Friday, August 30, 2013

We Heard It On The Stereo & The Radio....

When we came to Vanderbilt in the late 1960s and early 1970s, listening to our music was very important. So a stereo system like this is what we brought from home (or bought in Nashville) to make sure we could do that in our dorm rooms. Primarily we used it so we could play our collection of long-playing 33 1/3 RPM vinyl albums. How important was that? Well, I was accused of marrying my Vanderbilt sweetheart (Betty Lee Love, VU Class of 1973) just to get her album collection!

In the days when there were no internet or satellite or  cable TV music channels, no CDs, no Walkmans, no tapes and those awful four-track stereo disc players were mainly available only in luxury cars,  besides your stereo or  turntable this was about all you had if you wanted your music, especially if you wanted it mobile.......

Nashville had two very competitive Top 40 Rock and Roll radio stations in those days. And they were located right next to each other on the AM band (WKDA, 1240 and WMAK, 1300). That made it very easy to switch back forth, to make sure you were always listening to the music you really liked. Later while we were in school, the FM stations with their "underground" format, playing longer hard rock album cuts, began to rise in popularity, especially WKDA-FM (later 103 KDF).

But the clear "leader" in Nashville radio while we were in town was Scott Shannon of WMAK. His prime time evening broadcasts were the top-rated in the market and help propel his career to national fame including his stint on MTV some years ago. He is still a very prominent national radio disc jockey. Here, courtesy of YouTube and the Official Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame, is  brief air check of one of "Super Shan's" shows from August, 1969, about the time we rolled onto campus....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Football!

The 2013 College Football season begins tonight with our Vanderbilt Commodores playing at  home on Dudley Field before a national television audience (ESPN, kickoff 8:15 CDT) versus SEC rival Ole Miss. Expectations are high with the team under Head Coach James Franklin having been to consecutive bowl games the last two seasons (the first time ever in Vandy history) and winning 9 games in 2012 alone. That's the most wins for VU in a single season since 1915!

This game tonight is also the first home football contest for the VU Class of  2017. It sure brings back some fun memories of our first home game which was nearly 44 years ago on October 1, 1969.

 That's when the Dores pulled off one of greatest upsets in school history downing the undefeated and nationally ranked (13)Alabama Crimson Tide, 14-10. It's the only time VU beat the legendary Bear Bryant while he coached at Alabama.

Since the night of that game over four decades ago, I am pretty sure almost none of us have seen even some ESPN-style highlights of that evening (and Vandy dominated the game statistically).

But now if you come to our 40th Reunion Class Party, Friday night, October 4, you can see the game in full!

That's right, we will have a DVD tape with every play of that game (including some sideline shots and slow motion action). It will be on display when you arrive at the newly remodeled Rand Hall and will replay throughout the evening. Many thanks to Rod Williamson and the VU Athletic Department for making the game film available!

While there is no play-by-play or game sound available, what you'll see is bound to bring back some great memories!


To get those memory brain cells going, Quarterback Watson Brown was one of the big heroes of the game. Here's a recap of the contest I wrote five years ago (2008) on this blog just before our 35th Reunion.

It was October 1, 1969. VU came into its first Southeastern Conference home game against Alabama having lost its first three contests against Michigan, Army and North Carolina. The Crimson Tide, under its already legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, came in undefeated and nationally ranked.

But behind the leadership of quarterbacks Watson Brown and (West End) Denny Painter, Vanderbilt rolled up 473 yards in total offense while the defense harressed Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter into completing just four passes in 25 attempts for a paultry 91 yards.
The final outcome however was still in doubt well into the 4th quarter as Alabama led 10-7. That's when Vanderbilt linebacker Christie Hauck (now more famous for his cookies than his football prowess) intercepted an Alabama pass in the end zone and returned it to the Commodore 8.

Let's let Ira Deitsch of THE VANDERBILT HUSTLER tell the rest of the story as he did in article two years later in October, 1971. "At that point Painter took over the reins of the offense and cooly directed the team to the Tide 21-yard line by way of four passes--three to Curt Chesley of 18, 6 and 17 yards and one to David Strong for 19 yards."

