Sister Purple Hair Surprise

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For those of us who were from that era, you’ll recognize the words to chorus of this song:

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you; can’t you see it in my eyes?
I been one poor correspondent, and I been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind.

The rock group, America, recorded the song titled “Sister Golden Hair” on their fifth album, Heart, in 1975. Although the song is a message from a man to his lover, explaining that he still loves her despite her not being for marriage, the title was initially inspired by the mothers of all three members of the group, all of whom were blondes. The song reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Well, the model for today’s shoot is Sister Golden Hair, but more like, Sister Pinky-Purple Hair. She was one of the models about 2 weeks ago at the photo shoot in the studio close by. With the nose ring, dots above the right eye, purple-pink hair, and weak purple lip stick, she was quite a contrast to most of the other models, but she made for an interesting subject!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in a 35-year career that ran from the rockabilly genius of “Lonely Weekends” (1960) to the Countrypolitan splendor of “Behind Closed Doors” (1973), the versatile and soulful Charlie Rich earned eleven #1 hits on the Country charts and one crossover smash with the #1 pop hit “The Most Beautiful Girl” (1973). The man they called the Silver Fox displayed a natural talent for pleasing many different audiences, but his non-singing performance before one particular audience in 1975 did significant damage to the remainder of his career. On this day in 1975, the man voted Entertainer of the Year for by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier stood onstage at the CMA awards show to announce that year’s winner of the Association’s biggest award. But a funny thing happened when he opened the envelope and saw what was written inside. Instead of merely reading the name “John Denver” and stepping back from the podium, Charlie Rich reached into his pocket for a cigarette lighter and set the envelope on fire, right there onstage. Though the display shocked the live audience in attendance, John Denver himself was present only via satellite linkup, and he offered a gracious acceptance speech with no idea what had occurred.

In the aftermath of the incident, Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. But what point was he trying to make, exactly? It was widely assumed at the time that Rich was taking a stand on the side of country traditionalists upset at a notable incursion of pop dabblers into country music at the time (Olivia Newton-John, for instance, had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973, for instance). But Rich himself was often accused of being “not country enough,” so that may not have been his intent. While it made better newspaper copy to suggest that he specifically resented John Denver’s win, Rich was also, by his own admission, on a combination of prescription pain medication and gin-and-tonics that night.

As his son, Charlie Rich, Jr., has written of the incident, “He used bad judgment. He was human after all. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during the Great Depression, Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California even instated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in “indigents” with jail time.

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