I remember July 12, 1979. I was at my grandmother’s house, and remember my very young aunt leaving the house with a record album. She was lucky. She was going to the White Sox game. I had no idea what the record was for.
We all found out later what it was for:
I am a music lover, but am no fan of disco. The whole “scene” was a mistake as far as I can tell. As the 70s were getting ready to end, there were those who were ready to see it end. In Chicago, DJ Steve Dahl came up with a great plan: between games of a twi-night doubleheader between the Tigers and White Sox at Comiskey Park, take a bunch of disco records (brought by patrons for discounted admission) and blow them up in the outfield.
That did successfully happen. 50,000 people filled the stadium, most of them buying walk-up tickets. About 5,000 people didn’t get tickets, but many of them found ways into the stadium (including scaling the outer walls to reach the upper concourse). Then, the inevitable riot broke out:
This video is an amalgamation of local TV news coverage from Chicago’s NBC and CBS affiliates (note: young Greg Gumbel, young Bill Kurtis, and even Gene Siskel).
This is a little more sensational (though more informative) coverage from the local ABC affiliate, but it bring back great memories with Al Lerner, Joel Daly, and the (sadly!) late Tim Weigel. Poor Rosemarie!
While a lot of folks look back on it was a tinge of nostalgia and find it all somewhat comical (even I find it a little funny), this event likely hastened Hall-of-Fame owner Bill Veeck’s final exit from baseball. Veeck was the ultimate anti-establishment guy … he had tried to integrate baseball years before Jackie Robinson … he created the idea of the modern ballpark “promotion”. Losing Bill Veeck from the game was a tragedy! The manager of the White Sox, former Cub Don Kessinger, also may have left prematurely because of this (he was out at the end of the month). On the other hand, the White Sox hired untried attorney Tony LaRussa to take his place as manager, so in one sense, Disco Demolition may have helped start LaRussa’s brilliant managerial career.
So, happy anniversary for Disco Demolition …. here’s to hoping someone somewhere is plotting something similar for Rap or Country & Western.