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What Were You Doing in 1979? (part 7)

Jimmy Buffett released Volcano.

John Cale released Sabotage/Live.

Kansas released Monolith.

Kate Bush, who had recently released her debut album (The Kick Inside, 1978), embarked on “The Tour of Life,” her first and only concert tour.

Katherine Anne Porter was nearing the end of her life (she would die on 18 September 1980).

Ken Follett was preparing to publish The Key to Rebecca (1980).

The Australian New Wave was underway. Bruce Beresford was directing his adaptation of Kenneth Ross’s play Breaker Morant, which had premiered in 1978.

Kenneth Tynan, who had recently moved to California for health reasons, was nearing the end of his life (he would die of emphysema 26 July 1980).

Kenny Rogers released The Kenny Rogers Singles Album, containing his hit single “The Gambler.”

Ken Russell was directing Altered States.

Kingsley Amis published his Collected Poems 1944–1979.

Kiss released Dynasty.

Kris Kristofferson released Shake Hands with the Devil.

Krysztoff Kieslowski released Amator (Camera Buff).

Kurt Vonnegut published Jailbird.

Joan Baez released Honest Lullaby.

She dedicated the album to John L. Wasserman, who had died in a drunk driving accident on 25 February.

Joe Jackson released his debut album, Look Sharp!

…and a rapid follow-up, I’m the Man.

John Ashbery published As We Know.

John Barth published LETTERS.

John Fowles published The Tree, a collaboration with photographer Frank Horvat.

John Hollander published Blue Wine.

Walker Percy was still trying to publish John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. Louisiana State University Press finally put it out the following year. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, twelve years after its author’s suicide.

John Landis, Dan Ackroyd, and Jim Belushi were making The Blues Brothers.

John le Carré published Smiley’s People, his third and last George Smiley novel.

John Lennon had one more year left to live.

John Rutter released The Beatles Concerto.

John Williams won a Grammy for his score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Johnny Mathis released the hit single “Begin the Beguine” (B-side: “Gone Gone Gone”).

Joni Mitchell released her collaboration with Charles Mingus, Mingus. (Mingus had passed away earlier that year.)

Journey released Evolution.

Later that year, in November, they would begin recording Departure (1980).

They had, of course, yet to record Escape (1981).

Judas Priest released Killing Machine.

Appropriately, this was also when the band adopted their studded leather fashion sense. They also recorded their first live album, Unleashed in the East.

Judith Krantz, who had just published her first novel, Scruples, was preparing to publish her second book, Princess Daisy (1980).

Meanwhile, Scruples was being adapted as a television miniseries (which included the final appearance of Gene Tierney).

Joy Division released Unknown Pleasures.

The following year (1980), lead singer Ian Curtis would hang himself on 18 May, the eve of the band’s first U.S. tour. The remaining members reformed as New Order.

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

4 thoughts on “What Were You Doing in 1979? (part 7)

  1. Thanks much for the JB’s — Joan Baez, John Barth — but what most warmed my cockles might’ve been Mitchell & Mingus.

    1. Cockles! They’ve been cropping up a lot recently. I ate a few today, at lunch.

      I’ve actually not listened to Mingus all the way through, despite being a sizable Mingus fan who was raised by two sizable Joni Mitchell fans. I’ve heard only certain tracks. I shall have to paper over that gap in my cultural knowledge.

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