This week in 1971: A Connecticut judge dropped murder charges against Black Panthers Bobby Seales and Ericka Huggins, citing undue publicity; Juan Corona was arrested in California for the murder of 12 migrant workers; a 727 jet was hijacked at New York's LaGuardia Airport and forced to fly to Nassau in the Bahamas; and a singer from Hackleburg, Alabama, had his 37th hit record.
A lot of hit songs have been written on a tour bus rolling down the highway on the way to a concert, or on the way home from one. And a lot of decisions concerning songs and recording have been made on tour buses.
According to Sonny James, his decision to record his 1971 No. 1, "Bright Lights, Big City," was made on his tour bus.
Sonny commented, "I don't remember just where we were but it was on the bus, on the way to or from a show date. We always kept a gut string guitar on the bus and someone was always playing it. Jack Galloway was playing it that afternoon and he just began singing "bright lights-big city-going to my baby's head." Everybody joined in and we just had a ball singing that song. When we finished, I asked Jack about the song and after he told me all about it, I decided to record it since we all had so much fun singing it."
The song was written by Jimmy Reed and scored a No. 58 pop hit for him in 1961.
Sonny James' Capitol Records version of "Bright Lights, Big City" was released in early May 1971, came on the country music charts June 19th and was at the top of the charts the week of July 24th.
It was his 37th charted song and his 15th consecutive No. 1. The record was produced by George Richey and was on the charts for 13 weeks.
Sonny James (born James Hugh Loden in 1928) placed 72 songs on the country music charts between 1953 and 1983, including 23 No. 1s. Twenty-one of those 72 country chart singles also placed on the pop charts.
Sonny James joined The Grand Ole Opry in 1965. He was inducted into The Country Music Hal Of Fame in 2006. He died in 2016 at age 87.
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