1970 – Brave New Decade

1970 – Trees chase Dogs DownUnder

1970 dawns hot and dry with temperatures exceeding 100F in the shade.  Drought conditions persevere as trees chase dogs down the broad boulevard of St Kilda Road desperate to quench their thirst, a quest in reverse.  It has been eight years since the Beatles first hit the airwaves in August 1962 and a generation has grown up with its own modern music, setting off a deepening generation gap between the baby boomers and their parents, amidst a political environment of protest, marches, drugs, and a trend towards more informal way of life.

At the start of a new decade pop music splurges on.  The A&R men promise the world and young tearaways tearaway although, largely, the shock of the new has long gone.  Everyone has long hair and the skirts are shorter than ever and we all have jobs and are in our mid-twenties.  Half of us are married with children.  Shock Horror shark eats quads!  And we are still buying records of our favoured stars and there is plenty to go around.  Instead of going to discotheques half of us have long messy loud dinners on Saturday night throwing album after album onto the turntable, and debating the pros and cons of Rolling Stones v new comers Led Zeppelin.  Life is still very much fun fun fun.  We are not staid.

Protesters in Canberra – 13 January 1970

Vietnam War – Dr Jim Cairns and Spiro Agnew

The Vietnam war rumbles on.  Protesters in Canberra march against the War and the visit of Vice President Spiro Agnew on 13 January.  Vice President Agnew, former Governor of Maryland in charge of kick backs from local contractors, visited Australia on 13 January causing the arrest of 13 peaceful protesters.  The State could still move swiftly and with intent.  Also in the news, Andrew Peacock, Minister for the Army denies a statement by Dr Jim Cairns that Australian officers serving in Vietnam had suggested that troops could be home by June.  Although the facts are debatable there must have been undercurrents sweeping Canberra’s fishbowl, as Australia subsequently commenced withdrawal of 8th Battalion in November 1970.

Elvis – the Second Coming

Back in the real world Elvis Presley is experiencing a second coming.  Suspicious Minds hits the #1 position on the Go-Set Top 40 on 3 January 1970.  It has been a cool ride for Elvis since his comeback in 1968.  And he may be considered the ‘old man of the charts’ as he turns 35 years of age on 8 January.  The Beatles sit at #2 with Something / Come Together and had been on top during December 1969.  Johnny Farnham is in the top 10 at #7 with the annoying Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, a cover of the B J Thomas song, also charging up the Billboard Charts.  The song is almost as bad as Sadie the cleaning lady and selling as well.  That’s pop music for you.  So in some ways 1970 does not seem an immediate improvement on anything from the 1960s.

Let us persevere.  There are some decent releases outside the Top 10: Neil Diamond and Holly Holy at #11,  Stevie Wonder with Yester-me Yester-you at #15, Max Merritt & the Meteors with Western Union Man at #17, Ronnie Burns at #25 with Smiley and Fleetwood Mac with the fabulous Oh Well at #26.  Elvis stays on top for one more week and Axiom with Arkansas Grass sit at #13 and the Plastic Ono Band crash in at #22 with Cold Turkey – too soon after Christmas for everyone’s liking.  Briefly the Beatles return to the #1 position with Something / Come Together before embarrassingly Raindrops keep falling on my head by Johnny Farnham claims the crown.  It must be the weather.

Take a Letter, Maria

The maudling Raindrops stays on top of the Go-Set Top 40 for seven long weeks until 7 March.  During this time many good tracks bubble in the charts including Blood Sweat and Tears – And when I die #3,  R B Greaves – Take a letter Maria #4, Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down on the Corner #2 and Murray Head and Super Star at #5.  Ronnie Burns, Melbourne’s other local star is held off at #2 with Smiley, a much better song than Raindrops.  Sneaking up the charts has been a country song by Australia’s world champion bantam weight fighter – Lionel Rose – with a terrible song – I thank you.  Lionel was born in Warrigul Victoria and won most of his fights in Melbourne, except the world championship against Fighting Harada in Tokyo in 1968.  He knocks Johnny Farnham from the #1 position.  The top three songs in the Go-Set Top 40 on 7 March are all by local parochial favourites – Johnny Farnham, Ronnie Burns and Lionel Rose.

Aside from this reprise by the Melburnian trio there are other gems in the pile.  Venus by Shocking Blue has risen quickly through the ranks to become #1 on 27 March.  The Go-Set Top 10 for this week is worth a look:

Rank Artist Song
1 Shocking Blue Venus
2 Lionel Rose I thank you
3 Elvis Presley Daddy don’t cry
4 Led Zeppelin Whole lotta love
5 Murray Head Super Star
6 Johnny Farnham Raindrops keep falling on my head
7 Ronnie Burns Smiley
8 Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell All I can do is dream
9 Glen Campbell Honey Come Back
10 Rolf Harris Two little boys

The next ten slots on the Go-Set Top 40 have some real humdingers – Melting Pot at #12 by Blue Mink, Come and get it at #13 by Badfinger, Love Grows (Where my Rosemary goes) at #14 by Edison Lighthouse, Temma Harbour at #15 by Mary Hopkin, Walk a mile in my shoes at #17 by Joe South and Travelling Band / Who’ll stop the rain at #19 by the Creedence Clearwater Revival.  And you wonder why some of those in the Top 10 made it at all; noting Two little boys should have been enough early warning for us that jailbirds don’t rock.

Whole Lotta Love #1

Venus hangs in there for another week before new Rock Gods, Led Zeppelin, move onto the throne on 4 April with the pounding Whole lotta love and a whole lotta new noise.  Led Zeppelin has made it but must be lonely at the top for at least half of the Top10 is forgettable and cringe worthy, citing Glen Campbell’s Honey come back as a prime example.  We all know why she left and Honey ain’t coming back!

Edison Lighthouse, with their one and only big winner make #1 with Love Grows (where Rosemary goes) on 11 April and holds tenaciously to the crown for two weeks until 18 April.  Their glory is short lived as the Beatles are back with Let it be, rising to the top position in the following week on 25 April.  It is interesting to note that Tony Burrows the lead singer of Edison has also performed another three songs that were concurrently on the 1970 hit parade in different groups – Gimme Dat Ding by the The Pipkins, My Baby Loves Lovin by White Plains, and United We Stand by Brotherhood of Man.  In 1967 Tony Burrows was also a member of The Flower Pot Men – another forgettable novelty group.  It may have been the start of the gig economy or just trying to make ends meet.

Queen Opens Kingsford Smith

Queen greeting spectators at the opening of Kingsford Smith International Airport 8 May 1970

Last year we saw the launch of the first Boeing 747 flights in the USA and the Concorde in France and UK.  This year Australian aviation is getting ready for the new era of commuter flying and on 3 May Kingsford Smith International Airport is opened by Queen Elizabeth.  Not to be outdone by the Royal establishment, protesters march in the streets of our major capital cities during 4 -10 May, calling for a moratorium against the war in Vietnam.  There are many arrests in Melbourne where 70,000 protesters led by Dr Jim Cairns hold a sit-in at the Collins Street intersection during peak hour traffic.  They could not have picked a better cross road stopping traffic and trams going in all directions of the compass.

