Category: folk rock

On this day in music history: October 10, 1966 – “Georgy Girl” by The Seekers is released. Written by Tom Springfield and Jim Dale, it is the biggest hit for the Australian folk quartet. Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1962, The Seekers consisting of lead singer Judith Durham, Keith Potger (guitar, banjo, vocals), Bruce Woodley (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals) and Athol Guy (double bass, vocals), become one of the first Australian groups to achieve major success outside of their native continent when they score a worldwide hit in 1965 with “I’ll Never Find Another You” (#3 Pop, #1 UK and Australia). During this time, Woodley also collaborates with Paul Simon, co-writing the hit song “Red Rubber Ball” (#2 Pop), covered by American pop band The Cyrkle in 1966. The song “Georgy Girl” is written by folk musician Tom Springfield (brother of blue eyed soul and pop singer Dusty Springfield) and musician, stage and film actor Jim Dale (“Pete’s Dragon”, “Hot Lead And Cold Feet”, “Barnum”) as the title song for the British romantic comedy/drama starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling. The Seekers are tapped to perform the song and is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, with Tom Springfield producing. Like the film itself, the instantly catchy title song is an immediate hit, giving the group their biggest selling single, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 4, 1967 (behind The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer”). “Georgy Girl” is also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1967, but loses to “Born Free”. The popularity of “Georgy Girl” endures over the years, being featured in an ad campaign by Mattel for Barbie and on the TV shows “The Simpsons” and “Get A Life”. “Georgy Girl” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 10, 1966 – “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme”, the third album by Simon & Garfunkel is released. Produced by Bob Johnston, it is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City from December 1965 – August 1966. Their first full album since breaking through with the revamped and remixed version of “The Sound Of Silence” in late 1965, many of the songs are written while Paul Simon is traveling through the UK by himself in the Fall of 1965. Several are re-recorded by the duo (including “I Am A Rock” and “Patterns”, and later “Kathy’s Song”) after Simon records his solo project “The Paul Simon Songbook”, not released in the US until 1981 on the box set “Collected Works” and reissued again on CD in 2004. The album is proceeded by the single “Homeward Bound” (#5 Pop), also written during Simon’s trip to England in 1965. The full length is met with critical and commercial success upon its release, and is widely regarded as one of Simon & Garfunkel’s best albums. It yields several classics including “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (#11 Pop) (released as a single belatedly in 1968 when it is featured in “The Graduate”), “The Dangling Conversation” (#25 Pop) and “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with two bonus tracks. An exhaustive search through Sony Music’s archives is conducted for the original first generation master tapes, which had been misfiled and lost for years. The classic title is also reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records in 2008. “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 25, 1965 – “Eve Of Destruction” by Barry McGuire hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, it is the biggest hit for the folk-rock singer from Oklahoma City, OK. Originally a member of the legendary folk music group The New Christy Minstrels, Barry McGuire is one of the first artists signed to producer Lou Adler’s Dunhill Records in early 1965. McGuire records a number of songs for his first album including “California Dreamin’”, though his vocals are wiped from the master tape (though part of his vocal on the intro is still audible on the released recording), and The Mamas & Papas add their vocals to the track, becoming their breakthrough hit. Adler assigns staff songwriter and producers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri to work with McGuire. Influenced by Bob Dylan, the pair begin writing a song about the growing anti-war sentiment over Vietnam, The Cold War and struggle over Civil Rights, openly expressing fears about where those conflicts may lead. Recorded in July of 1965, “Eve Of Destruction” features members of The Wrecking Crew playing on the track including Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (bass) and P.F. Sloan himself (guitar). McGuire records his vocal in a single take, and the song is given a quick rough mix. The producers play the just completed “Destruction” for Dunhill Records VP Jay Lasker who loves it immediately and believes that it will be a hit. Leaving a copy of the tape with the executive, the song ends up on the radio the same afternoon. Lasker gives the tape to a promotion man at the label who takes it over to KFWB in Los Angeles who in turn begin airing it immediately as “an exclusive”. At first, Adler, Sloan and Barri are upset since they feel the record “isn’t finished”, but it matters not. “Destruction” is an instant smash and is rush released by Dunhill in early August of 1965. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on August 21, 1965, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. Though Barry McGuire does have another major pop hit after his chart topping debut, he is later name checked by The Mamas & Papas on their 1967 hit “Creeque Alley”. After his initial brush with fame, McGuire becomes a born-again Christian in the early 70’s carving out a successful career as a Contemporary Christian music artist. After the incident at Columbine High School in 1999, McGuire begins performing “Eve Of Destruction” again after many years of declining to perform it in concert.

