Flashback to 1982 and 1983

The Year in Music – 1982

The man with the beret, Dave Bickler, walks the mean streets to the big drum beat. Welcome to music in 1982 as Bickler’s band, Survivor, delivered the year’s biggest hit, Eye of the Tiger, which still features in boxing gyms and at the starting gates of sporting events everywhere. Buoyed by the movie in which it featured, Rocky III, Eye of the Tiger spent six weeks at number one.

Also spending six weeks at the top of the charts was a local performance, What About Me? by Moving Pictures. It is now used in a TV commercial for insurance. Toni Basil produced one of the biggest one-hit wonders of all-time, changing the name on an old Racey song and making it all about Mickey (with a few cheerleaders to help her along). Soft Cell sang about Tainted Love, Charlene told us I’ve Never Been to Me and the Dexy Midnight Runners said Come on Eileen.

Bruce Springsteen ditched the E-Street Band to do a very quiet and despondent Nebraska. Billy Joel put up The Nylon Curtain which featured chart hits Allentown and Pressure plus a Vietnam War lament, Goodnight Saigon. Kate Bush confused many with her album, The Dreaming, which featured Rolf Harris on didgeridoo while a man with whom she would create one of the best duets of all time, Peter Gabriel, told us to Shock the Monkey on his fourth self-titled album.

Elsewhere, Icehouse gave us Primitive Man which included Great Southern Land, The Church said they were Almost With You, the members of Split Enz spent Six Months in a Leaky Boat while Men at Work were Down Under. The year would end with a little album by a former child star. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released on November 30. It would go on to become the biggest selling album of all time at 125 million copies and counting. A young woman had earlier released her first single. While Everybody is not remembered now, it was the start of Madonna.


The Year in Music – 1983

It was the year of Michael Jackson. Singles fell off Thriller, starting with Billie Jean and including the title track, Beat It and Wanna be Startin Something. Everyone who could moon walk did, and lots of others tried.

But it was also a year of other prominent releases.

Midnight Oil gave us 10,9,8 etc which included Peter Garrett, who was not a member of the ALP, singing about US Forces and the Power and the Passion. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart released their breakthrough album as Eurythmics. The Sweet Dream album featured the striking self-titled single, the success of which prompted the re-release of Love is a Stranger. That would cause controversy in the US where the androgynous Lennox was thought by some to be a transvestite, upsetting American sensibilities. By November of 1983 they had released their third album, Touch, which included the torch song Who’s That Girl?

U2 had its first commercial success with the album War while at the other end of the career spectrum, The Clash – at the time one of the biggest bands in the world - sacked Mick Jones.

Unfortunately, we saw the faces of the members of Kiss without make-up for the first time – and it wasn’t pretty. Cutting edge teenagers and uni students were delivered the Violent Femmes first album, Talking Heads was Speaking in Tongues, The Police had Synchronicity, Billy Joel said he was an Innocent Man, Madonna gave us her self-titled debut album while The Cure played with their Lovecats on the Japanese Whispers album.

While we tried to dance like Peter Garrett, Australians listened to a stand-up comic – Austen Tayshus had more puns than you could poke a stick at in his Australiana effort. Pat Wilson said she was a Bop Girl, Goanna chartered with Spirit of the Place, Australian Crawl urged us not to be Reckless and Redgum lamented I was Only 19.

The Year in Film – 1982

It was a year that we fell in love with an extra terrestrial, a man in drag and a re-born Spock. The biggest box office smash of the 1980s, E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, had everyone headed to the cinema for a dose of escapism that also featured a very young Drew Barrymore. It would remain the biggest grossing film until a few dinosaurs in Jurassic Box maurauded their way through the 1990s.

Dustin Hoffman won plaudits and fans for his portrayal of a man forced to dress as a woman to get work on TV in Tootsie. The Star Trek franchise gave us a second film, The Wrath of Khan, which saw Spock killed off (only to resurface in the next film). The sprawling film Gandhi was also released. It would go on to win eight Oscars including best director Richard Attenborough and best actor for Ben Kingsley.

Other big films released through the year included Annie, 48 Hours (featuring Eddie Murphy), Porky’s, Poltergeist and also one now recognised as an all-time classic, Blade Runner. It was also another good year in Australian film with The Man from Snowy River, featuring a young Sigrid Thornton and a much older Kirk Douglas (in two roles) released. It remains among the top 10 Australian films by takings with its mix of myth, horses and whips. The Year of Living Dangerously, starring Mel Gibson, garnered an Oscar for Linda Hunt who played a role as a male dwarf.

One of the sadder notes of the year in film was that Grease 2 was released. Nothing like its predecessor, its only gift to film was the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer in her first major role.

The Year in Film – 1983

It was the third film but became the sixth, featured a bunch of furry bears and is still being re-touched by its maker. Return of the Jedi was released in May 1983, ending the Star Wars trilogy before George Lucas turned it into a six part epic. It was the biggest film of the year, left many Star Wars fans satisfied and playing with their Star Wars merchandise. It is also the film that featured that bikini worn by Princess Leia which had a starring turn in an episode of Friends many years later.

Apart from Luke, Leia and Han, film in 1983 included another major turning point – the advent of soundtrack dependent movies. The soundtrack to Flashdance famously did not sell through Monday to Thursday, but had kids lining up for copies on days they went to the pictures and saw the film about a woman called Alex who was a welder who wanted to be a serious dancer. Staying Alive, featuring a dancing John Travolta (whose best dancing would come in Pulp Fiction), was also released as were notable efforts Terms of Endearment, a little Tom Cruise movie titled Risky Business, Mr Mom, another film with a 1960s heavy soundtrack, The Big Chill, a dog-lover’s worst nightmare, Cujo, and the classic Scarface.

Keeping up our love affair with horses, the Australian film Phar Lap was released, bringing in a near $10 million through the box office. Something that would today be labelled a chick-flick, Careful, He Might Hear You, had people reaching for their tissues over their Jaffas in the nation’s cinemas.

Australian Television 1982 and 1983

We started 1982 with Channel Seven introducing Sons and Daughters – including Pat the Rat, the Hamiltons and the Palmers – to our screens for what would be a six season run and nearly 1000 episodes.

Over at Channel Nine we got introduced to a new breakfast show called National News Today. Its title would be shortened after a few weeks to Today, and remains on our screens.

Kingswood Country was our favourite comedy show, we tuned in every night to see Tony Barber on Sale of the Century, Prisoner provided plenty of toughness while we were just about to get used to Jana Wendt on 60 Minutes.

We also liked our mini-series, with A Town Like Alice of particular interest. Over in the US, David Letterman started his late night variety show while other notable debuts included Remington Steele, Knight Rider, Cheers, Family Ties and Cagney and Lacey. They said goodbye to Mork and Mindy and The Incredible Hulk.

The following year we watched the series 1915, stuck by A Country Practice while the kids watched a show fronted by the former lead singer of Skyhooks.

There were some significant TV endings in 1983. We farewelled the Sullivans after seven years, while The Young Doctors performed their last operations just a few weeks later. By year’s end it was time for the Lanky Yank, Don Lane, to sign off his show.

The biggest event of the year was the end of MASH which gave way to the short-lived series, After MASH. The finale of MASH would become the most watched show on American television.

Also ending that year were Little House on the Prairie, The Greatest American Hero and Laverne and Shirley. Starting that year included The A Team, Webster, Fraggle Rock and Scarecrow and Mrs King.