Protesters crammed into Bourke Street between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets

The Beatles remain at the top for five weeks until 23 May.  Of all the Beatles’ songs, Let it be is probably not their most admired but the recording is accorded legendary status almost as if the world can feel that all is not well within the Beatlesphere.  This beauty may not last forever.  Whilst the Beatles are at the top, John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band makes it to a respectable #6 with Instant Karma and Axiom are back for a second go at # 8 with A little ray of sunshine.  The sleepy All I have to do is dream, a dreamy revamp of the Everly Brothers 1958 hit, by Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell still remains in the Top 10 at #9.  The woozy Spirit in the Sky flops into #2 with more promise to come.  And further to our earlier observation White Plains sits at #26 with My baby loves loving and The Brotherhood of Man is at #24 with United we Stand.

Simon & Garfunkel have moved quickly up the Go-Set charts with Bridge over troubled water and launch into #1 on 30 May.  There has been a consistent push for this album and DJ turntables have had the lament on continuous rotation since its release.  The song is steadily becoming background music for the nation particularly noting the ongoing Vietnam war and series of Moratorium marches in Australia.  Spirit in the Sky drops to #3 patiently waiting for triumph, which comes in the following week on 6 June and the Go-Set Top 10 is worth another look:

Rank Artist Song
1 Norman Greenbaum Spirit in the Sky
2 The Beatles Let it be
3 Simon & Garfunkel Bridge over troubled water
4 Ray Stevens Everything is beautiful
5 Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan Tennessee Birdwalk
6 Creedence Clearwater Revival Travelling band / Who’ll stop the rain
7 Masters Apprentices Turn up you radio
8 Axiom A little ray of sunshine
9 Liv Maesson / Mary Hopkin Knock Knock Who’s there
10 Edison Lighthouse Love grows (where my Rosemary goes)

Tullamarine Airport opens on a wing and a prayer

The Airport Love Theme hums along at #12 boosted by the popularity of the 1970 air disaster film Airport, the first in a series of Hollywood disaster movies released in the 1970s.  Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel climbs into #13 and American Woman by the Guess Who sits at #21.  An unlikely hit in the form of Wand’rin’ Star, rasped out by Lee Marvin in his role as in Ben Rumson in the western musical Paint your wagon (released in 1969), climbs to #15.  Someone has described the song as the first 45 rpm single recorded as a 33 1/3 rpm.

Going hand in hand with the Airport Theme and Spirit in the Sky, our Prime Minister, John Grey Gorton, opened the brand new Tullamarine Airport on 1 July.  It is with palpable relief that he is able to open the airport as he recalled his days as Minister for Works when he “fast-tracked” the approval process of this vast capital investment, on a virtual wing and a prayer.  They don’t do things like that anymore or if they do they don’t tell you!  You read about it much later in an audit report leaked to the press by a whistle blower ducking for cover.  Attached is his speech on the day and it makes interesting reading particularly noting the huge built up environment that surrounds the airport boundary  fifty years later.

John Gorton Tullamarine

Spirit in the Sky is a great sleeper and sits atop the Go-Set charts for seven weeks until 18 July.  Norman Greenbaum only had this single hit but what a beauty.  When asked what his inspiration might have been, he related it to old western movies, dying with your boots on and going to that great spirit in the sky via Boot Hill.  Well what else would you say?

July was pretty exciting.  The Flying Circus, a Sydney Band, win the traditional Hoadley’s Battle of the Bands competition held at the historic Capitol Theatre on Haymarket Street.  The valuable first prize is a full return passage to England on the Sitmar cruise line, two booked concerts in London, $1000 prize money, and return flights to Los Angeles.  One may have wondered why they did not fly with all those new airports.  Maybe if Sitmar had operated flying boats!  The national launch of the film Ned Kelly, starring Mick Jagger, opens at Glenrowan on 28 July.  Crowds swamp the local fish and chip shop.

The Masters Apprentices are back with Turn up your radio at #7.  Ray Stevens, king of the comedy songs (remember Ahab the Arab 1962), makes a move into the normal landscape with Everything is Beautiful at #4 and another comedy country song – Tennessee Birdwalk by husband and wife team Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan, moves to #5.  In June 1970 the song Knock Knock Who’s there is represented by two versions on the charts – one by Mary Hopkin and a cover by Australian singer Liv Maesson.  Both versions are rated at #9.  By 27 June Mary Hopkin’s version makes #3 and Liv Maesson remains at #9.  Hans Poulson, a firm favourite of the Go-Set Show has been making his presence felt with the poppy ditty Boom Sha la la lo and hits #7 in early July, whilst Harry Nilsson can only make #18 with the beautiful Everybody’s Talkin’.  There is no justice nor wisdom in the pop charts.

Eurovision Again

By 11 July the Beach Boys are getting closer to glory with Cotton Fields (#3) and the Airport Love Theme by guitarist Vincent Bell, forever persistent, is at #5.  Airport is classic Hollywood – all strings and grandeur with not a little gloss.  Pat Carroll, in a rare come back, is at #25 with All kinds of everything, which is a cover of the song by Irish maiden Dana, who successfully won the Eurovision Song Contest in March 1970 with this song.  Dana cannot compete with the local parochial fans and she sits at #40.  Of interest is that Mary Hopkin, representing Wales, is awarded second position in the Eurovision Contest for 1970 with Knock Knock.  She has turned the tables on local Liv Maesson in the Go-Set Top 40, but Mary Hopkin has always had a good fan base in Australia.  The Jackson 5, in their first venture into the Australian Charts, makes #12 before dropping off.

Portnoy’s Complaint????? Whatsat?

Also in July 1970, Penguin Books Australia, challenges the Commonwealth Censor’s ban on imports of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and gains the right to publish the novel locally.  The book is a runaway success and a book of literary value is read by one and all from history professors to house wives and complete boobies, who cannot understand the book or the censor’s problem in the first place.  And the prospect of visiting your analyst just one more time, just to check if “I’m OK you’re OK”,  he said she said, sliding off the couch to the nearest bar, might just seem worth it in the end.  Such is life.

The Beach Boys make #1 on 25 July with Lead Belly’s old blues song, Cotton Fields, originally written in 1940.  It is a far cry from Surfin’ USA but still unmistakably straight outta California.  At #2 is Creedence Clearwater Revival, the big band of 1970 with Up around the bend / Run through the jungle, the second set of doubled sided singles to hit the top spot in Australia.  Melanie Safka with the Edwin Hawkins Singers flies up the Go-Set Charts and settles in #8 with Lay Down.  Melanie came to prominence after her appearance in the previous year at Woodstock and became the flower power folky mistral.  Her anthemic Lay Down swamped the Australian charts.  In the same week the Beatles were at the door of the Top 10 with Let it be at #11 on the way down, Elvis at #12 with the Wonder of You and the Beatles again at #13 with The long and winding road.  And the big excitement machine that is Chicago appeared at #29 with Make me Smile, a big happy thumping song.

