Tuesday, August 1, 2017

50 Years Ago Billie Joe Jumped Aug 1967



Breaking News: Update for BFYP Book 2 DJ, Neale Blase! His rollicking autobiography, Radio on the Run was selected for the Library/Archive of the Rock & Roll Radio Hall of Fame!

Always News: BFYP Rock and Roll Radio DJs: Book 1 (1950s) and Book 2 (1960s) ready at Amazon to walk you down Memory Lane, to the Golden Age of Rock & Roll Radio! Enjoy the moment ... again.

And now, flip on the mic, let’s Rock On … 

Dog Days of Summer Distraction 

Today, there are so many devices and distractions to help take your mind off the heat. August 1967 … not so much. We did have the radio, though. And this month, 50 Years Ago, we were properly distracted …

Dinner table conversations, summer BBQs, and breaks in our cruisin’ the drag, always included the questions, “What do you think Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge?” and, “Oh, why did Billie Joe jump off the bridge?”

Bobbie Gentry’s haunting song, “Ode to Billie Joe,” whispered across heatwaves and followed us into refreshing swimming pools. While July radio listener surveys gave us a “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (Monkees), “Ode” hit the top of the charts early August, for stations like KFRC/San Francisco; though KEXO/Grand Junction, Colorado, took ‘til month’s end to run it up into the top twenty. (Featured Survey)

Throughout August 1967, we all had our suspicions. Just not all the same ones—flowers? engagement ring? drugs? even a baby, were popular theories—and Gentry let us speculate wildly, without comment.

It was a super-summer distraction though! Couple of fun facts:

Says the storyline at PerformingSongwriter.com, before Capitol Records cut it down for release, “Ode” rivaled “Light My Fire,” at seven minutes long, and graced the flipside of “Mississippi Delta.” That was also, “… the days when DJs still had minds of their own, and as in the stories of so many classic hits, the B-side became the A-side.”

The song’s title is spelled with “Billie” but the resulting movie in 1976, switched it to “Billy.”

The old Tallahatchie Bridge barely reached twenty feet above the water; hardly enough height to cause death. But it kept local cops busy throughout the summer, plucking wayward folks intent on death, from the river.

Gentry didn’t want us to go off on a tangent about what was thrown off the bridge. Her point, was the narrating family’s unfeeling, detached chatter at the dinner table that reflected how she felt about society. "Well, Billie Joe never had a lick of sense; pass the biscuits, please …”

Rumor has it that Gentry wrote the song, loosely based on a local true story from a decade-plus before. But there is no definitive proof, and the reclusive lady’s not talkin’.

Do we ever learn the answers to the questions? Uh … no. Like, “what happened to Bobbie Gentry” after Billie Joe’s success … we may never know what they tossed off the bridge, or why he jumped … or where the songwriter retired to and why she left the music biz.

So … what distractions kept you and your radio station cool in August 1967?

Featured Radio Survey: KEXO’s streetfront window was pretty hip for a 1,000-watts-to-250-watts-at-sunset, station. It kept Grand Junction hoppin’ in its early Rock & Roll days. Were you listening to KEXO, August 26, 1967? Who was your fave jock? Cousin Phil, Ron Conley, or … there’s more …

Celebrate JULY 1967: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

50 Years Ago this Month – July 1967


BFYP Breaking News! Notes and quotes on the June 29 Jay & The Americans show! They're Keepin’ the Music A-live.

Always news: BFYP Rock and Roll Radio DJs: Books 1 (1950s) and 2 (1960s) ready at Amazon to walk you down Memory Lane, to the Golden Age of Rock & Roll Radio! Enjoy the moment ... again.

Emulated, but Never Duplicated

July—every year since 1776 we’ve begun the month with a bang! In radio, the big bang also pays tribute to the death of Wolfman Jack, July 1, 1995. He was the self-proclaimed “Original Rock & Roll Animal.”

I prefer celebrating births rather than deaths, and though we certainly honor the Wolfman, to this day oft-imitated, and July is of course, a celebration of the US Declaration of Independence’s final approval, let’s light the fireworks for a couple other reasons. We're here to celebrate 50 Years Ago this Month - July 1967 ...

In music and radio, July ’67 was the middle month in the Summer of Love. The radio charts were scattered with love songs amongst grooves of Psychedelic Rock, which gained ground in part, through popularity with returning Vietnam soldiers.  

Music was essential to many soldiers, and Psychedelic Rock embodied their extreme mix of swirling emotions.

Still in the clutches of the war, 50 years ago we endured the most devastating single-day loss this month, by the Marines, in Operation Buffalo.

And The Beatles’ song, “All We Need is Love,” became even more poignant at the top of the radio charts. A “love song” for sure, but considered one of their most political tunes. (The boys even wore flowers in their hair for the Our World global premiere of the song, June 25, 1967.)

Listeners at KACY/Santa Barbara applauded their local DJ, Steve Sands (Sandoval) on the cover of the July 28th survey, as he soon enlisted in the US Army. At the same time, KACY fans boosted “All You Need is Love” to #10 (up from #14 previous week), stabilizing it at #3 in the next couple of weeks.
Where did the iconic Beatles song land on the charts in your neck of the woods? Don’t recall? Bop on over to The Airheads Radio Survey Archive, enter a radio station or city, and enjoy a leisurely stroll down Memory Lane!

Would you rather listen to than view memories of the ‘60s? Strap on your headphones and head over to YouTube to download my audio interview with DJ David “Ghosty” Wills, reminiscing about pioneering DJs, and Book 2 in the Blast from Your Past! series – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties.

Wolfman Jack and The Beatles … emulated, imitated, but never duplicated.

Featured Radio Survey: DJ Steve Sands at KACY/Santa Barbara was one of (I’m sure) many jocks who entered service 50 Years Ago this Month. Check out KACY’s music survey for July 28, 1967. The top fifteen gave us love with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to following your fantasy in “White Rabbit,” at #1.

Celebrate JULY 1967: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!


Share on Twitter: @BlastFromPastBk

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