|The Beatles at the Indra Club, Hamburg, August 17, 1960. L-R: John Lennon, George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney, and Stuart Sutcliffe.
Songs of 1960-1962 concludes my mini-series Under The Influence. This series is based on my primary source, Wikipedia and their organization of music through the years. What I found interesting about Wikipedia's (Year) In Music entries is their succinct 'Events' highlights. Then, new albums released are listed alphabetically for the entire year, until 1963.
In 1963, Wikipedia entries go from a yearly album overview, to a month to month breakdown of mostly all popular albums from that month in time. As it turns out, rock 'n' roll is a lot bigger deal than the short-lived fad that many in the short-minded establishment predicted would quickly fade away.
In 1964, popular music just explodes with The Beatles coming to America and the The British Invasion.
On January 28th, 2019, I started my Fifty Years in Music • (Month and Year) Series starting with January, 1969. I noticed in going back to find that first post of the series, that I actually had skipped several months along the way. I will correct that, and at some point will have a Monday Monday Music™ historical record of the music that has influenced my life, and probably yours, since 1949.
My long-term game plan will be to have two concurrent 'Way Back' series– my current Fifty Years in Music that will cover the 1970's, and starting in 2023– Sixty Years of Music to cover every month and year of the 1960's, starting in 1963.
Now one of the things I have mentally done over the years in the reflection of my life, is that I play the game, What If...
I've gone back to the fall of 1973 when I started college and started planning my life as a future teacher. My plan at the time was to become a special education teacher. I did that, and then I went on to become a general education elementary teacher, I did that, and so forth...
But, I did have an alternate plan of becoming a History major and teaching History at high school as it was my favorite subject in all of school. In my recent shoulda coulda reflections, that would have included a minor in English, but at 18 years of age, writing something more than a school assignment was something that I was never going to do. Later at San Diego State, I had to pay other students to type my assignments that required a typed finished product.
So as a pretext here, I'm writing (typing on my laptop from the home row) about music every week that often goes back in history to the second half of the 20th century.
Never say never.
1960 through 1962 is still about Elvis, but the King is already transitioning to ballads as many rock 'n' roll bands are forming in England and America and preparing for their own ascent to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, if not the rock 'n' roll throne.
In putting the playlist together, I was amazed at how many electric guitar instrumentals were huge Billboard 100 hits creating the whole surf music craze of the early 1960's. I think the public had just fallen in love with the electric guitar and you could see how every kid interested in playing music, simply had to have one.Note- All dates and timeline descriptions below in italic are from Wikipedia. What I have done in this cut and copy exercise is to only include the interesting and influential stuff (from my perspective) from 1960-62. I have also interjected some (mostly sarcastic) commentary of my own in regular text.
- January – Stuart Sutcliffe joins the Liverpool band Johnny and the Moondogs and suggests they change their name to the Beatals; after several variations this settles on The Beatles in August. Stu was quite the looker, no doubt the best looking and coolest BEATAL starting out.
- January 14 – Elvis Presley is promoted to Sergeant in the United States Army. Really.
- January 25 – The National Association of Broadcasters in the United States reacts to the payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys accepting money for playing particular records. The music business has always been such a slimy business.
- March 5 – Elvis Presley returns home from serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, having stopped off on March 2 at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, his only time in the U.K. Really, with all those #1's in the U.K. I would have thought he played there.
- April 4 – RCA Victor Records announces that it will release all pop singles in mono and stereo simultaneously, the first record company to do so. Elvis Presley's single "Stuck on You" is RCA's first mono/stereo release.
- April 17 – Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Cochran's girlfriend Sharon Sheeley are injured in a car accident near Chippenham in England. Cochran dies in a hospital in Bath, Somerset, from severe brain injuries. Police officer David Harman, who attends the incident, starts learning to play the guitar using Cochran's impounded Gretsch, later becoming professional musician Dave Dee. I've never heard the last part of that story.
- April 20 – Elvis Presley returns to Hollywood for the first time since coming home from Germany to film G.I. Blues. Bring on those "B" slock movies.
- May 2 – The Drifters' Ben E. King leaves the group and signs a solo record contract with ATCO Records.