Unstoppable CCR

CCR hits the top spot the first week in August with Up around the bend / Run through the jungle and triumphs over the charts for the next three weeks until 15 August.  At #7 is the bright summery In the summertime by Mungo Jerry equal with a cover version by Winston Charles discotheque resident band The Mixtures.  Old Man Emu, an Australian gem, by John Williamson is on the verge of cracking the big time.  Down in the lower levels of the Go-Set Top 60 Chart, Crosby Stills Nash & Young are at #35 with Teach your children and on a lower rung Three Dog Night with Mama (told me not to come) at #47.

Simon & Garfunkel are having a golden year peeling hit and after hit off the Bridge over troubled Water album as the hauntingly beautiful El Condor Pasa reaches #1 on 22 August.  El Condor Pasa is an old Peruvian folk song believed to have been composed in 1913 – translated as “the condor passes” – and is recognised as the unofficial national anthem for Peru.  Old Man Emu rises to #8.  Rising quickly is Close to You by the Carpenters at #21.

Fred Wieland’s Triumph

El Condor Pasa, despite its beauty, can only retain the trophy for a single week.  In the summertime – Mungo Jerry and also the Mixtures version – is awarded the #1 position on 29 August.  History appears to be on the Mixtures’ side.  At this particular time Australian radio stations instigated a radio ban on major Australian and UK labels.  The Mixtures, who were on the small Fable Label, receive an abundance of radio play and storm to the #1 position and stay there for a monumental nine weeks!!  There is another theory that the most handsome Fred Wieland, smiling guitarist of the Mixtures, was adored by all the girls who ever graced the dance floor of the Winston Charles nightclub, and rushed in their thousands to buy the single.  Great flocks of success!

And their success goes on and on.  In the summertime remains on top until 24 October, and in retrospect it is not all that of a great song, catchy but not great.  Its success reinforces how fickle the pop market can be when quite trivial songs dominate the charts without rhyme nor reason, and it wasn’t even summer in Australia, not even close.

No love for Joe Cocker

During those nine weeks, several significant songs and artists do not make it to the top.  The Beatles with their lovely ballad The long and winding road shuffle to #6.  Joe Cocker with his great version of The Letter can only make it to #33.  Is there no justice?  Elvis gets as close as #3 with The wonder of you.  Melanie with Lay down gets to #6.  John Williamson gets pretty close with Old Man Emu at #6. But the biggest surprise is Yellow River, a song claimed by four groups simultaneously – why would four groups want to cover such a mediocre song – which hits the #1 position on 31 October.  The fickle law of bogus No 1s wins again.  In London Germaine Greer publishes The Female Eunuch which becomes an international best seller.

Westgate Bridge Collapses

Tragedy strikes when a 112 metre span of the Westgate Bridge collapses killing 35 workers on 15 October.  A Royal Commission is immediately set up by the Premier Sir Henry Bolte, to determine the cause of the accident.  The construction site remains a grim reminder of the terrible accident and it is some time before construction restarts in 1972.  On 12 November the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam commences, and the Moratorium marchers feel some vindication that their efforts are worthwhile.  Five days later in the USA the court martial of platoon commander Captain William Calley, responsible for the perpetration of the My Lai massacre in 1968, commences.

Westgate Bridge area from Williamstown Road / Webb Dock area a day or two before the collapse

Back in the real world sanity prevails. In the following week the Carpenters with their third single reach the top spot with (They long to be) Close to You – a true classic and another Bacharach miracle.  In the same week Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4 makes it to #6 which will be the start of many Top 40 hits for the boys from Illinois.  The carpenters only spend two weeks at the top to be replaced by the tearaway Creedence Clearwater Revival who are having a stunning run of winners.  Looking out my back door reaches #1 on 21 November.  Eric Burden & War drop to #4 with Spill the wine and Neil Diamond is at #6 with Cracklin’ Rosie.  Mr Diamond is starting to warm up.  And Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell is at #8.

Glen Campbell again – boring

CCR stay on top for four week until 19 December.  During that time Cracklin’ Rosie gets to #2, Miguel Rios, with the surprising Song of Joy hauls itself to the dizzy heights of #5.  The Kinks are on the march with Lola at #22 with the Carpenters, starting on a golden run are at #27 with We’ve only just begun – destined for glory.  The year finishes off in pretty bad shape.  Glen Campbell, who has had a superb couple of years, is back on top with a really terrible song – It’s only make believe.  We wish it were so.  But he is there on top until the end of the year.  Probably one song worse is Johnny Farnham’s new splash – Comic conversation – where did he get those songs from?  But it is not all bad.  The Partridge Family is back with the lovely Shirley Jones at the helm with I think I love you at #6.  And at #20 James Taylor is starting to ascend with the brilliant Fire & Rain.

So it is a mixed year in the Go-Set Charts in 1970 downunder.  The Go-set Top 10 for 26 December looks like this:

Rank Artist Song
1 Glen Campbell It’s only make believe
2 Creedence Clearwater Revival Looking out my back door
3 Neil Diamond Cracklin’ Rosie
4 Miguel Rios Song of Joy
5 The New Seekers What have they done to me song, Ma
6 The Partridge Family I think I love you
7 Bobby Sherman Julie do you love me
8 Mike Nesmith Joanne
9 Bobby Bloom Montego Bay
10 The Carpenters Close to You

What’s Happening in the USA?

Testing 1, 2 , 3, 4 sounds great man!

Richard Nixon sits in the White House Oval Office with the secret of the Watergate break-in safely locked in his safe along with his home tapes of daily office conversations, well before the podcast revolution. He could have made a killing at the right time with weekly installments broadcast to subscribers, fellow travelers and insiders.  The Vietnam quagmire grinds on, consuming more soldiers, firepower, tax payer dollars, and the Pentagon hones its performance data – number of bombs per square mile – likely number of casualties – likely timeline of the course of the unwinnable war.

Raindrops keep falling on my head by one of America’s favourite troubadours, B J Thomas, has made the first #1 of the year on 3 January after waiting in the wings in 1969.  The Top 10 looks pretty healthy for 1970 and we should take a look to check the status quo of the charts.

Rank Artist Song
1 B J Thomas Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
2 Peter Paul & Mary Leaving on a Jet Plane
3 Diana Ross & the Supremes Someday we’ll be together
4 Creedence Clearwater Revival Down on the Corner
5 Steam Na Na Hey Hey Kiss him Goodbye
6 Led Zeppelin Whole lotta love
7 Jackson 5 I want you back
8 Shocking Blue Venus
9 Neil Diamond Holly Holy
10 Bobby Sherman La la la (If I had you)

Diana Ross & the Supremes spend their last time in the charts together as they perform their farewell concert at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on 14 January, and Diana’s replacement Jean Terrell is introduced on stage at the end of their last show.  Raindrops remains at #1 for four weeks until 24 January, keeping contenders Venus, Whole lotta love and I want you back waiting for their opportunity.  An opportunity arrives on 31 January for the Jackson 5 with their first #1 hit I want you backVenus is stalled at #2 and Whole lotta love has tanked at #5.  Elvis is still enjoying his comeback with teary ballad Don’t cry daddy moving up to #6 just ahead of Bobbi Gentry’s heartfelt and understated I’ll never fall in love again.  Sly & the Family Stone are at #8 with Thank you falettin me be mice elf again.  Interesting alliteration.