"Brown then returned to the field and on third down from the 21, he handed the ball to Doug Mathews (now more famous for his years as a UT assistant football coach and local radio talk show host) who galloped ten yards (for a first down) to the 11. Brown then flipped the ball to Jim Cunningham in the end zone for the winning points."

When the game ended, many fans (and students) stormed the field in victory. Suddenly things looked bright. Vandy had had a winning season the year before (5-4-1 in 1968) so who knew what was possible. Unfortunately while we were there over the next four years Vanderbilt would win but 4 other SEC games and post an overall record of 15-27, 5-18 in the SEC.

The revenge of the Bear was even more decisive. In his next three visits to Nashville (1971, 1973 & 1975) his teams defeated Vandy 42-0, 44-0 and 40-7. He then added the exclamation point beating the Dores 66-3 when he came to Dudley in 1979.

But that one night, October 1, 1969, our first home game as college students, those memories of sweet victory will always belong to us and the Black & Gold nation!

Come see it again when you attend to our 40th Class Reunion Party at the beautifully renovated Rand Hall on Friday evening, October 4, 2013. Register today!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Joan Baez

Joan Baez was a legendary folksinger and social activist long before she came to Vanderbilt our senior year for a concert in Memorial Gym. She also came to town not long after she enjoyed the greatest singles release of her career. "THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN" was certified gold for record sales and reached as high as #3 on the charts back in the late summer of 1971. Courtesy of YouTube, here she is performing that song from about the same period we saw her at Vandy.....

Joan Baez was also a part of an incredible group of singers and other entertainers who came together to perform as a part of the historic March on Washington 50 years ago today (August 28, 1963). Here's a compilation of some of the music they sang that day. Those appearing include  Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson and many others. This video begins with Joan Baez singing the anthem of the American Civil Rights movement "WE SHALL OVERCOME"........

It was many years later when Joan Baez was invited back to Washington to sing "WE SHALL OVERCOME" again. This time it was for President Barack Obama and others during a special concert at the White House. It was truly a special and historic moment...

At age 72, and after 55 years of performing, Joan Baez remains active both in her music and in social causes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From "Little" To Mega-Superstar

When Stevie Wonder took the stage to perform a concert at Vanderbilt our senior year (in Memorial Gym I believe) he was barely a year older than most of us (born May 13, 1950). But as a child prodigy, he had been a Motown star since 1963, when he debuted as "Little Stevie Wonder" with a number one album (RECORDED LIVE: THE 12 YEAR OLD GENIUS) and a number one single (FINGERTIPS (Pt2).

By the time of his Vanderbilt appearance we were fortunate enough to see Wonder just as he was growing from "little" to the mega superstar of the 1970s-80-90s and today with more than 30 Top Ten hits and 22 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist.

It's was Wonder's 1972 TALKING BOOK Album that was likely rising up both the album and singles charts when we saw him in concert. That includes two number one hits. First, "SUPERSTITION."Here's how he performed it on, of all TV shows, SEASAME STREET in April, 1973. I sure none of us watched that childrens' show in those days, but little did we know how often our children would watch it in the years to come......

A second number hit for Stevie Wonder off his TALKING BOOK album was "YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE." Here it is a more normal live concert setting from back in the day  during a live concert in London in 1974....

If  you have any kind of interest at all in the backstories on how some of the great music we enjoyed during our era came about, as well as the great artists who created them, we have an extra special treat for you at the beginning of our 40th Reunion Weekend on Friday, October 4.

On Friday afternoon, October 4 from 2:30 until 3:30 P.M. in the Rand Function Room (where the Class of 1973 will have our party that evening) Vanderbilt Vice-Chancellor David Williams will present: MOTOWN MUSIC & ITS INFLUENCERS.  A tease on the Reunion web site says: "Music of the Motown era including tunes from Memphis, Chicago and Philadelphia (along with)  stories about the songs and those who created them."

Vice-Chancellor Williams, who grew up in the Motown area of Detroit, made a similar presentation five years ago, and it's just wonderful. It's worth coming to town early for Reunion just to be there and see and hear what he has to say about this special brand of American music.

