Category: 60’s

On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on July 29, 1967. Written by Henry Cosby, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder, it is the third R&B chart topper for the then seventeen year old Motown star. Staff producer and songwriter Sylvia Moy comes up with the initial idea for the song, drawing upon her own family background while growing up in Arkansas. Moy collaborates with producer/songwriter Henry “Hank” Cosby along with Stevie Wonder and his mother Lula who also contributes lyrics and melody lines to the song. The track is cut at Motown Studio A in Detroit on March 11, 1967 with The Funk Brothers providing the instrumental backing. The strings (played by members of the Detroit Symphony) are added on March 21, 1967 with Wonder recording his lead vocal on March 30, 1967. The background vocals are recorded on March 31, 1967. Released in May of 1967 after a number of mid charting singles on the pop charts, it fully restores Wonder to commercial prominence, becoming his first million selling single since “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” a year and a half before. “I Was Made To Love Her” is also covered numerous times by various artists including The Beach Boys, Boyz II Men, The Jackson 5, and Michael McDonald. Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston record their own versions as “I Was Made To Love Him” in 1978 and 1998 respectively.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1967 – “Bee Gees 1st”, the US debut album by the Bee Gees is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood and Ossie Byrne, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from March 7 – April 14, 1967. Following their breakthrough success with their twelfth single release “Spicks And Specks” (#3 AUS Pop) in Australia in late 1966, The brothers father Hugh sends demo tapes of their work to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein passes the tapes on to Robert Stigwood (Cream), who invite the band to come to England in February of 1967 to audition for him. Impressed by what he hears, Stigwood becomes the bands manager, with the Bee Gees moving back to their native UK. He secures them recording contracts with Polydor Records in the UK and Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. The album is actually the third full length release by the band, but is their first to be released internationally. It spins off three singles including “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (#14 Pop), and “To Love Somebody” (#17 Pop) the latter of which is originally intended for Otis Redding. The albums’ cover is designed by artist and musician Klaus Voorman. The album is remastered and reissued in 2006 as a two CD set featuring the original mono and stereo mixes, along with unreleased tracks from the sessions and early takes. “Bee Gees 1st” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 13, 1964 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1964 – “Because” by The Dave Clark Five is released. Written by Dave Clark, it is the eighth single release for the pop/rock band from Tottenham, London, UK. Breaking through in the US at the beginning of 1964, The Dave Clark Five score four million selling singles in a row during the first half of the year. After successive up tempo hits, the band decide to try something different to diversify their sound. Drummer and bandleader Dave Clark pens the ballad “Because”, with the specific intent of it becoming a single. Complimented with beautiful chord changes and highlighted by the band’s flawless harmony vocals, it is a stand out from the beginning. Recorded during the same period as “Can’t You See That She’s Mine”, it is first released in the UK as the B-side of “Can’t You See” in May of 1964. The DC5’s British label EMI Records talk Dave out of making “Because” an A-side, since it diverts from the band’s highly successful up tempo singles. When both songs end up receiving airplay and with “Because” uneligible to chart on the UK singles chart, “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” barely cracks the UK top ten (#10 UK). Vowing not to let it happen again, Clark tells their US label Epic Records that “Because” must be issued as an A-side. Initially, the US label executives try to dissuade the musician from putting out the gentle romantic ballad. They tell him, “You’ve got 48 hours to reconsider, and this will ruin your career”. As an independent producer, Dave Clark has firm control over the band’s music, including determining what songs are issued as singles. “Because” is released as the musician intended, and instead of being a flop as predicted by Epic, it becomes their highest charting single to date. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #60 on August 1, 1964, it rockets up the chart rapidly, peaking at #3 six weeks later on September 12, 1964. “Because” becomes one of The Dave Clark Five’s most popular and beloved songs. The song is covered by The Supremes, Ray Conniff, and by Julian Lennon on the soundtrack to Dave Clark’s musical “Time” in 1985.