october 18 1977

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On this day in music history: October 18, 1977 - “Emotion” by Samantha Sang is released. Written by Barry and Robin Gibb, is the biggest hit for the pop vocalist from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Born Cheryl Lau Sang in August of 1951, she is born into a musical family, making her professional debut singing on the radio at eight years old. By the time she’s fifteen, Sang is recording for EMI’s HMV Records, releasing a handful of singles under the name Cheryl Gray (the professional surname of her musician father Reg) that fail to make any real commercial impact. Realizing her prospects for success are limited if she remains in Australia, Cheryl visits England in 1969. While there, she meets Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees who is impressed with her voice, and urges the bands manager Robert Stigwood to take her on as a client. Stigwood changes her name to “Samantha Sang” and Barry writes material for her to record. Sang has couple of minor hits in Europe, before visa problems force her to go back to Australia. She also has to break ties with Stigwood, but remains in touch with the Bee Gees over the years. Sang meets up with the group again in March of 1977 while they are in France at the Château d'Hérouville recording their songs for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. With Sang having signed a new record deal with New York based Private Stock Records, she asks Barry if he can write something for her. Initially, he offers “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away”, which she immediately loves and agrees to record. Instead, Gibb ends up giving “Don’t Throw It All Away” to his younger brother Andy. Barry and Robin write a new song for Sang titled “Emotion”.The track is cut at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL with musicians George Terry, Joey Murcia (guitars), George Blitzer (keyboards), Harold Cowart (bass) and Ron “Tubby” Ziegler (drums). Barry sings background vocals, with Samantha adding her lead vocals. Like everything else with the Bee Gees magic touch, “Emotion” becomes a worldwide hit. At the time it is on the charts, a rumor starts that Samantha Sang is not a real person, but are actually the Bee Gees themselves with the vocals sped up. The rumor is squashed once a promotional film made for the song is shown, and she begins making television and personal appearances to promote the record. “Emotion” peaks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 18, 1978, #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart on January 28, 1978 and #42 on the R&B singles chart on March 11, 1978, while the groups singles “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive” hold down the #1 and #2 spots on the chart. Samantha Sang is unable to match the success of “Emotion” on subsequent singles like the follow up “You Keep Me Dancing” (#56 Pop). The popularity of “Emotion” has endured over the years, continuing to be played on radio today, and covered by Destiny’s Child in 2001. “Emotion” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Beginning with the discovery of 19-year-old Yolanda Washington’s body on October 18, 1977, Los Angeles was terrorised by a serial killer dubbed the “Hillside Strangler.” Ten females, the oldest being 28 and the youngest being 12, were raped, tortured and murdered, with their bodies being dumped on the sides of the Hollywood Hills or by the side of a road. The case did not gain attention at first due to the fact that the first three victims were sex workers. The killings abruptly stopped in February 1978.

The police soon discovered they were in fact searching for two killers due to DNA evidence and the way in which some of the bodies were positioned. This information was withheld from the public and the investigation carried out proved to be futile. This was until Kenneth Bianchi was arrested in January 1979 following the murder of two young women in Washington. The M.O used in these murders, combined with Bianchi’s former address, linked him to the Hillside Strangler murders. Bianchi implicated his cousin Angelo Buono and both were charged.

After an unsuccessful attempt to raise the defence of insanity, Bianchi agreed to testify against Buono in return for a more lenient sentence. Buono died of a heart attack on September 21, 2002, whilst serving a life sentence, whilst Bianchi still continues to serve his life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.