Oh, I am sure the Vice-Chancellor (who is also Vanderbilt's athlectic director) will happy to discuss and answer your questions about the true sports renaissance and success the University is experiencing throughout all its athletic programs under his leadership.

It's not just for Motown that David Williams is THE MAN on campus these days!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Does Anybody Feel A Draft?

When we were in school and somebody said the word "draft", it wasn't because they felt a sudden rush of cold air. It meant getting that "Greeetings from United Sam" letter that was a prelude to a physical, and then possible induction into the armed forces.

In those days, students over 18 got deferrals if they were enrolled full time in college. But I can remember once when that almost didn't happen.....

I haven't told many stories on this Blog about being a Peabody student. But for my first two years in college (1969-1971), I was enrolled across 21st Avenue even though I spent a good bit of time on the Vandy campus, working at WRVU and taking what classes I could at Vanderbilt. I tranferred full time to VU in the fall of 1971.

I distinctly remember the fall of 1970, when suddenly all the men at Peabody started getting letters from their draft boards informing them they were under consideration to lose their 2S deferred status for the draft and might soon become re-classified 1A and at the top of the list (depending on their birth date) to begin the military induction process. I am pretty sure this was 1970, because in the fall of 1969 I wasn't yet 18 and therefore had not had to register for the draft.

Wow! What happened? Apparently somebody at Peabody had forgotten to fill out or send in the proper paperwork. That was soon corrected and college deferments continued although the military draft was already undergoing major changes that would see it basically disappear by the time we graduated in May, 1973......

On December 1, 1969 a lottery was held to determine the priority for who would be called for military service. Actually, it was two lotteries, one for day of the year (your birthday) and then for alphabetical order if that day was high (or low) enough for those on that date to be inducted.

There was no CNN or FOX NEWS in those days and no way to scrawl the selected numbers across the bottom of the TV screen. So everyone called and descended on WRVU because the station had a UPI wire machine which received all the lottery information by teletype.

To say the least the phone lines were jammed and people stood in line on the steps leading up to the studios waiting to find out what their number (or their boyfriend's number) was. We posted the list on the wall and tried to answer the phone.

We quit saying "WRVU" when we picked up the phone as people desparately just yelled out the month and day and we gave back the lottery number. That was followed by screams of joy or sorrow (sometimes it was hard to tell which) as then the line went dead and callers then went out to either celebrate or try and drown their sorrows (especially if your lottery number was between 1 and 195, which was expected to be the cutoff for possible inductions going forward if you became 1A).

Actually as the Vietnam War began to wind down, inductions became much less than that. The December, 1969 lottery did not actually include our class (men born in 1951). That came the next year in July, 1970. Of course, school had already ended for the term by then and we were home for the summer. So I don't remember much about that lottery, although I remember my number was 151 (December 13).

As the armed forces went more and more to volunteers, the lotteries were held for two more years but by 1973 no one was called up that way although I think we were still required by law to keep our draft registration cards on our person until age 35. I did, and I think I still have it somewhere in a dresser drawer at home.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What Was I Thinking??#!#!

It wasn't just Cliff Knowles who's still living down a photo from over 40 years ago. I obviously learned a lot from my time at WRVU, things that have helped me a lot in my work in the media and public relations since leaving Vanderbilt.

But why in the world was I wearing this pair of headphones, especially since one side is obviously broken and is dangling around my ear with the wrong side pointed out? It was probably because the other side of headphones was working and the station didn't have another pair to use during the broadcast.

But, hey, check out that polyester shirt and that dark wavy hair! Ugh!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The New Dell?

It's all the talk in Nashville,

Mayor Karl Dean is having conversations with state officials about building a new $40 million professional baseball park near downtown, just north of the State Capitol.  It would be the new home of the AAA Nashville Sounds,taking the franchise back to the area's baseball roots.....

Dating back to days right after the Civil War, Sulphur Dell was the home of baseball in Nashville for over a century. That included the Nashville Vols playing in the old Southern Association from 1900 to 1961. The team had close ties from its beginning with Vanderbilt, including the name of the ball park itself coming from Grantland Rice, one of the University's most well known graduates and even today considered one of the greatest sports writers of all time.....

