I seem to remember Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" all over the radio in 1965 and this prompted me to go out and buy the 45. It reached #1 on the Billboard chart during the week ending September 25th, yet it doesn't show up on any of the WLS charts. I've read that, at the time, some radio stations had banned the song. Would you or any of your readers know if WLS banned it, or that it just didn't reach the top 40? I've also read that WCFL held a contest called "The Battle of the Barrys" where listeners called in and voted between Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" and Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" (a little Vietnam politics), so I assume WCFL played it. I don't know if it placed on the WCFL charts. Any help with this "not so Forgotten Hit" and WLS?Thanks ...
ps. After thousands of votes, Sadler was supposed to have won by one vote!
WLS passed on "Eve Of Destruction", despite it going all the way to #1 on the national charts. (WCFL wasn't playing Top 40 yet in the Summer of '65 so this wasn't even an option.) I, too, remember the song receiving a fair amount of local Chicagoland airplay ... and on The Top Tunes Of Greater Chicago Chart (which was distributed at local record stores all over the area), the record reached #8. (Since this chart wasn't tied to a specific radio station at this time, this would have been more a reflection of SALES, meaning you weren't the ONLY one in town buying this single! And let's face it ... record stores wouldn't have STOCKED the single unless SOMEBODY was playing it ... and buying it. As I recall, this was probably more of a WIND thing!)
I remember my Mom loved the tune, too, and Barry McGuire's whole persona. We featured the story behind the Barry McGuire tie-in to The Mamas and The Papas a while back in Forgotten Hits ... and just recently featured "The Dawn Of Correction" by The Spokesman, an "answer song" written by FH List Member John Madara. As for the "Battle of the Barrys", I'm not familiar with that one ... but WCFL did all kinds of crazy things like this back then so it's entirely possible!
Apparently S/Sgt. Barry Sadler's hit, "The Ballad of the Green Beret", WAS considered "politically correct" enough to receive airplay on WLS ... it ultimately peaked at #2 on The Silver Dollar Survey in early 1966.
Here's some more on this topic, '60's FLASHBACK style:
THE DAWN OF CORRECTION by THE SPOKESMEN
A topic that seems to come up from time to time here in Forgotten Hits is the subject of Protest Songs ... with America entrenched in yet another seemingly endless (and pointless) war, several of our readers have suggested that "Eve Of Destruction" may once again be the most appropriate song of the day.
Back in 1965, after Barry McGuire topped the pop charts with his rendition of the P.F. Sloan anthem (our buddies The Turtles ALSO recorded this tune), songwriter John Madara felt compelled to voice his OWN opinions as to the current state of affairs, circa 1965. He quickly assembled his songwriting partner David White (along with WIBG DeeJay Ray Gilmore ... who, by the way, is now working as Sean Casey in Boston) and went into the studio and cut "The Dawn Of Correction" ... and released it as a brand new single by The Spokesmen. In no time at all, the record started climbing the charts, eventually peaking at #22 in Cash Box Magazine.
We couldn't help but wonder ... in hindsight ... with The War in Viet Nam escalating ... and more and more opposition to the war rising at an even FASTER pace here at home at the time ... what John's thoughts were now, some 40-years after the fact.
FORGOTTEN HITS: Obviously "Dawn Of Correction" was a quickly-put-together "Answer Record" to "Eve Of Destruction" ... and these types of records seem to have not only a short "shelf life" when it comes to relevancy, but also have to come out almost IMMEDIATELY on the heels of the other hit record to make any sense at all. Did you first try to place it with any other artists or was it just quickest and easiest to go into the studio and cut the record yourselves to get it out right away?
JOHN MADARA: We wrote the song on a Wednesday, recorded it the following Monday, and it was released by the end of the week. We did not have an artist at the time to record it, so we did it ourselves. We did take a positive stand with our lyrics and tried to answer Barry McGuire's statements in his lyric.
FH: LOL ... yeah, I guess that qualifies for "immediacy"!!! (lol) Your record was a very "positive" record as to the state of the country at that time ... or at least it STRESSED the positive aspects of what we had accomplished as a country. Did you catch any flack for that ... war protestors were really just first coming into the spotlight at this time.
JM: We had positive reactions and negative reactions. One of the reactions was when the Spokesmen worked with the Byrds on the Hollywood-A-Go-Go TV show. After we performed the song, we were hanging out later on with David Crosby and the Byrds and David said to us, "Do you guys really believe that shit you're singing?" Also, we could not perform the song on many of the TV shows that we did, i.e., Shindig, American Bandstand, etc.
