At the Lorne Hotel front bar
In Australia the summer was long hot and dry. And anyone with any sense was at the beach. The beach at Lorne along the southern coast road was world class. In the evening you could spend your downtime in the front bar of the Lorne Hotel and jostle with all the other long haired surfies and rockers in town for summer. It was loud and noisy, uncouth and fun. We travelled light and pulled off the road late at night into a nice park. The morning came quickly sunny and bright and weird piercing cries of “four four!!!” mingled with the squawk of cockatoos in the trees. A quick peek from our sleeping bags revealed that we were accommodated on the first green of the Lorne Golf Links, with some disgruntled golfers looking to swing in our direction. So started our summer of love downunder, which for all intents and purposes, slid by us without our knowing one way of the other.
Visitors from South East Asia
In January, Air Vice Marshall Ky, Prime Minister of South Vietnam visited Australia to everybody’s embarrassment and concern. The press lapped it up and pictures of the dashing leader and his photogenic wife, Madame Ky, appeared everywhere. The Vietnam war was escalating. For Prime Minister Holt it was “all the way with LBJ”. Protest was in the wind along with the ‘birthday ballot’ for national service.
Easybeats on top
Back in the real world, the Easybeats were still on top of the Go-Set Top 40 and had been since Christmas. The Go-Set Top 40 for the 4th of January promoted fun, laughter and dancing in contrast to the world of politics and war. There were no Beatles, Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan in the Go-Set Top 40 but there was a worthwhile local mix and UK/USA artists. The state of play is worth recording with a single dud at #8 – Winchester Cathedral – magnificent medieval cathedral – rotten song:
|1||Easybeats||Friday on my mind|
|2||Beach Boys||Good Vibrations|
|3||Normie Rowe||Ooh La La|
|4||Johnny Young||Let it be me EP|
|5||Herman’s Hermits||No milk today|
|6||Tom Jones||Green green grass of home|
|8||New Vaudeville Band||Winchester Cathedral|
|10||Bee Gees||Spicks and Specs|
Normie – Australia’s “Elvis”
One week later Normie Rowe again hit #1 with Ooh La La and stayed there for two weeks. Normie would go on to be a pinup boy for the Army after he was conscripted in 1968, which also killed his pop career. Recently it has been acknowledged that Prime Minister Holt rigged his call up hoping to generate a bit of “Australian Elvis goes to war” as a foil to the anti-war movement. The least that can be said about this revelation is that Normie Rowe returned safe and sound after rendering loyal service. At the time he had plenty of other Australian competition in the charts for the week of 18 January. Ronnie Burns was at #21 with Coalman, sparkling Bev Harrell at #23 with What am I doing here with you, the Twilights at #26 with You’ve got soul, Johnny Young at #32 When will I be loved and handsome Tony Barber (ex the Aztecs) at #39 with Looking for a better day. Overseas contenders the Monkees were sitting at #18 with I’m a believer and Eric Burden and the Animals with the driving – When I was young at #29 moving fast up the charts. Roy Orbison, as steady as ever, was at #13 with Communication Breakdown.
A news item in Go-Set for 11 January related the demise of Bobby and Laurie as a duo for all time. And this was something that would dog the majority of Australian groups, looking for quick hits, ever changing line-ups, and breaking up before reaching any sort of creative peak. In retrospect it probably had a lot to do with a lack of financial support and income.
Tom Jones took over at #1 on 25 January and commandeered the heights for four weeks with the ballad Green Green grass of home, and succeeded in keeping the Monkees from #1 position, although I’m a believer hit #1 on 4BC in Brisbane. The top layers of the Go-Set charts remained relatively stable January through to mid-February with more pushing and shoving going on below – Seekers at #27 with Georgy Girl, Spencer Davis Group at #28 with Gimme some lovin’, the Who at #39 with Happy Jack, Rolling Stones at #25 with Ruby Tuesday.
Royal Guardsmen challenge the British Invasion
Our small world came crashing down when the Royal Guardsmen, out of Ocala Florida USA, hit #1 with Snoopy Vs the Red Baron on 24 February. More about this shocker later. For five weeks the Royal Guardsmen kept the Monkees in second spot and the Seekers in third spot holding their collective breath. And the Royal Guardsmen remained at #1 until at long last on 29 March the Seekers were finally rewarded with the top spot much to the relief of Australia’s teenage population and their mothers. In the mean time the Id, unnoticed generally but much loved by Melbourne discotheque fans, scrambled up the charts to reach #12 with Big Time Operator, a surly bursting energetic song, sung by a wild man of rock Jeff St John. Their one and only album was reissued late in 2016 to much acclaim.