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Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter (born Robert Burns in Arroyo Grande, CA) – June 23, 1941 – September 23, 2019, RIP

On this day in music history: August 30, 1965 – “Highway 61 Revisited”, the sixth album by Bob Dylan is released. Produced by Bob Johnston and Tom Wilson, it is recorded at Columbia Studio A in New York City from June 15 – August 4, 1965. The second “electric album” by the prolific singer/songwriter features the first side with Dylan backed by musicians including Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks, while the second side is primarily acoustic ballads. The album has more of a blues oriented sound than his previous work, inspiring the albums title which is the highway that runs from Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, MN down to the Mississippi Delta. It features several songs that become standards in Dylan’s catalog including “Like A Rolling Stone” (#2 Pop), “Ballad Of A Thin Man”, “Tombstone Blues” and “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”. The album becomes one of his most acclaimed and best selling albums. The initial stereo pressing of the LP, is issued with an alternate take of “From A Buick 6”, that was used in error while compiling the original master tape. It is quickly substituted with the correct take on all subsequent pressings. All copies of the mono release contain the intended take. “Highway 61” is remastered and reissued in 2003 as a limited hybrid SACD in digi-pak packaging by Sony, before reverting to a standard redbook CD only release. In 2014, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissues “Highway 61” as a double vinyl LP set mastered at 45 RPM, and as a hybrid SACD. The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002.“Highway 61 Revisited” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 11, 1969 – “Barabajagal”, the seventh album by Donovan is released. Produced by Mickie Most, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London in May 1968, and American Recording Company in Los Angeles, CA November 1968 and May 1969. The album features musical backing by The Jeff Beck Group (on the title track) as well as background vocals from Graham Nash, Mike McGear (aka Michael McCartney), Rod Stewart, Lesley Duncan and Madeline Bell. It spins off two singles including the double A-sided single “Atlantis” / “To Susan On The West Coast Waiting” (#7 Pop) and the title track (#36 Pop). The album also marks the end of Donovan’s long term collaboration with producer Mickie Most, with Most shifting his attention to his newly formed label RAK Records, signing artists such as Hot Chocolate, The Arrows, Smokie, and Suzi Quatro. “Atlantis” is later used in a memorable scene in director Martin Scoresese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2005. The album is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013, the first release of the album in that format in nearly thirty years. “Barabajagal” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 25, 1965 – Bob Dylan performs an “all electric” set at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. Backed by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, this is a radical departure for the formerly acoustic based folk rock musician. Having released his fifth album “Bringing It All Back Home” in March of 1965, his first to feature electric instruments, it is immediately controversial among Dylan’s contemporaries. The act of a folk musician playing an electric guitar is considered by the audience to be musical heresy, and react negatively by booing Dylan. He leaves the stage after just three songs. The incident inspires Dylan to write and record the song “Positively 4th Street” four days later, a rebuke of former friends in the folk music community who have criticized him for “going electric”. Bob Dylan accidentally leaves the guitar that he plays during his set at Newport behind on the private chartered plane he travels from the venue on. The sunburst 1964 Fender Stratocaster thought to have been lost for over the last four decades, is found in the possession of the pilot’s family in 2012. The guitar is found with several sheets of paper in the case containing early drafts of several unfinished songs. The instrument sells at auction (from Christie’s auction house) for a record breaking $965,000 (to an anonymous bidder) in December of 2013. It surpasses the amount paid for the previous record holder, Eric Clapton’s black Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Blackie”, which had sold for $959,000 in 2004.

