50 Years Ago: 1967


Welcome to your memories! We’re rambling through 1967 talkin’ ‘bout radio, music, mayhem, and life that colored our minds, in an era of great stress and great strides. The 1960s: a decade of contradictions.


Opening The Doors 

As we headed back to school 50 Years Ago this Month, Ed Sullivan likely sang “Come Back When You Grow Up” to bad-boy band, The Doors (#1 song by Bobby Vee in Milwaukee*).
 
Jim Morrison lied—or conveniently forgot his agreement—to eliminate the word “higher” in the line, “Girl we couldn’t get much higher.” (“Light My Fire”) Sounds a bit prudish these days, doesn’t it? It was serious business to Mr. Sullivan.

Morrison traded one night of self-satisfaction for a really pissed Sullivan, who banned them from the nationally popular show and cancelled the remaining six that had been scheduled.

As a California gal, I’d seen The Doors in concert months before they appeared on Mr. Sullivan’s show, and knew they were destined for stardom, without much help. But that show was a hallmark of popularity for anyone fortunate to gain access to its stage.

Obviously, The Doors did what they set out to do—garner national fans. With that performance, there were many opportunities other than The Ed Sullivan Show.

Having appeared already on American Bandstand (July 22, 1967), after Sullivan, The Doors gave The Jonathan Winters Show a holiday treat (December 24th) … but TV rather ignored them from that point.

Per Wiki: “Morrison died at age 27 [July 3, 1971], the same age as several other famous rock stars in the 27 Club. In 1974, Morrison's girlfriend Pamela Courson also died at the age of 27.”

Radio didn’t ignore The Doors! “Light My Fire” was still in the top ten on a Midwest survey*, though it had waned on others. WABC/New York’s fans began pushing their new “People Are Strange” up the chart that week, mimicked by KFRC/San Francisco.

In BFYP Book 2 “The Swinging Sixties,” DJ William F. Williams talked about the merger of Rock & Roll with FM radio, during the late ‘60s. Glad to find himself at KBLA/Los Angeles: “I was seeing an awakening of what became known as ‘Sixties Music,’” William recalled. “Oh yeah, I definitely want to be in on this! I want to play the long version of ‘The End’ by The Doors, which you’re not going to hear at KHJ, KFWB, or KRLA.”

Featured Radio Survey: *A compilation survey reported song faves in Milwaukee and beyond in “Hot Happenings,” No. 38, September 18, 1967. Do you have a special memory from this month, 50 Years Ago? Perhaps the full chart will help you recall that awesome day when …  

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

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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 AUGUST 1967: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!


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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 while Wolfman is an integral part of my book series, July 1967 deserves to be celebrated for other reasons in this era. 
Certainly we honor the Wolfman, who to this day is oft-imitated but remains one-of-a-kind.
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.
In music and radio, July ’67 was the middle month in the Summer of Love. The radio charts, scattered 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!
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It’s Officially the “Golden Summer of Love” 

 

Unreal. Groovy. Surrealistic. Here we are … we have arrived in the future, my fellow Rockin’ Boomers! How did we get here?! 
Fifty Years Ago this Month, we were part of an authentic “happening” … an epiphany … a true phenomenon … the “Summer of Love.”
I attended the KFRC/San Francisco Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival the weekend of June 10-11. It transformed the serene top of Mount Tamalpais into a swirling haze of musical mayhem and dancing Mary Janes. Breathe deep …
It was not pure mountain air, m’dears! But it was a celebration of young and old, hippies and button-downs, and a whole lotta Rock & Roll. This was the weekend that slid us into the Summer of Love.
KFRC may have been mostly Top 40 fare the Summer of ‘67, but their innovative support broke the ceiling for progressive Rock that weekend. The brainchild of Program Director, Tom Rounds, its lineup included an eclectic spectrum of performers from Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, and The 5th Dimension, to Country Joe and the Fish, The Steve Miller Band, and fast-chart-climbers, The Doors.
The Fantasy Fair, while grudgingly acknowledged as the first large scale outdoor Rock / Pop concert, was outstripped by a bigger event a few weeks later. But the Monterey Pop Festival with nearly double attendance, certainly didn’t dampen the Fair’s status for avid Rock fans. In fact, MPF benefitted from the Fair’s success. More importantly, the Fair operated as an altruistic charity benefit, without the MPF’s commercial business vibe.
 
