Summer of Love – 1967

Postcode of Berties Discoteque (3000)

Berties on a quiet night

Downunder, winter is entering its second month and the slumbering population is roused by an announcement by the Postmaster-General that a new system of post codes, replacing the older alpha numeric codes, would commence forthwith.  Auntie May worried that her letters would get lost.  And of course it was the subject of heated discussion at Berties Discoteque, that marvellous establishment for the young and droll, located on the corners of Spring and Flinders Streets Melbourne.

Berties internal design was psuedo Edwardian-Empire-Club style and bedecked with dollies from the eastern suburbs, mincing Melbourne mods, and sharpies from the outer west.  In August, the legendary La De Das, originally from New Zealand (even further downunder still) played at the venerable establishment on their first visit to Melbourne, a sure sign of their talent.  Rumour has it that the Twights, from Adelaide, played a famous residency at Berties in the Australian autumn of 1967, following their return from the UK, when (to the consternation of normally unflappable EMI executives wearing seersucker suits and rolling in money), they performed live renditions of the entire Sgt Pepper’s album, still weeks away from its Australian release.  Naughty boys who could sing joyously in tune did so.  Who would know what you would hear at a discoteque?  Was anyone in charge in those days?  After all this is 1967.

 

Who’s on top of the Go-Set National Top 40

The Go-Set National Top 40 for 5 July shows the consistent Petula Clark reigning with This is my song supported by Sandie Shaw at #2 with Puppet on a String, winner of the 12th Eurovision Song Contest earlier in April.  The Bee Gees are at #3 with New York Mining Disaster 1941 and the Twilights at #4 with Young Girl.  The remaining artists in the Top 10 are mostly on the decline except for #10 – A Whiter shade of pale.

Procol Harum, with the soporific A Whiter shade of pale, send the Go-Charts to sleep for the next three weeks keeping the excellent Groovin’ by the Young Rascals away from the #1 spot, and also thankfully the Tremeloes and the terrible Silence is Golden.  Even Scott McKenzie and his lovely advertisement for the Monterey Rock Festival – San Francisco – Wear flowers in your head – is stuck at #2, whilst the Kinks and their glorious Waterloo Sunset cannot make it past #4 in the Go-Set Charts.

  

Back to normal Beatles On Top

If, in the antipodes, we did not comprehend the underlying concept of the Summer of Love (strictly a northern hemisphere phenomenon), the Beatles delivered it spades with their next single – All you need is love – springing into the Go-Set Top 40 at #9 first week in and then replacing Procol Harum on 2 August.  In the same week the Fifth Dimension wound up with Jimmy Webb’s Up Up & Away landing at #13 whilst Jimi Hendrix launched The Wind cries Mary.  The Beatles stayed at the #1 position until 6 September with All you need is love.  There were minor skirmishes in the ranks with the Kinks arriving with Mr Pleasant; Aretha Franklin having a hard time convincing punters to buy Respect – eventually making #15, whilst Cream made an appearance with Strange Brew.  The Easybeats (Heaven & Hell #14), Normie Rowe (But I know / Sunshine Secret #16) and the Groop (Woman you’re breaking me #5 – very popular in Melbourne) represented the Australian contingent.  Even Dean Martin had the fans swooning with In the Chapel in the moonlight (#6) and significantly the Go-Set singles chart for 23 August listed the Sgt Pepper’s Album at #40 perhaps noting that no singles were released from the album, but sales of the album were so huge that it qualified for inclusion in the singles charts.  In August in 1967 everything was possible.  And as if to confirm this, Normie Rowe received his call up for national service in September.

   

From Henty House to Victoria Barracks

Victoria Barracks on a peaceful day

Work changes were also underfoot.  After shuffling papers up and down Little Collins Street, raising requisitions, orders, contracts and letters between Henty House, Fairfax House, Aviation House, and living the life at the Mitre Tavern it was time to move.  It was goodbye to Mr F and his Gilbert & Sullivan séances.  After a short tram ride along St Kilda Road Victoria Barracks with its bluestone walls, palm trees and cannons loomed into sight.  A new working life commenced in N Block in a large dusty office overlooking the war memorial gardens.  My new work mates had seen duty during the second world war and the idea of youngsters in the office seemed to alleviate the gloom of the surroundings.  My new boss – Hillary Vincent Patrick Doody – a gay shambolic bachelor in his sixties was also something to be reckoned with often answering the phone with a “Howdy Doody speaking…!” bark of laughter, apparently based on the 1950 Howdy Doody character on US children’s TV – not that I knew this at the time.