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On this day in music history: July 20, 1965 – “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan is released. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the first single released from the landmark “Highway 61 Revisited” album. Dylan writes the song (starting off as a ten (or twenty) page poem before it is edited down) after returning home from a tour of England in June of 1965. The track is recorded over two days at Columbia’s Studio A in New York City on June 15 and 16, 1965. Initially written and demoed in ¾ time, Dylan abandons the original arrangement after attempting five takes, and searches for another way to express the song. Musician Al Kooper who plays Hammond Organ on the second session, is a key element in “Like A Rolling Stone” being changed to the rock arrangement, it becomes known for when he improvises the riff that runs through the song. Initially, producer Tom Wilson is not impressed by Kooper’s playing, but allows him to sit in when Paul Griffin is moved from organ to piano. The other musicians on the session include Paul Butterfield Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield, Frank Owens (piano), Joe Macho, Jr. (bass), Bruce Langhorne (tambourine) and Bobby Gregg (drums)  Written in a literal stream of consciousness, the lyrics are originally composed as Dylan refers to as “a long piece of vomit”, twenty pages long before paring it down. Eventually the lyrics are crafted into four verses and a chorus. The Columbia Records is initially very hesitant, to release the six minute long track as a single, but are forced to when it is leaked to several popular and influential DJ’s who lead the charge for its release. The record is revolutionary in rock & roll history, as being the first to shatter the “three minute rule” set by AM top 40 radio. “Like A Rolling Stone” peaks at #2 on the Hot 100 on September 4, 1965. The single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.

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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: June 28, 1968 – “Feliciano!”, the eighth album by Jose Feliciano is released. Produced by Rick Jarrard, it is recorded at the RCA Music Center Of The World in Hollywood, CA from November 21, 1967 – January 6, 7 & 8, 1968. Born in Lares, Puerto Rico, and raised in New York’s Spanish Harlem, Jose Feliciano demonstrates musical talent early on. Blind since birth (due to glaucoma), Jose is taught how to play percussion by an uncle at three. The turning point comes when Feliciano’s father gives him a guitar at nine. Practicing for hours and hours a day, Jose teaches himself the guitar. Taking some formal classical training while attending the Light House School For The Blind, he drops out of school at seventeen to help support his family. At the height of the folk music movement, he plays coffeehouses in New York, and in other cities. While performing in Greenwich Village in 1964, Feliciano is spotted by Jack Somer, an executive at RCA Victor Records, who signs him. Jose records seven albums between 1965 and 1967, finding success in Latin American countries but not in the US. A move to Los Angeles later in 1967 changes the musician’s fortunes at home, in ways that no one will anticipate. Feliciano is paired producer Rick Jarrard, known for producing the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow” and his work with Harry Nilsson. Looking to find a balance between Jose’s musical influences, and marrying them to pop styled arrangements, they believe that he can reach a wider audience. In the studio, Jose is backed by veteran jazz musicians Ray Brown (bass), Milt Holland (drums, percussion) and Jim Horn (woodwinds). George Tipton and Perry Botkin, Jr. are brought in to write arrangements for the tracks. The album features covers of recent pop songs from everyone including The Beatles, The Mama & The Papas, and Bobby Hebb. Also covered on the album is The Doors’ “Light My Fire” (#2 Pop, #29 R&B). The L.A. rockers chart topper of the previous Summer, is transformed into a soulful and lush Latin flavored ballad. It’s initially released as the B-side of “California Dreamin’”. A DJ at KJR at Seattle, WA flips it and plays “Light My Fire” instead. It becomes a radio smash, selling over a million copies, and turning Jose Feliciano into a huge star worldwide. The album earns four Grammy nominations, winning for Best New Artist and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1969. In time, “Feliciano!” becomes a landmark album, cementing the commercial viability of Latin American musicians. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1994, and is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Speakers Corner Records in 2003. “Feliciano!” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, number three on the R&B album chart, number three on the Jazz chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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