1977 might go down as one of the most influential years of the 20th century. It could easily be charted as the year in which the final quarter of the century started and the post-war dream died, a time in which the optimism of the 1950s and 1960s was overtaken by something much, much darker. There were several harbingers that could be called upon to show that 1977 was the beginning of a new age in the West. Jimmy Carter became US President, Spain transitioned from the dictatorship of Franco into a functioning democracy and Anwar Sadat’s Egyptian government ushered in a new era in the Middle East by recognizing the state of Israel for the first time.
Technologically, this was the year that saw the foundation of Apple and the demonstration of the first home computer, the world’s first video games console, the Atari VCS was released to market, the Voyager space probe was sent into orbit by the Americans (and the Soyuz 24 by the Soviets) and the first Concorde flew from London to New York.
In culture, 1977 was a year of new beginnings that transformed the artistic landscape: disco was at its height and punk went from an underground subculture into a generation-defining worldwide global movement with the release of the debut albums by the Sex Pistols and the Clash, Star Wars broke all box office records and relaunched the science fiction genre in perfect concert with the new space age while the biggest selling book of the year was The Shining, firmly establishing Stephen King as the most popular author in the English language.
On the sports field, Pele pulled down the curtain on the greatest career in soccer history, while in Argentina, Diego Maradona made his debut for the national team at the age of just 16. World Series Cricket began a new era for the most traditional of sports and in the United States, the flamboyant Reggie Jackson lead the New York Yankees to the World Series.
For many, however, 1977 represents the year that the cold realities of the neoliberal era began and the hazy youth of the baby boomer generation ended. There was a feeling of decay in the air and the escapism of the space age, as epitomised by Star Wars and disco, was being replaced by the grittier movements of punk and hip-hop. One of the biggest aspects of this was the sudden surge in the numbers of serial killers. They were not necessarily more numerous in 1977, but the media coverage afforded to them, the moral panic around their actions and the public outcry and fear generated was like nothing seen before. Let us talk you through 1977: the worst year in history for murderers.