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers is released. Written by Hy Zaret and Alex North, it is the eleventh single release for the pop/blue eyed soul vocal duo from Los Angeles, CA. Written in 1955 by lyricist Hy Zaret and film score composer Alex North (“A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Rainmaker”, “Spartacus”) for the prison drama “Unchained”, the original version of “Unchained Melody” is sung by Todd Duncan in the film. It becomes an instant hit, through numerous cover versions cut after “Unchained” is released. Les Baxter, Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton all score major hits with their renditions in 1955. Fast forward a decade later, The Righteous Brothers  are in the middle of a major hit streak, begun that February when “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” hits number one. While working the follow up album, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield agree to record “Unchained Melody” for the new record. In spite of singing together as a duo, they mutually agree to record one solo vocal each per album. They flip a coin to decide who will sing it with Hatfield winning the coin toss. Using Roy Hamilton’s epic version as the template for theirs, the track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA, with members of The Wrecking Crew on March 2, 1965. Though producer Phil Spector is co-credited on the released record, “Melody” is produced by Bill Medley alone. “Unchained Melody” is initially released as the B-side of “Hung On You”, written by Spector, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. DJ’s response to “Hung On You” is lukewarm and the song stalls at #47 on the Hot 100. Flipping the single, radio begins playing “Unchained Melody” instead and rockets up charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 July 17, 1965, it peaks at #4 on August 28, 1965. An instant classic, it becomes one The Righteous Brothers most popular songs. “Unchained Melody” becomes a surprise hit again, twenty five years after its original release when it is prominently featured in the box office smash “Ghost” in 1990. Verve Records re-releases the original version due to overwhelming popular demand, but only as a 7" vinyl single in the US, in an effort to encourage to fans to purchase a newly compiled Greatest Hits package released on CD. In the wake of the songs sudden resurgence in popularity, The Righteous Brothers release a newly re-recorded version of “Unchained Melody” on Curb Records. Filling the gap left by Verve not releasing a cassette or CD single of the original recording, the Curb version competes with the original, with the cover peaking at #19 on the Hot 100, turning Platinum and receiving a Grammy nomination in 1991. In spite of the original recording not being made widely available as a single, it still wins the chart race, peaking at #13 on the Hot 100 on October 20, 1990. The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 recording of “Unchained Melody” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “It Ain’t Me Babe” by The Turtles is released. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the debut single release for the pop/rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Originally formed in early 1965 its members are attending Westchester High School in L.A., the band consists of Howard Kaylan (nee Kaplan) (lead vocals), Mark Volman (background vocals), Al Nichol (lead guitar, keyboards), Chuck Portz (bass), Don Murray (drums) and Jim Tucker (guitar). Initially a surf rock band calling themselves The Crossfires, they quickly develop a following. While playing their weekly gig at The Revelaire club in Redondo Beach co-owned by KFWB and KEWB DJ Reb Foster, The Crossfires are approached by two entrepreneurs and ask if they want to make a record. Jumping at the chance, the band change their the sound from surf rock to folk rock, influenced by fellow L.A. contemporaries The Byrds who have helped popularize the genre. The band also change their name to The Tyrtles, as a play on the spelling of The Byrds, but quickly amend it to the regular spelling “The Turtles”. While searching for songs to record at their first session, Kaylan hits upon the idea of covering Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”. A track from Dylan’s fourth album “Another Side Of Bob Dylan”, released the previous year, and with The Byrds then racing up the charts with their first big hit, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”, The Turtles create their own arrangement of “Babe”. Recorded at United Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA in June of 1965, the single is released just a few weeks later by White Whale Records. “It Ain’t Me Babe” becomes a smash on local radio in Los Angeles, and quickly hits nationally. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on August 7, 1965, it peaks at #8 on September 18, 1965, launching The Turtles career, and becoming the first of five top ten, and nine top 40 hits the band have over the next four years.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “California Girls” by The Beach Boys is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the fourteenth single release by the legendary pop/rock band from Hawthorne, CA. Following his retirement from The Beach Boys grueling touring schedule, Brian Wilson uses the time to explore and expand his creative genius, moving into one of the most prolific periods of his life. After taking LSD for the first time in early 1965, Wilson comes up with a chromatic run of chords while sitting at the piano, drawing inspiration from classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Quickly coming up with a melody, it evolves into what comes “California Girls”. Brian’s cousin and band mate Mike Love helps him complete the lyrics. The basic track featuring members of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine (drums), Al de Lory (organ), Leon Russell (piano) and Billy Strange (tambourine), is recorded at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 6, 1965. The songs orchestral prelude, initially discouraged by Brian’s father Murry as being “excessively complex” becomes one the most distinctive and most instantly recognizable parts of the composition. Another stand out feature of “California Girls” is its bass line, played by musician