- May 20–28 – The Beatles, as the Silver Beetles (uncredited), play their first ever tour, as a backing group for Johnny Gentle on a tour of Scotland. The lineup comprises John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore.
- July – The Shadows' instrumental 'Apache' is released in the U.K. I Love that song!
- August 17 – The Beatles make their debut under this name in Hamburg, Germany, beginning a 48-night residency at the Indra club. The band at the time comprises John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums. (see photo above, credit to The Beatles Bible.)
- The last 78 rpm records are released in the U.S. and the U.K.
- English rock musician Ritchie Blackmore's musical career begins.
- 14-year-old Neil Young founds The Jades with Ken Koblun. Neil loved The Shadows and playing Apache, not to mention his affinity for surf-style guitar.
- January 15 – Motown Records signs The Supremes. Have you ever heard of anyone not liking the Supremes? It's like someone saying, "I don't like pizza."
- February 9 – The Beatles at The Cavern Club: The Beatles, at this juncture John, Paul, George and Pete, perform under this name at The Cavern Club for the first time following their December return to Liverpool from Hamburg. Beginning with this lunchtime session, the group would go on to make almost 300 appearances here in total. Practice, practice, practice.
- February 12 – The Miracles' "Shop Around" becomes Motown's first million-selling single. Smokey Robinson's influence is off the charts.
- February 13 – Frank Sinatra forms his own record label, Reprise Records, which will later release recordings by The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix. Frank knew his way around a recording studio. Frank was very business savvy, like reading the script and not making "B" movies.
- The 3rd Annual Grammy Awards are held in Los Angeles, hosted by actor Lloyd Bridges. Lloyd must have had a great agent! Ray Charles wins the most awards with four. Ray's on fire! Bob Newhart's The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart wins Album of the Year, Percy Faith's version of the "theme from A Summer Place" wins Record of the Year and Ernest Gold's "Theme from Exodus" wins Song of the Year. Newhart also wins Best New Artist. Really, Percy Faith? Love Bob Newhart who was the young part of that older generation tradition of being a lifetime comic and actor on TV.
- June 14 – Patsy Cline is hospitalized as a result of a head-on car collision. While she is in hospital, the song "I Fall to Pieces" becomes a big Country/Pop crossover hit for her. Bigger news coming...
- June–July – Stu Sutcliffe leaves The Beatles to resume his art studies in Hamburg. Man, who's gonna play bass now?
- July 17 – Billboard magazine first publishes an "Easy Listening" chart, listing songs that the magazine determines are not rock & roll records. The first #1 song on this chart is "The Boll Weevil Song" by Brook Benton. This chart will be renamed a number of times, becoming the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. The kids are driving the bus now.
- October 17 – Former schoolfriends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, later of The Rolling Stones, meet each other again by chance on Dartford railway station in Kent, England, on the way to their respective colleges and discover their mutual taste for rock and roll. Turns out, the whole universe is a series of random events.
- November 9 – The Beatles at The Cavern Club: Future manager Brian Epstein first sees The Beatles. A huge part of The Beatles early success.
- December 8 – The Beach Boys release their debut 45rpm single: "Surfin'"/"Luau" on the small California label Candix Records. If you love The Beach Boys, you have to read David Marks' book, 'The Lost Beach Boy.'
- December 9 – The Beatles play their first gig in the south of England, at Aldershot. Due to an advertising failure, only 18 people turn up. In the early hours of the following morning they play an impromptu set at a London club. You mean Facebook screwed up back then too.
- The Country Music Association (CMA) creates the Country Music Hall of Fame and inducts, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams as the first three members.
- January 1 – The Beatles and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes both audition at Decca Records in London which has the option of signing one group only. The Beatles are rejected, mainly as they come from Liverpool and the others are Dagenham-based, nearer London. Decca will come to regret that decision.
- January 5 – The first album on which The Beatles play, My Bonnie, credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers" (recorded last June in Hamburg and produced by Bert Kaempfert), is released by Polydor.
- January 24 – Brian Epstein signs on to manage The Beatles. Good move lads.
- March 19 – Bob Dylan releases his debut album, Bob Dylan, in the United States, featuring mostly folk standards. The New Folk Movement gets their superstar.