Sadly, very few images and only a couple of truncated film clips survived the decades. But as long as memory survives, the weekend that kicked off the 1967 Summer of Love will live again.
As for today … look around you … young and old still love mind-altering drugs, we still protest for love, not war, and this year has seen more society and political upheaval than there has been since the Sixties. Put a flower in your hair, “White Rabbit”* in your headphones, and welcome the “2017 ‘Golden’ Summer of Love”!  
Featured Radio Survey: While KFRC’s listeners discovered new music and a new way to party at the Fantasy Fair, in Lexington, Kentucky, WVLK fans stuck with the Top 40. What the “Mighty 590” lacked in radio station polish they made up for in advertising ingenuity. Check out the music survey that doubled as an ad agent’s promo, week of June 10-16, 1967 …
Celebrate JUNE 1967: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!

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LIKE if you like!







Groovin’ with Respect, May 1967 
Most radio stations across the country charted “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals in the top five, 50 Years Ago this Month. With a lot of “Respect” from Aretha Franklin, they leap-frogged each other up the charts to vie for the #1 and #2 golden spots for much of latter May.
 
KXOA/Sacramento and WABC/New York were “Groovin’” at the top of their surveys for the week of May 17th and 19th (respectively). KFRC/San Francisco gave their listeners “Respect” at the top, with Ed Mitchell spinning the tunes for you from 9 a.m. ‘til noon, on the Big 610.
What else happened in May 1967? Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, baby!
-       The “secret’s” out of the bag! Spunky head Beatle, Paul, admitted they’d all dropped acid at one time or another.
-       Women everywhere swooned with envy as Priscilla Beaulieu married hunky Elvis Presley at the Aladdin in Las Vegas. Viva Las Vegas!
-       Not wanting The Beatles to hog all the limelight, Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones did them one better (or worse)—and found themselves in lock-up on drug charges.
-       Repercussions? The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” suffered in the UK charts as BBC took their drug admissions seriously, and banned it.
-       May 25:
-       Defiance? Never let others dictate your personality, was John Lennon’s motto as he drove off in his newly renovated Psychedelic Rolls Royce.
-       Does it seem The Beatles dominated the late Sixties? Well, yes. But that doesn’t mean other great music wasn’t happening.
Featured Radio Survey: KFRC/San Francisco’s Big 30 for May 17, 1967, gave Aretha and their listeners the “Respect” we deserved. Capturing the moment in music, we heard Lou Rawls lament a “Dead End Street” at #5, and a peek into the upcoming Summer of Love, with “The Flower Children” (Marcia Strassman) hugging the #9 spot. Here’s the full top ten
Celebrate MAY 1967: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!
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An Over-the-Shoulder Peek at April 1967 




50 Years Ago this Month saw Psychedelic Rock force its swirling climb up the charts, gaining heat as we moved closer to the torrid Summer of Love.


We began the month on a high note, at the top of WABC/NY’s All American Survey April 8, 1967, “Happy Together” with The Turtles.