Venus – Dancerama

The Jackson 5 retains the crown for one week only allowing Shocking Blue a chance at greatness with Venus on 7 February.  Venus is one of those catchy mongrels of a song and takes the charts by force again ten years later in 1980 with a Bananarama ding-a-ling dancerama of a version.  Hey there lonely girl by Eddie Holman, one hit wonder, makes it to #7.  Just outside the Top 10 are The Temptations with Psychedelic Shack (#11), Mark Lindsay with Arizona (#13) and Joe South and Walk a mile in my shoes (#16).  Creedence are back at #18 with another double sided single – Travelling Band / Who will stop the rain looking to improve on a couple of already golden years in the charts.  The hard working Hollies are moving up the charts with He ain’t heavy he’s my brother at #35, a song that seems to have been written for the American market.

Sly & the Family Stone repeat their success of 1969 and land the #1 spot with Thank you falettin’ etc etc for two weeks with Eddie Holman making it to #2, followed by Simon & Garfunkel having a dream run with the laborious ballad Bridge over troubled water.  The Guess Who, rockers from Canada, sit at #5 with No Time.  Brook Benton has stormed in to #10 with Rainy night in Georgia.  Below the Top 10 there are some winners: The Chairmen of the Board –Give me just a little more time (#18), The Hollies – He ain’t heavy, Santana – Evil Ways (#24) and Elvis – Kentucky Rain (#40).

BOTW – Too Good?

Simon & Garfunkel, hugely popular, hit the #1 position with Bridge over troubled water on 28 February and stay there until early April, six long weeks.  BOTW is a hit all over the western world but is not as good as He ain’t heavy he’s my brother, which eventually makes it to #7 on 21 March.  Whilst BOTW is top of the charts many contenders swirl in the Top 10 and beyond.  For once it stops Creedence in their tracks and Travelling Band pulls up at #2.  At the other end of the charts Fleetwood Mac cannot climb higher than #62 with the magnificent Oh Well – lost in a world without love obviously.

The annoying Ma Belle Amie slides into #5 on 14 March, along with The Rapper by The Jaggeuz at #3.  Rainy night in Georgia has made it to #4 and Give me just a little more time at #6.  The Hollies and Santana are at #9 and #10 respectively.  Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse, a huge hit in Australia and UK is knocking on the door at #13.  And in the mix at #15 is John Lennon and Instant Karma and Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum at #29.  Things are getting interesting.  Badfinger, Apple label protégées are loving it at #32 with Come and get it and the Kinks, surprise surprise at #62 with Victoria – not for the faint hearted – this is Empire building.

On 21 March in their first week in the Top 100, the Beatles land at #6 with Let it be.  Deep breath.  Next week Let it be is at #2 and also for the following week.  And John Lennon is at #3 with Instant Karma.  Who will triumph?  Everyone holds their breath.  This is the sort of showmanship that most promoters can only dream about.  No need even to count the sales.  On 10 April Paul McCartney announces that the Beatles are breaking up.  The fans were having none of that.  On 11 April the Beatles assume leadership of the charts once more.  How could this be true?  And the Top 10 looks like this.

Rank Artist Song
1 Beatles Let it be
2 Jackson 5 ABC
3 John Lennon Instant Karma
4 Norman Greenbaum Spirit in the sky
5 Simon & Garfunkel Bridge over troubled water
6 Edison lighthouse Love Grows (Where my Rosemary goes)
7 Frijid Pink House of the Rising Sun
8 Badfinger Come and get it
9 Bobby Sherman Easy come easy go
10 The Jaggeuz The Rapper

It is quite a solid Top 10.  Frijid Pink were basically not heard from again nor the Jaggeuz and whilst Norman Greenbaum may not have graced the charts much since April 1970, his Spirit in the Sky is forever played on rock radio.  Bobby Sherman, although consistent in these years, also appears to be an American teen favourite who does not bother the charts in other countries.


Guess Who – American Hero is a Woman

The Beatles only hold the top spot for two weeks as the Jackson 5 were running hot and would run hot all year.  ABC hits the #1 spot on 25 April for two weeks.  The Top 10 is particularly strong at this point. And on 9 May the Guess Who have their first real chart success with American Woman and bolt into the #1 position.  If you examine the Top 10 for this week you will see that everything is hotting up and the year is in full swing.  And there has been a significant shift in the players comprising the Top 10.  Let’s have a look.

Rank Artist Song
1 Guess Who American Woman / no Sugar Tonight
2 Jackson 5 ABC
3 Beatles Let it be
4 Ides of March Vehicle
5 Norman Greenbaum Spirit in the sky
6 Friends of Distinction Love me or let me be lonely
7 Ray Stevens Everything is beautiful
8 John Lennon Instant Karma
9 Tyrone Power Turn back the hands of time
10 Marmalade Reflections of my life

There are some questions.  Who are the Ides of March?  Who are the Friends of Distinction?  How come Ray Stevens is singing a straight number?  Tyrone Power?  Marmalade – always pretenders?

Kent State Massacre

National Guard Moves In Against Unarmed Protesting Students at Kent State University Ohio

On May 4 at Kent State University Ohio, members of the National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Nixon Government’s invasion into neutral Cambodia, extending the boundaries of the Vietnam War.  13 unarmed students were shot and four died.  Many of the students were simply observers of the demonstration and waiting between classes.  Outrage over the killings drove the massive student strikes during 1970, and despite many inquiries at many levels no satisfactory outcome has ever been reached, although it is recognised by everyone that it should never have happened.  US troops withdraw from Cambodia on 28 June.

The Guess Who have three glorious weeks at #1 and big surprise Ray ‘Gitarzan – Ahab the Arab’ Stevens achieves the impossible with a #1 hit on 30 May with Everything is beautiful, not a paean to the tragic hippy flower power love life but a straight faced appeal for sweetness.  And his accompanying album also titled, Everything is beautiful, is a big seller with thousands now available in the charity shops, quantifiable evidence of hurried purchases fifty years ago.  But it is a quality album with a surprisingly remarkable version of the Beatles’ song – She came in through the bathroom window.

Whilst American Woman and Everything is beautiful are enjoying the limelight there is much movement in the charts below the inner sanctum of the Top 10.  There are tracks by Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Woodstock (#11), Rare Earth – Get Ready (#19), Chicago – Make me smile (#25), Joe Cocker – The Letter (#26), 5th Dimension – Puppet Man (#34), the Brotherhood of Man – United we stand (#51) and new comer -Mountain – and the startling Mississippi Queen with the glorious full-on pedal-to-the-metal guitar of Leslie West.

