CQ Hams Still Groovin' In The 60's



Did You Know ...?

by John Timmons 



 (The Biography of Dale and Grace)

If your first reaction to the title of this article is, "what the heck is swamp pop music", and "what does it have to do with 1960s rock and roll", you probably are not alone with these thoughts. Swamp pop music is admittedly a fairly obscure sub-genre of rock and roll and had only a brief foray into mainstream rock in the 1960s, primarily exemplified by a vocal duo from Louisiana, Dale and Grace. Swamp pop is indigenous to the Acadiana region of south Louisiana and an adjoining section of southeast Texas and was created in the 1950s and early 1960s by teenaged Cajuns and black Creoles. It combines New Orleans-style rhythm and blues, country and western, and traditional French Louisiana musical influences. During the genre's heydey (1958-1964), several swamp pop songs appeared on national U.S. charts including Jimmy Clanton's "Just A Dream", Warren Storm's "Prisoner's Song", Phil Phillips' "Sea Of Love", Rod Bernard's "This Should Go On Forever", Joe Barry's "I'm A Fool To Care", and Dale and Grace's "I'm Leaving It Up To You".

Dale and Grace probably would not rank high on most anyones top 1960s pop-rock music performers list, however, they did leave their mark on '60s pop music history with their Cajun-country rock style known as swamp pop music. Dale Houston and Grace Broussard had two Top 10 Gold Record hits in the early sixties with "I'm Leaving It Up To You" that was a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for two weeks in 1963 and "Stop And Think It Over" that peaked at #8 in 1964. Their story begins with Dale growing up in the small town of Collins, Mississippi where his father was a minister. By sixth grade, Dale began his musical training by taking piano lessons, but had to quit after three months, as his parents could no longer afford them. From that point on, Dale was self taught and polished his musical skills by playing and singing in church. Determined to make music his life, an 18 year old Dale recorded a song called "Lonely Man" that climbed to #75 on the national record charts. Dale was playing in Baton Rouge in 1960 when Montel Record executive, Sam Montel caught his act in a local bar. After listening to some of Dale's material, Montel signed him to compose exclusively for his label. Dale wrote and recorded "Lonely Room", "Bird With A Broken Wing", and "That's What I Like About Us", but none met with success.

In 1963, Dale was working in a honkey tonk bar in Ferriday, Louisiana when Montel drove from Baton Rouge to get Dale. Sam had an idea that Dale singing harmony with a female would be a good production. He picked up Dale that night and drove back to Baton Rouge, then went to Prairieville and picked up 19 year old Grace Broussard and introduced them to each other. Sam had a piano at his home and the two started rehearsing in preparation of a recording session the next day. It was after midnight and the duo had been at it for about 4 hours when Dale started playing the old Don & Dewey song from the mid '50s called "I'm Leaving It Up To You". Sam came out of a dead sleep when he heard it from his bedroom, ran in, still in his underwear and screamed, "play it again....that's a hit!"

The next day Sam Montel took Dale and Grace to the recording studio where they cut 4 songs. Montel Records then released "I'm Leaving It Up To You", where according to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson, the song broke at Top 40 radio station KNUZ in Houston, where it was unanimously voted the "pick hit of the week" by the station's panel of seven deejays. By October, 1963 it was the #1 record in the nation, only to be eventually knocked out of the top spot by The Beatles. The song also reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.

The pair spent much of the rest of the year touring with Dick Clark's Caravan Of Stars and had Thanksgiving at Clark's house. They followed their first hit with a song called "Stop And Think It Over" that went to #8 in 1964, but 'The British Invasion' was beginning to take a firm grasp on pop-rock music in America and personal problems between Dale and Grace were starting to take their toll, as well. In addition, Grace's homesickness and a serious illness that landed Dale in the hospital caused the duo to separate in 1965.

Dale carried on, teaming with Connie Sattenfield, to form a new 'Dale and Grace', although by this time, swamp pop music was going out of style and no major hits followed. Grace Broussard and her brother also toured as Dale and Grace.

Regretably, Dale Houston passed away in the fall of 2007 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Despite their brief foray into 1960s pop-rock music, the southern duo sold over 7 and a half million rock and roll records over the years. "I'm Leaving It Up To You" has been a favorite of male-female duos for years and was performed by Sonny & Cher and Donny and Marie Osmond , who returned it to the Top 10 in 1974. Donny and Marie's version of the song also was a Top 20 country hit and won the 1974 Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.

Since the 1990s, Dale and Grace have been recognized for their contributions to music that are noted below. They certainly are the pride of Louisiana and represent the best when it comes to swamp pop music.

1997- Dale and Grace were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame

1998- Dale and Grace were inducted into the Gulf Coast's Hall of Fame
      Dale is inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame

2000- Dale received the "Louisiana Living Legends Award" from the Public Broadcasting Service

2007- Dale and Grace were named to the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame

An interesting factoid about Dale and Grace, and particularly Dale (Houston), is that their giant hit, "I'm Leaving It Up To You", broke the Top 40 chart at a radio station in Houston, Texas. Another eerily interesting factoid is that while on tour in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, Dale and Grace were standing on a street corner waving to President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed by and within seconds and just two blocks later, Kennedy was assassinated. They returned to their hotel rooms after waving to Kennedy and didn't hear about the assassination until several hours later.   






"Wake up in the morning with the sunshine in your eyes
And the smell of flowers blooming fills the air.
Your mind is filled with the thoughts of a certain someone - that you love;
Your life is filled with joy when she is there.

Love can make you happy if you find someone who cares
To give a life time to you and who has a love to share.

If you think you've found someone you'll love forevermore,
Then it's worth the price you'll have to pay (pay).
To have, to hold's important when forever is the phrase
That means the love you've found is going to stay.

Love can make you happy if you find someone who cares
To give a life time to you and who has a love to share.

La-love, la-love

  Love can make you happy.
  Love can make you happy.
  Love can make yu happy.

These are the lyrics to one of the most touching and heart-warming ballads I have ever heard, "Love (Can Make You Happy)" by the group Mercy. The other day I was listening to a great '60s music radio station in Phoenix and heard this timeless classic, one of my all-time favorite late sixties songs. For some unknown reason, "Love (Can Make You Happy)" is not often played here despite the phenomenal success of the record in May 1969. "Love" was a Gold Single that charted all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart making Mercy an overnight sensation. The tune also peaked at #2 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, as well.

Mercy is generally considered a "one-hit-wonder" group that had only minimal success after their first and only big hit, "Love (Can Make You Happy)". In looking at the genesis of Mercy, the band was formed by Jack Sigler while still in high school in Tampa, Florida. Sigler continued to perfect his writing, arranging and performing skills and in 1968, Sigler and Mercy happened to be heard by George Roberts, a Hollywood producer who was shooting a film, "Fireball Jungle" in the Tampa area. Roberts decided he wanted Mercy to appear in the movie featuring "Love (Can Make You Happy)". "Love", written by Sigler when he was only 16, sold over one million copies and became an international classic. The flip side, "Fireball", was a major hit in Japan and parts of Europe.

Mercy was then selected by Warner Brothers to record an album as a result of their hit single; the LP, "Mercy & Love Can Make You Happy", peaked at #38 on the U.S. charts. The album spun off another hit for Mercy, "Forever" followed up by another Jack Sigler original, "Hello Baby", which broke into the charts in various parts of the country.

The original Mercy lineup consisted of seven members, five male and two female, making it one of the larger sized groups of the 1960s. Following their three hits in the Top 100, the band toured the U.S. and Canada extensively, appearing with such greats as Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, The Turtles, The Association, The Cowsills, The Box Tops, The Byrds, Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons, Tommy James and The Shondells along with many others.

Mercy also made several national TV appearances including The Mike Douglas Show, The National March of Dimes with Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley plus interviews on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Jack and Mercy was booked for The Ed Sullivan Show, but was forced to cancel due to scheduling problems.

Some interesting factoids about Mercy include:

*"Love (Can Make You Happy)" was recorded at the same studio in Tampa where The Royal Guardsmen recorded "Snoopy Vs The Red Baron"

*In 1984, Jack Sigler was awarded with BMI's prestigious "Millionaire Award" (one of only 200 songs to do so at the time) and is now well past two million airplays

*Jack and Mercy have the unique distinction of sharing the Top 10 with the three biggest artists in history, Elvis Presley ("In The Ghetto"), Frank Sinatra ("My Way"), and The Beatles ("Get Back"). It was the only time in history these legends would top the charts at the same time Mercy was at #2!

*"Love (Can Make You Happy)" is also in Billboard's Top 1000 songs since 1955

*The movie "Fireball Jungle" was the last movie that the great actor Lon Chaney Jr. made before his death

The next time you get a bit down on things, take a listen to "Love (Can Make You Happy)". The warm, soothing melody of this song and thoughts of finding the "right girl" back when you were young and yearning for love in the '60s can only make you feel better. I guarantee it.     





60s Songs That Make You Feel Good

   60s feel good60s feel good60s Feel good60s feel good60s feel good


I have mentioned in previous articles that I love all the music of the 1960s, but there are, however, certain songs that really make me feel "warm and fuzzy all over", to quote a popular 80s phrase. We all have those days when things just don't go right, and for me the remedy is to listen to some of these special "feel good" songs.

I would be interested in knowing what 60s songs make you feel better when things aren't going well. Let me know via the Webmaster's email at webmaster@the60sofficialsite.com  and we'll add them to the list below. Here is my Top 10 list of the best feel good pop music from the 1960s.


1. "Grazing In The Grass"- by The Friends Of Distinction

2. "Under The Boardwalk"- by The Drifters

3. "(Build Me Up) Buttercup"- by The Foundations

4. "The Rain, The Park & Other Things"- by The Cowsills

5. "Walk In The Black Forest"- by Horst Jankowski

6. "The Happy Organ"- by Dave "Baby" Cortez

7. "Dancing In The Street"- by Martha and The Vandellas

8. "My Boy Lollipop"- by Millie Small

9."California Sun"- by The Rivieras

10."Tracy"- by The Cuff Links 


Click Here To Play John's Feel Good Songs Plus Other Selected Feel Good Music Jukebox .Jukebox  

Note: You can add to this Jukebox.  If you have a song from the 50s and 60s that is a feel good song and you want it included just email webmaster@the60sofficialsite.com





"A Wonderful Summer" and Robin Ward




Robin Ward

As I sit writing this article during the onset of fall, I am already missing the warm months of June, July, and August and all the great 60s "songs of summer" including "A Wonderful Summer" by Robin Ward. This famed 1963 ballad was Ward's solo debut on the Dot record label where the lushly dramatic classic of the girl group genre reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart just one week before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Prior to her success with this pop hit, Robin Ward, whose real name was Jackie Ward, began her career in music as an eight- year-old with her first public singing performances with her two sisters in a Nebraska church. After the trio won a national talent search, the family moved to Los Angeles to look for work in the music industry.