Not all DJs were happy together however, with radio broadcasting formats. FM stations began playing follow-the-leader, finding their footing outside the Jazz genre, in AOR and other diverse areas. Especially after DJ Tom Donahue signed on at KMPX/San Francisco, Friday, April 7, 1967. Always a rebel, Tom began his push for Freeform Rock, combined with an all-female engineering staff. It worked.
Need more to celebrate April 1967? Party on, for “Louie Louie” Day, April 11th; and have you hugged your vinyl record store owner lately? The tenth annual Record Store Day, spins off April 22nd. (Though you can start as early as the 15th for some.)
By month’s end in the Top 40, frustrated and disillusioned, we lamented toiling at our jobs with The Easybeat’s
Friday on My Mind” at #12, on WABC’s April 29 survey. Following on its heels, we protested with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”* at #13. Although the tune took two weeks to climb its way to the middle of the pack, that didn’t reflect on its emotional impact.
The mood of the moment is capsulized in a nice long excerpt from the newly released BFYP (e)Book 2 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties! Like many of his listeners, DJ Neale Blase, objected to the Vietnam War.
Doing so on the radio though, generally didn’t sit well with station management. One night, as Neale broadcast live in a special airing with Armed Forces Radio on KOMA/Oklahoma City …
“Here’s a song for Private Bob Smith from his wife in Montana … she’s hoping that you’ll be home soon, safe and sound … and by the way, Bob, we all want you guys home soon, because you shouldn’t even be there. So for all of you guys over there … listen very closely to the lyrics of this song.” KOMA listeners heard Buffalo Springfield warn, “There’s a man with a gun over there …” *
Aware of his opportunity as a DJ to comment on news of the day, Neale said, “I can’t tell you how many times we would talk over the intro of a song and express our views in a very compatible tone of voice, with the tempo of the song. Never underestimate the power of subtlety.” Read the rest of Neale’s Swinging Sixties story, here.
Featured Radio Survey: In view of this lengthy post, and the lamentable fact I don’t have an April ’67 vintage radio survey in the BFYP Collection, we’ll continue to enjoy the March KFRC/San Francisco survey, and bounce back with more than enough May ’67 surveys next month. Top 30 station, KFRC, tipped the iceberg of our music revolution. But the depth of its love came from the base of FM underground music that would soon emanate from KMPX and DJ Tom Donahue. Check out the eclectic mix in the March 1, 1967 KFRC Big 30 chart.
Celebrate APRIL 1967: 50 Years Ago … Rock On!
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Happy Together Marching through 1967 


March ’67 caught some of us watching the boob tube as THRUSH in Man from U.N.C.L.E. rushed to convert sea water to gold.

Or were you day-trippin’ on the Electric Prunes’ tune “I Had Too Much to Dream”? The Psychedelic song struggled for an audience from November 1966 until it finally broke through to the top ten of our handy-dandy transistor radio stations this month, 50 years ago.


The Electric Prunes hit slipped a notch to #6 on KFRC/San Francisco’s March 1st Big 30 chart. But love cured the hangover with the Turtles’ “Happy Together” at #1.  



The Five Americans (a BFYP Book 2 band) were ready to ride the airwaves to the top in KFRC’s Big Hit Bounds list, with “Western Union,” as we take a Spring break before the now infamous Summer of Love. We’ll bring you whatever 50th anniversary news we can rustle up starting in June!
A year of magic and mayhem in radio and life, we tried desperately to maintain our innocence while the Vietnam War colored our vision as profoundly as John Lennon’s rose-colored spectacles.
In spite of, or maybe because of, the country’s turmoil and turbulence, by June the radio charts' top tune was on its way to top record and top song in the 10th Grammy Awards (1968). We were obviously looking for bright optimism in the 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away.”  “… the world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon …”
Featured Radio Survey: In 1967 San Francisco channeled all the love it could muster into its music. Top 30 station, KFRC, tipped the iceberg of our music revolution. But the depth of its love came from the base of FM underground music that would soon emanate from KMPX and DJ Tom Donahue. Check out the eclectic mix in the March 1, 1967 KFRC/San Francisco Big 30 chart.
Celebrate MARCH 1967: 50 Years Ago … Rock On!
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Lingering Lovelights 

No doubt, St. Valentine’s Day had something to do with “Dedicated to the One I Love” scaling WABC/New York’s survey ladder in one GIANT leap, from an obscure #57 on February 25, 1967 to #15 the following week.