The Domain before its transfiguration into the magic Casa de Manana

Cruisin’ relatively deserted streets in 1967

The move to Victoria Barracks also coincided with a large back pay check which was immediately invested in a British racing green Austen Healey Mk1A sprite sportscar purchased from some charlatans in a Coburg car lot.  Life was on the move and the vehicle quickly attracted many parking tickets from the South Melbourne Council with its meagre parking around the barracks.  The stars and staff of the nearby Channel 7 TV studios took the rest.  On the corner of St Kilda Road and the Domain a new watering hole aka “The Domain” beckoned.  Life south of Flinders Street looked interesting.

 Up Up & Away – let the love-in commence

The 5th Dimension with Up Up & Away enjoyed the top position for two weeks, being ejected by Petula Clark’s appeal to come to your senses with Don’t sleep in the subway on 27 September.  Pop’s sentimentality wins over again.  The Go-Set Top 10 for 4 October looks an interesting mix – middle of the road, flower power, caricature, old sock.  Bobbie Gentry’s entry defies immediate classification with its folksy mystery and poignant delivery.

 

1 Petula Clark Don’t sleep in the subway
2 Vikki Carr It must be him
3 5th Dimension Up Up & Away
4 Bobbie Gentry Ode to Billie Joe
5 Peter Paul & Mary I dig rock and roll music
6 Dean Martin Little ole wine drinker me
7 Cliff Richard The day I met Marie
8 Bee Gees To love somebody
9 Monkees The Monkees EP Vol 1 – Theme from the Monkees
10 Scott McKenzie San Francisco – Wear Flowers in your hair

   

Just out of the Top 10, Eric Burden & the Animals pushed the elegiac San Franciscan Nights (#11) – a song of joy saluting the love and fellowship of the Monterey International Pop Festival.  Other tracks, closely associated with the love and psychedelia of the times, settled in the lower rungs of the Go-Set Chart for 4 October – the Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday (#13), the Doors with their debut hit – Light my fire (#16), the Rolling Stones – We love you / Dandelion (#19), the Small Faces – the magnificent Itchycoo Park (#23) and the Masters Apprentices – Living in a child’s dream (#29).  As an aside Jimi Hendrix hits #4 on the 3UZ Charts in Melbourne with Hey Joe the highest position Jimi made it to in Australia in 1967.

But these songs largely failed to impact higher in the charts.  Feisty Vikki Carr (born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona) successfully hits the top spot on 11 October with It must be him and stays there for two weeks.  This was her biggest hit ever.  Serious contenders Itchycoo Park made #3 and San Franciscan Nights made #4.  Dean Martin, enjoying a resurgence, hit #5 with the really very good Little ole wine drinker me and quintessential English group Traffic quietly settled into #24 with the trippy psychedelic Hole in my shoe, still wonderfully weird today, later making it to #8.

Engelbert rides forever

Despite these odd gems slipping into the lower echelons of the Go-Set Charts, Engelbert Humperdinck, born Arnold George Dorsey, variously described as one of the finest middle-of-the-road singers God ever gave breath to, scrambles into #1 on 25 October with the unadventurous – The Last Waltz – for what seems like a teenage life sentence – six weeks until 6 December.  During that time, the Small Faces sat at #2 with Itchycoo Park, replaced by the Bee Gees with Massachusetts, and the Box Tops with the fantastic – The Letter – stops at #4.  The Top 10 for 15 November is worth looking at:

 

1 Engelbert Humperdinck The Last Waltz
2 Bee Gees Massachusetts
3 Small Faces Itchycoo Park
4 Box Tops The Letter
5 Nancy Sinatra Lightning’s Girl
6 Procol Harum Homburg
7 Vikki Carr It must be him
8 Traffic Hole in my shoe
9 Masters Apprentices Living in a child’s dream
10 Davy Jones Dream Girl

Jimi Hendrix makes another venture into the Top 40 with Burning of the midnight lamp eventually making it to #22.  Not much luck for Jimi at this stage.  Nancy Sinatra challenges the top of the charts again but the surly girl characters have lost their allure and the punters maybe yearn more for A Natural Woman as sung by Aretha Franklin, sitting at #38 on 15 November, another song not destined for greatness on the Australian charts.

   

The week of 6 December brings some relief as the Bee Gees overhaul Engelbert at the top only to give it back to him on the following week.  Success is short but sweet.  In the mix for the week of 13 December are some heavy hitters – the Beatles at #32 with Hello Goodbye / I am the walrus,  The Who at #25 with I can see for miles, Diana Ross & the Supremes at #29 with In & out of love and the wonderfully sublime Cowsills at #38 with the sunshine pop of The rain, the park and other things, a forerunner of the Osmonds but with pitch and clarity.  Australian artists the Vibrants are back at #6 with My Prayer / Don’t let your left hand know, and new group Somebody’s Image at #40 with Hush.  Elvis even fronts with Big Boss Man at #36, one of his swashbuckling better belters for some time.

