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Monday, 27 June 2011

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Top Picture: The Supremes
Second Picture: The Original line up of The Who

Rock ‘n Roll in America

Rock 'n' roll was an American invention but it is still constantly progressing, adapting and experimenting allowing it to remain relevant to each succeeding generation, but it maintains the same urgency and perspective it had when it was founded more than a half-century ago.

So let us look at the first half of the 1960’s and note the high spots of the music in the USA at that time.


Eddie Cochran dies at 21 in a car crash while on tour in England with Gene Vincent.
The twist was launched and it has adults taking part as well as kids and it becomes the most widespread dance craze since the Charleston ruled the 20's.

The Shirelles launch the girl group era with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow".
Motown Records makes its first splash with "Shop Around" a No 1 R&B hit by The Miracles.

Roy Orbison has his first major hit with "Only The Lonely".

The Ventures hit instrumental "Walk - Don't Run" brings the electric guitar back into prominence.

Elvis Presley is discharged from the Army and immediately scores a series of hit singles and albums upon his return with a slightly less menacing, more mature persona.


Del Shannon's "Runaway" was the first unadorned and up-tempo rocker to hit No 1 on the Pop Charts in almost a year. The song also introduces the "musitron", an early form of the synthesizer.

The Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman" becomes the first No 1 Pop hit released on a black owned and operated label - Motown.

A widespread revival of the mid-50's vocal group sound results in the re-appearance in the charts and airwaves of dozens of songs from 1954.

Gary "US" Bonds has a hit with "Quarter To Three" with its emphasis on a frenzied atmosphere rather than on intricate production.

Soul music starts gaining a foothold with hits by Sam Cooke, James Brown, Solomon Burke and former Drifters lead signer Ben E. King, who's "Stand By Me" is a No 1 R&B record.

Elvis Presley gives his last live performance for eight years.


Motown continues to expand its power-base scoring No 1 R&B hits by both Mary Wells and the Contours and while attracting musical talent from all over Detroit that will soon result in the label becoming the biggest in the country.

Southern soul has its first major hit with the instrumental "Green Onions" by Booker T. & The MG's.

Ray Charles successfully melds country music with soul and crosses into the pop realm with the album "Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music".

The surf music craze, begun by instrumentalists in the previous few years, adds vocals when the Beach Boys score their first hit "Surfin' Safari".

Surf-rock guitarist Dick Dale debuts the new Fender Reverb amplifier.

The Four Seasons vocal harmonies explodes on the scene with three consecutive No 1 hits in the waning months of the year.

50's legends Fats Domino, Clyde McPhatter, The Everly Brothers, LaVern Baker and Bo Diddley score their final major hits after a decade in the spotlight.


Surfing music lands dozens of guitar led instrumentals on the charts while the Beach Boys dominate the airwaves with a string of hit singles and three Top Ten albums in this year alone and are joined on the scene by Jan & Dean who notch the only surfing No1 hit with "Surf City".

The Girl Group sound explodes as Phil Spector becomes the dominant producer in rock churning out hits by the Ronettes, Crystals and Darlene Love, while others such as Lesley Gore and The Chiffons top the charts as well.

Motown leads a revitalization of R&B with huge successes by Martha & The Vandellas, The Miracles, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye and the first hit by the 12 year genius "Little" Stevie Wonder.

James Brown's album "Live At The Apollo" becomes the first LP by a pure R&B artist to hit the Top Five on the album charts.

Early records by the Beatles fail to make an impact in America when they are released by various companies who note the limited interest and decline to pick up their distribution option.


Rock 'n' roll has its first major shakeup in nearly a decade when in late January "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles tops the US Pop charts.

In February The Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show receives record ratings as Beatlemania explodes worldwide.

Four of the six No 1 records between February and June are by the Beatles, a feat surpassed only by Elvis Presley in 1956.

English bands now flood American shores with the Merseybeat sound taking over the airwaves in June that year, resulting in the term "The British Invasion". By summer however American acts regained their footing with the two resident hit-makers The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons topping the charts in July.
The Beatles first film, "A Hard Day's Night" opens to rave reviews.

The next wave of the British Invasion featuring groups which were based in blues and R&B such as the Rolling Stones, Kinks and Animals follows by mid-summer.

The second musical explosion of the year happens when Motown strikes back with its biggest hits to date by the Temptations, Four Tops and its newest group The Supremes who score three No 1's in the final five months of the year.

Feminist stances are taken in Dionne Warwick's "Don't Make Me Over" and Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me", marking the first time in mainstream rock that hit records included these emerging viewpoints.

Sam Cooke, soul music's biggest star, is shot and killed by a woman at a hotel on December 10th. It is rock music's most publicized casualty since Buddy Holly's death in early 1959.


Folk-rock is ushered in by The Byrds doing a cover of "Mr. Tambourine Man" which help introduce its author Bob Dylan to a wider audience.
Bob Dylan "plugs in" at the Newport Folk Festival marking the shift from acoustic folkie to rock 'n' roller.

Protest-rock follows focusing on such topics as the escalating war in Vietnam with "Eve Of Destruction" by Barry McGuire, to the civil rights battles in America by "People Get Ready" by the Impressions, to anti-authority songs such as the Rolling Stones No 1 hit "Satisfaction".

Martha & The Vandellas "Dancing In Streets" is used as a rallying cry when racial riots start during the summer.

Blues-rock hits its high point with The Yardbirds, The Who and The Pretty Things turning out acclaimed records in this aggressive style.
Southern soul scores its first major breakthroughs with Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Solomon Burke notching huge hits that cut across racial boundaries.
James Brown makes a startling and abrupt shift from pure soul to a rhythm-based new invention of his own making called "funk" with the hits "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "I Got You".

The Beatles and Elvis Presley meet for the only time at Presley's Los Angeles home. While there John Lennon asks his idol why he doesn't record rock 'n' roll anymore.
Alan Freed, who coined the term "rock 'n' roll" and introduced it to white America a decade earlier, dies broke and forgotten at age 44 of alcoholism.

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You Write:
Griff Writes:-

I was with Barry Dunnaway when the "Homemade Bomb" was planted by us in the sewerage works behind Kinross Crescent area. The other person I remember being in attendance and hiding behind the large earth mound as the fuse was lit was Robert ( Bob) Webster,
The "bomb" fuse was model aircraft Jetex fuse wire which was slow 'ish burning and the bomb ingredients were the usual cocktail of sugar and weed killer etc. , The resultant explosion was enormous and all I can remember of the event was running away as fast as my legs would carry me as all the adjoining neighbours came out to see what the loud explosion was all about. The hole left was enormous! That was my last interest in making homemade bombs.

News and Views:

He's not leaving the Rolling Stones, but Mick Jagger is recording with a "supergroup" (called Super Heavy) composed of Joss Stone, Damian Marley, Dave Stewart and movie music composer A.R. Rahman. An album is expected in September.

On this day 24th June 1960-1965.

On 26/06/1960
the number one single was Three Steps to Heaven - Eddie Cochran and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 26/06/1961
the number one single was Surrender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 26/06/1962
the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 26/06/1963
the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Kennedy declares Ich bin ein Berliner

On 26/06/1964
the number one single was It's Over - Roy Orbison and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 26/06/1965
the number one single was I'm Alive - Hollies and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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