Beatles on Top once more

On 23 May the now defunct group – the Beatles – appear at #35 in their first week in the Hot 100 with their latest escapade – The Long and Winding Road.  It’s not all over yet folks.  Ray Stevens enjoys two weeks as king of the mountain until 6 June.  With the departure of the court jester the Beatles launch into the top spot with The Long and Winding Road on 13 June.  This song takes the charts by surprise in similar vein to Let it be and from the same album and recording session.

Jackson 5 – The New Beatles

In the Top 10 we have Rare Earth with Get Ready at #4, Simon & Garfunkel with their new fun singalong track Cecilia at #6.  Joe Cocker has secured #6 with The letter and at #10 the Jackson 5 and The love you save.  The Jackson 5 are the new Beatles, the new Elvis, the new Supremes!!!  All ready to take over the world.  And they do on 27 June.  When the Jackson 5 takes the top spot on 20 June there is a whole new world in the Top 10.  Things seem to be moving very fast over summer in the USA.

Rank Artist Song
1 Jackson 5 The love you save
2 Three Dog Night Mama told me not to come
3 The Temptations Ball of Confusion (that’s what the world is today)
4 Beatles The Long and Winding Road
5 Vanity Fare Hitchin’ a ride
6 Blues Image Ride Captain Ride
7 Rare Earth Get Ready
8 Melanie Lay Down
9 Elvis Presley The wonder of You
10 Poppy Family Which way are you going billy?

Outside the Top 10 on 27 June are several movers and shakers: Freda Payne at #11 with Band of Gold, Pipkins at #17 with the strange but captivating Gimme dat ding, Miguel Rios and A Song of joy at #22, Pacific Gas & Electric with Are you ready at #31, CSNY with two likely hits – Teach your children at #33 and Ohio at #58.  At #37 is the soon-to-be superstar hit of They long to be (Close to you) by the Carpenters.  Mississippi Queen has made it to #23.  There is still hope for a real rocker to creep into the upper denizens of the charts.

Second Atlanta International Rock Festival

On the weekend of 3-5 July the second Atlanta International Rock Festival is held at the Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Georgia.  It is high summer, hot and dry and Atlanta is dripping.  Over three days over thirty rock artists perform including the Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, It’s a Beautiful Day, Mountain, Rare Earth, Terry Reid, Mountain, BB King, Procol Harum, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and many others.

Three Dog Night – Woof woof!!

The Jackson 5 stay on top until 4 July and leave the crown to the hungry Three Dog Night and Mama told me not to come.  Three Dog Night have been busy in the last 12 months coming close but never quite there until now 11 July 1970 at the height of summer and in full flight.  And they lead a pretty strong Top 10.  The Curtis Mayfield managed the Five Stairsteps, in their first outing, are at #12 with O-Oh Child followed by Pacific Gas & Electric at #19 with Are you ready?  CSNY have two offerings – at #24 Teach your children and coming fast at #30 Ohio.  Mississippi Queen slips up two places to #21.

Three Dog Night hog the limelight until 18 July – short but sweet and then the glittering prize that is the Carpenters slip into the top spot with (They long to be) Close to you.  1970 is the year of Karen and Richard Carpenter, brother and sister from New Haven, Connecticut, signed up to Herb Alpert’s A&M Label – a canny A&R man if there ever was one.  With Close to you on top, Freda Payne, looking good with Band of Gold, is stalled at #3 whilst Bread, quiet and sinewy, slip into #2 with Make it with you, almost a match for the Carpenters – but not quite.  By 8 August the top four are joined by Stevie Wonder with Signed, Sealed and Delivered, (I’m yours) and Eric Burden and War with Spill the wine.

(They all long to be) Close to you

Outside the Top 10, Edwin Starr is at #11 with War, a heavy reminder of human futility supported by the levity of Mungo Jerry and In the summertime.  CSNY and Ohio are at #14.  There are countless hits with red stars advancing up the summer charts.  Close to you stays at #1 until 15 August, relieved by Make it with you on 22 August, a surprisingly lightweight hit but somehow Bread make their appeal to the pop masses.  At #10 is Brooklyn group Alive ‘N Kicking and Tighter Tighter, written by Tommy James, a great soulful dance of a song and reputedly the chorus is a take on Janis Joplin’s Piece of my heart.  No wonder it was so cool.

The Women’s Strike for Equality takes place down Fifth Avenue NYC on 26 August.  Over 50,000 women walk down Fifth Avenue at 5pm bringing the traffic to a standstill.  There are many memorable posters, viz “Don’t iron while the strike is hot!  It does not get any better.  The strike, spearheaded by Betty Friedan, has three primary goals: free abortion on demand, equal opportunity in the workforce, and free childcare.  The strike also advocates for other second wave feminist goals more generally, such as political rights for women, and social equality in relationships such as marriage.  The fight continues.

Women’s Strike for Equality 26 August 1970 – Fifth Avenue NYC

Edwin Starr tops the charts on 29 August with the strong pulse of War.  The song broods over a Top 10 of love and nonchalance perhaps only challenged by Diana Ross with Ain’t no mountain high enough at #9, or Chicago bouncing into #10 with the enigmatic 25 or 6 to 4.  War maintains the rage until 12 September, keeping Ain’t no mountain at bay for a few weeks.  Diana Ross reigns supreme (forgive the pun) on 19 September and her personal success is going from strength to strength.  By the time she arrives at the #1 position, the Top 10 almost comprises tracks on the way down except for Creedence who are at #3 with Looking out my back door.

Vale Janis – (Take another) piece of my heart

Janis Joplin aged 27 dies in her room at the Landmark Motor Inn 7047 Franklin Avenue Hollywood on October 4th.  It appears that the heroin overdose was accidental and may have been due to the potency of the heroin.  Her unfinished album Pearl with the Full Tilt Boogie Band becomes a million seller.

Janis in a studio shot later used for the cover of her posthumous album Pearl

Neil Diamond makes it at last

Creedence makes it to #2, but it is Neil Diamond, with Cracklin’ Rosie, who makes the top spot in the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time despite consistent efforts over the previous eight years.  Since 1962 he has had 22 songs in the Billboard Charts with four songs reaching the Top 10.  His fame and fortune in the 70s is about to start.  And the Top 10 for 10 October is worth a look with some new contenders and new stars.

Rank Artist Song
1 Neil Diamond Cracklin’ Rosie
2 Jackson 5 I’ll be there
3 Dawn Candida
4 Diana Ross Ain’t no mountain high enough
5 Free All right now
6 Bobby Sherman Julie do ya love me
7 Creedence Clearwater Revival Looking out my back door
8 Sugarloaf Green-Eyed Lady
9 Carpenters We’ve only just begun
10 Rare Earth (I know) I’m losing you

At #13 the Kinks are coming with crowd favourite Lola, whilst James Taylor starts his run of fortune with Fire and Rain at #17.  Simon & Garfunkel are back with the haunting El Condor Pasa, a traditional Peruvian folksong, at #29, and rising quickly with a red bullet.  At #46 is Brian Hyland, first heard of in 1960 with Itsy Bitsy teeny weeny polka dot bikini (#1 Billboard Hot 100),  and Sealed with a kiss at #3 in 1962, with a surprisingly soulful take on Curtis Mayfield’s Gypsy Woman.  The Impressions last performed the song in 1961 making it to #2 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #20 on the Hot 100.  Watch this space.