Coo Coo Cachoo

And sadly Engelbert stays on top for the rest of the year.  Who is buying this record – all the lonely people where do they all come from…..?  But even worse the Royal Guardsmen are back at #2 on 27 December with Snoopy’s Christmas, leaving the Beatles at #3 with Hello Goodbye / I am the walrus –coo coo cachoo….  At the end of the year the Bee Gees remain in the Top 10 at #4 with Massachusetts and the Twilights at #5 with The way we play / Cathy come home.  And if the punters are going to buy the Last Waltz and Snoopy’s Christmas by the wheel barrow load why not Johnny Farnham’s Sadie the cleaning lady storming up the December charts at #13.  It’s a shoe in for a top spot in the new year and we will be hearing it forever.  In Adelaide Johnny Farnham reaches the top of the 5AD charts on 22 December, but something strange must have been in the water in Adelaide as earlier on 3 December Slim Whitman graced the 5AD charts at #3 with the really really terrible China Doll / Indian Love call.  Some things hurt.

Prime Minister disappears off Cheviot Beach

People who you have never heard of seem to disappear all the time.  But on Sunday 17 December Harold Holt ventured into the stormy waters off Cheviot Beach and was never seen again.  Rumours of Soviet submarines, monsters from the deep, mermaids abounded but the official report declared the disappearance was purely accidental.  The Navy Department Christmas party at Victoria Barracks was cancelled but a few of us ventured to the Falkner Club Hotel in Toorak Road to dust off the Melbourne summer and wish our prime minister a warm RIP.

We need more data

It is difficult to let it go – the fact that Engelbert was sitting on top of the Go-Set charts for nearly two months.  You wonder if the record was bought in its thousands for all those end of year school dances or maybe weddings or the annual RSL Christmas parties.  Perhaps a way to tease out this conundrum is to seek other data as we do when something does not seem quite right.  4BC in Brisbane, obviously progressive, have Engelbert on top for two weeks in late October allowing the Small faces to take the #1 spot on 5 November and the Bee Gees a turn for two weeks starting on 12 November.  Engelbert, not to be denied, returns to the top for another two weeks in early December.  He is a hard man to keep down.  A surprise hit by songwriters Jacky Trent and Tony Hatch – The two of us – makes it to the top of 4BC’s top 40 in mid December for two weeks.  Life returns to normal when the Beatles with Hello Goodbye finish on top at 4BC for the rest of the year – a far better result methinks.

  

Summer in UK means Tennis at Wimbledon

John Newcombe winner of the Gentlemen’s Singles Final -1967

On 1 July the BBC, for the first time, presents some of its TV programs in colour and one of the very first is the live recording of Wimbledon showing John Newcomb winning the Gentlemen’s Singles Final in straight sets over German Wilhelm Bungert.  In Australia we got to see his brilliant victory in black and white.  In those days the victor vaulted the net like a Viking from North Albury.  Nothing much appeared to be stirring in UK in the summer of 1967.  The Beatles had released Sgt Peppers on 26 May or perhaps 1 June in UK, which pounced into the northern summer all shimmering colour and beautiful music.  The Top 10 for 5 July was a mix of ordinary and the less startling evenly distributed between UK and US artists.  Traffic and the Young Rascals are the lone representatives of the summer to come.  Here it is:

 

 

1 Procol Harum A whiter shade of pale
2 Engelbert Humperdinck There goes my everything
3 Monkees Alternate Title
4 Turtles She’d rather be with me
5 Hollies Carrie-Ann
6 Vikki Carr It must be him
7 Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mich & Tich Okay!
8 Traffic Paper Sun
9 Young Rascals Groovin’
10 Topol If I were a rich man

Aretha Franklin, struggling to have an effect in UK, sits at #11, peaking at #10, with the landmark song Respect.  Pink Floyd, the UK darlings of summer, flaunt See Emily Play at #17 and Jimi Hendrix, Chas Chandler’s big chance, has entered the charts at #50 with The wind cries Mary.  Procol Harum remain at #1 until 12 July with their one and only huge hit – A Whiter shade of pale – says it all.

All You Need Is Love

John Lennon’s joyous song, shared with the world, hits the top spot in UK on 19 July and stays there for three weeks.  The Beatles are on top once again.  We celebrate life.  All you need is love blared out over the radio waves incessantly across UK, Europe and Scandinavia – soon to be broadcast continuously Downunder and across the Atlantic throughout the US east to west coast.  We were brain-washed, soaked in the washing strains of the heavenly chorus,  and the pleasant force field that was the Beatles.