The fabulous Allusions from Sydney enter the Go-Set Charts for 22 March at #39 with Roundabout. It was one of their weaker numbers beautifully harmonised and faded into oblivion the next week. Ruby Tuesday slowly fell. Elvis continued to droop with Indescribably Blue stopping at #11 which in 1967 was pretty respectable for the ‘old’ rocker. Worse to come was another Royal Guardsmen ditty – The return of the Red Baron – camped at #30 on 29 March. The Buckinghams make a brief appearance getting to #31 with Kind of a Drag (a big hit for them in the States). In mid April the Seekers were relieved of the top position by the Beatles, the returning monarchs, with a big double sider – Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields forever. Pop life is back to normal – Beatles on top.
A little lower in the charts things were warming up. The Twilights, with their next big hit, a cover of the Hollies’ song – What’s wrong with the way I live – were sitting at #8 on 12 April, just ahead of Engelbert Humperdinck and the underwhelming Release me at #10, the Mamas and the Papas with the lovely Dedicated to the one I love at #11, a quick follow on from their earlier Words of Love / Dancing in the Street double single in January. Four Australian acts sat in the mid 30’s – the Masters Apprentices with their debut single – Undecided, The Vibrants – with the fanstastic – Something about you baby, and two Bev Harrell songs – Come over to my place and What am I doing here with you. Local talent was doing well.
Jimi enters the room and leaves quickly
In the week of 3 May, the Jimi Hendrix Experience entered the Go-Set charts at #40 with their debut single – Hey Joe, only to disappear the next week. Hey Joe endured longer in the 3UZ charts and made it to #20, but it appears that initially Jimi did not hit the hot spot downunder. It remains one of my favourite Hendrix tunes.
Teeny boppers Frank & Nancy
Whilst the Beatles assumed the mantle for a number of weeks, moving up the charts was a famous father and daughter team, pop royalty – Frank and Nancy Sinatra with their duo contribution – Something Stupid, which reached #1 on 10 May. Frank and Nancy enjoyed the top spot until the end of May. Once again artists in the lower echelons fought it out for honours without touching the top spot. Normie Rowe was back with Going Home at #7, Lynne Randell with Ciao at #14 and on the rise. The Vibrants, Loved Ones, Easy Beats and Masters Apprentices hung around the mid teens like a gang of inseparables. At #35 the Turtles burst in with Happy Together. Buddy England, another hopeful from Melbourne, swung into action with Movin’ Man at #26. Buddy was rock solid handsome and a sure winner. Girls would swoon.
The famous 1967 Referendum clarified
Australia was slightly distracted in May 1967 when people were required to vote in a Referendum to change the constitution. Referendums are tricky as a successful outcome requires agreement by a majority of states and a majority of voters. A minor number of referendums have succeeded in the past 100 years. In this case there was a 90.77% positive response to the two questions asked in respect of indigenous people and thus enabled the Australian Government to legislate for Aborigines and that they also be included in future census data. Notwithstanding, there was some general misunderstanding in the end as to what had been agreed. The referendum did not give Indigenous people the right to vote, nor citizenship rights, nor right to be counted in the census. But it is seen as a start point for getting a better deal for our indigenous citizens. The struggle continues over inequality and land rights.
Back in La La Land
As they say… by 31 May back in La La Land…., Eric Burden and the Animals were knocking on heaven’s door with When I was young, denied by Frank & Nancy for the #1 spot, and Petula Clark sat at #3 with This is my song. Sandie Shaw, winner of the Eurovision prize with Puppet on a String was at #6 and Lynne Randell at #7 with Ciao. Little Pattie, surfed into #38 with the terrible I’ll eat my hat, and perhaps wished she had, shored up by Neil Diamond with his second foray into the charts with the emotive Girl, you’ll be a woman soon at #39.
Eric Burden and the Animals stayed at #2 whilst Pet Clark took line honours on 7 June with This is my song. And Petula stayed on top for four weeks until the end of June 1967. In that week there were fourteen Australian artists in the Go-set Top 40. None of these artists would make the top position and coming up the charts were two juggernauts – The Supremes and bless him, Engelbert Humperdinck. And the Young Rascals had also re-entered the Australian charts with the really cool summer hit, just in time for our winter, Groovin’.