You probably don't remember professional baseball in Nashville during our years at Vanderbilt. That's because after the Southern League folded following the 1960 season (and a one-year baseball revival in 1963), the ballpark closed, and Sulphur Dell, at the time the oldest baseball park in the nation, was torn down in 1969, the year we came to campus.
It was Vanderbilt baseball coach Larry Schmittou (center in the photo above) who brought pro baseball back to Nashville. After putting Vanderbilt on the map in college baseball by winning divisional and SEC championships while we were in school, he left Vandy and made the new Nashville Sounds one of the top minor league franchises in the nation from 1978 until he sold the team a few years back.

Now with the stadium Schmittou built on city park property in South Nashville (Greer Stadium) beginning to show its age (35 years after this season), we see this latest move to build a new park back where it all began.

Will there continue to be a Vanderbilt connection? With Coach Tim Corbin building the Commodores into a perennial national power, the new Dell might certainly be an interesting place for the team to play each season, perhaps especially a non-conference series against another national powerhouse teams, games that might attract crowds larger than what Hawkins Field on campus could not accomodate?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Week Away.....

For the second year in a row, Vanderbilt opens its own (and the nation's) college football season playing Ole Miss under the lights at Vanderbilt Stadium next Thursday night (August 29). Kickoff is  at 8:15 p.m. (CDT). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

After winning 9 games in 2012 (the most in school history since 1915), the Commodores are also looking for their third consecutive bowl trip if it can score another winning season (at least 6 wins) in 2013. Meantime, here's one last look back at what turned out to be a magical 2012 season....

In case you need another reason to come to our 40th Reunion, it's Homecoming Weekend October 3-5 and we play the Missouri Tigers for the first time ever in Nashville as an SEC opponent. Game time against Missouri will be announced about 10 days beforehand. And if 2013 is anything like last year, the Dores by then could be Anchoring Down for another great season! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks

It's a group that never enjoyed the commercial success that should have followed the critical raves it received.

But looking back, having Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks on campus in February, 1973 (senior year) was a pretty big lick given that the group had just been on national network TV (at a time when there were only three networks to watch each night).

And here is that performance on The Flip Wilson Show on September 29,1972.....

Having watched several of their videos on You Tube, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks was the kind of band with a sound that had people literally dancing in the aisles. And while I was not present for the Vandy concert (my loss), with the performance being in Neely Auditorium I can see people doing exactly that... dancing in the aisles and even in the pews there.

So did you attend this concert and what do you remember? Please leave your memories below or on our Class Facebook page.

More Vandy concert memories to come. Your suggestions and memories are welcome.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why The Judge "Orders" You To Come To Reunion

Nsshville Judge and Federal Magistrate Cliff Knowles (seen on the left above) is one of many successful members of our VU Centennial Class of 1973 (probably despite this photo).

He's coming to our 40th Reunion and he "ordering" all of us to join him as well, especially if you worked at WRVU back in the day (including after it went FM in December 1971). 580 AM, then 91 Rock!

WRVU alums:

When I was a DJ at WRVU my freshman year (on-air name "Johnny Day") I played lots of oldies but goodies. A big Number 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the fall of 1969 was "Na Na Na, Hey Hey." As difficult as it is to believe, that was 44 years ago. Now, we are the oldies but goodies.

Do you recall that WRVU was at 580 on your AM dial? That we had a cool tape which crooned "Channel 58, Nashville"? That, somehow, WRVU was "broadcast" to the campus through the telephone lines? That the studio was on the second floor of Neely Auditorium? What else do you (or can you) remember?

Well, in the immortal words of another oldie but goodie, Bruce Springsteen, "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive." So, LETS PARTY--while we still can.

The class of 1973, a/k/a The Centennial Class of Vanderbilt, is having its 40th Reunion the weekend of October 3-5, 2013, a mere four months from now. You can see the new and improved Vanderbilt Commodores take on SEC rivals the Mizzou Tigers. Don't forget that the "old" Commodores beat Alabama, ranked No. 13 in the country, in the fall of 1969. There will also be a class party with lots of music from our era.

