50 Years Ago: 1968

Welcome to your memories! We’re swirling through 1968 walkin' the walk and talkin’ the talk in an era of great radio, music, mayhem, and life, that blew our minds. The 1960s: a decade of contradictions and icons. Remember when ...


It's JULY 1968 … Enjoy the Moment ... Again!  


Summer Sun, Independence Fun! 

Regardless of news reports, patriotism has never—and should never—be in short supply in the United States. What was signed into existence this day, July 4th, two hundred and forty-two years ago, created our country.

It wasn’t perfect then. It isn’t perfect now. As a patriot, I have to say, if someone doesn’t like it here, they can be part of the solution, not create a problem, or go somewhere else. This country must still be great, or so many people from everywhere else, wouldn’t cross our borders illegally.
 
For all its imperfections, the United States of America (however loosely defined these days) is deserving of our patriotism.  Ask yourself how you can make it better, or simply enjoy what it is … still the best country in the world.

That said, I hope you enjoy your 4th of July Holiday! And “feel free” to continue celebrating your part in “America the Beautiful” the rest of the month.  

And now, flip on the mic, let’s Rock on back to Independence month JULY 1968

While we bounced around from party to party, waving flags and listening to our transistor radios, WIBG/Philly played our favorite tunes with Gary Mitchell’s bouncy voice behind the mic. Talk of the day was surely the imminent demise of a popular Psychedelic Rock band …

July 7th: Culminated the final days for The Yardbirds. The band brought us promises in “For Your Love (1965),” To fill you with delight | I’d give you diamonds bright; and the prophetic antics of “Over Under Sideways Down (1966).” When will it end … ? We were about to learn.

Over the years, The Yardbirds launched careers for Rock notables and guitarists extraordinaire, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton; the result endeared the band to fans worldwide.

The band played through a series of U.S. concerts before a June 12th announcement confirming rumors of two founding members’ departure. The Yardbirds landed for their final performance in Luton, Bedfordshire, England on July 7th.

But … we all know, it wasn’t the end of the Rock road for elements of its illustrious sound. The iconic Led Zeppelin warmed up in the wings with Jimmy Page, and strains of The New Yardbirds wafted close.

It’s said that 1968 was the greatest year in Rock & Roll Music. If July is proof, it is so!

Meanwhile, WIBG fans pushed two songs ten steps up the ladder in one giant leap. Its “Big 30 Records in Philadelphia” chart for July 9, 1968, tells the story …

Did you empathize with Nancy Wilson when she told us, “Face It Girl It’s Over”? Does he have to draw you pictures | Does he have to spell it out …?

Or were you groovin’ to Cream with Eric Clapton (post-The Yardbirds) as they turned us on to “Sunshine of Your Love”? The standout songs jumped from #17 and 18, to #7 and #8, respectively.  

I've been waiting so long | To be where I'm going | In the sunshine of your love

Featured Radio Survey: WIBG-Philly, top 30 July 9, 1968 gave us “Lady Willpower” (Union Gap) and “Stay in My Corner” (Dells) in the top two spots for the second week. Though his money-making single slid off the charts by this time, Tiny Tim is on the cover with venerable DJ Gary Mitchell, 50 Years Ago This Month. Rev up your memories and recall that awesome day when …

Celebrate JULY 1968 and … Rock On!
  
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LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!

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JUNE 1968: Motown Surrenders to Prog Rock 
 
Were you suffering a sunburn from your day on the beach 50 Years Ago this Month? Or hiding in cool, dark movie theaters, peeking through your fingers at the horrors of Rosemary’s Baby, or equally horrific Vietnam war film, The Green Berets?  

Radio to the rescue to lighten the mood and cool our red faces, with nighttime Rock on the radar 50 Years Ago this Month
 
June 10th: Tom and Raechel Donahue ended May 1968 with KSAN/San Francisco fans and owner, Metromedia, lovin’ their format style. So they spread the love to its KMET station in Los Angeles. Tom’s progressive rock format began with a meager four hours per night. But not for long. “The Might MET” soon broke through the underground to full time Rockin’!

June 20th: A stellar appearance at the famed Copacabana on this day 1968 gave Martha Reeves & the Vandellas’ new single “Forget Me Not” a fighting chance on the charts. It debuted on KISN/Portland OR Good Guys Survey for June 25th at #47. Alas, this tribute to long-distance military love failed to impress, and dropped off the following week. They had hit their peak on a great run through the 1960s.
 