Overall in June a number of great songs entered the charts. The Bee Gees made it to #7 with New York Mining Disaster 1941, Cheryl Gray #8 with You made me what I am (later to change her name to Samantha Sang – remember now?), The Who #27 – Pictures of Lily, and the Supremes – #7 – The Happening.
What makes a #1?
On reflection the #1 hits, other than Friday on my mind way back in January, were pretty pop songs or ballads rather than tearaway beat group tracks. The new music seemed to have stalled and more mature artists were making records attractive to the record buying public and the mums. Although, it must be remembered that ‘tall dark and handsome’ always works. Tom Jones and Engelbert would enjoy good careers with not so good songs. But how does that explain the Royal Guardsmen and the ‘Snoopy’ phenomenon. Lord give me strength. Amen.
America – Vietnam war escalates and the Moonshot beckons
On January 5 Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the new Governor of California and for the hippies of Haight and Ashbury the summer of love was almost over before it started. On January 14 the first Human Be-In assembled at Golden Gate Park, an event seen as a prelude to the summer of love.
The Human Be-In was announced on the cover of the San Francisco Oracle as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”. The occasion was a new California law banning the use of the psychedelic drug LSD. Speakers at the rally included Timothy Leary, in his first San Francisco appearance, who set the tone that afternoon with his famous phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, and poets Gary Snyder, Michael McClure and Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantras. Other counterculture gurus included comedian Dick Gregory, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Alpert (aka “Ram Dass”), and Jerry Rubin.
The Hells Angels, at the peak of their “outlaw” reputation, looked after lost children during the afternoon. Music held sway and local bands were well represented – Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. These bands had played at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Stadium and the Avalon Ballroom since February 1966 and were well known in San Francisco, although they had limited success on the Billboard Charts to date.
Underground chemist Owsley Stanley provided massive amounts of his “White Lightning” LSD, specially produced for the event, as well as 75 twenty-pound turkeys, for free distribution to attendees, which is believed to have numbered between 20,000 and 30,000.
NASA, after losing the Apollo 1 spacecraft on the launch pad along with five astronauts on 27 January, launched the Lunar Orbiter 3 on February 5, in their quest to put a man on the moon before the USSR.
Billboard Top 100 – The Monkees on top
Back in the real world of the Billboard Top 100, the Monkees were sitting high and dry at #1 with I’m a believer, whilst Snoopy Vs the Red Baron resided at #2. Not an inspiring start to the year. It’s worthwhile recounting the Top 10 before we wade into the swamp and see who was where, when and why.
|1||The Monkees||I’m a believer|
|2||Royal Guardsmen||Snoopy vs the Red Baron|
|3||Aaron Neville||Tell it like it is|
|4||New Vaudeville Band||Winchester Cathedral|
|5||Nancy Sinatra||Sugar Town|
|6||Frank Sinatra||That’s Life|
|7||Paul Revere & the Raiders||Good Thing|
|8||Mamas and the Papas||Words of Love|
|9||Four Tops||Standing in the shadows of love|
The state of play in the USA in January 1967 showed that the British invasion may have been repelled. The tide had receded. There were 40 new US groups and artists compared with only 11 UK groups and artists. A single Australian group dwelt therein. There were also 30 groups and artists from Motown and/or R&B and Soul from the USA, which were highly successful. Not many of the new US groups were memorable beyond their short appearances in the Top 100, but they demonstrated a desperation to succeed, if only by the full page advertisements in weekly Billboard magazines. It all seemed a race against time. Get something anything released and on the radio. But we must not be too critical. We are talking about pop music – hair today and gone tomorrow! Who famously said “Pop will eat itself”?
The Monkees stayed on top until 11 February, with the Seekers sitting at #2 with Georgy Girl. During the first six weeks or so of 1967 many new contenders hit the charts – the consistently exciting civil war masqueraders Paul Revere & the Raiders – Good thing, the Lovin’ Spoonful – with the uninteresting Nashville Cats, Keith – not quite boiling over at 98.6, the almost psychedelic Electric Prunes – I had too much to dream last night, the great pretenders the Buckinghams with Kind of a drag, and the Blue Magoos – (We ain’t got) nothin’ yet.