Please join me and (hopefully) lots of alums of the "Mighty WERV" for drinks and rememberances. Register today at I hope to see you in October.

Cliff Knowles

A '73

And for good measure, here's that blast from the past: The last Number #1 hit of 1969 on the BILLBOARD Chart (two weeks in December): "Hey, Na, Na: Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam.....

Who knew back in our time you'd hear this song sung by the crowd at every baseball and basketball game now when a opposing pitcher get knocked out of the contest or someone on the opposing team fouls out. Clearly, our Class as always was ahead of its time!

Monday, August 19, 2013


None of us had very much of it back when we were in school, but we must have liked listening to BREAD and buying its records.  The California "soft rock" band, dominated the Billboard charts from 1970 until 1972.

The group scored five Top Ten songs  in the space of two years, beginning with "Make It With You" in June, 1970 followed  by "It Don't Matter To Me" (September, 1970), "If" (March, 1971), "Baby, I'm A Want You" (October, 1971)and "Everything I Own" (June, 1972).  There were later big hits as well such as "Guitar Man" (1972) and "Sweet Surrender" (1972), both of which hit #1 on the Easy Listening Charts.

BREAD did a concert at Vanderbilt while we were there, meaning they came to campus while they were one of the top-selling groups in the nation. I think they played in Memorial Gym but I don't remember if it was our junior or senior year. What do you remember? In particular, Steven Griel, what's the back story on their visit to Vanderbilt?

It seems to me this is a rock group from our era that has faded in memory as time goes by. But their "Best Of" album from 1973 has done well, garnering a 5X Platinum status. To stir up the memories, here's their first hit (it went all the way to #1) " Make It With You"........

By the way, did you check out the fashion in the video, the various clothes the band members are wearing in the photos? Just saying, since the suggsted attire for our 40th Reunion Class Party on Friday, October 3 (register today) is "Back to the '70s." I will be making more fashion suggestions in upcoming postings, because, if you are like me and sometimes can't remember what you had for breakfast today, you may not remember early 1970s clothing attire either (or maybe when you see some of it again you won't feel like remenbering it).

In future posts I will also be featuring other groups who came and gave concerts while we were at Vanderbilt. I have several in mind, but my memories are not always clear or complete. So I am open to suggestions of any bands or groups you remember playing on campus or in Nashville back in the day.  Just leave your thoughts below or on the Class Facebook page.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Bottom Line

As the Class of 2017 moves on campus, it's time to review the bottom line.(above)...what it cost to go the school at Vanderbilt when we started in the Fall of 1969.

Believe or not, how about only $1,860 for tuition! How about $1,010 to $1,180 for room and board? And if you were a Greek, I think you could still pledge in the fall back then. It added an average of $125 to $300 per year back then says the official information (above) given out by the University.

Stop laughing (or crying) if you still have a child or two in college today! Sure you can't pay for doggie day care these days at those prices. But, as I recall there were editorials and letters to the editor in THE HUSTLER when we graduated, predicting that the upcoming tuition increase for the Fall of 1973 (I think going from $2,600 to $2,800) was going to be the ruination of the school and price students out of going to Vanderbilt.

Well, no,  obviously it didn't. although the prices today might take your breath away:

Lots of things change over the years and that includes the cost of living and everything else since 1969, 44 year ago.. But I'd also add...looking back, we sure got a bargain for the cost of our education at Vanderbilt back in the day.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


It's Move-In Day for Vanderbilt freshmen!

For us locals, it means stay far away from the Target on White Bridge Road which always has its greatest amount of traffic and largest sale volume of the year when the new class arrives. Sometimes you can't even find a place to park there are so many parents and students making that "run to the store"(or two) because they forgot something.

Move-In seems to be a much more structured and highly organized (The Move-In crew) event than I think we remember from 40 years ago in the fall of 1969. Here's a video from back in 2010 when this year's seniors (the Class of 2014) were freshmen and came on campus to stay for the first time.....

