(Pictured: Herb Alpert on stage in 1967.)
Because 2020 is a horror show, let’s seek refuge in the edition of Billboard dated June 3, 1967, the front page of which has a story about the upcoming Monterey Pop Festival, set for June 16-18. It says that artists have consented to play for free, with proceeds going to charity.
—Station owner and Top 40 pioneer Gordon McLendon has been arguing recently for a stricter “code of record standards” to keep questionable content off the air. A recent article about the McLendon campaign brought this comment from a radio executive in Louisville who says it’s necessary to protect young people during their “formative years”: “In reviewing our records at this station, we came across a new record by the Grass Roots, titled ‘Let’s Live for Today.’ This record has a lyric line in it that says: ‘Baby I Need To Feel You Inside of Me.’ Needless to say this record will not be heard on our station.” An executive in Denver is willing to compliment the McLendon stations only up to a point: “It is amazing to us that any operator could have been playing the records of which Mr. McLendon speaks all these years and not realize until now that he has been pandering to the youth of his communities.”
—WOR-FM in New York, in conjunction with several college radio stations, has learned that the most popular “olden goldie” among college kids is “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Tonite Tonite” by the Mello-Kings placed second and third.
—An executive at Los Angeles Trade Technical College is trying to persuade the administration to start “a jukebox class.” The article does not specify exactly what the class would entail, or what jobs one might be better equipped to get after taking it: selling jukeboxes or fixing them.
—From the “Situations Wanted” column: “Third endorsed, 20 yrs. old, English major, now in LA college, will relocate, summer or longer. 8 months’ experience in Top 40 and FM. Ohio: I’ll see you soon. All others bid fast.” Let’s break that down a little. “Third endorsed” refers to a third-class radiotelephone operator’s license with an endorsement that allows you to operate a transmitter. Back then, you needed a third to get on the air practically anywhere; the endorsement involved answering an extra set of technical questions on your FCC exam. So a “third endorsed” is a very basic credential, one step up from “have driver’s license.” The most precious part, however, is thinking that somebody with eight months’ experience is going to spark a bidding war for his services. Yeah, probably not. But ’twas ever thus: young broadcasters overselling their potential and/or raw talent in hopes of getting a job. I did it myself.
—Aretha Franklin sweeps the charts this week: “Respect” is #1 on the Hot 100 and the R&B singles chart, and I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You is #1 on the R&B album chart. The blue-eyed soul of the Young Rascals has broad appeal this week: “Groovin'” is #2 on the Hot 100 and makes a strong move on the R&B singles chart from #22 to #12, while their album Collections sits at #5 on the R&B album chart, even though “Groovin'” isn’t on it.
—The I Never Loved a Man album is #2 on the pop album chart behind More of the Monkees and just ahead of Bill Cosby’s Revenge.
—At #4 on the Hot 100 is “Release Me,” the first big hit by English crooner Engelbert Humperdinck. Although Humperdinck will become one of the superstars of easy listening over the next decade, “Release Me” makes little impact on Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart. It’s in its second straight week at #32, after two weeks at #33. (Read more about him in this space next week.) The #1 Easy Listening hit is “Casino Royale” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, which has knocked the Sinatras’ “Somethin’ Stupid” to #2 after three weeks at #1. “Somethin’ Stupid,” which spent a month atop the Hot 100 in April and early May, is hanging on at #16 on the big chart in this week.
I couldn’t place “Casino Royale” by its title, but as so often happens with easy-listening hits from the mid 60s, I knew it as soon as I heard it. Mother and Dad’s radio came back through the static of decades, loud and clear.