memories of the ’70s – The Rescuers

In the summer of 1977, the Rescue Aid Society debuted on the big screen, better known as The Rescuers.

This international mouse organization, based in New York City, is headed up by two wiley mice: Bernard (with voice by Bob Newhart) and Miss Bianca (with voice by Eva Gabor).

Their mission: to rescue Penny, who is being held hostage by Madame Medusa (voiced by Geraldine Page), a treasure hunter, and helped by her second in command, Mr. Snoops (voiced by voice actor veteran Joe Flynn).

Based on a series of books by British writer Margery Sharp called The Rescuers, the nine books were all about the adventures of Miss Bianca and Bernard.

In the film, Bernard and Miss Bianca find a message in a bottle in NYC, sent by Penny, being held captive in Devil’s Bayou. With the help of an albatross named Orville and a dragonfly named Evinrude, the duo figure out where to find Madame Medusa’s lair and that she thinks Penny is the link to finding the rare Devil’s Eye diamond.

A series of animals come to help the Rescue Aid Society including a couple of muskrats, an owl, and a turtle, while two fierce alligators act as Madame Medusa’s protectors.

It took four years to create this film – with 40 animators working on the project full-time and was the first time that the Disney production team was a mix of experienced animators and new-hires.

Released in June 1977, and made for a budget of 1.2 million, the film eventually grossed $71 million, another success for Walt Disney Studios, thanks to a cast of creatures.

I definitely remember this fun kids film – I loved the antics of rescuing a young orphan, trying to find the diamond and trying to escape the bayou. Little did I know that years later I would explore the bayou of Louisiana – although without two mice.

memories of the ’80s – heavy metal and suicide

Rock ‘n’ roll went on trial in the 1980s, when several artists were taken to court, accused of having influence over listeners with their lyrics and encouraging them to consider suicide.

Written in memory of the death of AC/DC drummer Bon Scott, the song Suicide Solution by Ozzy Osbourne was held up to the spotlight when Osbourne was taken to court in 1986.

The parents of John McCollum sued Osbourne, saying the lyrics of his song encouraged their son to take his life. Lawyers argued that the lyrics were clear instructions to do the deed, while Osbourne and his lyricist/bass player Bob Daisely said the lyrics were not saying “Get the gun and shoot” but “Get the flaps out”, a Brit slang for female genitalia.

In 1985, two Nevada teens, after a night of drinking and taking drugs, took their party to a local playground and ended up shooting themselves. Raymond Belknap died, and James Vance survived, dying three years later.

The families went to court in 1990, accusing the band Judas Priest of having a hand in their sons deaths, saying the two had been listening to their Stained Class album which had affected the young men enough to take their lives.

For six weeks the band endured constant questions and speculation over their album and the lives of the boys. At the end, like in the case against Osbourne, the judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence, and the case was dismissed.

These two incidents highlighted the hysteria surrounding the music and the belief that there had to be a negativity and evil found within heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll.

But in the end rock n roll and heavy metal wasn’t to blame – no matter what naysayers had proclaimed.


memories of the ’70s – Backmasking

Were we listening to Satan’s songs? Was the Devil infiltrating our thoughts and we didn’t know?

For music lovers of the 1970s, the undercurrent of rock ‘n’ roll was the secrets of backmasking, and the hidden messages on albums that were apparently encouraging a love for the underworld.

Backward masking is a recording technique to record a sound backward on the album. Popularized by The Beatles on their album Revolver in 1966 but going back as far as inventor Thomas Edison to the 1800s, there were many claims of the secret messages that were found if you played a record backwards.

All these claims centered on the same thing – that the band was trying to quietly communicate the words of Satan to the listener and influence the fans to consider his dark words.

With much of this erupting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, albums from the 1970s were targets and specific songs, such as Hotel California by The Eagles, Stormbringer by Deep Purple, Gonna Raise Hell by Cheap Trick, Eldorado by ELO and Better By You, Better than Me by Judas Priest.

As the fans strained to hear the apparent words of the devil in the jumbled sounds of playing an album backwards, the Christian groups felt that this was a secret invasion to the homes of good people and the bands needed to be stopped.

As the stories swirled in the media, it came to a point where even Dan Rather played three albums backwards on the CBS Evening News and a youth minister published a book “Backward Masking Unmasked”.

Despite this wave of distrust of rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal albums, the proof never appeared and the technology swept the claims aside.