FH: In hindsight, when the War in Viet Nam was deemed to be a war we couldn't win ... and probably some place we shouldn't have even been ... did you have any regrets or change of heart regarding recording this song? (By then, it was probably, at best, a "forgotten" novelty track ... but I mean did you PERSONALLY have any regrets?)
JM: In 1966, after recording Joey Heatherton for Decca, we started dating for the next two years, and I was invited in 1966 to go on the Bob Hope tour to Vietnam with Joey. I always felt a little uncomfortable about the lyrics. After the trip to Vietnam, I saw what our soldiers were going through and how much the war made no sense at all. I definitely had some personal regrets with "The Dawn Of Correction" lyric. When we wrote the song, we were never for the war, we were just for America, and we felt that "The Eve of Destruction" was a slap against America. Because of the anti-war sentiment, "The Dawn of Correction" was obviously taken the wrong way.
We dug a little deeper into Barry McGuire's career during our Mamas And Papas Series several years back. Here's a short excerpt from that:
THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS:
Folk-club pal Barry McGuire got The Mamas And The Papas their first audition with producer Lou Adler and Dunhill Records. That fateful day, they performed "Go Where You Wanna Go", "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'". (Ironically, these songs would become their first three singles!)
Lou Adler had never seen or heard ANYTHING like them before. (He literally could not believe his eyes and ears ... hence the title of their first album.) He pretty much knew he needed to sign them right away before any other label in town had the chance. Although the final details needed to be worked out, he asked leader John Phillips what he wanted in order to sign and John replied, "I want a steady stream of money coming from your office to my house." The truth was, The Mamas And The Papas were broke ... down to their last ten dollars.
Adler said that he would hire them to sing backup vocals on Barry McGuire's new album, "This Precious Time", as a means to earn some money until they were ready to start their own recording sessions. As more of a favor to earn him some songwriting royalties, McGuire also cut one of John Phillips' own compositions, a little tune called "California Dreamin'". The arrangement and backing track were IDENTICAL to the one eventually released as The Mamas And The Papas' version. In fact, they simply removed Barry McGuire's vocals, inserted their own, and replaced what was once a harmonica solo with the flute solo we all know and love.
Phillips supposedly begged McGuire not to release his version as a single so that HIS band could have a chance at the song. McGuire agreed, stating that, after all, it was John's song in the first place. It turned out to be a career-making decision for both artists involved. Truth was, Barry McGuire was having a hard time getting airplay after "Eve Of Destruction" ... the song was controversial and had been banned by many radio stations around the country ... yet STILL sold well enough to hit the top spot on the charts.
McGuire would never have another Top 40 Hit ... but "California Dreamin'" launched the careers of The Mamas and the Papas.
BTW: Barry McGuire had some pretty impressive help on his first few solo recordings. Not only did The Mamas and the Papas sing background on his "This Precious Time" album, but the backing group on his hit single "Eve Of Destruction" was none other than fellow Dunhill group The Grass Roots! (kk)
***I asked WLS Disc Jockey (and then Program Director) Clark Weber what he remembered about the discussions that ultimately led to the decision that Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction" would not be played on the radio station. In that WLS was all about appealing to their "teen audience", I wondered what other circumstances may have contributed to this decision ... after all, Protest Songs were a big part of the '60's Music Scene. Here's what he told me:
I remember the song and the situation that it engendered quite well. I was the program director at WLS and placed the song on our playlist. The uproar that it created was almost immediate. Sponsors both big and small began calling and complaining about the song. VFW and American Legion groups were furious, and I have no doubt that both local and national Democrats had a vested interest in trying to keeping it off the air. President Johnson ordered the troops into Viet Nam based on a bogus confrontation with alleged North Viet Nam gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin, an election was coming due and they wanted to be seen as no nonsense protectors of the world. ABC was also mindful of the fact that the FCC was controlled by the Democrats and they didn’t want to stir up a hornets nest.
Remember that cards, letters and evening phone calls on the WLS switchboard were the only way in which the teen listeners could voice an opinion. There were no on air call in’s. As a matter of fact, the DJ didn’t even have a phone in the studio. At the time our 17 year old high school switchboard operator was Ed Schwartz (who later became Chicago Eddy Schwartz) and I had him keep tabs of the yea's and neigh’s when we pulled it. As I recall, the kids were pretty evenly split on the ban ... however Schwartz took time to write me a note saying that he personally felt it was wrong to take it off the air.