Buckinghams surprise everybody
On 18 February, surprisingly, the Buckinghams hit pay dirt with Kind of a drag at #1. All those full page advertisements in Billboard paid off. Sitting at #3 were the Rolling Stones with Ruby Tuesday waiting to shift into the top position. The Blue Magoos reached the peak of their short career at #5, one spot ahead of the magical Supremes with Love is here and now you’re gone, just waiting for its time to reach #1. Buffalo Springfield make their first appearance in the charts at #39 with For what it’s worth. The Top 10 of 25 February is pretty solid and worth a look:
|1||The Buckinghams||Kind of a drag|
|2||Supremes||Live is here and now you’re gone|
|3||Rolling Stones||Ruby Tuesday|
|4||The Monkees||I’m a believer|
|6||Sonny & Cher||The beat goes on|
|7||Spencer Davis Group||Gimme some lovin’|
|8||The Casinos||Then you can tell me goodbye|
|9||Blue Magoos||(We ain’t got) nothin’ yet|
|10||Johnny Rivers||Baby I need your lovin’|
Sitting at #11 was a surprise jazz crossover – Cannonball Adderley’s live Mercy Mercy Mercy. But lurking at #83 and #85 were two Beatles’ songs – Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane – set for the top.
Mad March Hair
The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday hit #1 on 4 March and the Supremes hit #1 the following week on 11 March. The Turtles were also on their way to #1 sitting at #8, whilst the reliable Johnny Rivers made it to #3. Herman’s Hermits, always a favourite in the USA was sitting at #12 with their new hit There’s a kind of hush, peaking at #4. Stevie Wonder, still to hit the peaks of the 1970s, was at #64 with Travlin’ Man and few spots ahead of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass at #70 with Wade in the water. Arthur Connolly, sitting on a bomb of a hit, was at #81 with Sweet Soul Music.
Some obscure psychedelic/garage groups hovered just inside the Top 100 cellar door to sink into oblivion with a week or so – The Rainy Daze – That Acapulco Gold – probably dreams of Elvis at #93; the Peanut Butter Conspiracy – It’s a happening thing – it all was happening then – at #94; and the Woolies – Who do you love at #97. But it must be admitted that they did have some interesting company: Bo Diddley, the Impressions, and the comedy team Senator Bobby and Senator McKinley and all acts on their way out of Billboard contention.
Beatles – Penny Lane #1
The Beatles rise quickly and take out the #1 spot with Penny Lane on 18 March. The Easybeats with Friday on my mind are at #100 with better things to come. The Mamas and the Papas are back with Dedicated to the one I love making it to #2. Strawberry Fields stalls at #8.
The Turtles grace the podium on 25 March with the marvellous Happy Together and stay at the top until 8 April cementing this group’s claim to fame for the next 50 years. For their sins, the Turtles blocked the Mamas and the Papas at #2 and also some pretty good songs near the Top 10 – Petula Clark – This is my song #3, Aretha Franklin – I have never loved a man #9, the Four Tops – Bernadette #4, Buffalo Springfield – For what it’s worth #7. But nothing could stop Frank & Nancy Sinatra.
Frank & Nancy on Top
The Sinatras hit the top spot with Something Stupid on 15 April only three short weeks after a full page photograph the famous father and daughter team, appeared in Billboard magazine – see it buy it! The single was released with the same picture – which says it all – on the sleeve. The song itself sort of gets to you with its underlying innocence and understated melody line sweeping you along with the unlikely love story. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman’s version in 2001 appears more dangerous and likely as we know the protagonists are not father and daughter. Nevertheless Frank & Nancy captured the fans’ adoration of two or three generations, outsold and outlasted the competition and stayed on top of the Top 100 charts until 6 May 1967.
The Monkees were unable to have a consecutive #1 with A little bit me, a little bit you as Frank & Nancy were cemented into the top spot. Arthur Connelly rose to #2 with Sweet Soul Music and the Dave Clark Five, also favourites in the USA, made it to #10 with the slamming You got what it takes. A couple of US new group shockers managed to get into the Top 10 – Tommy James and the Shondells with I think we’re alone now at #6 and the 5 Americans with Western Union #5.