At age 13, she was hired by Los Angeles television station KTLA to sing on a Your Hit Parade-like program, in which she sang popular hits for four years as part of the house singing ensemble. After she parted ways with KTLA, she started a career of singing in demo recordings for various LA-based songwriters and session singing for several California record companies and producers. In 1963, songwriter-producer Perry Botkin needed a session singer to make a demo recording of "A Wonderful Summer", a song that he wrote with his co-writer and co-producer, Gil Garfield. After an experiment in which Botkin sped up the recording by wrapping splicing tape around the capstan of the recorder, he and Ward agreed that the finished recording (with bird and surf sound effects added) would not be just a demo, but a recording to be released as a 45 RPM single. The "altered" recording resulted in the then 21-year-old woman sound like a high school girl. She then "borrowed" the name Robin from her daughter, believing it more suitable for the teen audience the record courted. That fall, "A Wonderful Summer" was released and sales were spectacular. Over one million copies sold in the United States alone.

Despite the huge success of her hit song and recording five more singles for Dot, none of the records recaptured her initial success. This, however, did not deter Ward from pursuing a career in music. While "Robin Ward" was disappearing from the record charts, Jackie Ward's session singing career was becoming quite lucrative. In the early to mid 1960s she was one of the stable of singers for The Red Skelton Show, The Danny Kaye Show, and later The Carol Burnett Show. For much of the second half of the decade, Jackie was a member of the Ray Conniff Singers, an ensemble that is most remembered for their #10 hit, "Somewhere My Love", from the motion picture  "Doctor Zhivago", in 1966.  She also kept extremely busy performing backup singing for dozens of major recording artists, including Nat "King" Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Gordon Lightfoot, The Carpenters, Cass Elliot, and Joan Baez.

Jackie's voice is heard in dozens of television theme songs, amongst which were Flipper, Batman, Love American Style, Maude, and The Partidge Family. The theme song was not the only recording that she did for The Partridge family: she was one of a group of three women and four men to record all the music for television play and record release while "posing" as the Partridge Family (only two members of the TV series - Shirley Jones and David Cassidy - recorded with them). Possibly her most memorable performance, however, is the eerie solo soprano on the original Star Trek theme. By her own estimate, Jackie Ward's voice can beheard in "maybe 800" films. Some of the more notable instances include her voice being dubbed over Natalie Wood's "singing" in "The Great Race" and "Inside Daisy Clover", doing the same for Janet Leigh in "American Dream", and providing the singing voice for Cindy Bear in "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!". She also has sung in hundreds of television commercials, most notably those for Rice-a-Roni.

In the early 1970s, Ward was a member of the Anita Kerr Singers and also remained as a regular member of the Ray Conniff studio session singers from 1971 to 1979, performing solo in several albums of the orchestra.

In the world of pop music, Robin Ward will always be regarded as a "one-hit wonder"; but by combining natural talent with a strong determination to succeed in a highly competitive business, the music industry, Robin/Jackie Ward should be remembered as a great, acclaimed singer in the recording industry, television, and in motion pictures - a lot more than just a "one-hit wonder". For me, Jackie Ward is a shining example of someone who pursued and achieved "The American Dream", and as an added bonus, continuously helps me remember through "A Wonderful Summer" the long and carefree days of summer growing up in the 1960s. Pretty cool!  



Mr. "Down In The Boondocks"

The Biography of Billy Joe Royal


Billy Joe Royal on "Shindig"

Billy Joe Royal is not regarded in the annals of 1960s pop music as being one of the top recording artists, however, he will always be remembered for his popular breakthrough single, "Down In The Boondocks". This country-flavored pop hit went all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in July 1965 and was one of the first 45 RPM records I purchased as a pre-teen. Though I did not grow up in a poor family nor on the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks", the lyrics of this song really resonated with me. The first few lines sum up the story of this song of the poor boy in love with a much more affluent girl living on top of the hill.

"Down in the boondocks, down in the boondocks
People put me down 'cause that's the side of town I was born in
I love her, she loves me, but I don't fit her society
Lord have mercy on the boy from down in the boondocks

Every night I watch the light of the house up on the hill
I love a little girl that lives up there and I guess I always will"

"Down In The Boondocks" launched the pop music career of Billy Joe Royal, briefly making the vocalist into a teen idol. It is not widely known that when this song was recorded as a demo single that it's churchy echo sound resulted from the use of a large septic tank that had been dragged into the studio. The demo ended up at Columbia Records, and the label signed Royal to a six-year deal. Following its success, Royal had several other Top 40 singles including "I Knew You When" (#14), "I've Got To Be Somebody" (#38), and "Cherry Hill Park" (#15). He also had two Top 100 charting albums in the 1960s, "Down In The Boondocks" and "Cherry Hill Park". Despite a respectable start in the pop music genre, Royal's star waned by the end of the decade and he became a regular performer in Las Vegas and around Lake Tahoe.

The native of Valdosta, Georgia did not give up on having a successful career in music, but instead returned to his southern roots and in the early '80s worked on establishing himself as a country artist. This idea, too was at least in part based on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks theme of "Down In The Boondocks" that was a familiar one to country music audiences. In 1984 Royal broke through when he recorded "Burned Like A Rocket" (#10) followed by a string of twelve Top 40 hits. Four of these records reached Top 5 status with "I'll Pin A Note On Your Pillow" (#5), "Tell It Like It Is" (#2), "Love Has No Right" (#4), and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore" (#2). It would be country music that revived Royal's music career and commercial fortunes and once again propelled him into the limelight.

By 1991 his rejuvenated career as a country hitmaker had quieted down following the release of the album, "Greatest Hits" that peaked at #32 on the country charts. He followed up with bookings throughout the 1990s in large country music bars and became a successful act on the circuit. Today he continues to perform in concert venues across the country singing both pop and country music.

Royal is certainly a testimony to what happens when hard work and resilience are combined with natural talent. To listen to Billy Joe Royal is to hear Las Vegas polish meet south Georgia soul and a craftsman's care meet a country boy's feet. Pretty darn good for a boy from down in the boondocks.   






 The Story of Banned 60s Rock Hits

Growing up in the 1960s, I only recall one hit record whose lyrics were considered so controversial that it was banned from radio airplay in my home state of Indiana, "Louis, Louis" by The Kingmen. Now, however, in researching 60s bands and songs for "CQ Hams Still Groovin' In The 60s", I have discovered that there were actually many other hit records that were also banned during the period for a variety of reasons. What were some of those reasons? References to sex, drugs, interracial dating, glorifying motorcycle gangs, containing "naughty" words, being "un-Christian", etc.

Whether you agree or disagree that records having lyrics about these controversial topics and others should be kept off the air or not, the fact remains that these same topics, and in particular sex, drugs, and the use of profanity, continue to be recorded and aired across the country. I guess it all comes down to that never ending debate about censorship vs. our Fist Amendment right of Freedom of Speech; I suspect this same discussion will still be waged for generations to come.

Here is a look at 1960s rock and roll records banned from airplay in the U.S. and the U.K. and the reason why.

"TELL LAURA I LOVE HER" (Ray Peterson):
Banned from many radio stations who objected to the "death theme" of the song.
In spite of spotty airplay, the song is still a huge hit for RCA, reaching #7
on the Billboard record chart in August 1960. In the United Kingdom, England's
Decca Records destroyed thousands of copies of the record

"100 POUNDS OF CLAY" (Gene McDaniels):

Britain's BBC Radio bans the song because it has a reference to women being
created from building materials which the network considered to be blasphemous

"THE TWIST" (Chubby Checker):

Though "The Twist" aired on radio stations across the country, Catholic school
students in New York are forbidden to dance to the record by Bishop Burke who
considers it and other dance craze songs to be "un-Christian". The rest of the
nation, however, thought different, as "The Twist" went on to be the only record
in Rock and Roll history to be a #1 hit on two separate occasions- first in
1961 and again in 1962

"MONSTER MASH" (Bobby "Boris" Pickett):

In Great Britain, the BBC banned Pickett's Halloween song on the grounds that
it was "too morbid". Interestingly, when the record was re-released in the U.K.
in 1973, it peaked at #3 in early October


Producers of The Ed Sullivan Show inform Dylan that he can not sing "Talking
John Birch Paranoid Blues" to which Dylan responds by canceling the booking

"LOUIE, LOUIE" (The Kingsmen):

The record has been the subject of much controversey and was banned from
airplay by the governor of Indiana because of its indecipherable lyrics,
which were rumored to contain "naughty", sexually referenced words. The
record caused so much of a stir that it even attracted the attention of the
F.B.I. because of alleged indecent lyrics. The baffling enunciation of most
of the lyrics permitted both teenage fans and concerned parents alike to
imagine the most scandalous obscenities. In the end, it was a case of "much
ado about nothing" as the words were in fact quite innocuous. "Louis, Louis"
peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with sales world wide in excess
of one million copies sold

"LEADER OF THE PACK" (The Shangri-Las):

The single was banned by ABC-TV and Rediffusion-TV in the U.K. because it
glorified motorcycle gangs. Despite the ban, the song still reached #1 in
the U.S. and charted four times in the U.K. between 1965 and 1976, peaking
at #3 in 1972 (by which time the BBC ban had been lifted)

"I CAN'T GET NO SATISFACTION" (The Rolling Stones):

An early hit of The Rolling Stones is taken off of many radio station's play
lists after they receive complaints about the "sexually suggestive lyrics".
"Satisfaction" would ultimately end up a #1 hit on the Billboard Chart and a
Gold Single for The Stones


A first solo hit for McGuire, "Eve Of Destruction" is taken off of retail
store shelves and many radio stations play lists because of it's "end of
the world" theme


Some retailers refused to stock this album because a photo on the front
cover showed the group laying together in a bath tub with a toilet in the
corner. The picture was quickly altered to include a printed banner covering
the toilet which read, "Includes California Dreaming"

"DOUBLE SHOT (OF MY BABY'S LOVE)" (Swingin' Medallions):

A sixties "one hit wonder" frat rock group from South Carolina, the Swingin'
Medallions are forced to re-record a cleaned up version of their hit record,
"Double Shot", after many radio stations refuse to play the original. Sales
of the highly popular college party song ultimately exceed over one million
copies sold

"GLORIA" (Them- Van Morrison's group):

"Gloria" was banned by Chicago powerhouse radio statio WLS for objectionable
lyrics. The song was later covered by Chicago's "The Shadows Of Knight", who
took the song into the national Top 10 after changing the words slightly,
from "She comes to my room, just about midnight" to "She comes around here,
just about midnight"

"RHAPSODY IN THE RAIN" (Lou Christie):

The song is based on a teen's regret over his sexual experience in the back
seat of a car. When calls for censorship started pouring in, Christie agreed
to change the lyrics and the song went on to be another in a long series of
hits for him

"THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA-HAAA!" (Napoleon XIV {Jerry Samuels}):

When the high-charting novelty hit peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100
Chart at #3, the song was banned by many U.S. radio stations because it
seemed to make fun of the mentally ill


This Byrds classic was banned by many U.S. radio stations because programmers
thought the word "high" was a drug reference. The band claimed it was
inspired by an airplane flight where singer Gene Clark asked guitarist Roger
McGuinn how high up they were. McGuinn told him 6 miles. Clark later said
that when he wrote the song, he changed the 6 to 8 because The Beatles had
"Eight Days A Week" on the charts

"A DAY IN THE LIFE" (The Beatles):

The BBC in Britain bans this Beatles hit record from the airwaves, claiming
it contained explicit drug references


Many radio stations ban The Who's single "Pictures Of Lily" because of its
vague reference to a lewd male sex act


An appearance by The Stones on The Ed Sullivan Show was in jeopardy until
Mick Jaggar promised to change the words "Let's spend the night together"
to "Let's spend some time together". When the line came up during the
performance, Jaggar mumbled the words

"BROWN EYED GIRL" (Van Morrison):

Radio programmers refuse to air "Brown Eyed Girl" because the lyrics refer
to premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. Morrison then records an alternative
version with more acceptable lyrics and the song becomes his first solo hit
in the U.S.

