Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birthday Randomness

Happy 1st Birthday to The '60s Beat!!! Yes, this blog has now reached one whole year of walking down memory lane! We've covered over 200 artists and genres from this great decade, and the good news is there is still so much that hasn't even been mentioned yet!! I'd also like to thank all my wonderful readers who helped this page get over 16,000 pageviews! It's really a treat knowing that my mom isn't the only one reading this blog! :)
So for fun, the next few posts will be a part of our Random Series, featuring performers that have NOT YET been mentioned on this blog. I remember these next classic tunes receiving lots of airplay on the 'oldies' radio station during my childhood.

Random Hits: Part 1
After serving in the military as a singer with U.S. Army bands, Len Barry became the lead singer for The Dovells, a music group that went on to score huge hits, like the million-selling "Bristol Stomp" in the early 1960s. Then embarking on his own solo career in the mid-'60s, this pop/blue-eyed soul singer scored a few more hits like "1-2-3" in October of '65. Co-written by Barry, this classic reached #2 in the US and #3 in the UK, even reaching #11 on the US R&B charts. Selling over one and three quarter million copies, "1-2-3" was awarded the gold disc, and is one of the songs that appeared in John Lennon's jukebox. Barry's vocals are impressive but I'll admit that, as a kid, I thought this song was sung by a female!

Based in San Francisco, We Five was a folk rock musical group that are best-known for their 1965 remake of Ian & Sylvia's "You Were on My Mind." Formed by Michael Stewart (brother of John Stewart of the Kingston Trio) while attending University of San Franisco in '64, he spent many hours working on the musical arrangements for the group after the five members would practice together for five or six hours a day. The ensemble played acoustic guitars, electric guitar and bass, while singing multi-part harmonies, and later a drummer was added when they began to tour. We Five was also the first commercial folk-rock artist to record music for Coca-Cola. Reaching #1 on the Cashbox chart, #3 on the Billboard chart, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, "You Were on My Mind" sold over a million copies, and earned the group a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Vocal Group in '66 (losing to the Anita Kerr Quartet). With cute, little Beverly Bivens at the front, here's a true live performance on The Hollywood Palace.

In New York City, 1967, folk duo/brothers Dennis and Lary Larden formed the rock band Every Mother's Son and are remembered as a one-hit wonder (although four of their singles did chart). Signed to the MGM record label (with their clean-cut image apparently being the perfect antidote to the current hippie surge), they recorded a self-titled title album that included the single "Come On Down to My Boat," which shot to #6 on the Billboard chart in July of '67 (you know, that good 'ol "Summer of Love"). Because of their MGM label, MGM Television featured the group in a two-part episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which they performed this song in a night club as a fight broke out. Unable to sustain success, the group disbanded in 1968, however, Dennis later joined Ricky Nelson's Stone Canyon Band. This tune sure puts you in the mood for some clean, summer fun!

For our final group today, we'll conclude with another one-hit wonder, Spiral, Starecase (misspelling intentional), recognizable for its horns and lead singer Pat Upton's distinctive voice. Initially forming as a instrumental group for an Air Force talent contest in Sacramento, California, the group would play five-hour lounge gigs in Las Vegas before being discovered by Gary Usher, a representative/producer for Columbia Records. With Usher's help and encouragement, Upton wrote original material for the group, including their only hit "More Today Than Yesterday." Released in 1969, this single reached #7 on the Cashbox and #12 on the Billboard chart, selling over a million copies and earning a gold disc. Unfortunately, a year and a half after the single's success, the group disbanded due to poor management and disagreements over finances. (And this is another case of "I always thought this was a girl singing this song!" My apologizes to Pat; your vocals are amazing.)

And there you have it for our first day of random artists. This birthday celebration continues for a few more weeks with many more random classics!


  1. Congratulations !
    Thank you very much for your inspiring Blog.

    1. You are too kind, Gerrit. Thank you so much for reading!

  2. Thank you for finally doing justice to the Spiral Starecase! Funny story about that...
    When Sherri and I were dating, I, in an overtly cheesy moment, used that line on her ("I love you more today than yesterday...") thinking that she would get the reference to the song, and perhaps return with a lighthearted chuckle or guffaw. As it turns out, she was not aware of the 60's pop tune, but actually an old French poem/folk song that, when translated and paraphrased, is strikingly similar to the chorus of the Starecase hit single. I later explained I was referencing a pop song, but the fact that she believed for a brief moment that I was studied in the folk literature of her ancestral land, I believe, helped seal the deal on our relationship.

    Give my best to Alex, and keep up the good work, you are helping keep the 60's turbulent!

    1. Wow, so cool to hear from you, Jason (a.k.a "the last person I'd expect to read this blog")! That sounds like a classic Jason/Sherri story, too funny. I know, it's almost ironic that a conservative, non-hippie like me would make a hobby out of writing about this wild decade, but the 'oldies' are just so much fun.
      Man, we miss you guys! Hope to meet your Sweet Caroline in the near future!

  3. Leah! Love everything about your blog!!!! Just check ed out the Wee 5 and I think Artie from Glee based his character on the guy at 0:56. Check it out. I always loved this song. And also really liked Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. It just goes to show you that no matter what, if you're having fun playing music is stands the test of time. Bravo to you Leah!