Monday, 21 July 2014

I Don't like Mondays

21st July 1979

This day in history...The Boomtown Rats released their single 'I don't like Mondays', about 16 year old, Brenda Ann Spencer, who went on a shooting spree in San Diego

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Brenda Ann Spencer
Yes, it is another blog post about shooting and murder, but this time it's with a musical perspective as well. Brenda Ann Spencer's deadly actions inspired Bob Geldof's band, The Boomtown Rats' hit single. But why? And what happened?

Brenda Ann Spencer
Spencer lived in San Carlos, California with her father, Wallace Spencer, after her parents separated when she was younger. She lived in a house across the street from Grover Cleveland Elementary School, San Diego and was living in virtual poverty. Her and her father slept on a single mattress on the living room floor and empty alcohol bottles littered the house throughout. In 2001 she accused her father of having drunkenly subjected her to beatings and sexual abuse, however she had not made these allegations before and her father adamantly denied it. Spencer is said to have identified herself as 'having been gay from birth.'

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Brenda Spencer at the time of her arrest, 1979
At 16 years old, she was 5' 2" tall, unusually thin and had bright red hair. A classmate later described her as 'pretty crummy looking.' She was also described as expressing negative attitudes towards the police and had even discussed about shooting one. She was also overheard saying that she wanted to 'do something big to get on TV.' Her teachers portrayed her as introverted and would constantly check to see if she was awake in class. Spencer wasn't the brightest of girls but excelled in photography, winning first prize in a Humane Society competition.
Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Brenda Ann Spencer
In early 1978, Spencer had been referred to a faculty for problem pupils due to truancy/absence. The staff at the institute informed Spencer's parents that she was suicidal. That summer Spencer was arrested fro shooting out the windows of the Cleveland Elementary with a BB gun, burglary, and shooting small animals in the neighbourhood. In December she was given a psychiatric evaluation and was recommended to be admitted to a mental hospital due to her depressed state, but her father refused to give permission.

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Cleveland Elementary School 
For Christmas 1978, Wallace gave his daughter a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammunition. Spencer later said that she had asked for 'a radio and he bought her a gun.' She thought her had bought it for her because she felt like he wanted her to kill herself.

Cleveland Elementary Shooting
Monday morning, 29th January 1979, Spencer began shooting from her home at children who were waiting outside the school gates for principal Burton Wragg to open up. She injured 8 children and killed Burton Wragg when he came out to try and help the children. Custodian Mike Suchar was also killed when he tried to pull Wragg to safety. Spencer also wounded a police officer responding to a call for assistance by shooting him in the neck. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Memorial for Burton Wragg and Mike Suchar
Spencer fired 30 rounds of ammunition and then barricaded herself inside her home for almost 7 hours. While she was there she had a telephone conversation with a journalist who reported that when he said 'tell me why you did it', Spencer answered "I don't like Mondays." She eventually surrendered. Police officers found beer and whiskey bottles all around the house and suspected that Spencer was intoxicated during the shootings. However, she did not appear to be under the influence at the time of her arrest. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Brenda Spencer lays down her rifle after police zone in
Imprisonment
Spencer was tried as an adult after pleading guilty to 2 counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was sentenced to 25 years to life imprisonment. Whilst in prison, Spencer was diagnosed with epilepsy and has been receiving mediation for that and depression at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California. In 1993 Spencer became eligible for hearings to consider her parole. She has been unsuccessful at 4 Board of Parole Hearings. Her first hearing highlighted the fact that she was an alcohol and drug user at the time of her crime. In 2009 the parole board ruled that Spencer would be denied parole and would not be considered again for the next 10 years. She will be eligible again for a Hearing in 2019. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Spencer's mugshot 1996
The Boomtown Rats
"I Don't like Mondays' was the band's number one single in the UK singles chart for 4 weeks during the summer of 1979. According to Bob Geldof, he wrote the song after reading a telex report at Georgia State University's campus radio station WRAS. 

 "I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in, is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said "Silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload." I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, "Tell me why?" It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn't an attempt to exploit tragedy." - Bob Geldof

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
The Boomtown Rats
The song was a success - you can listen to it below - Spencer's family tried to prevent the single from being released in the US but were unsuccessful. Despite being number one in the UK, the single only reached #73 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was played regularly, but San Diego refrained from playing the track for some years in respect to local sensitivities about the shooting. 





What are your thoughts on the shooting and the sensitivity of the song being released? Leave your comments below

Don't forget to follow @Ydaysnews for more historical events each day!

1 comment:

  1. Quantum Binary Signals

    Get professional trading signals delivered to your cell phone every day.

    Follow our trades right now and make up to 270% per day.

    ReplyDelete