Vintage Rock Radio Gauntlet Hits & Misses
From down-home iconic music to a haunting tune of ancient world apocalypse, June 1969 moved our souls and our imaginations as artists moved up and down the radio survey ladders.
Without iPods and online streaming songs, what did you listen to, “back in the day”? What energetic DJs blared your favorite music through the airwaves? Cousin Brucie on the East Coast? The Real Don Steele in the West? Or Wolfman Jack, who could be heard practically everywhere, even before his American Graffiti fame?
In this middle month of the final year in a turbulent decade, Elvis reminded us of hardships, taking us across the tracks, “In the Ghetto”; Henry Mancini and his Orchestra kept the big band era alive with “Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet”; and Tom Jones swiveled his hips to rival Elvis, as he pleaded, “Love Me Tonight.”
50 Years Ago this Month in Rock & Roll Radio
June 7th: Johnny Cash moved from radio to TV when his self-titled show debuted on ABC. It was a big day for Johnny; teamed with Bob Dylan, their Grand Ole Opry Special aired on the same day. Yeehaw!
Jun 11th: "The Ballad Of John & Yoko" by The Beatles hits #1 in UK. In the US, the controversial song found us oddly restricted in our rebellion of the era; "The Ballad of John and Yoko" never appeared on WABC/New York or WLS/Chicago radio music charts. After a diligent search (of large market stations), I found it languishing at #26, in WCFL/Chicago’s “Big 10 Count Down” for June 11, 1969. It peaked at #8 before losing power and slipping down the musical ladder.
Jun 21st: Zager & Evans release "In the Year 2525." Best song to ever come out of a cow pasture. Though it moved up quickly, it hadn’t quite made the top ten on WABC/New York’s “Music Power Survey” by June 28th (Featured Survey). Their “Big Bonus” section listed it with other “bubbling under”* tunes. The one-hit wonder hit it big in July, grabbing the top spot by the July 19th survey—c’mon by again next month for an expanded look at this errant humanity song, in 50 Years Ago this Month!
*A music survey term for those tunes that are scaling the chart ladder, but not quite made it into the ranks—yet, or—maybe never.
Featured Radio Survey: In 1969 were you listening to legendary DJ Cousin Brucie on WABC/New The June 28, 1969 survey featured Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow as “All American of the Week.” He is an honored BFYP Rock & Roll DJ and one of few in all three books, spanning 1950s, ‘60s & ‘70s! … 50 Years Ago This Month in Rock & Roll Radio. That awesome day when …York?
Celebrate JUNE 1969 and … Rock On!
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LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and 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 1 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!
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