In all the hubbub of Beatles’ worldly love, little notice may have been given to Dave Davies’ wonderful song – Death of a Clown – sitting at #3 on 2 August, just behind Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco – Wear flowers in your hair at #2.

 

San Francisco – Wear flowers in your hair – A Invitation

Scott McKenzie was the harbinger of the Summer of Love.  John Phillips song was on the money and the song stayed in the #1 position on the UK charts for four weeks until the end of August.  He restrained Tom Jones from reaching the top with I’ll never fall in love again, and also Engelbert Humperdinck with The last waltz, at least temporarily.  Thank God for small favours.  On 16 August some middle of the road songs from favourite UK artists slipped into the Top 10 – the Tremeloes  at #8 with Even the good times are bad (a back handed compliment to summer) and the Alan Price Set at #9 with The House that Jack built.  The Monkees sat at #22 with Pleasant Valley Sunday, subsequently only making it to #11 and most surprisingly the Doors with Light my fire enter at #49, stay for a week and disappear from sight.  Strange times.  If you take a peek lower down the Top 50 Chart Keith West looms at #25 with Excerpt from a teenage opera – whatever that was about, and the Flowerpot Men, a special creation of lost session men – sit at #32 with Let’s go to San Francisco!  Both songs reach the Top 10 – not a good omen.

Radio Caroline – Ahoy Sailors!

An old sea dog playing music all day long

A brief diversion.  Offshore Pirate Radio stations cheerfully operated offshore providing an exciting pop broadcasts circumventing record companies control of what went to air.  The UK Government enacted the Marine and Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967, outlawing advertising on or supplying an unlicensed offshore radio station from the UK on 14 August 1967.  It was considered that the pirate ships were a danger because of radio frequency interference to emergency shipping channels, and of keen interest to record companies, the pirates were paying no royalties to artists, composers or record companies.

When Marine & Broadcasting Offences Act become law, Radio Caroline was renamed Radio Caroline International.  Six weeks later, the BBC introduced its new national pop station Radio 1, modelled largely on the successful offshore format of station Radio London.  Many of the ex-pirate DJs were employed by the BBC subsequently.  The BBC Light, Third, and Home programmes became Radios 2, 3 and 4 respectively.  Pop music then became ever more part of the social fabric.

Engelbert and the UFO Club

By early Spring, 6 September, Engelbert flies the flag at #1 with The Last Waltz.  All vestiges of summer are gone, forgotten, lost, buried.  The UFO Club might not have even existed but whilst it fluttered and flowered and Pink Floyd tootled along to play, it is worth a quick whistle stop – Britain’s Summer of Love, not Haight Ashbury but Tottenham Court Road.

UFO Club – Action Stations Freaks

Copyright Martin Sharp

The UFO Club – Underground Freak Out – opened in December 1966 and closed down in late 1967.  The club was located in the basement of the Blarney Club, and would open Friday nights.  Bands would play until dawn – Soft machine, Pink Floyd and Tomorrow – in ultra violet light with dancing girls covered in garish paint and 1920 underground films being screened in the background.  It was a mad mix of music, art, fashion, politics at counter point with the establishment.  Everyone was in it together – love, music, drugs, acid and weirdness.  Whilst the UFO is quintessentially British it pales against the Summer of Love celebrations in America.  But England did have the Beatles.

Summer is over…..sigh…..

Engelbert Humperdinck lords it over the Top 50 Charts from the start of Spring until 4 October.  At the top he is in good company with Tom Jones (I’ll never fall in love again) and Keith West (Excerpt from a teenage opera).  It almost brings tears to your eyes until you realise you are talking about Pop Music.  “Pop will eat itself“ as has been famously reported.  But surely it has started in the wrong season.  As usual there are some tiger tunes in the lower rungs of the charts – Eric Burden & the Animals – Good times, Traffic – Hole in my shoe, the Boxtops – The Letter, Bobbie Gentry – Ode to Billy Joe, Bee Gees – Massachusetts, Small Faces – Itchycoo Park, the Herd – From the Underworld, Beach Boys – Heroes & Villains.  Only the Bee Gees and the Small Faces gain entry to the highest spots.

 

The Chart for 4 October is a mish mash with only two US acts in the Top 10.  Perennial favourite Sir Cliff holds #10 and the two probably near best psychedelic Summer of Love songs from UK groups sit at #3 – Traffic – Hole in my shoe (still quite amazing) and the Small Faces glorious Itchycoo Park at #7.  The Move has received much acclaim over the years but frankly Flowers in the rain is disappointing, and the Prime Minister was so brassed off that he sued the group.  It just goes to show that bad advertising is bad advertising.  Who would want to see Harold Wilson in the buff anyway?  The PM’s outlook on life failed to improve in November when Charles De Gaulle vetoed Britain’s entry into the EEC.  He need not have worried.