Paul Harvey’s studio was on the next floor and I saw him in the hall on day and he expressed satisfaction with it being taken off the air saying it was the most unpatriotic song he had ever heard. My personal feelings at the time were that we were wrong to get involved in that war. The last time the Democrats beat their war drums I wound up in Korean waters in the Navy for 3 years, 11 months and 14 days and we lost over 34,000 GI’s.
The uproar lasted not more than two or three weeks and I don’t believe it hurt our ratings although I have no proof of that. What it did do was cause talk among the kids about the WLS ban whether they agreed or disagreed with it. We had the same situation with “They're Coming to Take Me Away” and “Rhythm in the Rain.”
I hope this fills in some of the blanks.
Thanks, Clark! For the record, WLS DID jump on Barry McGuire's follow-up single ... and "Child Of Our Times" went to #25 later that year. (I remember my Mom having this 45 ... WITH the Picture Sleeve ... which is now in my personal collection.) After a successful stint with The New Christy Minstrels (his voice is QUITE distinctive and really stands out on their early hits "Green Green" and "Saturday Night"), McGuire soared to the top with "Eve Of Destruction" and then pretty much disappeared from the charts. As stated above, he was instrumental in getting The Mamas And The Papas signed to Dunhill Records, and that fact alone should be considered a MAJOR musical accomplishment in ANYBODY's book. As we discovered some years ago when we last covered this topic, he's still out there performing and recording. You can visit his website here:
In fact, you'll see that he has several live appearances coming up! Barry McGuire ALSO has an AMAZING website called Trippin' The Sixties that you'll want to add to your favorites immediately. It's the kind of site that'll have you coming back day after day after day to see the latest updates. Obviously, Barry has a GREAT affection for this music that was the '60's ... and it REALLY shows here on his website. Click here: Trippin the Sixties
I'm hoping to be talking with Barry McGuire in much greater depth once he gets back from his overseas tour ... and you can count on reading ALL of that right here in Forgotten Hits! In the meantime, here are a few words from Barry himself for all of our FH Readers:
I'm on the road for two weeks, home for two weeks from February 2nd through 16th and then gone again for six weeks to Australia / New Zealand until April 1st. In the meantime, if you and your readers would like to check out my www.trippinthesixties.com show site, you'll see that there are several videos on the Video page, and we're updating the "On This Day" page daily. You'll find tons of stories and photos of our on the road adventures on the Blog page - just have a browse around and it'll give you an idea of what I'm up to these days. You'll also find my show schedule there and see that a lot of my old albums are now available for digital download from the Store page.
The new show is called "Trippin The Sixties." I'm working with a dear friend of mine, John York, (The Byrds.) We've done about 70 shows in the last two years all over the world. The show has a new website, www.trippinthesixties.com, that I know everyone who goes there will really enjoy browsing around. John and I have just recorded a new album called "Songs from the Kitchen."
That's about it for now. Looking forward to talking more with you once I get back, Barry
Meanwhile, that OTHER Barry ... as in S/Sgt. Barry Sadler ... had one more chart hit when "The 'A' Team" peaked at #18 in 1966. He was discharged from military service after severely injuring his leg in a booby trap while serving in Viet Nam. When his music career stalled, Sadler began writing adventure books and over twenty titles were published over the next several years. (It was later disclosed that Sadler had written only the first couple of these while the others were "farmed out" to a variety of writers who published their work under Sadler's name.)
The REST of his civilian life wasn't quite as exemplary ... and, after all the fame associated with him thanks to his military career, he didn't exactly die a "hero".
In the late '70's Sadler shot and killed Country And Western Songwriter Lee Emerson in his own driveway. He pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four to five years in prison ... but only served thirty days. In 1988 he was shot in the head during what was reported to be an attempted robbery at this Guatemalan home. (One report I read said that he was shot in a taxi.) The circumstances surrounding this shooting have become the subject of much speculation and rumor ... yet another unsolved rock and roll mystery! In addition to the most commonly believed robbery story, there are also reports circulating that Sadler committed suicide, that he accidentally shot himself while showing off to a female companion and that he was assassinated for allegedly training and arming the Contras. (According to his companion at the time, he had been training Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries and had been receiving death threats.) Whatever the circumstances, Sadler remained in a coma for several months after the shooting, ultimately dying of heart failure in 1989. The New York Times official obituary reported at the time that "the cause of death was not given" and that "an autopsy would be performed." The obit goes on to read that "Mr. Sadler had been hospitalized since he was critically wounded in what a companion said was a robbery. The companion said at the time that Mr. Sadler had been training Nicaraguan rebels in Guatemala and had received death threats."