"LIGHT MY FIRE" (The Doors):

When The Doors are booked to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, producers insist
that Jim Morrison change the lyrics to "Light My Fire". Morrison agreed to
alter the lyric, "Girl we couldn't get much higher", but during the live
performance, Morrison sings the original lyric

"SOCIETY'S CHILD" (Janis Ian):

This controversial song is banned by some U.S. radio stations because the
lyrics referred to interracial dating. Many other stations felt differently
and the song rose to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100

"STREET FIGHTING MAN" (The Rolling Stones):

In 1968, Chicago mayor Richard Daley ordered local radio stations to not
play the Rolling Stones' single "Street Fighting Man" during the National
Democratic Convention in anticipation of the rioting that did occur during
the event. The ban gave the song huge publicity, air play and sales

"ELECTRIC LADYLAND" {LP} (Jimi Hendrix):

The British book and record chain W.H. Smith refused to display The Jimi
Hendrix Experience album "Electric Ladyland" due to the naked girls
featured on the sleeve. The LP was later made available as two albums with
changed artwork

"TWO VIRGINS" {LP} (John Lennon and Yoko Ono):

Some 30,000 copies of the album "Two Virgins" are seized by Newark,
New Jersey police when the records arrive at the airport. The vice squad
shuts down a retailer carrying the LP, which shows the couple naked on the


Despite its status as a #8 hit Gold Single, "The Ballad Of John And Yoko"
was banned from airplay by many U.S. radio stations because the song's
lyrics contain references to Christ and the Crucifixion

"TRY IT" (The Standells):

This song was banned by Texas radio chain mogul Gordon McLendon, a
Christian fundamentalist, who considered the song's lyrics to be obscene.
Even though the record was the #1 seller in many markets, including
Los Angeles, most radio stations followed McLendon's lead and refused to
play it. The song died and so did the group's popularity and hopes of
another hit record

"COME TOGETHER" (The Beatles):

For a time, "Come Together" by The Beatles was banned by the BBC as they
believed the song's reference to "shoot[ing] Coca-Cola" could be construed
as a cocaine reference     






                       (Who Were The Exports?)                     

Several months ago I wrote an article soliciting help in finding out and learning more about the 1960s instrumental rock group, The Exports. As I noted in the article, their hit record, "Car Hop", was certainly a favorite instrumental of mine and my intention was to write an expose on this band that contributed to 1960s Hot Rod rock music. Despite many hours of research, I found it odd that there was virtually no information on this group, but rather just a few references to "Car Hop" (A side), the B side, "Seat Belts, Please", and one other recording, "Mustang '65". In all my time researching 60s bands, from the super star groups like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, etc., to "one hit wonder" bands like The Rivieras, The Shadows of Knight, The Murmaids, etc., I have never failed to find biographical information. However, when it came to The Exports, thats when I hit the proverbial "brick wall" and could find absolutely nothing. Hence, my plea for help.

One morning recently, help arrived in the form of an e-mail The 60s Official Site Webmaster received from a gentleman by the name of "Bruce". To make a very long story short, the few bits of information Bruce provided were enough for me to do a bit more sleuthing and voila, I hit paydirt! After one enlightening telephone call to a music store in Lansing, Illinois, I found myself talking to Ron Jongsma in northwest Indiana, one of the founding members of The Exports. After two very cordial and helpful telephone conversations, the mystery of the 60s rock group, The Exports had been solved. Here is the very first story ever written post 1960s of The Exports as told by the group's co-founder and guitarist, Ron Jongsma.

The Exports formed in late 1963 or early '64 in Glenwood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The band consisted of four members, Ron Jongsma (guitar), his 2nd cousin, Tom Barnhart (guitar), school classmates George Felaney (guitar), and Howard Friedman (drums). Ron's father had been a musician and the whole family often got together, including cousin Tom, to do some heavy "jammin'". One thing led to another and soon the four musicians formed a band called Bubba and The Crossmen, later to become The Exports. The band would often play at Maduras Dance Land in Whiting, Indiana, a previous 1930s swing dance venue that in the 60s became a dance outlet for rock and roll. A promoter at Maduras had a connection with the Midwest record label King Records, who at the time, was the recording label for the late, great James Brown. Shortly thereafter, The Exports found themselves recording their first and most important hit record, "Car Hop". The Hot Rod rock instrumental was primarily heard throughout the Midwest with little to no airplay on either coast. This was ultimately the major reason why the band never achieved significant acclaim as other instrumental groups such as The Ventures. The song did well in the region, especially on Chicago's powerful and influential rock station, WLS, where it peaked at #9 on the stations famous Silver Dollar Survey. In Windsor, Ontario, Canada, "Car Hop" topped the charts at #1. The popularity of "Car Hop" made The Exports a favorite of the WLS Hot Bands who frequently were engaged to play rock and roll gigs in the Chicagoland area. The band members often were able to work with such well-known station DJs as Ron Riley, Clark Weber, Dex Card, and others.

By 1966, differing opinions on the type of music the band should play led to the groups disbanding. Ron Jongsma went on to work with Summit Distributors, a branch of Epic Records, where he worked to get major airplay on radio stations for many nationally known 1960s bands. Jongsma would later continue his work in the music industry, working for such noted companies as Peavy Electric, Fender and Ovation Guitar. Currently Ron works in sales for a national company involved in the sales, installation, and service of wine cellars. Tom Barnhart, now deceased, worked for many years at King Records in Cincinnati. George Felaney, also deceased, worked at various entities in the music industry, along with Howard Friedman who was employed for over 30 years at Fender Guitar.

Today "Car Hop" may be heard on five or more Hot Rod rock compilation CDs. In addition, Ron related that in the 1980s the song was actually heard fairly often on several national TV shows that reflected a brief resurgence in Hot Rod and Surf Instrumental rock music.

There are a few interesting factoids about The Exports and their single big hit, "Car Hop" that are noteworthy. These interesting bits of trivia include:

* The Exports initially tried to emulate the already successful rock instrumental band, The Ventures

* The idea for "Car Hop" came from the band members frequently going to Dog 'N Suds hamburger drive-ins and always talking to the car hops. Ron stated he would always go to the burger joints in his '55 cream and red Chevy that was a real "chick magnet"!

* Guitarist George Felaney was the actual writer of "Car Hop"

* At the beginning and end of "Car Hop", a loud and powerful car engine can be heard being revved up and down. The sound was that of a Corvette whose V8 engine was revved and recorded on a very inexpensive portable tape recorder in the alley in back of Ron's home and ultimately integrated into the recording of the record

* The only lyrics for "Car Hop" are heard in the beginning of the song when you hear the phrases, "Hey car hop. I want a hamburger with mustard and onions, give me two coffees with cream and sugar, how 'bout a milkshake, I want onions, man". These few words are spoken by Ron Jongsma

* "Car Hop" can be heard on the Antique Automobile Club of America website at: http://local.aaca.org/junior/cartunes/mp3/1960.htm, along with other 60s Hot Rod music selections

The mystery surrounding one of the 60s Hot Rod rock music bands is now solved. It is my hope, however, that this short expose may serve as the jump-start needed to prompt other enhanced biographies to be written about this hard-working band from Chicago that certainly deserves acknowledgment for their contribution to 1960s Hot Rod music. Thank you Ron Jongsma for your assistance in making The Exports story known to 60s music afficionados around the world.      



The Inspiration For The Hit Television Series "The Partridge Family"

(The Biography of The Cowsills)


The story of The Cowsills is one of both success in the pop music industry and dissention and tragic deaths to four members of this musically talented family initially from Newport, Rhode Island. The long and complex saga begins in the early 1960s when brothers Bill, Bob, Barry and John form a band and begin performing at school dances and church socials throughout the Newport area. Soon the Cowsills landed a regular weekend gig at a local club called Bannisters Wharf. This was not, however, the propellant that ignited their pop music career, but rather an appearance on NBC's "The Today Show". After this national television appearance, the group signed with Mercury Records and turned out three singles, all of which flopped. Their producer at Mercury, however, remained confident of the Cowsills' commercial appeal and independent of the label, set up another recording date. This time, though he convinced their mother Barbara to contribute vocals to the session, and had the group record a song that he co-wrote called "The Rain, The Park & Other Things". He proceeded to take the tapes to MGM which issued the song as a single in the fall of 1967. The catchy and melodic tune took the country by storm and eventually rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with sales of 3 million copies in its first release making it a Gold Single.

With the success of "The Rain...", the band quickly became a popular act in the U.S., and achieved significant airplay in England and other parts of Europe. In early 1968, sister Susan and brother Paul were added to the line-up and an entire album was quickly put together. Two more singles were released including "We Can Fly" (#21), but neither could match their earlier success. By the late fall of that year, the group recorded a bouncy bubble-gum type song called "Indian Lake" that saved them from becoming a "one hit wonder " group. "Indian Lake" sold some 1 million copies annd peaked on the charts in June 1968 at #10. The good times did not last long, however as another dry spell set in for the band. Their prospects would eventually change, though when the rock musical "Hair" became a major hit and the Cowsills had the good fortune of releasing a clean, crisp, commercial version of the title song. Despite going up against the heaviest rock bands of the day, the Cowsills scored another #2 Gold Single with "Hair" in March 1969.