By 6 May the Supremes were knocking on the door at #2. Below #10 there were many contenders – a goodly mix of UK and US artists – which indicates that the show was starting to get hotter as we headed into the warmer months of the northern atmosphere. The Hollies were back for another try with On a carousel at #12, Eric Burden & the Animals with When I was young at #15, the Young Rascals edging towards the top with Groovin’ at #19, Engelbert Humperdinck with Release me at #20, Neil Diamond with the mercurial Girl, you’ll be woman soon at #21 and the Tremeloes with a genuine hit – Here comes my baby at #25, and it keeps coming – Aretha Franklin with Respect at #26, the cartoonish Yellow Balloon with Yellow Balloon at #29 and Jefferson Airplane – out of the hanger – with Grace Slick at the wheel and Somebody to love at #31. Yep things were warming up.
Supremes Golden Ways
The Supremes relieved Frank & Nancy of their crown on 13 May with The Happening. By the following week -27 May – the Young Rascals topped the charts with Groovin’, a sure fire winner and the Easybeats peaked at #16 with Friday on my mind. At #44 Every Mother’s Son, evoking sunshine pop, sang Come on down to my boat with a killer chorus, just ahead of the Nitty gritty Dirt Band with Buy for me the rain – an early chart appearance for Jackson Browne. Bob Dylan made a solitary appearance with Leopard-skin pill-box hat at #85. Also on 27 May the Bee Gees entered the charts at #79 with New York mining disaster; Janis Ian in her debut entry at 16 years of age with the stunning Society’s Child (Baby I’ve been thinking), and heralding the start of summer (at least in San Francisco) Scott Mckenzie entered at #98 with San Francisco.
Aretha hits Summer
Summer arrives. On 3 June Aretha Franklin hit #1 with Respect with the Young Rascals dropped to #2. The Happenings were at #3 with the terrible I’ve got rhythm. Apart from that particular song the Top 10 was first class with all new talent, four Motown/Soul acts and a sole UK representative in Engelbert Humperdinck. In the nether regions American Breed entered the charts with their debut – Step out of your mind at #90 and at #91 with their one and only entry – the Wildweeds with No good to cry – with no subsequent entries ever – but with a great album to their credit simply called The Wildweeds released in 1970. They are still remembered in some dark corners of the old and cranky teenosphere.
Also in the week of 3 June, the Doors crept in at #98 with Light my fire destined for glory and a kick off for the Summer of Love. By 10 June several tracks for the Summer of Love were playing on the radio non-stop: Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to love #6, the Turtles – She’s rather be with me #7, Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (be sure to wear some flowers in your hair), the 5 Americans – Sound of love, the Association – Windy.
Groovin’ on a sunny afternoon
On 17 June the Young Rascals are triumphant at #1 with Groovin’ a fantastic track of summer and fun and cool. The charts hover around this mark until the end of the month with the Young Rascals on top. The Association, making a charge, are at #4 with Windy. A surprise hit is the Music Explosion at #5 with a Little bit o’ soul. The Jefferson Airplane return with a second chart buster in the drug laced White Rabbit and Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood combine at #79 with Jackson, destined to rise. Nancy is also busy in the film business singing the theme from another James Bond blockbuster – You only live twice sitting at #82 but only making it later to #44. And sitting at #100 with all the connotations of the Summer of Love but without the application or talent is The Love Creation with Groovy summertime! – described appealingly as “Sunshine Pop Beach Boys Party! Partridge family” leftovers. As Frank Zappa said “we’re only in it for the money.”
Back to England Winter January 1967
Tom Jones is right there on top with Green green grass of home. The Top 10 is almost a UK only affair with the Supremes sitting at #8 with You keep me hanging on. The state of play is set out below:
|1||Tom Jones||Green green grass of home|
|4||Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich||Save me|
|5||The Who||Apple Jack|
|6||Kinks||Dead End Street|
|7||Val Doonican||What would I be|
|8||The Supremes||You keep me hanging on|
|9||Cliff Richard||In the country|
|10||Small Faces||My mind’s eye|
In the teens are Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders with Pamela Pamela at #16, and further below but on the up, Cream with I feel free at #25, the Move with Night of fear at #32, Jimi Hendrix with Hey Joe at #41, the Monkees with I’m a believer at #42, Sandy Posey with Single Girl at #43 and the Sandpipers with Guantenamera at #45. Overall there are 21 US acts vs 22 UK acts in the Top 50 with a relative mix of new and older artists. Things are in the balance.
