Since I'm about to be leaving on a jet plane, you can take a wild guess as to which tune is the featured Song of the Day. Unlike these lyrics, I thankfully know when I'm coming back, but the posting will be a little quiet for just a week or two. Written by folk singer John Denver, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was originally recorded in 1967 by the Chad Mitchell Trio (of which the then unknown Denver had replaced Mitchell two years prior), and later that year, this song was always recorded by Spanky & Our Gang (which I really wanted to post their version too but it's not on YouTube). Peter, Paul, & Mary also released a version on their album that same year, but it didn't become a big hit until they released it as a single in 1969. For this famous folk trio, it turned out to be their biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only #1 hit on the US Billboard chart. It also topped the easy listening chart for three weeks. In the late '70s, the song was used in United Airlines commercials. Here's a live performance by Peter, Paul, & Mary in Melbourne, Australia in 1968 (the sound quality is a not so great at the beginning but does improve for the rest of the song).
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
And since this wouldn't be The '60s Beat without some music, here are the original Grass Roots performing "Heaven Knows" on the short-lived series "Music Scene" in 1969 (and Rob Grill is looking mighty fine).
Be sure to check out past posts featuring other great tunes by The Grass Roots here.
here). And here are those crazy guys now (and yes, Flo managed to retain that wild 'fro).
If you're interested in hearing these groups, be sure to check out the Happy Together Tour taking place this summer (here's the schedule). The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees will be joining The Turtles and The Grass Roots, performing all their top hits.
Friday, May 11, 2012
And now for something completely different, it's time for a quick, 2-part series on those fun and footloose dance crazes of the 1960s!
Obviously, we have to begin with American singer-songwriter Chubby Checker who popularized the twist dance style with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard's R&B tune "The Twist." It was actually Dick Clark who was extremely instrumental in helping propel this song to the top of the American charts by exposing it on American Bandstand and The Dick Clark Show. At the age of 19, Checker became a star when this nationwide smash hit reached #1 in that September and again in January of 1962 (the only song to top the Billboard 100 twice in two separate runs). This twist phenomenon also marked a significant turning point for adult acceptance of rock and roll as this song joined grown-ups and teenagers on the dance floor. In 1961, Checker had a successful follow-up single with "Let's Twist Again." Including a introduction by the late Dick Clark, here's one of Checker's many twistin' appearances on American Bandstand.
here) is a variation of this dance with the same footwork (but with 'monster' arm and hand gestures). Also a #1 hit on the R&B chart, here's Dee Dee Sharp mashin' it up (and if you're interested in how to do this dance, take a lesson from the blonde dancer in this clip!).
Peppermint Lounge in New York City, Joey Dee & The Starliters were a popular music team best-known for their successful million-selling record "The Peppermint Twist" from 1961. Wanting to capitalize on the Twist dance craze and the nightclub they performed in, Joey Dee and Henry Glover wrote this tune, and saw it hit #1 on the chart in early 1962, replacing Chubby Checker's "Twist." Featuring lead singer David Brigati (older brother of singer Eddie Brigati of The Young Rascals), the original song was considered too long for release as a single, so it was split into two parts: the first being "Peppermint Twist (Part 1)" and the second half (which was mostly instrumental) is rarely heard today. Actually, how about this for some trivia: while on tour in Europe in the 1963, The Beatles were the opening act for these guys, and over the next two years, Joey Dee toured with various Starliters including Eddie Brigati, Gene Cornish, and Felix Cavaliere (three-quarters of what later became The Young Rascals), as well as guitarists Jimmy James (later known as Jimi Hendrix!) and Joe Pesci (yes, that actor from Jersey). Anyway, check out Joey Dee & The Starliters, one of the first racially-integrated mainstream bands in America.
"The Name Game" Written by Ellis with her manager Lincoln Chase, this children's singalong rhyming song was released in late 1964, reaching #3 on the pop chart and #4 on the R&B chart in 1965. Shortly after that song's success, Ellis released "The Clapping Song" which reached #8 on the US chart. With lyrics borrowed from the 1930s song "Little Rubber Dolly," this song also features instructions for a clapping game. Sure looks like these dancers are getting a pretty good work-out with this spunky tune. Actually, I just noticed this song being used in a VW Beetle commercial the other night. So here's the classy Shirley Ellis doing her thing (too bad the video is way out of sync).