- April 7 – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meet Brian Jones at The Ealing Club, a blues club in London. What if Brian Jones had lived past 1969? It sure would have made things even more interesting with their very interesting band.
- April 10 – Former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe dies from cerebral paralysis caused by a brain hemorrhage in Hamburg, Germany. The good die young.
- April 12 – A recording is made of Bob Dylan's concert at the Town Hall, in New York City by Columbia Records. (Columbia eventually release the recording of "Tomorrow is a Long Time" from this concert.)
- April 24 – Bob Dylan begins recording The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in New York. Look out world.
- May 29 – The 4th Annual Grammy Awards are held in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Henry Mancini wins the most awards with five, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for his song "Moon River". Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall wins Album of the Year, while Peter Nero wins Best New Artist. The old guard will run the Grammy's for years to come and mostly be out of touch with the changing culture.
- June 6 – The Beatles play their first session at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London.
- June 19 – The film version of the musical The Music Man is released to theaters by Warner Bros. "Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City."
- August 2 – Robert Allen Zimmerman legally changes his name to Bob Dylan in the New York Supreme Court. Bob has repeatedly said that he did not take his name from Dylan Thomas. His quote, " I have done more for Dylan Thomas than he's ever has done for me."
- August 16 – The Beatles fire drummer Pete Best and replace him with Ringo Starr. Single best decision the lads ever make as a band.
- August 17 – 'Instrumental Telstar,' written and produced by Joe Meek for English band The Tornados, is released in the UK. The song will eventually be the first song by a British group ever to reach the top spot on the Billboard Top 100 in the United States, proving to be a precursor to the British Invasion.
- August 18 – The Beatles play their first live engagement with the line-up of John, Paul, George and Ringo, at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight on the Wirral Peninsula.
- August 20 – Albert Grossman becomes Bob Dylan's manager. Colonel Tom Parker with a beard?
- August 23 – John Lennon marries Cynthia Powell in an unpublicized register office ceremony at Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. She would not be treated well by John.
- September 21 – New Musical Express, the British music magazine, publishes a story about two 13-year-old schoolgirls, Sue and Mary, releasing a disc on Decca and adds "A Liverpool group, The Beatles, have recorded 'Love Me Do' for Parlophone Records, set for October 5 release."
- September 22 – Bob Dylan appears for the first time at Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of a hootenanny including the first public performance of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall". I've heard live 1963 and 64 recordings of Hard Rain and they are extremely powerful, I got chills the first time I heard these live recordings just a few years ago.
- September 23 – Opening concert at the New York Philharmonic's new home, Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and broadcast live on television across the United States by NBC. The opening work, Aaron Copland's specially commissioned Connotations, sends "shock waves through the world of music".
- October 5 – The Beatles' first single in their own right, "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You", is released in the UK on EMI's Parlophone label. Look out world!
- October 17 – The Beatles make their first televised appearance, on Granada television's local news programme People and Places.
- October 20 – Peter, Paul and Mary's self-titled debut album reaches No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Like a Hard Day's Night, I found this album in my grandfather's 'Columbia House Record Club' collection in his stereo console after he died and snatched it to be part of my new record collection in 1967.
- Joan Baez has all of her first three albums on the Billboard charts, on their way to Gold status. I was not a fan of Joan Baez as a young person, but have grown to admire her life-long activism and singing. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Baez is a great example to anyone in how to take care of yourself over the years.
- Two Pete Seeger classic songs reach the Billboard pop charts:"Where Have All the Flowers Gone" recorded by The Kingston Trio reaches No. 21. "If I Had a Hammer", recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, reaches No. 10. Pete is such an influence to kick-starting the new folk movement and bringing folk music into U.S. classrooms across America.
- The first American Folk Blues Festival, initiated by German promoters, tours Europe; artists include Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and T-Bone Walker. Its only UK date, 21 October at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, is influential on the British R&B scene, with the audience including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones with Jimmy Page, Paul Jones, John Mayall and other musicians, and with a second show filmed and shown on Independent Television. Sad to learn years later that American Blues and Jazz treasures had to go to Europe to get the recognition they deserved. In a large sense Europe is like a boomerang for American music, where we put it out there, it's appreciated and absorbed by European fans who in turn bring it back around to American audiences.