From 1968 through 1973, the band played an average of 200 performance dates per year, and were among the most popular acts on the American concert circuit. They were particularly noted for their ability to achieve 4-and 5-part harmonies with remarkable accuracy and relative pitch. This musical phenomenon is fairly common among sibling singing groups including such notable coteries as The Mills Brothers, The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys, etc.

The Cowsills also made many television appearances throughout the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. Their appearances included, but were not limited to:

"The Ed Sullivan Show" (twice)
"The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (twice)
"American Bandstand"
"The Mike Douglas Show"
"The Barbara McNair Show"
"Playboy After Dark"
"Kraft Music Hall"

The Cowsills, too were known as spokespeople for the American Dairy Association, appearing in advertisements promoting milk. They performed the theme for the David Niven film "The Impossible Years", and also sang the theme for "Love American Style" during the first season.

At about the same time as the band was recording the title song for "Hair", the Columbia Pictures' television division sent a group of screenwriters to observe the Cowsills daily lives for a possible series based on their story. Although the Cowsills may have been briefly considered to play themselves, the producers decided to fictionalize the band as "The Partridge Family". By the time "The Partridge Family" hit the airwaves in 1970, the Cowsills' career was on the decline and in the wake of the unsuccessful 1971 LP "On My Side", the group disbanded. The breakup was further exacerbated by internal personal squabbles that had already developed in 1969 when Bill was fired from the band by his father after he was caught smoking marijuana. The individual members then went on to various career attempts in and out of the music industry.

In January 1985, the Cowsills' mother, Barbara, died of emphysema at the relatively young age of 56 in Tempe, Arizona. Barbara had been a heavy smoker since her mid-teen years.

As the 1990s dawned, Barry mounted a solo career and Bill founded a country group called the Blue Shadows. Susan joined an all-star New Orleans-via-Los Angeles combo featuring her husband along with onetime Bangle, Vicki Peterson. Another family member, father Bud, passed away in September 1992 from Leukemia while living in Mexico. He was estranged from some of his children at the time of his death.

In 1994, the "core four" - Bob, John, Susan and Paul, contributed a newly-recorded Cowsills track, "Is It Any Wonder" to the "Yellow Pills - Volume One" pop compilation and a new studio album, "Global", followed in 1998. They later hit the oldies circuit and started playing small clubs and showcases in the Los Angeles area and across the country. Since December 2000, John has been a regular member of The Beach Boys touring band, playing drums and keyboards and singing lead on some of their songs.

Paul left the music industry for a career in the construction industry. While he still performs with The Cowsills, his primary occupation is that of a farmer in Oregon.

Bob has had a successful career outside of music in the computer software industry. He currently trains hospital emergency departments to use a software package called EDITS (Emergency Department Information Tracking System). Bob was also part of the actual developement and coding team for the software package. Additionally, Bob remains an active performer.

Brother Barry and Susan were living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. Susan and her husband left New Orleans, but Barry remained. He left several phone messages for his sister on September 1, but apparently this was the last any family member ever heard again from Barry as his badly decomposed body was recovered from the Chartres Street Wharf in New Orleans on December 28. The official cause of death is believed to be drowning; the New Orleans Coroner found no signs of foul play.

Bill Cowsill died in February 2006 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The cause of death has been officially listed as due to complications from a variety of ailments he had suffered from for years including emphysema, osteoporosis and Cushing Syndrome. Bill's health had further been compromised from the effects of a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. Cowsill had spent the last 35 years living in western Canada.

Currently, Bob, Paul and Susan perform several shows per month as The Cowsills while also maintaining their separate careers. In December 2007, the Cowsills announced on their MySpace blog that they had signed up to be part of an "Age Of Aquarius" tour with Chuck Negron (of Three Dog Night) and The Fifth Dimension. The tour features songs from the musical "Hair".   




 1960s Rock and Roll Genres

Most people, I believe, know in general terms what a music genre is and are familiar with such major classifications as Blues, Classical, Country, Hip-Hop, Jazz, New Age, Rock, etc. If you are still a bit unclear as to what constitutes a genre, here is both a textbook and general definition of the term.

TEXTBOOK DEFINITION: genre is a categorical and typological construct that identifies musical sounds as belonging to a particular category and type of music that can be distinguished from other types of music

GENERAL DEFINITION: genre refers to pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language".

Another general definition for genre is music created using the same techniques, having like styles, context, and themes. The word style is often used interchangeably with genre.   

Music can be divided into genres in many different ways. These classifications are often arbitrary and debatable, and closely related styles often overlap. In the West, nearly all music has a 'fusional origin'. A 'fusion genre' is a style that combines two or more genres. "Rock and Roll", the focus of "CQ Hams Still Groovin' In The 60s", is a good example of a genre that originally developed as a fusion of Blues, Gospel, and Country music. In fact, most genres evolved out of other genres. It should also be noted that large genres such as "Rock and Roll" usually consist of many more specific genres, or defined by some as 'subgenres'.

If you are ever confused about what genre(s) the music of your favorite bands might fall into, don't be overly concerned. There is always disagreement about the categorisation of music into genres. One of the problems is that it is a subjective process that has a lot more to do with an individual's personal understanding and way of listening to music than anything else. And unfortunately, most of it is based more on commercial and marketing motives than musical criteria. Some 1960s groups whose music has been identified in multiple genres of the main "Rock and Roll" genre are The Beach Boys, The Moody Blues, The Byrds, The Yardbirds, etc. A classic example of a late 60s-70s band whose music has been placed into several "Rock and Roll" genres, plus three different styles is Led Zeppelin. This groups music can be found under heavy metal, hard rock, classic rock, folk, electric folk, and blues. Another difficulty with grouping artists-bands into genres is that, for many, their style of music changes over time, e.g., Billy Jo Royal transitioning from pop to country.

Listed below in alphabetical order are some of the most popular "Rock and Roll" genres from the 1960s. Todays "Rock and Roll" genre, though has mushroomed to some 185 subgenres. The vast majority of these developed after those associated with the 1960s, such as glam metal, industrial rock, skate punk, etc.



  • British Rock 
  • Bubblegum Pop
  • Chicano Rock
  • Death Rock
  • Folk Rock
  • Frat Rock
  • Garage Rock
  • Hard Rock
  • Hot Rod Rock
  • Instrumental Rock
  • Novelty Pop
  • Power Pop
  • Progressive Rock
  • Psychedelic Rock
  • Soft Rock
  • Sunshine Pop
  • Surf Pop
  • Swamp Rock




The Biography of Lou Christie


Mention the name Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco and few would recognize it, but mention Lou Christie and its a very different story. Lou Christie is one of just a few 1960s recording artists who will always be remembered for his high falsetto voice, similar to that used successfully by Frankie Valli and Del Shannon. Interestingly though, Sacco, or Christie, who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, studied classical music as a teen. This would ultimately influence his body of work over the years and be evident throughout his entire musical career.

It was in 1963 that Christie moved to New York City and transitioned from classical music to pop, singing back-up vocals on a variety of sessions. The artist's debut solo pop single, "The Gypsy Cried", achieved sales in excess of 1 million that same year. "Gypsy" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at #24 and featured the vocal style that would categorize all of Christie's biggest hits: verses sung in his normal register, and then a dramatic shift to his falsetto on the choruses. His follow-up single, "Two Faces Have I", was an even larger hit, peaking at #6. At this point, Christie joined Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars Tour, traveling the country from coast to coast.

Unfortunately, Christie's career was temporarily put on hold by his induction into the U.S. Army. While a stint in the military might have ended the careers of many musicians, Christie's career would quickly be re-established after his discharge despite a two and a half year hiatus between "Two Faces" and his next and most successful hit, "Lightnin' Strikes". This major hit charted all the way to #1 in December 1965, coincidently, on Christie's 23rd birthday; this will always be his signature hit single. The song pitted the singer's vocal histrionics against a solid, Tamla/Motown Records-styled backbeat and is arguably his finest record.

Christie's next release and fourth Top 20 record would inspire a firestorm of controversy and censorship. Released in the spring of 1966, "Rhapsody In The Rain" featured a haunting melody inspired by Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet", and told of a teenager's regret over his sexual experience in the back seat of a car during a rainstorm. Many radio stations banned the song, and Christie's record company, MGM, insisted on a re-recorded version that toned down the lyrical content. "Rhapsody" peaked at #16 in the U.S., but managed to only reach #37 in the UK. Lou Christie's career seemed to be derailed once again as his followup for MGM, "Painter", which also borrowed a melody from classical music - this time from Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly, stalled at #81.

After being dropped by MGM, Christie teamed up with Buddah Records and had a surprise Wall of Sound constant up tempo hit, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" in the early fall of 1969. The song reached #10 in the U.S., but charted all the way to #2 on the UK Singles Chart. This would be Christie's final Top 10 hit.

Over the years, Lou Christie was frequently written off by the critics as an imitator of Frankie Valli, as both men possessed similar falsetto vocals, and the ability to change almost effortlessly between it and their normal registers. Reviewers in later years were not as critical and to his credit, Christie was actually one of the first singer-songwriters of the era, a status later noted by Beatle John Lennon.

In the 1970s and on into the 80s, Christie released numerous singles on small labels, but was unable to regain any commercial ground.He then became active on the oldies cicuit and remains a popular concert act even today in both the United States and the UK.  



60s Music In Todays TV Commercials

As I was watching TV recently, it struck me that many of the commercials I had seen in the last year or two were using 1960s songs as soundtracks for their pitch. Researching this phenomonen confirmed that now more than ever, commercial television advertisements are turning to 'oldies' to sell everything from cars and ocean cruises to soft drinks and male enhancement drugs. The count of 60s hits in TV advertisements as of August 2008 stands at 30. One thing is for sure..... 1960s music will never "get old"; the second certainty is that the marketing gurus on Wall Street are really setting their sites on all of us Babyboomers playing "our music". Oh well, what can I say, but, "keep on groovin'".

I have listed below in alphabetical order all the known companies, corporations, and products currently using 1960s hit songs to promote and sell their product(s). If there are any that you are aware of not on this list, please let the Webmaster know so they can be added.