Jackson 5 – Top Spot Again

Neil Diamond retains the crown for one week only.  On 17 October Jackson 5, who are having a wonderful year, settle again into the #1 spot with I’ll be there.  Free, newcomers to the US Charts feature at #4 with All Right Now an anthem of the British Pub Rock pioneers.  Dawn, aka Tony Orlando aka Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis are at #6 with Candida.  Down in the trenches, but one the way up is Joe Cocker at #46 with Cry me a river, the Partridge Family with I think I love you at #60 and solo act Eric ‘Slowhand’ Clapton at #75 with After Midnight.

The Jackson 5 enjoy to top spot for four weeks until 21 November when Shirley Jones, screen mum leading the Partridge Family hits the top with I think I love you.  Life is all peaches and cream living in the suburbs with honest promoters and good times.  Only could this happen in America.  And it happens all the time.  In between time James Taylor makes it to #3 with Fire & Rain but could not squeeze the Jackson 5 from the top.  Lola slips inside the Top 10.  On 14 November the Carpenters go oh so close at #2 to toppling the Jackson 5 but just fall short with We’ve only just begun.  Brian Hyland also slips into the Top to #9 with his enchanting version of Gypsy Woman.

I think I love you enjoys three weeks in the big chair until 5 December and the Top 10 is pretty strong with many top quality tracks.

Rank Artist Song
1 The Partridge Family I think I love you
2 Smokey Robinson & the Miracles Tears of a clown
3 Brian Hyland Gypsy Queen
4 Jackson 5 I’ll be there
5 The Carpenters We’ve only just begun
6 James Taylor Fire & Rain
7 5th Dimension One less bell to answer
8 Badfinger No matter what
9 Stevie Wonder Heaven Help Us All
10 Guess Who Share the Land

Just outside the Top 10 at #13 is George Harrison with his first solo single since the break-up of the Beatles.  My Sweet Lord will prove a favourite.  Santana makes an appearance at #17 with Black Magic Woman and Eric Clapton has laboured to #21 with After Midnight.  Neil Young is also rising with his classic Only love can break a heart at #35.  1970 is proving to be a great year for new songs and new directions by many established and new artists.

Tears of a Clown – Another Winner Smokey

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles have got close many times before but on 12 December they grace the summit with Tears of a clownOne less bell to answer moves closer at #4 and Chicago slip into #9 with Does anybody really know what time it is.  The Guess Who round out the Top 10 with Share the Land.  Dawn aka Tony Orlando returns quickly to the melee with Knock three times at #20 and Curtis Mayfield, going solo, reaches #61 with the grand slamming (Don’t worry) if there’s a hell down below, we’re all gonna go.  Sing on Curtis!  Another sleeper lies at #67 – Stephen Stills with Love the one you’re with.  Watch this space.

Smokey enjoys another week on top.  EC with After midnight makes #18.  Barbara Streisand, who has been quiet all year, re-emerges with the folky punk of Stoney End at #27 and Led Zeppelin are also back in the mix with Immigrant Song at #31.  After Ray Stevens’ special effort to sing a straight song with success earlier in the year he returns-to-type with Bridget the Midget (Queen of the Blues) at #86.  Say no more.

Happy Christmas George

And now it’s the day after Christmas – 26 December and at the end of the year a Beatle song is in the #1 top spot again.  George Harrison, with his first single release – My Sweet Lord – is #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and across the world in Australia, UK, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.  It is a great achievement for the “quiet Beatle” after the many years of success with the Beatles.

Seriously all go in UK

Jailbird Rolf Harris is sitting in the #1 position on 4 January 1970 and has already been there since mid December with the song titled Two Little Boys.  The song, hardly a Top 40 contender, is a sentimental favourite and was written by American composer Theodore F Morse and lyricist Edward Madden, and became popular in 1902.  The song has been performed by many artists and since the 1980s has been sung by Hartlepool United Football fans.  Margaret Thatcher nominated the song as one of her favourites!  That may explain many things about the Iron Lady.  Rolf stays on top until 18 January keeping Kenny Rogers at #2 with Ruby don’t take your love to town.  Rogers, obviously stunned by this set back, was also to perform Two Little Boys with his band The First Edition in 1971 on his album Transition.  Elvis, with Suspicious Minds also cannot move Rolf from the castle.

Love Grows (Where my Rosemary Goes)

But there is always hope and next week, on 25 January, the happy sounds of Edison Lighthouse and Love Grows (where my Rosemary goes) light up the charts and reaches #1.  Edison Lighthouse is of course a one hit wonder with a revolving door for band members.  Edison Lighthouse stay on top for five weeks keeping a number of contenders in their place, including Marmalade – Reflections of my life (#3) and Badfinger – Come and get it (#4).  Peter Paul & Mary make their next-to-last claim to fame with Leaving on a jet plane (#2) – oh so close.  So three days after the Charles, Prince of Wales, joins the Royal Navy, the Top 10 on 22 February looks like this.

Rank Artist Song
1 Edison Lighthouse Love grows (where my Rosemary goes)
2 Lee Marvin Wand’rin’ Star
3 Canned Heat Let’s work together
4 Jackson 5 I want you back
5 John Lennon Instant Karma
6 Peter Paul & Mary Leaving on a jet plane
7 Mary Hopkin Temma Harbour
8 Shocking Blue Venus
9 White Plains My baby loves lovin’
10 Brotherhood of Man United We Stand

And it is worth noting that singer Tony Burrows is represented in three different groups in the Top 10 – not a bad effort.  John Lennon is at #5 in his second week in the charts with the magic Instant Karma stamping the charts with his individualistic style.  Veteran folkster Judy Collins rises to #14 with Both sides now.

Lee Marvin – “The Voice”

Lee Marvin with aplomb ascends to the top spot in the following week on 1 March.  The film Paint your wagon is having great success in UK and runs for 79 unbroken weeks at the Astoria Theatre London.  Actress Jean Seberg, who appears in the film alongside Marvin and Clint Eastwood, likens Marvin’s voice to “water gurgling down a drain pipe”, which would be about right.  But Wand’rin’ Star has plenty of stiff competition in the Top 10 including the Beatles, Elvis, the Jackson Five and the unstoppable Simon & Garfunkel, and two weeks later on 22 March, Bridge over Troubled Water assumes mastery of the Top 40.

