Web Page No 2240
25th February 2016
Top Picture: Full Page Cliff Richard spread from Rave magazine
Second Picture: Front cover of Jackie magazine
Third Picture: Roxy Magazine from 1960.
When we were teenagers
It's February 1963. The Beatles are No 2 in the charts with ‘Please Please Me’ and it's time to meet the press. An anonymous reporter from the magazine Boyfriend goes off to interview them for "an exclusive scoop" and her impressions are revealing: "their sound, although novel, isn't exactly a revolution. But there's something about it, a strange compelling something”.
"They are almost frightening-looking young men," she continues, " The funny thing is that when they smile - not often - they look perfectly wholesome and nice. But the rest of the time they look wicked and dreadful and distinctly evil, in an 18th-century sort of way. "
Published three weeks after a ground-breaking piece in London's Evening Standard ("Why the Beatles Create All That Frenzy"), the Boyfriend article ("Pop A La Mod") was one of the first in-depth articles about the group. It was well-written, informative and made it clear just how weird the Beatles were when they first arrived.
As a magazine aimed at young women, with colour pin-ups, ads for cosmetics and hair lacquer, and plentiful picture stories, Boyfriend picked up on the hysteria surrounding the Beatles and invested heavily in the British pop boom that they helped to create.
In summer 1963 the magazine produced "Big New Beat", the first of several pop supplements "about the Northern Raves". The Beatles were on the cover, standing amid the rubble of Euston Road. Inside were candid close-ups taken in April 1963 in fact one shot from the session was used by EMI for the front cover of the Beatles' Twist and Shout EP released in July 1963.
There was a new show at the National Gallery, Beatles to Bowie: the 60s Exposed, it featured contact sheets from that day, along with dozens of other photographs not previously.
Between 1963 and early 1967, Britain had an incredibly vigorous pop and teen press, with at least a dozen weeklies and/or monthlies all vying to bring their readers the latest news, gossip and interviews. Selling between 70,000 (Record Mirror) up to 200,000 (Fabulous, the New Musical Express) a week, this reflected the spike in singles sales reaching a peak of more than 70m in 1964.
During the late 1950s, the American consumer society had spread throughout Britain. In an era of plentiful jobs, teenagers had double the spending power that they had in 1939. Temporarily free of responsibilities, they bought a wide range of cosmetics, magazines, clothes, soft drinks, cinema tickets, and most of all records.
By the early 1960s, there were already several weeklies catering to the teenage female market - Marilyn, Mirabelle, Romeo, Roxy, and Valentine. The newer titles were more pop-heavy: as well as "love scene" picture stories and problem pages, there were colour photos of Elvis, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, John Leyton and Eden Kane. Of these, there were several. Launched in 1926, Melody Maker was the longest-running covering jazz, folk and blues, it was not pure pop. This was covered by the New Musical Express (est. 1952), Record Mirror (est. 1953) and Disc (est. 1958). All were black and white with weekly charts and news aimed at young men as well as women.
Two new weeklies were launched in January 1964. Jackie, a streamlined version of Boyfriend: but with larger pages and unusual, candid shots of stars: by the late 60s, its circulation was up to half a million.
Fabulous was a completely new pop paper and it contained at least one pin-up of the Beatles in every issue for two years. 11 colour pages and a central double-page poster all helped it sell. It cost one shilling, and was pricier than the competition but it had more pages, better quality paper. It also introduced a direct rapport between the stars and their audience. In an all-Beatles 1964 edition, there were articles about how the Beatles got away from the fans after a show, a breakdown of Paul, Ringo, George and John's height, weight, eye colour, inside leg etc. It saw pop not just for teenagers but as part of something wider. Fashion was given prominence and a double page spread the Beatles in corduroy jackets and then told the reader where to buy them - cut for the young female shape of course.
At 2s 6d, Rave was five times as expensive as the weekly music papers, but contained 80 A4 pages monthly on excellent quality paper. The first issue showed the Beatles with 007 badges. Inside were Dusty's fashion tips, a feature on star holidays and a regular monthly event, DJ Alan Freeman's "Heart to Heart2 with a heart throb. Rave went further articles about Stuart Sutcliffe, the lost Beatle.
Like Fabulous, Rave prominently featured young women writers. Cathy McGowan was a regular, however, if the ads for guitars were anything to go by, Rave also appealed to young men and it acquired a circulation of 125,000 by 1966.
1966 was the year of change. Singles' sales dropped by 10m. The papers began to feature stories about star exhaustion and their unavailability, concentrating on the Kinks, the Who and the Rolling Stones. A new generation of more cheerful groups arrived the Troggs, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, the Monkees.
The motion of the 60s was beginning to falter. Sentimental ballads returned with a vengeance, while the drug culture began to take an effect.
It was time for another change. During 1966, Fabulous became Fabulous 208; Boyfriend merged with the newly launched Petticoat, Marilyn with Valentine. Disc joined forces with Music Echo and went colour on the front and back pages. There were new countercultural magazines. Some of these were short-lived such as Oz and Rolling Stone and a revamped New Musical Express followed.
The freshness of the high 60s is now well over 50 years away, but you old copies of Rave, Disc and Fabulous still regularly surface. It's the nearest you'll get to reliving the 60s as they happened.
In the 60s, pop wasn't simply the preserve of the teen mags. In March 1966, the Observer Magazine published a story about the Who. It concentrated on the business brains behind the band's rise: manager Kit Lambert and his partner, Chris Stamp. The writer later declared that he was more a fan of classical music; but when he got to know the Who, he got to like them."
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News and Views:
Griff points out this Highbury Celebration
On this day 25th February 1960-1965
On 25/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was USSR wins Winter Olympics
On 25/02/1961 the number one single was Sailor - Petula Clark and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was The Army Game (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 13.25 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada).
On 25/02/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. 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. The big news story of the week was John Glenn is 1st US astronaut to orbit earth.
On 25/02/1963 the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) 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.
On 25/02/1964 the number one single was Diane - Bachelors and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) 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 25/02/1965 the number one single was I'll Never Find Another You - Seekers and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. 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. The big news story of the day was Goldie the Eagle escapes London Zoo.