Carol Kaye on the session. The rest of The Beach Boys overdub their vocals on to the finished track, two months later on June 4, 1965 at CBS Columbia Square. Released in the mid-Summer of 1965, the song is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #72 on July 24, 1965, and peaking at #3 on August 28, 1965. “California Girls” breaks new musical ground for The Beach Boys. It becomes one of their best loved and popular songs, as well as becoming an early marker for Brian Wilson’s work on the landmark albums “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and the single masterpiece “Good Vibrations”. Nearly twenty years after the original recording, a cover version by Van Halen front man David Lee Roth (also featuring Carl Wilson on backing vocals), matches the peak position of The Beach Boys original, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on March 2, 1985. The Beach Boys recording of “California Girls” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2010.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1963 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1963 – “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)” by Allan Sherman is released. Written by Allan Sherman, Lou Busch and Amilcare Ponchielli, it is the biggest hit for the comedian, writer, producer and actor from Chicago, IL. Born Alan Copelon into a Jewish family, humor becomes a refuge for him in childhood, to cope with an unhappy home life. With his parents divorcing while he’s still in grade school, Alan adopts his mother’s maiden name “Sherman”. Entering the entertainment business in the early 50’s and known as Allan Sherman, he records a parody of the song “A Bushel And A Peck” (from the musical “Guys And Dolls”) as  "A Satchel and a Seck". Though the record is not successful, the comedian finds greater success a decade later in the realm of song parody. In the meantime, Sherman becomes a television producer. Producer Mark Goodson (“The Price Is Right”, “Match Game”, “To Tell The Truth”, “What’s My Line?”), takes Sherman’s idea for a game show titled “I Know A Secret”, develops it into the highly successful and long running “I’ve Got A Secret”. Also working as a writer on the show, Sherman remains with the program until 1958, when he is fired. The comedian works on The Steve Allen Show until 1961, until he is also fired from that job. Suddenly on the unemployment line, Sherman’s next opportunity comes from an unlikely source. Next door neighbors with comic legend Harpo Marx, he invites Allan to perform his song parodies at parties, attended by Marx’s celebrity friends. At one party, comedian George Burns hears Sherman, who immediately recommends to an executive friend at Warner Bros. Records, sign the young comedian. Infused with his own unique sense of humor, often poking fun at his Jewish religious background, Allan Sherman’s first two albums, “My Son, The Folk Singer” and “My Son, The Celebrity” (released in mid 1962 and early 1963), both hit number one on the Billboard Pop album charts, selling over a million copies each. He finds his greatest success in the Summer of 1963, with his third album “My Son, The Nut”. Sherman would almost exclusively parody songs that were in the public domain, since songwriters like Rodgers & Hammerstein and Irving Berlin would not grant permission for their songs to be used for that purpose. The comedian writes a hilarous ode to Summer with “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)”. Written and sung from the perspective of a young boy sent off to summer camp by his parents, he spins an outrageous tale of woe. He begs his parents to let him come home, after detailing incidents of heavy rain, food poisoning and missing fellow campers in his letter. The pay off comes at the end when conditions at the camp suddenly improve, the boy tells his parents to “kindly disregard this letter”. Performed in front of a live audience, and sung to Italian classical composer Ponchielli’s “Dance Of The Hours”, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!” quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #45 on August 3, 1963, it catapults up the chart, peaking three weeks later at #2 on August 24, 1963 (behind Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips Pt. 2” and The Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back”). The album “My Son, The Nut” spends eight weeks at the top of the Billboard Pop album chart. In spite of his enormous success as a parody artist, Allan Sherman’s run at the top is short lived. Releasing five more albums between 1964 and 1967, none match the sales of the first three, and the comedian is dropped by Warner Bros. Though in the interim, Sherman discovers comedian Bill Cosby, producing his first two albums, and frequently appearing on television. Sadly, his career goes into a decline by the late 60’s, as Sherman is hampered by divorce, health and financial problems. His final work is as the voice of Dr. Seuss character The Cat In The Hat in two animated specials. Allan Sherman dies of a heart attack on November 20, 1973, at the age of 48. In later years, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!” is adapted into a musical revue, with the song also being used in television commercials, for Downy fabric softener and K9 Advantix. The late comedian is also fondly remembered in episodes of “The Simpsons”, with one featuring parody artist “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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On this day in music history: July 11, 1969 – …

