Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Mar 28th 2008 5:00PM by James Sullivan
In January 1979, a young Bob Geldof of the Irish band Boomtown Rats was doing a radio interview in the U.S. when word of a potential massacre at a San Diego elementary school came across the wire. Brenda Spencer, a troubled 16-year-old who lived across the street from a schoolyard in San Diego, took the semi-automatic rifle her father had given her for Christmas and began firing.
At the end of an hours-long standoff, the teen had shot and injured eight children and a police officer. Two more were dead – the school principal and a janitor, both of whom had shielded the students with their bodies. When Spencer was finally captured, her explanation was chilling. "I just don't like Mondays," she said.
Another of her reported comments – "Mondays always get me down" – had already been made famous in song by another depression-prone Southern Californian, a certain Karen Carpenter. Geldof thought he heard a new tune in Spencer's original statement, and the lyrics were finished in a matter of hours, back in his band's hotel room.
The future Nobel Peace Prize nominee and his Rats debuted the song just weeks later and released it later that year. Despite topping out at No. 73 in the States, 'I Don't Like Mondays' became a No. 1 hit in more than 30 countries. Geldof has suggested that the threat of a lawsuit from Spencer's parents caused his American record company, Columbia, to pull its promotion.
Spencer, who much later claimed to have been sexually abused by her father – she now thinks he bought her the rifle so she would kill herself – is serving two sentences of 25-to-life in prison and repeatedly has been denied parole. The silicon chip inside her head: presumably still switched to overload.