    

1 Engelbert Humperdinck The Last Waltz
2 The Move Flowers
3 Traffic Hole in my shoe
4 Keith West Excerpt from a teenage opera
5 Diana Ross & the Supremes Reflections
6 Bee Gees Massachusetts
7 Small Faces Itchycoo Park
8 Flowerpot Men Let’s go to San Francisco
9 The Boxtops The Letter
10 Cliff Richard The day I met Marie

The Bee Gees remove Engelbert from the throne and retain the honours for four weeks until 1 November.  Massachusetts is a world-wide hit for the Bee Gees who have been knocking on the doors in Australia, the US and now the UK.  There is nothing like returning home in great triumph and the Bee Gees did it in spades and pretty much never went home again.  With the Bee Gees on top the Boxtops could not crack the #1 spot in UK nor Traffic with the fantastic Hole in my shoe.

The Foundations – out of nowhere

A completely unknown talent launched into the #1 position on 8 November – the Foundations, one of the first multi-cultural pop groups, from Soho, London – with a Motown cloned-sound of Baby, now that I’ve found you.  London loved it.  Summer was almost invited back.  The Foundations had a run of two weeks at the top never to repeat the performance, but once was enough, the song was a ripper.  And rumour has it that the song only made it onto the charts after the newly created BBC1 started to look for new hits for its new music programs that had not been played previously by off-shore pirate radio stations.  The Kinks make it #3 with Autumn Almanac on 21 November.

Long John Baldry, long revered in British Blues circles, released a pop song in 1967 – Let the heartaches begin – which bowled over UK audiences always on the look-out for a tear jerker to brighten up their lives.  Long John stayed on top for two weeks until 29 November keeping the Dave Clark Five at bay – with Everybody knows – probably a good thing.  Both songs seem out of place at this particular time, noting the goings on at the UFO Club, but also in the Top 10 there are four dreadful middle of the road ballads – Val Doonican – If the whole world stopped loving #3, Gene Pitney, a long-time UK favourite – with Something’s gotten hold of my heart #8, Cliff Richard – All my love #9 and Des O Connor – Careless hands #10.

Hello Goodbye – Saved by the Beatles

Thankfully we are saved again from misery and boredom by the Beatles.  Hello Goodbye in all its glory hits #1 on 6 December and stays there until well into the New Year.  On 5 December the Beatles, ever confident albeit a little haphazard, launch the Apple Boutique in Marlybone.  The Monkees with Daydream Believer are floating in the mid teens of the charts, just behind the enigmatic The Scaffold and their contribution – Thank u very much, which could only be a hit in Britain.  Simon Dupree and the Big Sound sit at #17 with Kites, a surreal song but really not much chop, making it eventually to #9 as a pseudo psychedelic fop to fashion, flower power and eccentricity.

   

End of the Year – Beatles at #1 and #2

The Beatles dominate by 27 December.  Hello Goodbye sits at #1 and the Magical Mystery Tour EP sits at #2.  Life as we know it.  The remaining Top 10 tracks are middling – check it out.

 

1 Beatles Hello Goodbye
2 Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
3 Tom Jones I’m coming home
4 Val Doonican If the whole world stopped loving
5 Gene Pitney Something’s gotten hold of my heart
6 Cliff Richard All my love
7 Monkees Pleasant Valley Sunday
8 Long John Baldry Let the heartaches begin
9 The Scaffold Thank u very much
10 The Four Tops Walk away Renee

And so we leave sleepy old England up to its armpits in ballads and venture to the land of the free to the joyous celebration of the Summer of Love.

Summer of Love kicks off in the USA

All Aboard the Summer Of Love Bus

The Summer of Love in the USA was off to a pretty bright and noisy start with two rock festivals in June.  The Fantasy Fair & Magic Mountain Music Festival was held on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County on the weekend of 10 and 11 June one week before the Monterey International Pop Festival.  The Fantasy Fair, feted as the world’s first rock festival, was organised by local San Francisco radio station KFRC and about 30 US acts played for free to tens of thousands of Bay Area fans.  Many of the groups who played at Marin County fronted up to the Monterey Festival on the next week along with hippies, freaks, fans, police, Hell’s Angels, kids, all adding to the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of free love, pot, LSD and the pop music of the day.

Monterey

Monterey International Pop Festival Poster

The Monterey Festival was held over three days – 16-18 June at the Monterey Fairgrounds on the same site as the annual Monterey Jazz festival.  John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas planned the festival in a little over seven weeks with help from record producer Lou Adler, Alan Paraiser and Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor.

Monterey is remembered for the wild performances of Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Janis Joplin.  Jimi and Janis blasted off into the stratosphere and would flare brilliantly for a short time.  But it is also remembered as the first really great festival celebrating youth, music, and a new way of looking at the world, the establishment, peace, politics and life.