In the same week, US Group Steam, who got to #1 in the Billboard Charts last November exit the Top 10 with Nah Nah Hey Kiss him Goodbye.  They do not to repeat their surprising performance in UK.  Let it be falls to #4 and Mary Hopkin, in her first week in the charts, lands quickly at #7 with Knock Knock Who’s There – another Eurovision entry.  Jimmy Ruffin, elder brother of David Ruffin (Temptations lead singer) who has little success in his homeland, will have much success in 1970 in UK and is at #18 with Farewell is a lonely sound.  British Blues group Juicy Lucy, in their first foray into the charts, are at #29 with a take on Bo Diddley’s Who do you love.  Norman Greenbaum is on his way up with Spirit in the Sky at #33.

Paul is leaving the Beatles!!!

On 11 April Paul McCartney publicly announces that he is leaving the Beatles, a little like a Friday night bad news Government announcement before we all leave for a long weekend of fun and games.  He also quietly promotes his first solo album.  Surprisingly or not, depending on your aural predilection, Bridge over troubled water does not monopolise the Top of the Charts for weeks on end.  Three weeks is enough.  Simon & Garfunkel are overcome by the sweetness and light that is Dana and All kinds of Everything on 12 April.  An Irish sweetheart, winner of the Eurovision song contest, holds tight to the crown for two weeks.  Dana keeps Andy Williams, who is having a special year in the charts, at #3 with Can’t help falling in love, a revival of an Elvis Top 40 hit from 1961 from his film Blue Hawaii.

Norman Greenbaum repeats his Australian success and bolts into the #1 position.  And stays there for two brief weeks until 3 May before being taken over by that old flag waver Back Home performed by the England World Cup Squad.  Mighty England’s football team, confident defending champions, flew off to the first FIFA World Cup tournament to be held in North America.  Singing England’s #1 Top 40 song across the Atlantic in their BOAC flight to Mexico City Juarez International their morale is boosted along with their chance for success.  This has all the potential to be better than the breakfast of champions.

9th FIFA World Cup

Back Home was ringing in the top of the charts for three weeks until 24 May.  Maybe it did not stay at the top long enough noting the 9th FIFA World Cup is due to commence on 31 May.  By then Yellow River was #1 on the Charts performed by Christie, not quite your super group and one of four groups around the world, who decided that Yellow River was the song for them.  The song is chirpy and repetitive and in the end pretty annoying.  Mexico and the Soviet Union do battle in the opening round of the 9th FIFA World Cup and at full-time the score is 0-0.

Yellow River survives for one week only at the top of the pile and In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry claims the crown on 7 June.  This song has a similar impact on the UK Charts as on the Australian charts albeit by different artists.  In the Summertime just makes you want to smile.  What could be better than “When the weather’s fine, you got women, you got women on your mind!”  And the infectious skiffle song sells 30 million world-wide.

England’s defence of the FIFA World Cup ends when they lose 3 – 2 to West Germany at the quarter final in Mexico on 14 June.

In the Summertime – Go Mungo

In the Summertime remains on top for a sweltering seven weeks until 19 July.  Mungo Jerry has essentially cleaned up.  The band is rolling in it and 42 different versions of the self-titled debut album include many track variations, and at least half of the versions are without the hit-making song itself.  During those seven weeks of summer, many contenders float into the Top 10 – Free – All right now (#4), Beachboys – Cotton Fields (#5), Ray (Ahab the Arab) Stevens – Everything is beautiful (#8).  Fleetwood Mac’s magnificent – The Green Manalishi holds down the #10 spot for about five weeks, guarding the entrance to the Top 10.

Cliff Richard also makes a return to form with Goodbye Sam Hello Samantha (#6); Creedence return with Up around the bend (#4) and the Four Tops go retro with It’s all in the game (#5).  Shirley Bassey, whose last big charting single was Goldfinger (1964) (#2), not counting Big Spender (1967) (#24), is back in the Top 10 with George Harrison’s Something cruising to #4 proving that quality singers and songs can still make it happen.  Whereas Joe Cocker, with his thumping version of The Letter, barely makes an impact at #39 before dropping out of the Top 40 very quickly.  One would have thought the boy from Sheffield deserved more respect noting his easy acceptance by American fans.  Another very English arrival in the Top 10 is Gerry Monroe who makes it to #7 with Sally a fairly prosaic ballad made popular by Gracie Fields in the 1930s.  He releases five singles in 1970 and 1971 and then is never heard of again.  His voice is a distinctive high falsetto not to everybody’s taste.

Elvis Still On Top

Elvis, who has charted well since his comeback in 1968, and especially in UK, takes over from Mungo Jerry in the #1 position on 26 July with The Wonder of You.  Free are in the #2 position with All right now and the Kinks in #3 with the fantastic Lola.  On 2 August the Top 10 is as follows:

Rank Artist Song
1 Elvis Presley The Wonder of You
2 Kinks Lola
3 Hotlegs Neanderthal Man
4 Free All right now
5 Shirley Bassey Something
6 Mungo Jerry In the Summertime
7 Jimmy Ruffin I’ll say forever my love
8 Cat Stevens Lady D’Urbanville
9 Four Tops It’s all in the game
10 Ten Years After Love like a man

There are two surprises in this Top 10.  Firstly a hastily named group, Hotlegs, release a song titled Neanderthal Man.  The band members are Eric Stewart, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley with Graham Gouldman sitting in.  Yes that’s right an early combination of 10CC!!!!  Neanderthal Man can be safely described as four guys tuning up their instruments.  It’s a shocker but makes #2 and goes on to sell 2 million copies.  Pop logic does it again.  The second surprise is Ten Years After.  The song Love like a man clocks in at 7:13 and is primarily a blues jam not your run-of-the-mill 2:30 single.  It is the most unlikely candidate for a Top 10 single, but there you have it.

25 or 6 to 4 – What does it mean?

Elvis enjoys his stay as the King of the Charts for six weeks during the height of summer.  He is courted by many pretenders to the crown.  The Jackson 5 are back with The love you save (#7) and Joni Mitchell with her wonderful Big Yellow taxi can only make #11 on 16 August.  Marmalade returns for another go at the top with Rainbow (#4), whilst Chicago challenge with the enigmatically titled 25 or 6 to 4 (#7).  It does not matter what it means it’s just great.  Another strange entrant into the Top 10 is rock group, Fair Weather with their heavy blues drag of Natural Sinner.  Pretty rough around the edges!

Third Isle of Wight Festival

The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival is held on 26 – 31 August at Afton Down an area of the western side of the Isle.  The crowd is estimated to be about 600,000, maybe higher, and the biggest of all the rock festivals held to date.  Jimi Hendrix headlined the festival which attracted many other high quality acts to participate including Supertramp, The Groundhogs, Terry Reid, Taste, Family, Procol Harum, cactus, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, The Doors, The Who, Sly & the Family Stone, Donovan, Joan Baez and the list goes on.  The press attend hoping to see plenty of bad behaviour but are quite disappointed, and the Chief Constable, Sir Douglas Ormond congratulates the youthful patrons.

