Rock n' Roll 1964: Observations and Events

The Beatles in 1964 during their world tour

The Beatles in 1964 during their world tour


"Stagnant" situation in pop music (following payola, development of historical self-consciousness, etc.). Death of Folk music.

Teenagers--sophistication "matures" to point of questioning of the establishment (thereby establishing its own identity); awareness of the world as understood in terms of protest (definition of youth in terms of trappings, ie. clothing, hair--not essence or spirit); don't matter against so much, eg. war, civil rights, clothing, hair).  Sophistication--is historical revolution, but it is on a popular level. Dangers: obscure experience of the "real" thing; put-down syndrome.

2 key elements of 1964 change: England, Negroes

Folk Rock is NOT key in a comparable way. Folk rock is teen mlusic BUT basically white middle-class, therefore pop America's answer to single influence superficially, paralleling Negro music. But it does raise major cultural issues:

1.        individual/group
2.        fine-popular/folk    

The English influence--major and more dramatic.
Negro development has roots before 64--especially rise of Mowtown, but reacts to English influence in a way that emphasizes its own course of development, while very little concurrent influence of Negro on English (although earlier RnB is source).

What happens in 1964?

  • English groups=white
  • Return of RnB--payola
  • Jan 1965--RnB charts back in BillBoard
  • 1950s--Negroes lost their music, now want it back as "race" music, but can't call it race--rather "soul". This is denied verbally, intellectually, but soul is negro. Blue-eyed soul problems; KGFJ programs NO white music, WILD (1961) also
  • This reaffirms Elvis' significance. He is 1st white artist to crack RnB. He has a following fan attachment in a way no negro artist of the period does--because white is ok
  • Post 1964--importance of Group; which have personalities. Group vs. individual paradox, ambivalence (cf. LSD, folk)
  • Folk music is thoroughly white middle class; USES negroes, is convenient, safe, defensible, part of the cause-good design, also anti-war, integration. These in themselves are noble, good causes, "dead issues" to intelligent, reasonable men
  • Fallout scare (Oct 30, 1961): need happy music--The death of JFK
  • The degree to which Elvis is hated by adults is his assumption of "negro" role sexuality (Elvis the Pelvis) a not insignificant element, blatant, loud
  • Natural, human desire of negro to want his music back--he does this through disguised racism, eg. soul
  • Group breakups--is traumatic today, not so earlier, eg. Bill Haley changing personnel; Role (effect) of artist shifts (performer---idol; individual--group)
  • Topics of teen magazines
  • Comparable to what extent with Elvis, Sinatra Fetish cults today--post 1964
  • KRLA-KYA Beat---post 64, other pubs: KFWB etc, Soul 1966
  • English--European --"Foreign" appeal tradition among part-sophisticated, history of American Revolution. Real sophisticates, eg. Jefferson, Adams, knew France, Europe was civilized and why. Other Americans lived in adulation of Europe, felt defensive toward it culturally through Armory Show up to 1940s. With Arts and Entertainment--self-conscious nationalism, but via imported artists largely
  • Paradox (+earlier parallel) French Rev.--ideals of which are cited but which is American in source. Prophet abroad syndrome

Events of 1964:

  • Jan 4: Supremes biographies: high school talent show, which they won, brought them to attentions of Motown. "I Want A Guy" was first record. Current "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" #28 on Hot 100. 
  • Jan 11:
    (1) Hawaiian music growing, thanks to tourist trade, mostly Decca.
    (2)  Motown going into CnW field --Melody label to be for country and folk
    (3)  AD: Trashmen "Surfin' Bird" (Soma)
    (4)  Radio-TV programming, 3 articles on revivals of old radio shows like "The Shadow", "The Green Hornet," "Sherlock Holmes," proto-"Batman"
  • Jan 18:
    (1) Singing Nun phenomenon--is #1 album
    (2)  Foreign product at Top of its form, 1963 best year ever for foreign material. Biggest tunes were: "Sukiyaki" Kyu Sakamoto (Capital), "Dominique" Singing Nun (Philips),
    "Telstar" Tornadoes (London), "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" Rolf Harris (Epic), "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" Caravelles (Smash)
    (3) AD: Decca "Hit City 64" The Surfaris record jacket shows groups with both v cut boards and hot rods
  • Jan 25: Phil Spector off to Europe--to discuss Phillies expansion in Europe
  • Feb 1: 
    (1) Indiana Gov. puts down pornographic Wand Tune--Kingsmen "Louie Louie"
    (2) AD: Sue records' the Soul Sisters "I Can't Stand It"
  • Feb 8: Album spotlight "Barbara Lebis Sings the Great Soul Tunes" Atlantic
  • Mar 21: Bitter End in Greenwich Village still running great business--key spot for college youth to scout new acts
  • Mar 28:
    (1) Alan Freed indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on charges of evading $37,920 in income taxes from 1957-59. Didn't declare payola income. His 1962 conviction was for NY's commercial bribery law.
    (2) College Polls: Favorite male vocalist--Johnny Mathis, Sinatra, A. Williams; Favorite female vocalist--Connie Francis, D. Day, Julie London; Big Band--Henry Mancini, P. Faity, R. Conniff; Vocal Group--Beatles, 4 Freshmen, Lettermen, Kingston Trio, 4 Seasons, Beachboys (#9 PPM); Male vocalist-folk music--Belafonte, Seeger, Josh White, Dylan, Cash, Ives, Bickel; Female vocalist--folk--Baez, Odetta, Miriam Makeba, Collins, Henske, Streisand; Vocal Group--folk-Peter, Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio, Chad Mitchell, Limelighters, NC Minstrels, Smothers, Bros. 4, Weavers; Male-jazz--Ray Charles
  • Apr 4: 2nd wave of talent for Folk music following Dylan, PP&M, K. Trio, etc. Transformed from trend to a stable wider pop audience as a result of record companies' merchandising techniques. (emphasis on building up catalogs after singles success--firmed up folk situation). Now folk is as important an area of commercial significance as Broadway musical or Hollywood sound tracks. Newport Folk Festival originally an afterthought to Newport Jazz Festival, but now is as important. Similar efforts by industry have failed for "pop gospel"
  • Apr 9:
    (1) CnW successful cross-over to folk--via concerts and LPs, eg. Platt and Scruggs, S. Cash. Some "pop contemporary folk standards": "16 Tons", "Big Bad John" (TE Ford, J Dean)
    (2) Emphasis on folk progress for college bookings in marked decline from first of year (Bill Honney of Wm. Bonney Agency, Philadelphia)
    (3)  Religion: Joy Strings "It's an Open Secret" UK-Salvation Army to be issued on Atco
    (4) Trashmen "Surfin' Bird" (Garrett) publ. by Willough, copyright and royalties won by Beachwood (Capitol's BMI subsidary) because substantial sections = copies of 2 songs owned by them--Rivingtons "Pappa Oom Mow Mow", "The Bird is the Word"
    (5) The Rs now named as composers instead of Steve Wonder and Garrett is paying retroactive royalties
  • April 11: Vibrations "My Girl Sloopy" (Atlantic), Bubbling Cassius Clay "Stand By Me" (Columbia). 131 Beatles with Tony Sheridan "Why" (MGM)
  • April 25: Henry Brief, exec secty, RIAA, testimony before House labor Sub committee, re proposed bill HR 9587 National Arts Development. Urging sound recordings to be included as a major art form. Basis--it brings more music to more people than any concert or live performance can/has. Provides 80% of radio programs
    (1) New payola charges by Al Huskey LS record promo man against KFWB, DJS, distributions in LA
    (2) Rod McKuen folk singer, composer says Beatles saved Folk Music--before last 4 mos. when Bs dominate everyone was hopping on Folk bandwagon whether authentically oriented like Dylan, PP&M, K Trio, J. Baez or not (Enables maintenance of loser status) otherwise folk would have worn itself out like calypso or B-N (therefore not truly "folk") Johnny-come-latelies now out of picture