Crowd estimates at the Festival vary, suggesting that between 25,000 and 90,000 drifted through the area, noting the showground could only cater for 8500 tops.

The list of bands and artists playing for free over the fantastic weekend is extensive:

Friday Evening – 16 June

The Association

The Paupers

Lou Rawls

Beverley

Johnny Rivers

Eric Burden & the Animals

Simon & Garfunkel

Saturday Afternoon – 17 June

Canned Heat

The Grateful Dead

Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company

Country Joe & the Fish

Al Kooper

Butterfield Blues Band

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Steve Miller Band

Electric Flag

Saturday Evening – 17 June

Moby Grape

Hugh Masekela

The Byrds

Butterfield Blues Band

Laura Nyro

Jefferson Airplane

Booker T and the Mgs with the Mar-Keys

Otis Redding

Sunday Afternoon – 18 June

Ravi Shankar

Sunday Evening – 18 June

The Blues Project

Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company

The Group With No Name

Buffalo Springfield

The Who

Grateful Dead

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Scott McKenzie

Mamas & the Papas

No Doors or Monkees – they were not asked!  Frank Zappa thought the groups from San Francisco were talentless and vacant so he decided to stay in LA.  Motown was invited but Berry Gordy declined to send any artists.  His Bobness, still recovering from his motorcycle accident, also declined.  The Rolling Stones had visa problems due to drug offences and the Kinks could not get work visas.  But there was more than enough star quality to put on a good show.

Riots in July – the Long Hot Summer

Corner of 12th Street and Claremont Detroit Saturday 23 July 1967

Whilst the flowers and peaceful rock festivals of early summer heralded the Age of Aquarius, love and togetherness, July brought race riots to many northern cities.  Lyndon Johnson, the President, was under pressure at home on all sides and the Vietnam war was becoming more bloody and intense.

The US Race Riots were violent, causing bloodshed, ruin and misery.  Newark, New Jersey broke on 12 July lasting four days leaving 26 dead and hundreds injured.  Plainfield, New Jersey followed on 14 July and the National Guard were eventually withdrawn on 21 July.  Detroit exploded on 23 July and the riots lasted for five days.  The end result was 43 dead, 1189 injured, 7200 arrests and 2000 buildings destroyed.  These statistics show the intensity of the civil conflict.

Overall there had been riots in 159 cities – Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Birmingham, Chicago – the list goes on.  The riots all occurred in areas of poverty and high unemployment for black citizens.  President Johnson instigated the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the riots and to provide recommendations to prevent future occurrences.  In 1967 we seemed to be inhabiting several parallel universes.

Back to Billboard – who’s on top

But it’s all really about the music.  The Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 looks pretty healthy.

1 The Association Windy
2 Young Rascals Groovin’
3 The Music Explosion Little bit of soul
4 Scott McKenzie San Francisco – wear flowers in your hair
5 Turtles She’d rather be with me
6 Aretha Franklin Respect
7 Franki Valli Can’t take my eyes off you
8 Grass Roots Let’s live for today
9 Every Mother’s Son Come on down to my boat
10 Petula Clark Don’t sleep in the subway

And there are some wonderful songs on their way up the charts – the 5th Dimension with Up Up & Away are at #12 with a red bullet, the Doors with their debut Light my fire are at #19 headed for glory.

   

The Association remain in the #1 position until 29 July and the Doors ascend to heaven on 5 August with Rock God Jim Morrison demanding to be heard, followed and adored.  Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco – wear flowers in your hair has stalled at #4 but the message has been received – Monterey was a resounding success.  San Franciscan acid group Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick at the wheel makes #8 with summer’s sensation – White Rabbit, and other sunshine poppers the Young Rascals return with A girl like you at #10.  The Bee Gees are in the mix with To love somebody making it #17 and Neil Diamond, honing his craft, makes #13 with Thank the Lord for the nightime.

On 22 July two heavyweights enter the Billboard Hot 100 – the Monkees in at #51 with Pleasant Valley Sunday and the Beatles at #71 with All you need is love.  The stage is set.  When Light my fire reaches #1 on 5 August, Stevie Wonder sits at #2 with I was made to love you, taking that position from ever popular New Jersey boy Franki Valli and the catchy love song Can’t take my eyes off you.

Also on 5 August the Beatles wait at #3 – a very quick journey from the lower echelons!  Procol Harum surprisingly sit at #5 with the sonorous Whiter shade of pale.  Other contenders are Aretha Franklin with Baby I love you at #22, the Temptations – You’re my everything at #52, Van Morrison with the lovely Brown-eyed  girl, Jay & the Techniques with Apples, Peaches & Pumpkin Pie at #68,  Bobbie gentry with Ode to Billie Joe at #71, and Dusty Springfield with The look of love at #94.  The summer is warming up.