I sure don't remember Vanderbilt having the student Move-In crew when my daughter Katie came to campus as a freshman in August, 1997. Sure wish they had. I have never been more exhausted in my life than I was at the end of that day moving her into Branscomb. But it does make for great memories, especially for me because as a transfer (Peabody) and home-based student I never got to experience of moving in or living in a VU dorm.

And now here's a video of yesterday's 2013 Vanderbilt Move-In Day....

Friday, August 16, 2013

So You Are In The Know.....

It's aimed for freshmen and students coming back to campus this weekend, but here's a link (below) to an on-line lowdown on what's been happening at Vanderbilt over the summer and as the fall term begins. As you'll see and read, THE HUSTLER is still trying to help students make sense of it all....

Maybe the information can also help you get a better idea of what you can see and experience when you arrive back in Nashville (and at Vanderbilt) in early October for our 40th Reunion. Be ready....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do You Remember Your First Day on Campus?

Saturday is move-in day for Vanderbilt students for the fall term including the Class of 2017.

Do you remember when you first moved in? What stories do you remember from that day or your first week at Vanderbilt? Leave your thoughts below in the comments section or on the Class Facebook page.

Who was your roomate freshman year? Did you know each other before you came to campus? Who was your Vuceptor, the upper classman that greeted you and took you (and others in a small group) out to dinner that first night? Where did you go? Were you already a little homesick or you couldn't wait for Mom and Dad to leave so you could start your college experience on your own?

Of course, we weren't fortunate enough to all live together in one dorm complex such as the Commons over at Peabody where all the freshmen now stay their first year. It seems Branscomb was pretty nice for the freshman women in our day. Kissan Quad for the guys (maybe not so much).

By the way, if you haven't been on campus in a while, Kissam is gone and is being replaced by the new College Halls complex, living quarters equal in being as nice (if not nicer) than what the freshman have in the Commons.

Here's something else we didn't get to do when we were Vanderbilt freshmen....have a collective photo taken of all the class right after we moved in. The one above is of the seniors who graduated last May. It was taken in 2009.

Pretty cool, huh? Maybe we can find a way to take a collective photo of our own at our class party at the newly renovated Rand Hall on Friday, October 3? Forty -four years late, but in terms of seeing all my friends of the Centennial Class of 1973 one more time, way better late, than never.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Forty Years Later...Some Things Change...Some Don't

As we all prepare to return to campus for our 40th Class Reunion in a little over seven weeks (register today!), it's interesting to take a quck look back at what's changed and what's still about the same four decades later. How about places to eat?

 These are long gone.....

The Burger Whop across from the Towers

Tex Critters across from the also now defunct Kissam Quadrangle.

But don't despair, several of our culinary favorites remain.....

And while it's not a place to eat, believe it or not, despite all the University expansion and growth over the last 40 years, this barber shop on the ground floor of the old Oxford House apartments is still there too (in case you guys need a shave or your ears lowered when you get to town).

Monday, August 12, 2013

And It Started In Nashville.....

Like all of us in the Vanderbilt Class of 1973, we came to Nashville looking for our way to future success. That's as it's been for so many in the country music and entertainment business over the years. During our time together this was particularly true once this venue opened in 1971 on Elliston Place about a block from campus....


The successful alumni roster of the Exit In is quite long during its 42 year plus history. One of its first great success stories was this "wild and crazy guy".....

Long before he was hosting Saturday Night Live or he was a movie star of a string of cinematic hits such as "Father of the Bride, " Steve Martin was polishing his stand-up comedy skills at the Exit-In, as well as inviting his fans to join him after the show to continue the laughter and his routine as they paraded over this Vanderbilt landmark late-night place to get a bite to eat....and in this case....some more laughs...

Did any of you see Steve Martin at the Exit In in those years? How many paraded with him to The Krystal for the after-the-show show? Please leave your memories in the comments section below or on the Class Facebook page.

You can also tell us if you saw any of this comedy routine by Steve Martin from back in the day. It's from You Tube and says it's from one of his early 1970s performances. It appears to be before a younger audience perhaps on some college venue. By the way, Steve Martin is today making quite a name for himself as a banjo player. If you think that's an instrument he just started playing you'd be very wrong if you watch this......