 PRODUCT                      SONG                               GROUP/ARTIST

1. Allstate                             "Never My Love"                               The Association

2. Ameriprise                        "Gimme Some Lovin'"                      Spencer Davis Group

3. Carnival Cruises               "Beyond The Sea"                             Bobby Darin

4. Chevrolet                           "Over Under Sideways Down"      The Yardbirds

5. Chevrolet                           "You Really Got Me"                         The Kinks

6.  Chevrolet                          "I'm Into Something Good"           Herman's Hermits

7. Cialis                                   "Be My Baby"                                     The Ronettes

8. Clinique                              "Happy Together"                             The Turtles

9. Diet Dr. Pepper               "Help Yourself"                                  Tom Jones

10. ESPN Mobile                   "A Summer Song"                             Chad & Jeremy

11. Fidelity Investments  "Time Of The Season"                       The Zombies

12. General Electric            "Catch The Wind"                               Donovan

13. Hummer                         "Happy Jack"                                       The Who

14. Hummer                         "Help Yourself"                                   Tom Jones

15. Just For Men                 "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing"Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell

16. Kohl's                              "Do You Believe In Magic"                The Lovin' Spoonful

17. Mastercard                    "Walkin' In The Sunshine"                 Roger Miller

18. Mercedes                      "Green Onions"                                     Booker T. & The MG'S

19. Mercury                          "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell

20. Move Free                     "Go Where You Wanna Go"                The Mamas & The Papas

21. Pizza Hut                       "These Boots Are Made For Walkin" Nancy Sinatra

22. Smart Balance             "Put A Little Love In Your Heart"     Jackie DeShannon

23. Special K                       "The Girl From Ipanema"                     Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto

24. Talbot's                          "You're A Wonderful One"                  Marvin Gaye

25. Target                            "Hello Goodbye"                                     The Beatles

26. Verizon                          "O-o-h Child"                                           The Five Stairsteps

27.Volvo                               "Catch The Wind"                                  Donovan

28. Wendy's                        "Magic Carpet Ride"                              Steppenwolf

29. Yoplait    "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini"       Brian Hyland

30. Zales                               "For Your Love"                                    The Yardbirds



The 60s Group That Lived Up To Their Name- STRANGE

The Story of The Strangeloves




Anyone who has been around the music world, past and present, would undoubtedly agree that there are some unusual and odd things that happen from time to time in the industry. This article is about The Strangeloves,a 1960s rock group whose story  certainly must rank as one of the all-time most bizarre and, to use the 60s term, "kooky" music sagas you will ever read.

The Strangeloves were actually the creation of a New York songwriting/productiuon team comprised of Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer. The group managed to produce one significant garage band classic, "I Want Candy" that peaked at #11 on the national charts and two other Top 40 hits, "Cara-Lin" (#39) and "Night Time" (#30). Prior to these three hits, Feldman, Goldstein, and Gottehrer had already had successes in pop-rock music, scoring big hits for other artists including "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels when they decided to invent The Strangeloves.

The story of The Strangeloves, however, is undoubtedly more interesting than their music. The tale all begins with their big hit, "I Want Candy" in 1965. The song with its crunching Bo Diddley beat, joyous chorus, and rambling lead guitar, forced the trio to quickly put together a touring band to support their disc; the producers now found themselves in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of performing as live artists. They made outrageous claims that The Strangeloves were three brothers named Giles, Miles, and Niles Strange who had grown up on an Australian sheep farm in the nonexistant town of Armstrong where they had made a fortune in developing a cross-breed. Needless to say, the get-rich-quick scheme did not exactly capture the public's imagination, but the music was indelible. To take The Strangeloves on the road, the producers were able to assemble a group made up of four studio musicians who actually recorded these songs. A year later in 1966, the troup was replaced by a trio of studio musicians that more closely adhered to the original concept of the Brothers Strange. During this period the songwriters released The Strangeloves'only LP, "I Want Candy" with forgettable results. Fortunately for Feldman, Goldstein, and Gottehrer, the charade would end rather quickly and the trio withdrew from performing and recording to concentrate on writing and producing. While on the road yet as The Strangeloves, the producers came upon a local band known as Ricky Z and The Raiders, lead by Rick Derringer. Recognizing their raw talent, the trio immediately brought Rick and his band to New York, recorded Rick's voice over the existing music track from The Strangeloves' album, "I Want Candy", and released "Hang On Sloopy" as a single under the name The McCoys. They would continue producing for a while for The McCoys, but then would go their separate ways.

Gottehrer went on to later fame as a record producer of early luminaries Richard Hell & The Voidoids and Blondie, as well as being the co-founder of Sire records along with Setymour Stein. He also worked with Robert Gordon who was one of many who revitalized rockabilly in the late 1970s.

In his role as a producer and manager, Goldstein also continued to have an effect on the music world. He suggested to the band Nightshift that they team up with Eric Burdon, who became War, and had the Circle Jerks on his Far Out Productions management company and LAX record label.

One other oddity about The Strangeloves is that the credit, "Arranged and Conducted by Bassett Hand" appeared on every record they produced. Isn't it interesting that in fact there never was such a person as "Bassett Hand". As the story title states, this group did indeed live up to their name- STRANGE.  




The Impact Of "Hang On Sloopy" On The Buckeye State

The McCoys - "Hang on Sloopy"

There is no doubt that 1960s rock and roll music had a significant impact on many areas of American culture during that decade and continuing right on to the present. I was surprised, however, to learn recently the enormity of influence that one particular 60s hit, "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys has had on the state of Ohio.

The story of "Hang On Sloopy" and its pervasive affect on the Buckeye State began with two Ohio brothers, Rick and Randy Zehringer, originally from the Dayton area. The brothers started a rock and roll band when they were very young with Rick as the group's leader. The band would ultimately change names several times before becoming The McCoys in 1962. At this point, Rick, Randy and band members Randy Jo Hobbs and Ronnie Brandon were now living in Union City, Indiana, just across from the Ohio state line.

Prior to the formation of The McCoys, two other fellow Ohioans, Bert Russell and Wes Farrell, had written a song titled "My Girl Sloopy", named for/about singer Dorothy Sloop of Steubenville, Ohio. Professionally, Sloop had sometimes used the stage name Sloopy during her singing career. From this song a single called "My Girl Sloopy" was recorded by The Vibrations in 1964 and became a Top 30 hit. A year later The McCoys and Rick Zehringer, now known as Rick Derringer (producers requested the name change to avoid confusion with another popular band of the era), added vocals and a guitar solo to an already-completed backing track of The Strangeloves to create the song "Hang On Sloopy". The new single was released on Bang Records and entered the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on August 14, 1965; by October, "Hang On Sloopy" was the #1 hit in America and peaked at #5 in Great Britain.

In April 1985, a newspaper columnist saw a wire service story about a proposal to designate "Louis, Louis" as the state rock song of Washington and wrote a column about it. This was all that was needed to propel the 116th Ohio General Assembly into action, designating "Hang On Sloopy" as the state rock song by House Concurrent Resolution #16 on November 20, 1985. In the Resolution it stated that "Hang On Sloopy" was in no way intended to supplant "Beautiful Ohio" as the official song, but would serve as a companion piece. To this date, Ohio is the only state with an official state rock and roll song.

The story of this #1 hit and it's importance in Ohio does not end here, however. Exactly one week after "Sloopy" topped the rock charts, the song gained an association with The Ohio State University (OSU) after it's marching band began playing it at football games. It was not an easy sell for band member John Tatgenhorst to convince the director to try playing it, but after much pleading, Tatgenhorst prevailed. He immediately arranged the song to be played by the huge band and on October 9, 1965,"Hang On Sloopy" made its debut in Columbus. After a very positive crowd reaction, the band began to play it at every game. Now it is a Saturday tradition to play the song before the start of the fourth quarter of every Buckeye game.

"Hang On Sloopy" has also become a feature at all Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns home football games where, like at Ohio State, it is traditionally played before the fourth quarter. "Sloopy" is also sometimes played at home games of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and baseballs Cleveland Indians.

On a personal note, it was interesting to read and reflect on the verbage used in House Resolution #16 from 1985 that made "Hang On Sloopy" Ohio and America's first government recognized rock song. The Resolution begins with, "WHEREAS, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously", etc, etc. Secondly, for all who read this living in Michigan, here is something to ponder. With the college football season about to begin and being mindful of one of college footballs greatest rivalries between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, you may want to take heed of what your neighbors and arch-rival in Ohio has done in making a 60s hit record the state's and OSU's official rock and roll song. You may want to do the same thing in Michigan where hundreds of 60s hits were recorded by such groups as The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Marvelettes, and all the other Motown super-groups. Or you may want to consider something a little more exotic such as "96 Tears" by ? & the Mysterians. Just a thought.  




The "King of Novelty Hits"

The Biography of Ray Stevens


Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab"

The music of the 1960s had more than its fair share of novelty hits, perhaps more than any previous decade or any decade since. In todays music world, these type songs would probably not crack the Top 50 and might not even be recorded in the first place. But the 60s was a different time and novelty hits were certainly a part of the music fabric that would earn this unique genre a place in 60s music history.
The "King of Novelty Hits" in the 60s and on into the 70s and 80s was without a doubt, Ray Stevens. His career in music began in the mid-1950s as a singer-songwriter, primarily in two genres, pop and country. In 1961, Stevens had moderate success with "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills" (#35) {this hit must hold the record for 'longest pop music record title' in U.S. history}, followed by a very popular and high-charting "Ahab, The Arab" that peaked at #5. Other novelty hits for Stevens in the 60s included "Harry The Hairy Ape" (#17), "Funny Man", the original recording of "Santa Claus Is Watching You", the Gold Single that sold over 1 million copies, "Gitarzan" (#8), and "Along Came Jones" (#27).

Stevens often employed canned laugh tracks in his comedic novelty songs which contributed to his success in the 60s and 70s; he continues to use laugh tracks even in recent recordings.

In the 70s, Stevens had a huge novelty hit song with "Bridget The Midget (The Queen Of The Blues)" that reached #2 on the charts in Britain, but in the U.S. only reached #50. It was in 1974 that Stevens recorded perhaps his most famous hit, "The Streak", which poked fun at the early-1970s fad of running naked in public, known as "streaking". This mega Gold Single hit sold nearly 5 million copies and represents the pinnacle of novelty hits for Stevens. The record was a #1 hit in both the U.S. and the UK and even reached #3 on the country charts. Stevens recorded a version of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" in the style of a clucking chicken that became a Top 40 hit in the U.S. and the UK in 1977. Two years later Ray would have his final hit on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts with the novelty "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow".

During the 1980s, Stevens had two novelty hits on the country charts with "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" that reached #20 and "Would Jesus Wear A Rolex" that peaked at #41 in 1987.

In more recent years, Ray Stevens would record his last novelty record on the country charts in 2002 with "Osama Yo' Mama" which made the Top 50 and became Ray's first gold record since "The Streak" in 1974.

In addition to his extensive recording career, Ray Stevens has also been in the television spotlight as a regular on "The Andy Williams Show" during the 1969-1970 season, and even hosted his own summer show in 1970.





The Girls of Darkness

The Biography of The Shangri-Las


Shangri-Las on The Steve Allen Show

Rock and roll music of the 1960s can be divided into a number of genres such as surf music, hot rod music, instrumental rock, bubblegum pop, folk rock, etc. This article, however, is about "girl group" music, and specifically The Shangri-Las'.