The Mamas & Papas’ favorite nearly wore out the station’s turntables as we lingered in its lovelights for another month, propelling it all the way to #3 by April 8th.



Elsewhere in the February 1967 Rock & Roll Radio landscape, we have some fun listening to entertaining pioneering DJs’ airchecks at ReelRadio.com! Join us as Jan Gabriel hams it up at WJOB/Hammond, Indiana; The Real Don Steele keeps KHJ/Los Angeles listeners on their toes; and our “fuddy duddy buddy,” Dr.Don Rose,* razzes his radio audience at WQXI/Atlanta, Georgia, in February 1967. (Far left, Feb 1968 survey, but still … 😉 )



HUGE aircheck announcement for you Radioheads! Uncle Ricky, who owns the ReelRadio.com non-profit vintage airchecks site, is reconverting it to FREE access (like when it began in 1996) toward the end of March. 


But PLEASE support his herculean efforts any time with a donation,* to thank him and ensure ReelRadio remains an enduring and endearing go-to site. As he says, “a ‘free’ site will kill us, or make us grow.” Let’s help him grow! (*This is not an ad, and Uncle Ricky didn’t ask me to post it. I just LOVE his site. It has been invaluable to me for writing the BFYP books.)


Featured Radio Survey: Since I don’t have a February 1967 radio survey in the BFYP Collection, I’ve posted a KCBQ/San Diego tribute survey featuring BFYP DJ Jack Vincent, for December 10, 1961. He began spinning vinyls in Rock & Roll Radio Heaven on January 29th, escorted by East Coast fave DJ, Herb Oscar Anderson, best known at WABC/New York. R.I.P. gentlemen.
Celebrate FEBRUARY 1967: 50 Years Ago … Rock On!
  
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 1967 spun Rock & Roll music on its ear, as the new FM radio stations spun us on our ears. Far out, man.



Sonny and Cher assured us “The Beat Goes On” (up to #13 on the KFRC/San Francisco survey, January 18, 1967), but this year spearheaded the second phase of 1960’s Rock music battle between love and war, with epic, intricate beats.


Not just a little influenced by psychedelia, Rock music rose to new heights—literally and figuratively.


By the end of the month, West Coast counterculture bands had donated their time and music to the first San Francisco Hare Krishna fundraising concert. Historic, not only because of its mind-expanding highs but the incredible, mind-blowing music.


Headlining the Avalon Ballroom for the Mantra-Rock Dance (January 29th) were Psychedelic Rock innovators, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. The event also featured LSD advocate, Timothy Leary. Go figure.

Live music and AM radio’s tunes weren’t much in sync, though, as January radio surveys still reflected soft love songs, albeit tinged with an edgier electronic guitar. The Airplane’sMy Best Friend” hit #10 on KFRC’s Big 30 (January 28, 1967), but it was just a hint of their more surrealistic sounds coming up.
Climbing the chart to truly kick off the Psychedelic Rock year, we find The Electric Prunes at #26, admitting, “I Had too much to Dream Last Night.” Yeah, baby.

Thanks to upstart FM stations like KMPX/San Francisco and KPPX/Los Angeles (think Tom and Raechel Donahue) along with live performances, the month, ended turning guitar solos and love ballads into mind-twisting musical experiences.
*And into the night you'll fade, knowing you lost the game | And just how she got her name of | The Snow Queen
Welcome to January 1967! Happy New Year 50 Years Ago this Month!
Featured Radio Survey: This month I have to go outside the BFYP vintage survey collection. Darn. Can’t believe I don’t have any January 1967 radio charts. However, one of my fave research sites is the Airheads Radio Survey Archives ... what I don’t have, they do … and then some! Enjoy the KFRC/San Francisco Big 30 chart list for January 28, 1967 here; but if you love retro Rock & Roll, you must visit their searchable site. It’s awesome!
Celebrate JANUARY 1967: 50 Years Ago … Rock On!
  
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* “The Snow Queen” by Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends, #14, January 28, 1967, KFRC/San Francisco Big 30.
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