Look Back: Top 40 Hits October 1978

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In the final days of the month, Reginald Martinez Jackson was cementing his status as Mr. October, swinging his bat to help the Yankees to a second consecutive World Series championship. The fall foliage season was also in full swing in New England with a patchwork mix of reds, oranges and yellows. Meanwhile, Top 40 radio was in the process of swinging over to disco though still sharing airtime with future classic rock hits.

Such was the case on Boston’s WRKO, where a legendary disco hit was dominating the Top 10 while rock ’n’ roll was also well represented. Here we go…

Bubbling under at #29 was Billy Joel‘s “My Life,” the first single from his 52nd Street album. The song would ultimately reach #3.

Moving up from #27 to #22 was Linda Ronstadt‘s cover of “Just One Look.” We were surprised to discover that the song peaked at only #44 nationally.

Related: Part 1 of our Linda Ronstadt interview

Similarly, “Wavelength” from Van Morrison rose to #16 from #19 but was not a big hit elsewhere, reaching only #42.

Yet another: Meat Loaf‘s first solo single, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” rose from #15 to #13 on WRKO but would only reach #39 in the U.S.

At #10 this week was Bob Seger’s “Til It Shines.” But don’t bother looking up how the song did nationally. Fact is, it was never released as a single! Occasionally, Top 40 stations would play so-called “LP cuts” that their Program Directors liked better than the current single. Sometimes the decisions by these renegade PDs convinced the record labels to issue them as singles, but not in this case. Seger’s Stranger In Town album had three huge singles (“Still The Same,” “Hollywood Nights” and “We’ve Got Tonight”). but Capitol Records apparently decided there wouldn’t be a fourth.

At #9 was the title track from The Who’s Who Are You; it would peak at #14 nationally. But the real story here is that the band’s Keith Moon died in September 1978, just three weeks after the album’s release. The Who were never really popular with U.S. Top 40 programmers and this would be their last single to reach the Top 15.

The Rolling Stones’ “Beast Of Burden” was at #8; it also peaked there nationally. The song was on their brilliant Some Girls album, led by their monster hit “Miss You.”

Right ahead of it at #7 was Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman,” released as a single a year earlier. Top 40 radio was in the midst of a major love affair with the Piano Man that lasted from 1977 until 1993.

At #6, with their fourth Top 10 hit in just over a year, was Foreigner with “Double Vision,” on its way to #2 nationally. From the late ‘70s into the early ‘80s, this British-American band, led by guitarist Mick Jones and  singer Lou Gramm, were as big as they come.

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Kenny Loggins had a big hit with his duet with Stevie Nicks, “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’,” #3 this week, the first of many solo hits he enjoyed. (It reached #5 on the Hot 100.)

Ruling this week’s WRKO Top 10, though, was Donna Summer’s unlikely cover of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park,” which followed by 10 years the equally unlikely version by actor Richard Harris. The latter peaked at #2 nationally; Summer’s topped the chart.

10. “Til It Shines” – Bob Seger (Capitol)

9. “Who Are You” – The Who (MCA)

8. “Beast Of Burden” – The Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones Records)

7. “She’s Always A Woman” – Billy Joel (Columbia)

6. “Double Vision” – Foreigner (Atlantic)

5. “Kiss You All Over” – Exile (Curb)

4. “I Love The Night Life” – Alicia Bridges (Polydor)

3. “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend'” – Kenny Loggins (and Stevie Nicks) (Columbia)

2. “You Needed Me” – Anne Murray (Capitol)

1. “MacArthur Park” – Donna Summer (Casablanca)

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  1. Gene
    #1 Gene 26 October, 2017, 09:29

    Saw this song and the whole concert in 1978, in the Hawaii, while in the Navy. My friend bought their new CD (oops, cassette or LP). We rode his dirt bike from Pearl Harbor to downtown Honolulu to the Blaisdell Center. I recall thinking, this is where Elvis did “Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite” an iconic time in history, I had watched few couple years before. My friend and I bet on the opening song for the Foreigner concert, I only knew of the current radio hits, he had the “cassettes”. Of course he won. It was a great time. Thanks for posting this video of them which was recorded live, looks like that same year.

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