Situation normal – Beatles back on top

The Doors manage to hold on to the top spot for two weeks but inevitably the Beatles triumph and take the top spot on 19 August.  The Top 10 looks pretty respectable.

   

1 The Beatles All you need is love
2 Doors Light my fire
3 Monkees Pleasant Valley Sunday
4 Stevie Wonder I was meant to love you
5 Aretha Franklin Baby I love you
6 The Buckinghams Mercy Mercy Mercy
7 Bobbie Gentry Ode to Billy Joe
8 James Brown Cold Sweat Part 1
9 Procol Harum A whiter shade of pale
10 Young Rascals A girl like you

A White Revolution?

Whilst the Summer of Love seems to be a celebration of universal brotherhood, youth and love, it also appears to be a white social revolution.  Perhaps this may be because the young white population is coming out and doing its own thing, out from under the benevolent shadow of parental control.  The music, however, on the Billboard Hot 100 was a mix of new white sounds, older middle-of-the-road entertainers and black soul and pop.  The composition of the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1967 included approximately 36 new US bands and artists, 6 older established artists (from the 1950s), 40 US black soul, R&B and pop artists, 14 UK groups and artists and one Australian group.  The quality of the US black groups is unquestionable whereas many of the new white US groups would fall by the wayside quickly with amateurish songs, poor instrumentation and rushed productions.  It was always about the money and not always about the quality.  Who cares these kids would buy anything – look at that weird shirt for God’s sake.

Stunning Black Soul and Pop

Aretha leads the way at #5 with Baby I love you and James Brown at #8 with Cold Sweat Part 1.  The unknown Chris Bartly reached #32 with Sweetest thing this side of heaven on 19 August – a fantastic song and Jackie Wilson at #55 (and to go much higher) introduced Your love is lifting me higher.  Brenton Wood with Gimme little sign sat at #66 destined for greater heights.  Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, a great team, offered Knock on wood at #88.  Diana Ross & the Supremes – Reflections at #20, and Wilson Pickett, the wild one, at #46 with Funky Broadway prop up the wonderful world of Black soul and pop.  The R&B influence in the Billboard Hot 100 was well entrenched.

Bad news from Choctaw Ridge – Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

But some songs will always rate and Bobbie Gentry with her Ode to Billy Joe sailed to the top on 26 August leaving the Beatles, Monkees and Doors sitting at #2 #3 and #4.  Immediately below from #5 through #9 were five strong black artists – Aretha, Stevie, James brown, Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations with Procol Harum from UK as a door stop at #10.  Coming up the chart were the Boxtops with a sure fire winner – all 1:52 of it at #25, immediately followed by Eric Burden and the Animals fresh from Monterey with the wonderful San Franciscan Nights.  Jimi Hendrix fired into #94 with Purple Haze not destined for glory this time around.

My baby wrote me a letter

Bobbie Gentry stays at the top until 16 September moving aside for the Boxtops and the glorious track – The letter.  Diana Ross and the Supremes make #2 with Reflections and strangely Bobby Vee and the Strangers with a truly terrible song straight out of the 50s – Come back when you grow up – makes it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Is there no justice?

The Boxtops enjoy a well earned three week stay on top.  By 30 September a new trio of black soul and pop stars move into the Top 10 – Jay & the Techniques – Apples, Peaches & Pumpkin Pie #6, Jackie Wilson – Your love keeps lifting me (higher & Higher) #7, and Wilson Pickett – Funky Broadway.  And once in a while some things backfire as Peter Paul & Mary – sitting at #9 – have a bittersweet triumph with I dig Rock & Roll Music – as some have claimed they didn’t dig Rock & Roll Music – but did sound an awful lot like the Mamas and the Papas in making their outcry against rock music taking over the world.  Personally I always liked the song.  Other new groups making claims with decent songs were the Grass Roots with Things I should have said at # 50 and the Youngbloods with Get Together at #88.  One cheering aspect is to note that the Royal Guardsmen seemed to have had their day entering the charts at #98 with Wednesday, making a giant leap to #97 and then fading to oblivion by the end of September.