Featured Radio Survey: As a beacon of Rock & Roll in the Pacific Northwest, KISN/Portland, kept 50 Years Ago This Month. Recall that awesome day when …
its listeners tuned in to the in-crowd,

Celebrate JUNE 1968 and … Rock On!
 
Share on Twitter: @BlastFromPastBk

LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!

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KSAN Ate Up the Competition - MAY 1968 

Ya just gotta love our innocence of the 1960s. I mean, how ugly and mean-spirited could we have been then, to push a song title like “Yummy Yummy Yummy” (The Ohio Express) up to the top ten?! It landed at #2, week ending May 23, 1968 at WCFL/Chicago. Enjoy the memories in this month’s Featured Survey. “I got love in my tummy” … for 50 Years Ago this Month

May 14th: With a lack of anything much radio-related to focus on this month, I found our popular cartoon pup racing for his house, following musical notes floating in the air. Did Snoopy hear his favorite song on the radio in the “Peanuts” May 14, 1968 comic strip? Nope … just his teakettle singing for attention.
Snoopy first captured our attention in 1950; still a growing pup in 1968!

KSAN ad in Playboy 1973
May 21st:  Finally, it’s official! Back in March we chatted about famed DJs Tom “Big Daddy” and Rachael Donahue and their “Great Hippie Strike” at KMPX/San Francisco. After two months of negotiations with nothing resolved, the Donahues joined forces with new KSAN’s owner, Metromedia, and set up shop with most of their former KMPX crew at the innovative FM station.
     “The Jive 95” (94.9, now KYLD) Rocked the bay for the first time on May 21st, with a freeform format. The Donahues led KSAN into the next decade, at top of the ratings. Rock On!

Must do a repeat for you of a vintage KSAN promo, it’s priceless! Raechel salaciously purred, “This is KSAN in San Francisco. Sometimes we do it fast … sometimes we do it slow … but we al-ways do it!”

Featured Radio Survey: WCFL/Chicago led with top ratings in May 1968, featuring one of BFYP’s fab DJs, Jim Stagg, at the mic. Enjoy this aircheck from 1966. The whole crew of “Yummy” DJs adorned the cover in a mini-poster for fans, 50 Years Ago This Month. Recall that awesome day when …

Celebrate MAY 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!
  
Share on Twitter: @BlastFromPastBk

LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!

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The Waltz Returns with Hair ~ APRIL 1968

Swinging into Spring 1968, love is in the air! We proclaimed our affections singing with the Radio charts’ top tens including Bobby Goldsboro (“Honey”), The Beatles (“Lady Madonna”), and the Box Tops (“Cry Like a Baby”). *

You know, it just hit me … growing up Country until Rock & Roll really kicked into high gear, I was used to the down-home tunes often labeled as “cryin’, dyin’ and goin’ away” music.

But when you think about it, that’s what all music embodies, regardless of genre—feelings. So it was no stretch to find charts from both sides of the country throughout April 1968, giving us ample outlets to express our feelings.

In the film industry though, we were treated to a rebirth of a song even further back than 50 Years Ago this Month

April 3rd:  We fell in love again with the flowing strains of Johann Strauss’sBlue Danube Waltz,” bringing Classical Music back to life in the future-forward film debut of 2001: A Space Odyssey. “I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.” What, he can’t dance?

April 29th: By the end of the month, Broadway let down its Hair to wild acclaim, proving Rock (title song) was still king, and love isn’t the only emotion to write about. As we know, war inspires expression, too.

On the same day, WMMR/Philadelphia, shocked its listeners when it flipped from “beautiful music” to progressive rock/freeform as "The Marconi Experiment." Brainchild of its first Rock DJ, Dave Herman, the show led off with The Beatles’ “Flying” and away they went. The experimental format proved successful and the rest is proverbial Rock history!

Do you have a Rockin’ April ’68 memory of your own? Feel free to share below in a comment, or choose a “reaction” to express your emotion. Keep the stories coming!

*Featured Radio Survey: KMEN/San Bernardino, California in its “Kmentertainer” magazine (vol. 3 no. 19), week ending April 13, 1968. Classic pics of DJs and vintage ads. Cool, man … 50 Years Ago This Month, recall that awesome day when …*BONUS KLZ-FM/Denver April 1968 survey with BFYP DJ Bill Gardner, added 04/15/18!