The Shangri-las were originally comprised of two pairs of sisters from Queens, New York, identical twins Marge and Mary Anne Ganser and siblings Mary and Betty Weiss. The group formed at Andrew Jackson High School in 1963 and as 15 and 16 year-olds, recorded a couple of obscure singles when they were hired by George "Shadow" Morton. The quality of Morton's work with the Shangri-Las would become remarkable considering that Morton had virtually no prior experience in music.

The girl group had immediate success with a song Morton had recently written, "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)". The haunting ballad, with its doomy "Moonlight Sonata"-like piano riffs, wailing lead vocal, and thunderous background harmonies, seguing into an a capella chorus backed by nothing except handclaps and seagull cries, made it all the way to #5 on the national pop charts. This was the beginning of the group combining an innocent adolescent charm with more than a hint of darkness, singing about dead bikers, teenage runaways, and doomed love affairs in most of their songs. The girls material, so over-the-top emotionally, was lightened by first-class production, which embroidered the tracks with punchy brass, weeping strings, and plenty of imaginative sound effects. Nowhere was this more apparent than on "Leader of the Pack", with its periodic motorcycle roars and crescendo of crashing glass. The death-rock classic became the Shangri-Las signature tune, reaching #1 in October 1964.

Several smaller hits followed in 1965 and 1966. "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" peaked at #18 and proved they could handle more conventionally, bubbly girl group fare well. The group's "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" charted to #6 and would be their third and final Top 10 hit. "Out in the Streets" , the dense orchestral swamp of "He Cryed" and another teen death tale, ""Give Us Your Blessings" (#29) were also hits for the female quartet. Some of The Shangri-Las best songs, from a musical standpoint, were B-sides; "Dressed in Black", yet another teen death drama and "Paradise", co-written by a young Harry Nilsson.The girls final Top 40 hit record would come in February 1966 with "Long Live Our Love" that finished at #33.

Unlike some of the girl groups, The Shangri-Las were dynamic on-stage performers, choreographing their dance steps to their lyrics and wearing skin-tight leather pants and boots that were quite daring for the time.

As a result of constant personnel changes, serious organizational difficulties by their record label, Red Bird, and "Shadow" Morton moving on to manage other groups, The Shangri-Las disbanded in 1969. This would be the unfortunate end for one of the greatest girls groups of the 60s; if judeged solely on the basis of attitude, they were the greatest of them all. Yet, even today, The Shangri-Las' history remains somwhat murky and mysterious. In the 60s, sometimes the group is pictured as a trio, not a quartet, and sometimes one of the members in the photos is clearly not one of the Weiss or Ganser sisters. The original members have rarely united for oldies shows or talked to the press. The situation was exacerbated by frustratingly substandard reissues of their Red Bird work, which made it impossible to collect all of their fine sides without buying numerous packages, many of which boasted shoddy sound quality. Fortunately, the situation was rectified in the mid-'90s with excellent, comprehensive compilations of the Red Bird material in both the U.S. and the U.K.

This is the story of "The Girls Of Darkness", The Shangri-Las. Perhaps the most fitting way to remember one of Americas best girl groups is by recalling the first time in over twenty years when the girls reunited in 1989 with famed 60s DJ Cousin Brucie at his first Palisades Amusement Park Reunion at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The show featured Little Anthony, Leslie Gore, The Tokens, and Bobby Rydell. The closing act dressed in black leather was The Shangri-las. They performed several songs, left the stage, then returned on motorcycles and tore the house down with "The Leader of the Pack". And that's what they will always be.



Hot Rod Music in the 60s


The Beach Boys - Little Deuce Coupe


This article chronicles "hot rod" music, a genre of rock and roll that was popular from about 1962-1965 and named, of course, after hot rod cars. To understand hot rod music, you first have to have a basic understanding of the cars that gave rise to this particular type of music.

The term "hot rod" seems first to have appeared in the late 1930s, when kids from southern California, would race their modified cars on the vast, empty dry lake beds northeast of Los Angeles. The activity increased in popularity after World War II, particularly in California. The original hot rods were old cars, most often Fords, that had been modified to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics. Hot rodder's modifications were considered to improve the appearance as well,leading to show cars in the 1960s replicating these same modifications along with a distinctive paint job.

Hot rod music, or car songs, like surf music, were largely and not surprisingly a southern California phenomenon. They were a by-product of the region's active hot rod scene, which had evolved from the illegal street races of the 1940s to the Bonneville Salt Flats speed weeks and drag strips of the 1960s. In addition to musical tributes, the hot rod scene was lionized by Hollywood films, plastic car models available in most hobby shops, and the mass circulation of the periodical, "Hot Rod". Though hot rodding and hot rod music began in California, it quickly spread across the country and was an important part of 60s pop culture. Every teenaged guy thought he had to have "wheels", and not just any cluncker; you had to have something "cool", really "cool", which meant a fast, great looking, great running car.

Cruising in these cars was very popular and mostly a "male social ritual". The purpose of this ritual was fourfold: 1.) to show off a recently acquired or new car 2.) to pick up "chicks" (girls) 3.) to see and be seen 4.) nothing else to do. 

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, major American automakers realized and understood the popularity of hot rods and hot rod culture and in turn, saw an economic opportunity to manfacture cars with increasing performance and style that had real economic-profit potential and ultimately viability. It was no longer necessary to put a Cadilac engine in a Ford roadster to be fast. It was now possible to buy a Pontiac GTO, Cheverolet Chevelle SS, or Plymouth 'Cuda that outperformed any hot rod, and still have enough room to fit the wife and kids. These cars were often referred to as "supercars", but by 1973 took on the name "muscle cars" after their high-powered engines. So, when I talk about "hot rod" music, muscle cars are also incuded as part of this musical genre.

Just like the auto manufacturers, but several years before, a nucleus of talented Los Angeles-based songwriters and arrangers/producers recognized the presence of the hot rod subculture of potential customers and began fueling the craze in the early 1960s. Some of those influential musicians included Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Jan Berry of Jan and Dean, KFWB DJ Roger Christian, Gary Usher, Terry Melcher, and Bruce Johnston. Usher, who contributed to the success of The Hondells' hits, "Little Honda" and "My Buddy Seat", and many Surfaris' recordings, teamed with Christian to produce hit recordings and film soundtracks. Johnston and Melcher masterminded the success of The Ripchords (e.g., "Hey Little Cobra") and had their own hits as Bruce and Terry: "Custom Machine" and "Summer Means Fun".

I have listed below what constitutes the main body of "hot rod" music or car songs of the 1960s. I'm sure you will recognize nearly all of them and now understand the history behind the music that left its mark as a distinct part of 1960s rock and roll.


The Beach Boys: 1962 "409"
                1963 "Shut Down"  "Little Deuce Coupe"

                1964 "Fun, Fun, Fun"    "Little Honda"

Bruce and Terry: 1964 "Custom Machine"

Dick Dale and The Del-Tones: 1964 "Mr. Eliminaator"   "Wild, Wild Mustang"

The Duals: 1962 "Stick Shift"

The Hondells: 1964 "Little Honda"
                     1964/65 "My Buddy Seat"

Jan and Dean: 1963/64 "Drag City"             

                      1964 "Dead Man's Curve"   "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"

The Rip Chords: 1963/64 "Hey Little Cobra"

                        1964 "Three Window Coupe"

Ronny and The Daytonas: 1964 "G.T.O."

                                      1964/65 "Bucket 'T'"

The Routers: 1962 "Let's Go"

                    1963 "Sting Ray"





The Trailblazers of Rock in San Francisco

(The Story of The Beau Brummels)      

Their sound was influenced by The Beatles and other British Invasion bands, as well as by such American groups as the Kingston Trio and the Everly Brothers. I am of course talking about the Beau Brummels, an American band formed in San Francisco in 1963. The original quartet consisted of Ron Elliot on guitar who was also an outstanding songwriter, Ron Meagher on bass and vocals, drummer John Petersen, known for his trademark rimshot fills, and Sal Valentino, the expressive lead vocalist of the group. In 1964, Irish transplant Declan Mulligan was asked to join the band on guitar and vocals.

Two popular deejays signed the Brummels to their Autumn label and took the group out of sleazy bars and into rock musics Top 10 with the brilliant hit "Laugh, Laugh" that charted to #15 in January 1965. The classic follow-up "Just A Little" went all the way to #8 in May and shortly thereafter the band was thrown into an ensuing whirlwind of touring and TV and film work. The Brummels final Top 40 hit would come in August 1965 when "You Tell Me Why" ended up at #38.

Mulligan left just prior to the release of the group's second album in late 1965. This would begin the downward spiral for the Brummels coupled with the failure of Autumn the following year due to financial difficulties. The immediate success of the band had taken its toll, too on Ron Elliot, a diagnosed diabetic. While on tour Elliot wound up in hospital emergency rooms several times after an insulin reaction. Although Elliot's place was taken by Don Irving for touring purposes in late 1965, by the end of the next year the Beau Brummels had effectively become a recording-only act. By the time the band disbanded, the Beau Brummels had recorded six studio albums with "Triangle and Bradley's Barn" receiving significant critical acclaim.

It is interesting to note that the band took it's name from a 19th century English dandy, Beau Brummel, as a way of identifying with the British music scene. Additionally, band members figured that since everyone was looking for and at Beatles records, having a name that naturally followed Beatles alphabetically would be a shrewd move. In addition, the band took to wearing British-influenced mod clothes. As a result of their sound and look, they were often mistaken for an English band. However, as their music progressed, they mixed the British sound with American folk and country music and created a distinctly American sound.

The Beau Brummels never attained the stature of some of the groups they admired such as The Beatles, but they will always be a part of 60s rock music history. The Brummels are considered by some to be the first folk rock group who influenced numerous other acts in the genre, particularly later San Fransisco groups including Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. The group also has some other noteworthy accolades.

* "Laugh, Laugh" is listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 most influential songs that shaped rock and roll
* "Laugh, Laugh" was featured in the 1989 John Candy film "Uncle Buck"
* On the cartoon series "The Flintstones", the band was caricatured as "The Beau Brummelstones", singing "Laugh, Laugh"
The Brummels were featured in the movie "Village of the Giants" which starred Beau Bridges
* The band was featured on "Mystery Science Theater 3000"





The 4' 11" Teen With A Dynamo Voice

The Biography of "Little Peggy March"


Enjoy this rare clip of Peggy March in 1963 singing on German TV her #1 hit I Will Follow Him

If someone asked if you knew who Margaret Annemarie Battavio was from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, you might be hard pressed to answer correctly. If you were asked, however, do you know who "Little Peggy March" is, most 60's music listeners would undoubtedly answer, "sure, she had a big hit record in the early 1960s". And so it is that "Little Peggy March" did indeed have a huge and widely popular hit in April 1963, "I Will Follow Him", that soared to #1 on the national charts for three weeks and even topped the R&B charts for a week, as well. "Little Peggy" became the youngest female artist with a number one hit at age 15, a record that still stands on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The recording also took the number one spot in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Scandinavia. The song would also help define the early girl-group sound along with The Shangri-Las, The Angels, and others.