    (3) Tod Storz dies--formulated Top 40 at base station KOHW Omaha which acquired 1949, then moved base of operations to WQMA Miami which purchased in 1956. Got idea listening to repeated juke play of hits in a bar, although 100 selections available. Tight-format music and news, is basis of "formula radio" also framework is flamboyant promotions on + off the air contests--giveaways, treasure hunts
  • May 9: Rita Pavone begins to be pushed all out by RCA as Italy's answer to the Beatles. She has sold over 8 million in European market (6 mill in Italy) a so far. Swim--dance fad in Galaxy Club, SF--beginning in LA strip, GoGos is male trio on RCA planning album to exploit idea
  • June 6: Rumor of FCC probe on payola unfounded. Commission staffers say fairly regular member of complaints on payola but not a single one has checked out to warrant prosecution under the 1960 anti-payola laws. This calls for criminal prosecution by Justice Dept. which means the FCC must produce evidence which can stand up in jury trial--fines or jail sentences make this evidence hard to get. Most pay­ola complaints are just suspicion, receive wholesale accusations that "all the deejays" in a certain area play only the bit labels. Often these come from disgruntled songwriters and record salesmen who feel they are not getting fair air exposure
  • May 30: Rock Around the Clock" revival after 10 years for Bill Haley and Comets with release of Blackboard Jungle (MGM) for commercial TV in Australia. Haley sold 100,000 "Rocks" on festival label there originally
  • June 13: Wilson Pickett signs with Atlantic, first record "For Better or Worse / I'm Gonna Cry" Lead singer for 4 years with Falcons from Detroit, where he wrote much of the material
  • June 20: First BB special feature Gospel--"Religious Music" monthly. Definition of term: 1.    Gospel--generally sung by groups accompanied by piano, eg. Statesmen Quartet. 2. Sacred—emphasis on inspiration rather than entertainment, eg. George Beverly: Shea, Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 3. Spoken Word--many LPs sell through church-related book stores, eg. Billy Graham, Paul Harvey, Charlton Heston readings. 4. Country Gospel--religious music sung by county artists accompanied by string instruments, eg. Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Red Foley, Lewis Family. 5. Spiritual—almost always sung by negro eg. Mahalia Jackson; cf. earlier definitions by Clara Ward
  • June 27: Recordings included in National Council Arts; Natl. Arts Foundation bill
  • July 4: AD: Verve--Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto "Girl from Ipanema"
  • Aug15: Lloyd Thaxton show—was on for 2 years in LA, now going network. MCA will do it. One hour. Dick Clark is only once a week at this time. Thaxton a performer, Clark isn't. Thaxton show-cases the audience, puts individuals in the spotlight
  • Aug 29: Supremes' "Where did Our Love Co" #1
  • Sept 19: Book Review Popular Music, vol. 1. 1950-59, ed. by Nat Shapiro, Adrian Press, 550 5th Ave, NY, $16. Must be ordered from press
  • Sept 26: Teen bent LPs show firm grip on LP charts--teen records up 18% over comparable period last year. Have 45 of 150 compared to 32 of 150 last year. Credit to Beatles; of 45 LPs 17 are English, 5 are Beatles. Pop has 67; folk has 17, jazz 15; Beatles top, then DC5, with 3 LPs, Beach Boys have 5 to lead American entries
  • Oct 10: Gale Garnett "We'll Sing in the Sunshine" (RCA), new ethic, non-ACE, romantic
  • Oct 17: Big surprise of fall tour prog. in London--tremendous success of Bill Haley and Comets 21-day concert tour, Brenda Lee backed out--top bill then Man­fred Mann, with Haley #2 still--switched to star closing act after 2nd night. Featured all big hits from peak of circa 1957 in non-stop 40 minute set, clos­ing with "Rock"
  • Oct 24: The chipmunks sing the Beatles hits (Liberty)
  • Dec 12: FCC announced investigations into payola but timed to excite minimum public response. First investigation or public announcement since 1960 payola, but closed hearings to play down charges
  • Dec 19: Sam Cooke shot in LA at motel "mistaken for Prowler"; `Leonard Feather host 5-10 minute films, 13 of them on history of jazz for MCA-TV, shorts from films shot in 30's on 2 programs, 1 hour each; History of the Drifters; Record Talent Showcase: Top 4 groups, Beatles, DC5, 4 Seasons, Beach Boys; Impressions=9; changing pattern