Celebrate APRIL 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!

Share on Twitter: @BlastFromPastBk

LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!

* FYI, I know that over the years, some early artists’ reputations have lost luster for one reason or another. I am not glorifying anything of the era, or anyone. I simply report the way it was …


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Rebel Rock on Your Radio Dial - MARCH 1968

This 50 Years Ago this Month post can brag about a DJ featured in the Blast from Your Past series! Those of us who were “there”, know the 1960s is in many ways, an uncanny sister-era to the 2010s. But back “in the day” we had the added attraction of enjoying the birth of FM Radio and Rebel Rock.

The Swinging Sixties felt the change and upheaval in all aspects around the world. Rebel Rock really started to catch fire as FM radio heated up the broadcasting industry. A handful of innovative disk jockeys felt the vibe—especially those who heard the call of underground music, and the psychedelic siren of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Leaning into 50 Years Ago this Month 1968

March 11th: With the progress of Acid Rock and early Progressive Rock on FM radio airwaves, several former Top 40 radio stations gave up the ghost for an all-news format, like KFWB in Los Angeles. It followed in the footsteps of KYW/Philly and WINS/NY. However, a Boston station took a go-with-the-flow attitude …

March 15th: WBCN/Boston thought no one would notice if they gradually began switching from easy listening to freeform Progressive Rock. Right … just proved a point for a very vocal pioneering DJ …

March 18th: Always the innovator and instigator, popular San Francisco DJ and program director, “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue (1928-1975), propagated the infant Progressive Rock march into FM stations like legendary KMPX. But he shocked management when he resigned, with attitude. He and wife, Raechel, pushed the envelope, taking much of the staff and DJs with them in a walk-out dubbed “The Great Hippie Strike.” More than a little partying flanked the picket lines, as the strike waged on for two months, with a lot of head-butting, but no resolution.

The Donahues didn’t let one stubborn station owner get in their way of Rockin’ progress. They morphed former KLFR 94.9 into iconic KSAN/FM “The Jive 95.” Most of the former KMPX staff moved in with them.

As Raechel used to say, “This is KSAN in San Francisco. Sometimes we do it fast … sometimes we do it slow … but we al-ways do it!”

Tom spoke into the microphone with energetic glee, “You can see, we’re gonna be doin’ a LOT of boogie’n’.”

Featured Radio Survey: Top 40 still ruled many San Francisco stations, though, like popular KFRC. The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” marched up the chart at #13. A far-out rendering of the Fab Four on the cover, fascinated fans. 50 Years Ago This Month, recall that awesome day when …

Celebrate MARCH 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!


Share on Twitter: @BlastFromPastBk

LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!

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50 Years Ago this Month - Cue the Cowbell!
Two very different but equally dynamic Radio personalities commanded our attention in February 1968

Dr. Don Rose honed his down-home style at WQXI/Atlanta, while Jim Stagg reveled in his popularity at his Chicago home station, WCFL.

Many high-profile Rock and Roll Radio DJs crossed paths as they crisscrossed the nation in their nomadic profession. Interestingly, both of these veteran DJs graced the air in San Francisco at one point or another, just not together …

Jim’s early career found him testing the waters in 1960’s City by the Bay at KYA. Not finding the avant-garde city his style, in less than a year, he hot-footed it back to the traditional Midwest. I’m guessing he never learned how to surf.

It would be another decade before Dr. Don skipped across the country to plant himself at KFRC. By 1974 the amiable Dr. Don felt his home and his heart, belonged in the cosmopolitan city, despite his corny, country-bumpkin one-liners. Cue the cowbell! We loved him.

What else happened in February 1968? Do you hear the sound of progress …?

February 1stWABX/Detroit decided classical music was on its way out, and they weren’t about to be left behind in the music revolution. Grabbing the Progressive Rock shiny new brass ring, they rolled over to a freeform style with a commanding presence through 1984.


February 19th – Apropos! THIS month (2018), Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is in the news again, touting Tom Hanks as the star of a Mister Rogers biopic, You Are My Friend. It’s just in time to herald the show’s National Education Television debut on this day, 50 Years Ago! No, it has nothing to do with Radio, but you can’t deny Fred Rogers’ influence on the entertainment industry of that era … right up to this one. (Mr. Rogers moved to a heavenly neighborhood in 2003.)