Deep Purple Vs Black Sabbath

Fighting it out in the lower echelons of the charts are Deep Purple with Black Night (#46) and Black Sabbath with Paranoid (#47) both destined for higher callings, whilst further down and on their way out are Frank Sinatra with My Way (#49) and Dorothy Squires also with My Way (#48) looking lost in a world without love.  Smokey Robinson & the Miracles eventually dislodge Elvis on 6 September with Tears of a Clown.  Three Dog Night, barking at their heels, make #3 with Mama told me (not to come, and Bread, introducing that 1970’s FM AOR sound, make it to #5 with Make it with you.  The Chairmen of the Board are also crowding in with Give me just a little more time at #4.  Times are interesting.

Freda Payne, after only three weeks in the charts topples Smokey Robinson on the following week and graces the #1 position on 13 September.  And she stays on top for six weeks until 18 October.  Of course the song is Band of Gold composed by Motown writers and producers Holland–Dozier-Holland.  It is Freda Payne’s only #1 but it is a corker taking the UK into its charms.

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky – Vale Jimi

Jimi Hendrix is found unconscious in Monica Dannemann’s apartment in the Samarkand Hotel Notting Hill on 18 September.  After he is transferred to St Mary Abbot’s Hospital in Marloes Road Kensington, Jimi is declared dead at 12:45pm.  Following post-mortem, Jimi’s body is embalmed and flown to Seattle on 29 September.  A service is held for family and friends on 1 October and Jimi’s body is interred at Greenwood cemetery, Renton in Washington, the location of his mother’s grave.  Vale Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix performing at Isle of Wight Rock Festival 1970 [Photograph courtesy BBC]

During September there is plenty of movement in the charts and by 27 September, both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are in the Top 10.  Bobby Bloom with Montego Bay makes it to #3 and Desmond Dekker, with his second big hit, You can get it if you really want makes it to #2.  Diana Ross is moving into #13 with Ain’t no mountain and the Carpenters, darlings of the Top 40, are at #14 with (They all long to be) Close to you.  At #39 local heroes Matthews Southern Comfort lay into Woodstock.  Aretha Franklin, who has had a quiet year, is at #18 with Don’t play that song – on the way down the charts.

First Glastonbury Festival

On  the day after Jimi Hendrix died, on 19 September, the first Glastonbury Festival is held at Worthy Farm and is called the Pilton Pop Blues & Folk Festival.  The Kinks and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders are the original headliners but are replaced by Tyrannosaurus Rex at short notice.  Although the weather is balmy on this day only 1500 punters turn up to pay their £1 at the entry gates and get to see the cool pyramid stage.  Social distancing is observed!

The spectacular pyramid stage at the Pilton Festival 1970

Michael Eavis. on whose Somerset farm the festival is held, and inspired by a performance of Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival of Blues, believed Worthy Farm to be an ideal location for a festival.  On the day Marc Bolin did the ultimate rock n’ roll gig and Eavis claims that his fee for the gig was £500, a King’s ransom in 1970, and subsequently paid in lots of £100 from his milk money over the following five months.

In the following month, on 19 October, British Petroleum discover “black gold” in the North Sea saving the British economy and producing ultimately 5000 million barrels of oil.

Woodstock Again

There is a big turnover on the charts on 25 October.  Freda Payne finally cedes the top spot to Matthews Southern Comfort with their cover version of CSNY’s Woodstock, which remains on top until 8 November.  In the #2 spot is Clarence Carter’s Patches followed by Edwin Starr and his rousing War…what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing…..!!!  Melanie is at #8 with the Rolling Stones hit Ruby Tuesday and Don Farndon with his poignant Indian Reservation is at #12 looking for improvement.  Two versions of Julie do ya love me are on the UK Charts – local version by White Plains at #16 and Bobby Sherman, in person, at #28.

Jimi Hendrix, with his first of many countless posthumous releases, hits the #1 spot with Voodoo Chile on his third week into the charts and the Top 10 for 15 November looks like this.  At #8 are the Rattles, a rock band from Hamburg Germany, playing a sort of psychedelic rag, both an odd track and choice for stardom.  Neil Diamond gets serious with Cracklin’ Rosie at #10.  Christie butter up again to take advantage of their debut hit Yellow River.  Outside the Top 10, in his first week in the charts, Dave Edmunds offers I hear you knocking at #16.

Rank Artist Song
1 Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Chile
2 Matthews Southern Comfort Woodstock
3 Don Fardon Indian Reservation
4 Clarence Carter Patches
5 Edwin Starr War
6 Jimmy Ruffin It’s wonderful
7 Christie San Bernadino
8 The Rattles The Witch
9 Melanie Ruby Tuesday
10 Neil Diamond Cracklin’ Rosie

And then it’s all over for the rest of the year as journeyman Dave Edmunds makes #1 on 22 November and remains on the throne until the end of the year.  His previous contribution had been in 1968 with his first group Love Sculpture and the terrible take of Khachaturian’s classical piece Sabre Dance, which reached the dizzy heights of #8 in the UK Charts, but failed to chart elsewhere.  I hear you knocking is low key rock and roll – not bad but not great, not even near – but the single sells over 3 million copies, and is a hit in UK, USA and Australia.

In the last few weeks rolling up to Christmas some interesting tracks appear on the Top 40 charts.  McGuiness Flint, in their first chart outing, reach #2 on 6 December with When I’m dead and gone.  English originals Gerry Monroe and Ken Dodd are back with some pretty bad songs – My Prayer (#9) and Broken Hearted (#35) respectively, and new look T Rex makes #6 with Ride a White Swan in the same week.

The Charts move glacially in the last few weeks of the year and the last chart of 27 December is shown below.

Rank Artist Song
1 Dave Edmunds I hear you knocking
2 Clive Dunn Grandad
3 McGuiness Flint When I’m dead and gone
4 Glen Campbell It’s only make believe
5 Jackson 5 I’ll be there
6 Neil Diamond Cracklin’ Rosie
7 Andy Williams Home Lovin’ Man
8 Gilbert O Sullivan Nothing Rhymed
9 Gerry Monroe My Prayer
10 T Rex Ride a white swan

Clive Dunn should have stuck with Dad’s Army and far more successful and loved institution.  On 31 December, Paul McCartney files a lawsuit against the other members of the Beatles, to dissolve their partnership effectively ending the Beatles.  RIP.  We, the fans, do not understand yet the break-up of the Beatles has actually happened, as their music is still in the charts and on the airwaves, and on our shelves and turntables.

So the end of 1970 is essentially disappointing.  The music has continued, the rock festivals have got bigger, more music is being sold in ever more formats, but there does not seem to be that earth shattering brightness of 1964 or 1965.  New artists have become “old” and newer artists have yet to make their mark.  There appears to be a lull in the storm.

Despite this lukewarm assessment everyone loves our annual juke boxes.  Play on!  And whilst in no particular order #1 is a knockout making #10 on the Billboard Chart – “Tighter tighter……..just a little bit tighter, baby”.  Aah the 70s!

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