born in 1970 are singer Mariah Carey, actors Matt Damon, Tina Fey, River Phoenix, Uma Thurman, Queen Latifah, Melissa McCarthy, Simon Pegg, and Vince Vaughn, First Lady Melania Trump, film directors Christopher Nolan and M. Night Shyamalan, singer/songwriter Ginuwine, Mighty Morphin Power Ranger's Amy Jo Johnson (the Pink Ranger), renowned sports journalist Bonnie Bernstein, tennis star Andre Agassi, influential DJ and record producer Armand van Helden, and TV journalist Chris Cuomo.

Some of 1970's best and most popular

Best Picture of 1970 (Oscars® awarded in 1971 for 1970 movies): Patton starring George C. Scott (who also wins the Actor category) and directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (who wins the Directing category)

Outstanding Drama Series for the 1969-'70 season (Emmys®): The Bold Ones: The Senator (NBC), starring Hal Holbrook

Outstanding Comedy Series for the 1969-'70 season (Emmys®): All In The Family (CBS), starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner

Outstanding Musical or Variety Series for the 1969-'70 season (Emmys®): The Flip Wilson Show (NBC), the first successful U.S. network variety series starring an African-American

Top Hot 100 Single of the Year (Billboard Magazine): Bridge Over Troubled Water • Simon & Garfunkel

Record of the Year (Grammys®): Bridge Over Troubled Water • Simon & Garfunkel

Album of the Year (Grammys®): Bridge Over Troubled Water • Simon & Garfunkel)

Best New Artist of the Year (Grammys®): The Carpenters

Best Song of the Year (Grammys®): Bridge Over Troubled Water • Paul Simon (composer)

Best-Selling Books: Love Story (Erich Segal), The French Lieutenant's Woman (John Fowles), Rich Man, Poor Man (Irwin Shaw), Islands In The Stream (Ernest Hemingway), and The Crystal Cave (Mary Stewart)

Fashion trends:
   For women, bright colors and the hippie look are still "in", featuring beads and Birkenstocks, headbands and hats, bell bottoms, frayed jeans, midi skirts and maxi dresses, peasant blouses, and go-go and granny boots
   For men, the hippie look also is still going strong, with tie-die T-shirts, bell bottoms, frayed jeans, polka dot and striped shirts, and leather boots

Hottest new car of the year: Datsun 240-Z

Hottest toys: Nerf ball, Lite Brite, Big Wheel tricycles, banana seat bicycles, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy car sets

Favorite newborn boy's name (Social Security Administration statistics): Michael, which took the top spot beginning in 1961, still holds it in 1970

Favorite newborn girl's name (Social Security Administration statistics): Jennifer replaces Lisa at the top spot

Sonobeat in '70

Sonobeat releases one single and makes its second album sale to a national label. Coincidentally, although by different artists, the single and the album both include "Lost and Found" in their titles.

   The single: MarianiRe-Birth Day b/w Memories Lost And Found • Sonobeat R-s116
   The album: Wali And The Afro-CaravanHome Lost And Found (The Natural Sound) • Solid State SS-18065

Sonobeat also issues its second original song demo album by Sonosong tunesmith Herman Nelson, but the album is distributed only to national record labels to attract covers by well-known artists.

Zilker Hillside Theater presents Oliver
The 1970 annual summer musical at Zilker Hillside Theater is Oliver
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Datsun 240-Z
The Datsun 240-Z is 1970's hottest new car
Nissan USA

Love Story movie poster
Love Story is the biggest box office winner in 1970 with a domestic draw of $106,397,186 (or $705,314,624 in 2020 dollars)