Featured Radio Survey: A two-fer! Since we spotlighted two DJs above, and I just happen to have February 1968 surveys for each, you’re in luck! WQXI and WCFL surveys at your pleasure … 50 Years Ago This Month! Were you listening? "Love is Blue" (Paul Mauriat) led us into Valentine's Day on both sides of the continent. An instrumental that tugged at our heartstrings. Recall that awesome day when … 

Celebrate FEBRUARY 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!
 
 Blast from Your Past Gifts
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50 Years Ago 6-Cent Stamps +Wolfman Moon - JANUARY 1968

Ah, the good ol’ days … remember when 1st class postage raised from 5 cents to 6 cents? Oh, we were incensed!

At Blast from Your Past, we spend much time, in "remember when" pasts. There is a reason for that—the 1960s gave us the Golden Age of Rock and Roll Radio—and it’s still fun!

More than that, though, the era nurtured sweeping change, with music mirroring our attitudes. Mid-decade, radio chart Top Tens faded from Bubblegum Pop in ’61, ushering in girl-group sounds like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” (The Shirelles) #1 at WIP/Philadelphia (January 23, 1961), to January 15, 1968’s #1 spinning at WLS/Chicago, “Bend Me, Shape Me” (American Breed).

Yep, the Caddy is a radio too! 1963.
Both love songs tugged at the heart strings, but “Tomorrow’s” violin strings were old school, compared to “Bend Me, Shape Me’s” heavy drumbeat and guitar riffs. An upbeat with a downbeat sound, reverberated through our growing pains as a new generation came to terms with war and discrimination. Musically, it lead us straight into the Heavy Metal era.

Heralding the mass manufacturing of portable, transistor models, Radio fought for its relevance, with the infamous boob tube. And like Rock and Roll, it proved Radio will never die. It simply shape-shifts into a different howling animal.
 
Which brings us to the animal we celebrate every January 21st, regardless of the year. Hint: Is it any wonder he was born under January’s Wolf Moon?!

Robert Weston Smith (January 21, 1938-July 1, 1995), self-described, “Original Rock & Roll Animal,” aka Wolfman Jack, turned a raucous 30 years old in 1968!

The iconic Radio personality is featured in the Blast from Your Past books, to which the series is dedicated. As a man, like all of us humans, Wolfman Jack had his foibles; as a howling Radio DJ and later, television host, he personified the innovation of broadcasting.

In January 1968, Wolfie and business partner, Mo Burton, enjoyed the fruits of their labors established in 1966, with a studio in Hollywood. Taping their shows stateside, they muscled their way over the airwaves of a powerful, towering Radio transmitter in Rosarito, Mexico. Olé!  

From the San Diego border, to Canada and points far East, Wolfman’s crusty voice boomed over XERB/1090’s radio waves and lit rebellious fires in impressionable teens.

Wolfman’s XERB strayed from Rock & Roll, pushing funky and soulful to the top three on its Soul 30 chart,January 3, 1968: #1 “Boogaloo Down Broadway” (Fantastic Johnny C); #2 “Chain of Fools” (Aretha Franklin); #3 “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell).

How’s your Boogaloo? Can you dig it! Ah, lay a little Soul on me …Have Mercy!*

Still perfecting his Wolfman persona in 1968, his transformation called for learning to electrify live audiences, in gigs up and down California. Though most comfortable behind the mic, he enjoyed thrilling his listeners. “Most of his fans had ‛never seen anything freaky-deaky like this.’ It was a more exhilarating high for him than any hallucinatory could produce.”** Polishing his stage presence would serve Wolfman Jack well throughout the 1970s. Aoooowwwwwoooo!  

As we strut into this 21st century New Year, take a moment or two for a January 1968 fun flashback, and Enjoy the Moment … Again!

Featured Radio Survey: WLS/Chicago hits the mark January 15, 1968, with a smiling image of BFYP DJ, Ron Riley, once briefly (and reluctantly) known as “Smiley Riley”—well before 1968, Ron lost the goofy personality name and was just a smiling, fun DJ. 50 Years Ago Ron rocked WLS! Were you listening? Recall that awesome day when … 

Celebrate JANUARY 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!



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** From BFYP Book 2, TheSwinging Sixties; Wolfman Jack Part 3.



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