The Coast News Group
The 1970s was a great time to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. Here, Franco Harris celebrates the Steelers' victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII in 1979. Courtesy photo
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It’s a 70s thing

Turning 70 is another sphere for me.

It feels like yesterday I was playing Wiffle Ball in my backyard in western Pennsylvania before graduating high school in 1971.

The ’70s were quite an interesting time for me. Let’s see how 70 plays out.

The decade brought much joy and excitement for me as my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls and the Pirates brought home two World Series championships.

As a kid growing up, one would have been enough. Regardless, those days brought me a lot of happiness and joy.

Arriving in Los Angeles after a two-year discovery stint in Florida brought me to the West Coast in 1974. The first day I landed in the City of Angels, there was a citywide transit strike.

L.A. was a monster unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

My first job was at Richard’s Shoes near the UCLA campus. I wanted to play basketball at Pauley Pavilion every morning before I went to work.

One day, I sold 26 pairs of shoes — 13 each — to Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe, members of multiple Bruins’ national championship teams who both became NBA all-stars.

I rang up the sale of over $3,000, possibly the biggest sale in the store’s history, and from then on, I was the self-appointed king.

It was mid-1975 when I ventured into Hollywood and began working at the most iconic retail clothing store in the country: Fred Segal at Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard.

There, I met some of the biggest and brightest stars who started wearing expensive designer jeans — Peter Sellers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sly & The Family Stone, Carole King, Curtis Mayfield and Richard Pryor.

Every day, another big-name celebrity would be in the store. It was truly amazing. So much for a kid from a small town back in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.

I headed south to the sleepy little beach town of Solana Beach after securing a job in my hometown friend’s waterbed store, one of eight. Chuck Gerson gave me a new start in a new town.

I began to DJ shortly after that and got my first real music break in May 1977 at a Solana Beach discotheque, The Distillery.

Discos were just starting to spring up. But when the movie “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta was released later that year, dance floors were packed from coast to coast.

Those were the craziest times of my professional career, not to mention the most electric and fun.

Some of my best nights were spent in that nightclub — memories that can never be erased as I celebrate this magical 70th birthday.

Each Del Mar racing season brought more clubgoers and celebrities to The Distillery. And most nights, I controlled the lights and music.

During that time, the Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls and the celebrity of the club was over the top. Stars vacationing in Del Mar for the summer were sure to come to The Distillery at night.

It was one of the truly great and most perfectly designed nightclubs ever. It was beautiful.   

Racing in the afternoon and drinking and dancing at night. We would always say it wasn’t the 43 days of racing at Del Mar that killed you, it was the 43 nights.

Every night was a party and I was the DJ. One of the best jobs I ever had. The party came to me every night and never disappointed.

Turning 70 allowed me to go back and reminisce about a decade that matched my age. It was a glorious time and one filled with fantastic music to play every night.

I’m blessed to experience the very best of times and blend my career with doing sports talk on the radio. My guests have been a who’s who of their sport, craft or profession.

Seventy never felt so good. So far, I’m 70 for 70.