On this day in music history: July 11, 1969 – “Space Oddity” by David Bowie is released. Written by David Bowie, it is the eleventh UK and fourth US single release for the rock music icon from Brixton, London, UK. Forming his first band in 1962, David Jones makes his recording debut two years later with the single “Liza Jane”, under the name Davie Jones And The King-Bees. It fails and he moves on to numerous other blues bands including The Mannish Boys, The Lower Third, and more pop oriented Riot Squad. By 1967, unhappy with being in a band, Jones decides to go it on his own. With the decision to go solo, he renames himself David Bowie, taking his new stage name from the 19th century frontiersman Jim Bowie, and to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. Even with the change in name, it doesn’t help Bowie land a hit, with his first solo single “The Laughing Gnome” and debut album released in the Spring of 1967, quickly fading from view. By 1969, Bowie is dropped by his label Deram Records. During this time, he sees Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Inspired by the films second act about the exploration of space, Bowie begins to write around that concept, creating the fictional astronaut Major Tom. With world attention focused on the impending first mission to the moon being launched by NASA, Bowie completes the song titled “Space Oddity”, recording a rough early version in February of 1969. His manager Ken Pitt negotiates a deal with Philips Records in the UK and Mercury Records in the US. When producer Tony Visconti hears the demo, he opts not to work with Bowie on it, instead recommending his colleague Gus Dudgeon (Elton John) to produce. “Space Oddity” is recorded at Trident Studios in London on June 20, 1969 with Rick Wakeman (mellotron), Mick Wayne (guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass) and Terry Cox (drums). The bulk of the track is recorded in the first session, its completed over the next few days. Released just five days before the Apollo 11 launch to the moon, it becomes David Bowie’s breakthrough in the UK, peaking at #5 on September 6, 1969. In the US, it fails to crack the Hot 100, Bubbling Under at #124. However, it is not the last time it is heard from. After breaking stateside in the early 70’s, RCA Records acquires the rights to Bowie’s album from Mercury and Philips, re-releasing it as “Space Oddity”, and reissuing the title track. It becomes his first US top 40 single, peaking at #15 on the Hot 100 on April 7, 1973. RCA in the UK then reissues the song in the Fall of 1975, hitting number one, and spending two weeks at the top. Regarded as one of the signature songs of David Bowie’s career, “Space Oddity” has been covered numerous times, with the original being featured in many films. Bowie again makes reference to Major Tom in “Ashes To Ashes” (#1 UK, #101 US Pop), and in the songs “Hallo Spaceboy” and on the title track of his final album “Blackstar”. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the single’s release, “Space Oddity” is reissued with a new remix by producer Tony Visconti, in digital and vinyl single configurations on July 12, 2019. The vinyl edition is released as a box set, featuring a replica of the original 1969 UK mono 45 edit, and second 45 with the remix versions. The singles also include replicas of the rare previously unreleased UK picture sleeve, a double sided poster and a postcard.

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On this day in music history: July 11, 1960 – …

On this day in music history: July 11, 1960 – “Alley-Oop” by The Hollywood Argyles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Dallas Frazier, it is the biggest hit for the Los Angeles studio band created by producer Gary Paxton. Having previously scored hits as one half of the duo Skip And Flip (“It Was I”, “Cherry Pie”), record producer and singer Gary Paxton  comes up with the idea of forming another group to mask his identity. Still under contract to Brent Records, Paxton creates the shadow group The Hollywood Argyles, named after the street Arygyle Street, off of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. During this time, Paxton meets producer Kim Fowley and they form a production company called Maverick Music, initially conducting business from a pay phone booth at a Chevron gas station. They find the song “Alley Oop”, a novelty tune written by country songwriter Dallas Frazier (a friend of Paxton’s) about the caveman comic strip character. Recording with local studio musicians, “Alley-Oop” is released through Los Angeles based  Lute Records. The record quickly become a hit in L.A. and other cities, but because Lute does not have a distributor in New York, they soon find that they have competition. Madison Records founder Larry Uttal (later founding Private Stock Records) releases a cover of “Alley-Oop” by Dante And The Evergreens. The Hollywood Argyles version stomps the competition. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on May 30, 1960, it races to the top of the chart six weeks later. The Evergreens version stalls at #15 before The Hollywood Argyles hit the top on July 11, 1960. The Argyles are short lived when Gary Paxton feels he hasn’t been paid properly by Lute Records for the huge hit. He forms his own label Garpax Records, later producing the chart topping single “The Monster Mash” for Bobby “Boris” Pickett in 1962. Kim Fowley later discovers and produces The Runaways, working with a number of other groups. Dallas Frazier continues to have a successful songwriting career. The Oak Ridge Boys cover his song “Elvira” in 1981, scoring a Platinum selling country and pop crossover smash with it. “Alley-Oop” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Film and television actress Denise Nickerson…

Film and television actress Denise Nickerson (born in New York City) – April 1, 1957 – July 10, 2019, RIP