Monkees #1 Again
Interlopers the Monkees hit the #1 spot on 19 January with I’m a believer deposing Tom Jones who spent far too much time at #1 with the croonworthy Green green grass of home. The Four Tops arrive quickly at #6 with Standing in the shadows of love after a single week in the charts. Jimi Hendrix moves to #16 with Hey Joe and the Rolling Stones into #26 after one week with Let’s spend the night together. At the time the government thought there was too much of that sort of thing going on and there should be a law against it. The song was temporarily banned by some radio stations in the USA.
The Monkees remain at #1 until 9 February blocking Cat Stevens from an inaugural #1 with Matthew & Son, which sounded like a bit of a takeover in any case. Handsome Paul Jones was also getting in on the act with I’ve been a bad boy sitting at #5. Remarkably Ken Dodd returned to the fray with another tear jerker – Let me cry on your shoulder at #11, whilst Jim Reeves sought solace in another way with I won’t come in while he’s there at #12. The Spencer Davis Group made it to #9 with I’m a man just ahead of Nancy Sinatra with Sugar Town. Strangely the Electric Prunes barely made it to #49 with I had too much to dream last night before disappearing off the charts, along with class act the Mamas & the Papas with Words of Love which failed to penetrate the charts, making it to #47 after three weeks and dying right there.
Petula Clark – English Rose
Petula Clark rescued the UK with another gem – This is my song at #1. The Royal Guardsmen rumbled back with Snoopy vs the Red Baron, unchartworthy fodder but it is recorded for posterity at #9 one place ahead of the Tremeloes and their really good song Here comes my baby. Vince Hill, an unknown person (to anyone outside London), was creeping up the charts with the unlikely and unwonderful Edelweiss and record shops were shifting the single by the bucket load. Not even pop music one might say! And the Hollies were contributing On a Carousel sitting at #34 destined to go higher.
Butterfly on a wheel
In the same week on 12 February, police had raided ‘Redlands’, the Sussex home of Keith Richards with a warrant to “search the premises and the persons in them, under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965.” The police were acting from a tip-off by the now defunct News of the World, which was as crazy in those days as in recent years, where it overstepped the mark gigantically and was closed down by Rupert Murdoch, reluctantly but finally. The bust proved fairly ineffectual and the subsequent sentencing of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards inspired the “Butterfly on a Wheel” editorial written by the Editor of The Times William Rees-Mogg. It appeared in The Times on 1 July 1967 and the independent analysis of the editorial shamed the establishment figures of the day, and common sense prevailed. Rock and roll was not going to bring the establishment or the world to its knees. Politicians would need to find another path.
Vote 1 England
There were plenty of other matters to enthral the populace. For instance the Dutch Government announced support of British membership of the European Economic Community as it was known then, which 50 years later has been scuppered by the Brits themselves. Brexit. We’re off!
March brought mixed blessings. The ‘brutalist’ Queen Elizabeth Hall was opened on 1st March on South Bank to become a haven of arts and performance, loved by all. In mid March the super tanker SS Torrey Canyon, making one of the biggest navigation errors of all time, spilled its entire oily contents in the south west waters of UK (adjacent the Scilly islands), destroying sea life and sea birds, and the coastal parts of Britain, Spain, France and Guernsey. The subsequent clean up was also a disaster and environmental lessons were learnt the hard way.
Strawberry Fields Forever
Back in friendly waters and Pet Clarke stayed #1 with This is my song on 23 February with Engelbert at her heels with Release me. The Beatles, in their first week appearance lobbed straight to #5 with Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields a McCartney / Lennon mix of light vaudeville and psychedelic fare, completely in-character. The Rolling Stones were one step behind, frightening good society with Let’s spend the night together, and thoroughly supporting teen fantasies right there and then.
By 2 March Engelbert had his way and made #1. Unbelievably he stayed on top until 6 April – five weeks at the top with Release Me! Who was buying this record – most uncool. The ranks below shuffled about unable to budge Engelbert – born Arnold George Dorsey – known as “one of the finest middle-of-the road balladeers” that God put breath in, and stable mates with the Rolling Stones at Decca Records.
You’re not gonna believe this
The Hollies, the Monkees and the Tremeloes made it into the top 10 along with Herman’s Hermits and the Seekers. Two other strangers to the pop Top 10 were also making appearances and both would make it to #2 – Vince Hill with Edelweiss ???? (words fail me) and Goon Show Star and Welsh singer Harry Secombe with This is my song. The UK pop scene was nothing if not catholic in its tastes.