To sir with love – the Blackboard Jungle revisited

By the time the Boxtops leave the top spot on 14 October, Lulu from London, with the melodic and soulful ballad To Sir with Love, and everyone loved Sidney Poitier in whatever role, claims the throne.  Lulu also appeared in the film alongside Poitier and this song was to be her only #1 in a lengthy career.  She remained at the top for four weeks as queen of the jukebox, seeing off several contenders.  On 4 November Sam & Dave sat at #2 with Soul Man, a sure fire winner, and the popular Vikki Carr at #3 with It must be him.  The marvellous Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell are at #4 with Your precious love, and the poppy summery Cowsills shimmered into #9 with The rain, the park and other things.  Some entries in the lower echelons on 11 November are worth recalling – the Small Faces with Itchycoo Park at #92, Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Ponies with Different Drum at #90, the Bee Gees with the monster Massachusetts at #74, the unknown Helena Ferguson with the mighty and overblown Where’s the party at #93, and Aretha’s sister Erma Franklin art #99 with Piece of my heart which will be a huge hit for Janis Joplin in 1968.  It’s all happening.  Hair, the musical, launched “off-Broadway” in October.  The Age of Aquarius is with us.

   

Strawberry Alarm Clock says it all

That strange LA creation the Strawberry Alarm Clock hit the top spot on 25 November with Incense & Peppermints.  It is sort of an ordinary song but given the time and place psychedelia was back.  But not for long.  The Monkees claim the #1 position on 2 December with Daydream Believer, composed by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio.  Old dogs new tricks!  In the same week three monster hits join the Top 100 – the Beatles at #45 with Hello Goodbye, American Breed at #73 with Bend me Shape me, and John Fred & the Playboy Band at #74 with Judy in disguise.  The Monkees enjoy their reign until Christmas Eve keeping Gladys Knight & the Pips and Dionne Warwick in the second and third spots.

  

Otis Redding dies in plane crash

Otis Redding, one of the few black performers at the Monterey Festival, died in a plane crash on 10 December.  Dead Rock stars sell more records as fans pick up the pieces and record companies fill their coffers.  Sitting on the dock in the bay reverberates forever with the poignancy of what might have been.

One star goes another shines.  Dustin Hoffman, in his debut role as Benjamin Braddock, stars in the film The Graduate with the lovely Catherine Ross with Simon & Garfunkel providing the soundtrack.  The Sound of Silence batters the radio waves.

Rolling Stone Magazine launched November 1967

The other singular happening in the latter months of 1967 was the publication of the Rolling Stone magazine founded by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph Gleason.  The first copy came off the press (and it initially was in the format of a newspaper) on 9 November 1967 and the lead article focussed on the Monterey International Pop Festival.  Now we had our own news paper.  Next we could take over the world.  And we did.

Back to normal – Beatles on Top

It is a big month for the Beatles who release Magical Mystery Tour on 10 December.  The Beatles also end 1967 on top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts with Hello Goodbye.  They have had a wonderful year in the charts and released the fantastic Sgt Peppers album in midyear.  Although not appearing at Monterey as their music had become too complicated to replicate live they retained enormous influence and popularity.  The Top 10 for 30 December looked like this.

 

1 The Beatles Hello Goodbye
2 Gladys Knight & the Pips I heard it on the grapevine
3 Monkees Daydream Believer
4 Smokey Robinson & the Miracles I second that emotion
5 The Union Gap Woman, Woman
6 John Fred & the Playboy Band Judy in disguise (with glasses)
7 Aretha Franklin Chain of Fools
8 American Breed Bend me Shape me
9 Fantastic Johnny C Boogaloo down Broadway
10 Joe Tex Skinny legs and all

Courtesy of Uncut Purveyors of Pop History

Black soul and pop is well represented in the Top 10 taking five positions and the Boogaloo is obviously hip noting also jazzer Lou Donaldson had earlier made #93 with the rhythmic blues of Alligator Boogaloo.  Making appearances in the lower echelons are some fantastic songs – Johnny Rivers with Summer Rain at #19 (one of the best songs of the Summer of Love), the Lemon Pipers at #68 (destined for glory) with Green Tamborine and Eric Burden & the Animals at #85 with Monterey.

So ended 1967 the Summer of Love and what looked like a trajectory into the good times if everyone got their act together.  Sweet dreams are made of this.  In 2017 organisers are trying to run a free festival to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the historic event.  It seems that arranging a free music festival has become more difficult as the eyars have gone by – more regulation, more paperwork, more rules, more obstacles.  At this stage the festival has been given a permit by the authorities and is scheduled for 27 August at Sharon Meadows, Golden Gate Park.  Peace man.  Many bands are lined up including the original cast of the Musical Hair.  Far out.  We an still say the beat goes on.  “Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain – la de da de de….”

Below is the White Elephant Records version of the Soundtrack to the Summer of Love.  Attached also (courtesy of Uncut Magazine from the June 2017 issue) is Uncut’s take on the 50 Best Summer of Love tracks.  Tune in, turn on, wear some flowers in your hair, all you need is love man.

 

Uncut_50 Best Summer of Love tracks

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments on “Summer of Love – 1967
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