You might be wondering how Annemarie Battavio received her now famous recording moniker;it all started when she was discovered at age 13 singing at a wedding and was introduced to the record producer duo Hugo & Luigi. They gave her the name "Little Peggy March" because of her diminutive 4'11" height, the first record she did with them was "Little Me", and her birthdate was in March.

In the early 60's, March would have two other Top 40 successes with "I Wish I Were A Princess" (#32, June 1963) and "Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love" (#26, September 1963), but this would be for the most part the essence of her singing career in the U.S. The problem: her young age. Despite offers coming in from all over the country, strict laws prohibiting minors from performing in establishments that served alcohol stopped her. "Little Peggy" had to go abroad to show what she was capable of doing in the world of entertainment and her performances in every country in Europe were tremendous successes. In fact, things were going so well in Europe that she moved to Germany in 1969 where she scored several major hits and her commercial achievement continued through much of the 1970s. By 1981, however, music trends in Europe were changing and record comapnies did not renew her contracts. At this point, "Little Peggy March" moved back to the United States.

"I Will Follow Him" and "Little Peggy March" regained national public attention again in 1993 when internationally acclaimed actress and comedian, Whoopi Goldberg, featured Peggy's song in her film, "Sister Act", as the movie's climax.

Today "Little Peggy" works largely in the Las Vegas scene and does European television along with performing for corporate conventions. Even with recording successes in both the U.S. and in Europe, "Little Peggy March", however,  ensured her place in pop music history and reference books with her second single, "I Will Follow Him". All "good stuff" for the once 4'11" teen from Pennsylvania.                 





Help Solve A 60s Rock Group Mystery

Who Were The Exports?


As I mentioned in a previous article, I love all the rock and roll music of the 1960s, however, I am particularly fond of instrumental rock. One hit record from this genre in 1964 was "Car Hop" by a group called The Exports. Recently I was thrilled to be able to find this piece on a Hot Rod music CD compilation called "Crazy 'bout An Automobile"; it has been a long time since I had a record player to play my old 45 rpm records including "Car Hop". Subsequently, I have located 5-6 other CD compilations having this record on it. The problem, though, is this: despite nearly 4 hours of research including on major music search sites and of course "Google", I have been unable to find out virtually any information on this group from 1964-1965. I have listed below the few bits of detail I have been able to ascertain, some of which does not seem to be congruent; nevertheless, I would really like to learn more about this band whose most popular hit charted all the way to #9 on the WLS (Chicago) "Silver Dollar Survey". If you are not familiar, WLS, a 50,000 watt "Clear Channel" AM station, was one of the top national rock and roll radio stations in the 60s that could be heard at night throughout the Midwest and even parts of the East coast. 

So, I welcome anyones help in solving the mystery of who this 60s rock group was; please let me know via the Webmaster and I'll be glad to recognize on "CQ Hams" whoever is first to factually solve this 60s rock group mystery. Here are the few details I do know:

* "Car Hop" was recorded on the KING Record label which was located in Cinncinnati

* The "B" side of "Car Hop" was "Seat Belts Please"

* One other record by The Exports was recorded in 1965 entitled, "Mustang '65"

* A French pop music website indicated the band was from the Pacific Northwest

* "Car Hop" has been associated with four rock and roll genres: instrumental rock, surf instrumental rock, hot rod music, and rockabilly

* The CD compilations having "Car Hop" as one of the recordings are mostly all hot rod music records

If you take on this challenge, may I say "Good Luck"!     





Hams and 60s Music

Over the years, American ham radio operators have held important postions in the music and motion picture industries, in national television and radio, etc. Since the focus of this link is about hams who are also interested in 60s music, I did some research to see if there were any hams with a direct or even indirect professional connection with the 60s music industry and discovered that there were! Here is what I learned in summary form about our fellow hams and 60's music.

DAVID FREEDMAN (SK, formerly K2AGZ): professionally known as David Mann, Freedman was a songwriter of popular songs. One of his best known hits was "There! I've Said It Again", with the Bobby Vinton version of December 1963 becoming a #1 hit for 4 consecutive weeks and a #1 Adult Contemporary hit for 5 weeks. This was the last #1 American hit record in the United States before the British Invasion. It ultimately was knocked off by The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand".

RAYMOND CZYZEWSKI (WA2SEI): polka drummer of some reknown, played with the band that eventually became The (Young) Rascals along with Eddie Brigati (vocals) and Felix Cavaliere (keyboard and vocals). Ray lives in Florida and is very active on CW and 6 meters despite some very debilitating medical problems.

PRISCILLA PARIS (formerly WN6RNR): member of the Paris Sisters, a 1960s pop music recording group comprised of three sisters from San Francisco, California. The group, with Priscilla as lead vocalist, had a total of four Top 100 hits. Their top charting hit was "I Love How You Love Me" that peaked at #5 on the Billboard Charts in October 1961. Other hits included "He Knows I Love Him Too Much" (#34), "Be My Boy" (#56), and "Dream Lover" (#91). Priscilla and her sisters worked over the years with some of the greats in music including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Dion and The Belmonts. The trio was produced by the legendary Phil Spector.

Stu Cook (N6FUP): the holder of an Advanced license, Cook was one of the original members of the famed 60s-70s rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) playing keyboards and bass. Between 1968 and 1972, CCR had 17 Top 40 hits including six Gold Singles and five Platinum Singles. Some of the bands biggest hits included "Proud Mary", "Bad Moon Rising", "Green River", "Down On The Corner", and "Lookin' Out My Back Door". During the groups four year run, they released seven highly successful albums. CCR was also one of the bands to perform at Woodstock in 1969 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

JOHN "JOHNNY" ZELL (WA6AEH): though most 60s music aficionados probably would not consider Lawrence Welk And His Orchestra part of the 60s music scene, the orchestra did have one huge pop instrumental Gold Record hit that topped the charts at #1 for two weeks in December 1960, "Calcutta". Prior to this, the orchestra had five other Top 40 pop hits in the mid 1950s. Johnny Zell, one of the most talented and most popular musicians to have ever played solo trumpet in the Welk Orchestra, was not part of the group during the 50s and for most of the 60s, but was hired in 1968 and stayed on to play with the orchestra until 1982. Zell lives in the Los Angeles area and remains active in ham radio.        

Raymond Scott (SK, formerly W2MEZ): Scott was a prolific and brilliant composer, electronic-music pioneer/inventor, musician and bandleader. For many years he developed various types of circuits for what ultimately would become the first electronic music synthesizer, the Clavivox. The unit had a three-octave keyboard and generated a vibrating voltage, or "vibrato", which could be turned on or off from a left-hand control. In 1964, Scott teamed up with professional colleague and friend, Bob Moog, inventor of the famous MOOG synthesizer, to build synthesizers in central New York state. According to Moog, Raymond Scott was definitely in the forefront of developing electronic music and in the forefront of using it commercially as a musician. Scott was the first--he foresaw the use of sequencers and electronic oscillators to make sound--these were the watershed uses of electronic circuitry.

During the 1950s and 60s, Scott perfected his 'Electronium', an electronic music machine which attracted the attention of Motown owner, Berry Gordy, who purchased an Electronium for Motown in September 1970. Scott then became Motown's "Director Of Electronic Research and Developement" for several years. Following a serious heartattack in 1977, Scott retired from Motown at age 69.

If you have any additions or corrections for any of the information noted for these hams active in 1960s music, please let us know. Also, if there are any hams that have been omitted from this list, please let us know that, as well. Input from fellow hams is always welcome and appreciated!!!  





"Wipe Out" and The Surfaris

The 60's Surf Anthem & The Band That Played It

Anyone who listened to 1960's rock music knows that "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris was one of the greatest all-time rock instrumentals of the period and is often regarded as being THE surfing anthem of the 60s. "Wipe Out" was a #2 Billboard smash hit in 1963 featuring a classic up-and-down guitar riff and a classic solo drum roll break, both of which have been emulated by millions over the years. The energetic drum solo was beaten out on malt-shop tables all over the country and helped "Wipe Out" become one of the best-remembered instrumentals of the 1960's and beyond. And who can forget the very beginning of the record with its introductory cracking sound, imitating a breaking surfboard. Also in the introduction before the music starts is a manical voice babbling, "ha ha ha ha ha ha ha", followed by the only two words of the song, "wipe out".

Personally, this record is one of my very favorites of the entire decade as it embodies 60's rock music in so many ways. "Wipe Out" also brings back a fond memory for me at age 11.... purchasing my first 45 rpm single.

The band that performed this mega hit and musical icon, The Surfaris, was a group formed in Glendora, California in 1962. The original band members were  Ron Wilson (drums), Jim Fulller (lead guitar), Bob Berryhill (rhythm guitar) and Pat Connolly (bass). The Surfaris were not extraordinary, but they were more talented than the typical one-shot surf group. Their start in rock and roll music was with a song entitled "Surfer Joe". While recording at the Pal Recording Studio, the band members wrote much of "Wipe Out" almost on the spot as a suitable B-side for the intended "Surfer Joe" single. Ironically, "Wipe Out" would become the big hit for The Surfaris, only being kept out of the top spot by Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips"; meanwhile, "Surfer Joe" only attracted airplay in the wake of "Wipe Out's" phenominal success and peaked at #62 during its six-week run. "Wipe Out", the afterthought track, spent four months on the national Billboard Pop Chart.

The only other single that prospered for the band was "Point Panic" that peaked at #49, also in 1963. Interestingly, Point Panic is today a renowned surfing venue in Hawaii named after the song. Despite the groups modest success in turning out hit singles, the band has produced eleven albums from 1963-2005. The Surfaris officially disbanded in 1966, but have periodically reunited and are still touring today as two separate Surfaris groups, one led by Bob Berryhill and the other by Jim Fuller. Some 60's music experts credit Fuller as being the 'Godfather of Surf Guitar'.

If you wondered and lost sleep nights trying to figure out whose manic laugh is heard in "wipe Out's" introduction followed by the spoken title, "wipe out", it was the voice of the band's manager, Dale Smallen. As the immortal radio great,  Paul Harvey would say, "and now you know the rest of the story". I hope you sleep a little easier tonight!



The Beach Boys Sounding Group That Came Close, But....