Sandie Shaw, fresh from Eurovision launches into the charts on 16 March at #27 headed for #1. On 23 March, Jimi Hendrix releases his second single Purple Haze which will make #3, along with the Turtles hoping to repeat their US success with Happy Together lobbing in at #49. New comers Pink Floyd bring Arnold Layne to #41.
Worst Ever Top 5
On 30 March the worst Top 5 tunes ever to grace the charts assemble, much to every younger groover’s chagrin.
|1||Engelbert Humperdinck||Release Me|
|2||Harry Secombe||This is my song|
|4||Alan Price Set||Simon Smith & the amazing dancing bear|
|5||Whisky Jack Smith||I was Kaiser Bill’s Batman|
Sitting in the next five positions were five class acts – Sandie Shaw, the Seekers, Pet Clark, Nancy & Frank and the Beatles. Say no more, at least Snoopy & the Red Baron were not in sight.
Frank & Nancy Win Again
Frank & Nancy triumphed on 13 April, dethroning Engelbert with Sandie Shaw – Puppet on a string at #3 and the Monkees – A little bit me a little bit you at #4. Something Stupid only stayed two weeks at the top when Sandie Shaw, heroine of a nation, glittered at #1 and Sandie conquered all until 11 May keeping the Monkees, Jimi Hendrix and the Who at bay. Having won at Eurovision she carried all before her; there was nothing the record-buying public would deny her. It was like the World Cup all over again.
Silence is strangely golden
But the rock world rolls on. Jimi Hendrix with his third release – A wind cries Mary was at #27, the Kinks with their wonderful Waterloo Sunset were at #29, and the Supremes were back with another top spotter – The happening at #41. And then a strange thing happened. The Tremeloes hit the top spot with the unearthly terrible Silence is Golden – another throw back to croonerville but worse. And to make matters worse stayed on top for three whole weeks keeping, in turn the Kinks from making #1 and the Mamas and the Papas with the marvellous Dedicated to the one I love from the top spot.
A Whiter shade of pale
Procol Harum with A whiter shade of pale, a song steeped in misery and mist assumed the top spot on 8 June from the Tremeloes, who would not repeat their stellar performance in the charts. Subsequence performances of the song at local dances killed the evening for one and all. Thank God that’s over everyone said. Procol Harum must have weaved a spell over everyone in the UK because the song stayed at the top of the charts until the end of June. At least they blocked another #1 by dear Engelbert – You are my everything at #2. The Hollies were at #3 with Carrie-Anne on 22 June and by 29 June, Traffic, a fantastic new group helmed by Stevie Winwood were at #5 with Paper Sun, the Turtles with She’d rather be with me at #6, the Monkees with Alternate title at #7, the Young Rascals with Groovin’ at #8. There were also other stirrings – Cream with their haunting groove of Strange Brew at #19, the Small Faces with Here comes the nice at #14, and Aretha Franklin with Respect at #25 moving up. Pink Floyd were back a second time with See Emily play at #28.
Pause for breath – June 1967
Overall the scene seemed to have mellowed. Several non-groovy hits dominated the charts and the energy of 1965 and 1966 may have dissipated. The Beatles, though, were again on the rise with Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields and their new album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had been released in May. The Rolling Stones were slumming along despite court appearances. The Hollies continued to provide great entertainment and killer choruses whilst the Kinks had emerged beyond their opening power chords to new heights. There was a new maturity in the new groups’ music and there were new comers in Jimi Hendrix – yet to really shine in America; and Cream – just about to make a bigger splash. America’s new white groups were in the main advertisements for spending money, your money that is, and few of the great white wonders are remembered today. Yet there were some emerging stars – the Young Rascals, Blue Magoos and the Monkees. Bob Dylan was back but not quite back and Neil Diamond was on the cusp. Johnny Rivers kept on delivering good songs. The Motown, R&B and black Soul singers and groups demonstrated a superior knowledge and aptitude to make modern music and sold relentlessly. In time we will devote a chapter to their influence in the 1960s, but that is for later.
Nearly the Summer of Love
At this stage four weeks into the northern summer there was really no indication of the psychedelia to come, or for that matter, that the Summer of Love was just around the corner. Maybe not around Tottenham Street corner but maybe more so in California, somewhere in San Francisco or Monterey, or nearby.
Our next edition will move into that wonderland. In the interim listen to the following White Elephant Top 10 selections from the first half of 1967 – in fact there is a Top 21 as it was difficult to draw the line…..many many great tracks!