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Flashback Fridays: March 1984

On this day, thirty-six years ago, the number-one song on the radio was “Jump” by Van Halen. Van Halen formed in Pasadena, California, just ten years earlier. Sons of Dutch and Indonesian immigrants, brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen were prominently raised in this area, and began playing music while they were still children. Throughout the late sixties into the early seventies, the brothers would play in multiple bands, often at local backyard parties. It wasn’t until 1974, when a man named David Lee Roth lent them a sound system. Roth’s payment in return, was the opportunity to sing lead vocals for their band. After the hiring of Michael Anthony, the classic Van Halen lineup was formed. After years of growing locally, and gaining a legendary reputation in the underground rock scene, Van Halen was officially signed to a major record label in 1977. Their debut album, 1978’s Van Halen was an instant success, becoming one of the highest regarded albums in rock music. Over the next five years, Van Halen underwent a grueling schedule, producing a new album each year and constantly touring in-between sessions. However, after a year-long hiatus from new material, Van Halen stormed the charts with their highly successful album, 1984. Released on January 9th of that year, it is widely considered Van Halen’s magnum opus, with a plethora of iconic hits such as “Panama,” “I’ll Wait,” “Hot for Teacher,” and their first number-one, “Jump.” “Jump” is arguably Van Halen’s most iconic song, with a catchy synth-hook that easily draws in its listeners.

Speaking of popular music at the time, English rock group The Police were on top of the world. They had only released five albums up to that point, each progressively more successful than the last; their most recent effort, 1983’s Synchronicity played a major role in the New Wave era of popular music. MTV thrived off of music videos for acts that experimented with the futuristic sounds of synthesizers and the classic riffs of an electric guitar; this LP specialized in both. Four successful singles dominated television sets and radio charts over the span of several months, from May of 1983 through early 1984. The Police were recipients of multiple awards at the 1984 Grammy Awards, including the prestigious song of the year for “Every Breath You Take.” Fans of The Police were eager to hear what next would come from the “biggest band in the world.” Unfortunately for them, their wave of success was only short-lived, as their final concerts in March of 1984 would be their last for over twenty years. Lead singer Sting was inspired to commit to a solo career. Two years later, The Police would disband permanently, save for a brief reunion tour from 2007-2008. Like the Beatles before, and Nirvana after, The Police ended their career at the height of their success.

Footloose danced its way into theaters in 1984. An American musical drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack, a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small town, where he attempts to overturn the ban on dancing instituted by the efforts of a local minister. The film grossed $80,000,00 domestically.

In violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, the Iraqi Army initiated two failed and one successful offensive chemical weapons (CW) programs. President Saddam Hussein pursued the most extensive chemical program during the Iran–Iraq War, when he waged chemical warfare against his foe. The Iraqi army began to develop an intensive research program to produce and store chemical weapons and used the war fields to test and perfect their chemical warfare prowess. Thus, as the war continued, Iraq’s chemical warfare program expanded rapidly.

On March 6, 1984, the National Coal Board announced its plan to cut the nation’s coal output by 4 million tons, in an effort to stem a $340 million annual loss. The miners began to strike and faced off against police forces backed by the government, in clashes that often turned violent. Some of the worst violence occurred in South Yorkshire, including a standoff at the British Steel coking plant in Orgreave on June 18, 1984 involving 10,000 miners and 5,000 police officers.

On television, the highest rated show at the time was Dallas, a CBS drama that has cemented itself in the cultural zeitgeist of the 1980’s. The series is best remembered for its iconic cliffhanger episode, “Nightmare,” in which main character J.R. Ewing is shot by a mysterious person. For several months, American audiences pondered over the perpetrator of the act. The season four premiere, “Who Done It,” remains the second-highest episode televised during prime time. Over the next few years, Dallas would remain the highest-viewed show on television, with its 1983-1984 season being the last of three to rank first. Their most recent episode at the time was the 22nd episode of the seventh season, “And the Winner is…”

Writers: Micah Borrelli & Lucas Hydock


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