The Biography of The Sunrays 

I know you are probably sitting there scratching your head saying, "The Sunrays! Who's that"? Well, don't feel bad because unless you are a die-hard 60s music aficionado or are from southern California, you are probably like most others in not recognizing the name of this mid 60's rock band that formed in Pacific Palisades. Nevertheless, keep reading because the bands story is quite interesting, especially because of the groups close ties to the greatest surf band of all time, The Beach Boys.

In 7th grade, Eddie Medora, who played lead guitar, organized a garage rock band called the Renegades. The five member group played primarily in the west Los Angeles area and later played throughout California. In 1963 Medora met Carl and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys, who at the time had ten double-sided hits on the charts. The Renegades drummer, Rick Henn, was also a friend of Carl. As it turned out, Carl heard The Renegades and thought they were fabulous. The group then toured with The Beach Boys for some time. Wilson would later mention the group to his dad, Murray Wilson, who had managed his three sons,The Beach Boys for several years and was now looking for another group to manage. The senior Wilson had in fact just been dismissed as manager of his sons' band.

Murray Wilson did become The Renegades manager and in 1964 organized the group now called The Sunrays. The groups debut single, "Outta Gas" was a failure, however, its 1965 follow-up, "I Live For The Sun" was the band's breakthrough hit peaking at #51. "Andrea", the groups second successful record and named for a flight attendant they had met on a flight, was an even bigger hit charting at #41. These releases and subsequent others were on Tower Records, a label created just for them so they would not be on The Beach Boys label, Capital Records. It seemed Murray Wilson was trying very hard to make The Sunrays more successful than his own sons and would do whatever necessary to ensure their success. Although "Still", the bands third record, was also successful at #93, other single releases met commercial resistance. Three years after forming, The Sunrays disbanded. Henn later went on to compose material for Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
Today if you listen to an inclusive 60s music radio station that plays all the hits from that decade, its likely you may hear "I Live For The Sun" and "Andrea". The Sunrays, a band with The Beach Boys sound that came close, but never reached the mountaintop of success and fame like their surf music friends. This is the story of a band who will be remembered by few, but will have their niche in 60s rock music history. 





The Bossa Nova Classic That Charted To #5 In America

  (The Story Behind "The Girl From Ipanema")  

Even as a teenager, I knew there was something very different about the pop hit that soared to #5 on the Billboard Charts in 1964, "The Girl From Ipanema". Today I am of the opinion that this bossa nova classic was indeed an anomaly, and a great one, at that, in the world of 60's pop music. The record has certainly made a name for itself and holds a distinctive place in 1960's pop music history unlike most others. Besides its huge popularity in the U.S. and around the world, the record won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965 and in 2004 was one of just 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In addition, the hit song with its blend of samba and jazz, lilting rhythms, and unusual harmonies, helped spark the bossa nova craze of the 1960's. A Brazilian musical film, "Garota de Ipanema", inspired by the song, was released in 1967.

Over the years there has been a mystic and something almost mysterious surrounding this very popular hit, perhaps in part, to it's unusual origins in Brazil. Most 60's music listeners know that "The Girl From Ipanema" was performed by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto and perhaps was recorded somewhere in South America, but beyond that, know very little. Well, here is the story behind the hit record plus the song's on-going influence 44 years later.

The song was originally composed for a musical comedy by lyricist Vinicius de Moraes and musician Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1962. The song's initial title was "The Girl Who Passes By", inspired by a fifteen-year-old girl living in the fashionable Ipanema district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Each day the two musically talented friends would sit and watch from the Veloso Bar as the 5' 8", gimlet-eyed brunette, would enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother. Moraes and Jobim were not the only two watching the exceedingly attractive young lady, as she was already the object of desire for many other Veloso patrons. The girl's name was Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, now simply known as Helo Pinheiro. Today, the green-eyed blonde with a deep tan is 61 or 62, but continues to turn heads, having the looks of a Swedish model or movie star. As Jobim is said to have once stated, "She was a creature of God". Having such great beauty, it is no wonder that Jobim even wrote the text that accompanied nude photos of her that Brazilian Playboy ran in 1987 under the title "The Girl From Ipanema".

Now, thats brings us to 2008. Helo Pinheiro has never made a single centavo off the song, though she was the muse behind it. As Pinheiro recently said, "If I hadn't inspired the song, it wouldn't have been written". The record has made it's mark in Rio where the Veloso Bar was renamed The Girl From Ipanema as well as a city park in the Arpoador neighborhood. Pinheiro, who moved to Sao Paulo some time ago, recently opened a dress shop in a mall there called "The Girl From Ipanema". And thats where trouble is brewing, 44 years after the release of the popular record. According to Pinheiros attorney, a lawsuit has been filed accusing her of "unjustly profiting from the image and the work of the late composers", Moraes and Jobim. "She doesn't have the legitimacy to use, at her pleasure, the work and images of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes as she has been doing". The suit cites a popular T-shirt featuring a picture of Pinheiro with the song's lyrics written out in the background at her clothing store.
Where will this legal controversey end for the muse from the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio.....well, who knows? The mystic lives on for the "tall and tan and young and lovely, The girl from Ipanema goes walking, And when she each one passes goes "a-a-ah". At least most do, just not a certain Brazilian attorney. For now, something to ponder the next time you hear this bossa nova classic that made pop music history in America.   




           The Ventures

Was The Best Selling Instrumental Rock Band In Music History


Growing up in the 1960's, I enjoyed all the great rock n' roll music, from the hits of the super star groups like The Beatles, Beach Boys and The Supremes to the various one-hit wonder songs and novelty hits; in all this mix, however, my favorite 60's music was instrumental rock. One group in particular, The Ventures, helped define this often overlooked branch of rock and roll music. According to Encyclopedia Britannica on-line, "The Ventures served as a prototype for guitar-based rock groups". The group, formed by Bob Bogle and Don Wilson of Tacoma, Washington in 1958, were later joined by Nokie Edwards on Lead Guitar. The band would achieve their first record success in July 1960 with "Walk, Don't Run". Over the next nine years the group would have five other Top 40 instrumental hit records with "Perfidia" (#15) in 1960, "Ram-Bunk-Shush" (#29) 1961, "Walk, Don't Run '64" (#8) 1964, "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (#35) 1964, and "Hawaii Five-O" (#4) in 1969.

The bands success did not come easy, however. They approached several record companies, none of whom showed any interest in signing them. With the help of Don Wilson's mother, they started their own record company, "Blue Horizon Records" and self-produced the 45 rpm of "Walk, Don't Run" and promoted it themselves. A Seattle DJ used the song as a news lead-in which subsequently would be heard by Bob Reisdorf, owner of Dolton Records. Reisdorf contacted and then signed The Ventures, with "Walk, Don't Run" climbing to #2 on the Billboard Charts. This would pave the way for the bands other successful instrumental hit records.

The Ventures enjoyed their greatest popularity and success in the US in the 1960's. While they predated the advent of the terms surf guitar and surf rock, The Ventures were a major building block of surf music, if not the first to play the style. Interestingly, the band does not to this day consider themselves a surf rock group. They pioneered the use of special effects on such songs as "2000 Pound Bee" in which guitarist Nokie Edwards employed a fuzz distortion pedal. Edwards was also among the first to use the twelve string guitar in rock. The 1964 "Ventures In Space" album was a primer in the use of special effects, and made pioneering use of 'reverse-tracking', a technique used very effectively by The Beatles in the later 1960's. The band was among the first rock acts able to sell albums based on a style and sound without needing hit singles on the albums.

Over thirty major recording artists have identified The Ventures as an influence. George Harrison stated that The Beatles preferred the American guitar sound of The Ventures to British contemporaries. When asked to name the most influential rock guitar solos, Joe Walsh of The Eagles said he'd have to include the entire song "Walk, Don't Run" because it changed so many guitar players' lives. Stephen Sills told Ventures guitarist Don Wilson that he learned to play on Ventures records while Jeff Baxter of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers and Gene Simmons of Kiss were early members of The Ventures Fan Club. Others identifying The Ventures as an influence include Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys, Jeff Cook of Alabama, Keith Moon of The Who, Roger Glover of Deep Purple, etc.

The commercial fortunes of The Ventures declined sharply in the early 1970's due to changing musical trends. Nevertheless, their career was given a rejuvenating shot in the arm by Quentin Tarantino's use of The Lively One's version of Nokie Edwards' "Surf Rider" and several other classic surf songs in the soundtrack of the hit movie "Pulp Fiction". The Ventures became one of the most popular groups worldwide thanks in large part to their instrumental approach - there were no language barriers to overcome. The Ventures are still the most popular American rock group in Japan. One oft-quoted statistic is that The ventures outsold The Beatles 2-to-1 in Japan. The band has regularly toured Japan from the 1960's through to 2008. According to a January 1966 Billboard Magazine article, The Ventures had five of 1965's Top 10 singles in Japan. A recent Japanese pop music poll listed "Ginza Lights" as the most popular song of all time; it was composed and recorded for their 1966 LP "Go With The Ventures".

Now, 50 years later, The Ventures have sold over 110 million albums worldwide and remain the best selling instrumental group of all time. In the US, 38 Ventures albums charted, and six of fourteen chart singles made it into the Top 40, with three making it into the Top 10. Acccording to "Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Albums", The Ventures rank as the 6th best pop album performer for the decade of the 60's. The Ventures remain active, recording and touring to the delight of fans around the world. This year, 2008, will mark the 50th Anniversary of the band, truly a remarkable accomplisment. It was also in 2008 that The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, this will be a year to remember the best selling instrumental rock band in music history, THE VENTURES




"California Sun" by The Riverias 

was the one of last songs on the  Billboard 100 prior to the British Invasion    

"Well, I'm goin' out west where I belong, Where the days are short and the nights are long. Well, they're out there havin' fun, In that warm California sun". These are, of course, some of the well-known lyrics of one of the greatest songs of summer from the 1960's, "California Sun" by The Rivieras. I always loved this song that peaked at #5 nationally and might have been a #1 hit had it not been for The Beatles super smash hit, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" released at the same time. In fact, "California Sun" was one of the last songs by an American Band on the Billboard Hot 100 chart before the "British Invasion".

This band is representative of the ultimate small-town one-hit wonder groups that were very prevalent in the 1960's. The band consisted of five high school boys from working class families in South Bend, Indiana who had never been to California and who never performed there even after the song came out. At the time, Marty Fortson, Doug Gean, Joe Pennell and Paul Dennert were playing teen dances for 75 cents a ticket in LaPorte, Indiana. Unfortunately, both personal reasons and drastical changes in pop music led to a break-up of the group in 1966, although the band regrouped much later and still performs today in the South Bend area.

All these years later, "California Sun" still is an emblem of all that California and summer symbolize. The song has been used for California tourism commercials and is often heard daily on radio stations all across the U.S. "California Sun" might as well be the official song of California. Not bad for a group of boys from the prairies of northern Indiana!