Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25th

On a program that features Van Johnson, Liza Minnelli (performing "Cabaret") and Mickey Rooney, it's kind of a shocker to find The Hollywood Palace running the two new Beatles promotional clips for "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever"!!!

Speaking of The Beatles, George Harrison celebrates his 24th birthday today. 

Here in Chicago, Tommy James and the Shondells take over the top spot on both the WLS and the WCFL weekly surveys.


Tommy James tells this story of hearing "I Think We're Alone Now" for the very first time. 

He and the Shondells had just gotten back from a show in Bemuda and was at a meeting in Henry Glover's office at Roulette Records.  Also there were songwriters Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry.

Bo sat down at the piano - Ritchie grabbed my arm and said "Listen to this.  We've been working all night."  Bo played single notes on the bass keys, an octave apart, while Ritchie sang:  "Children behave ... that's what they say when we're together". And then he played me a hook that blew me away ... "I think we're alone now ... there doesn't seem to be anyone around."

No matter how badly Bo played the piano, no matter how off-key Ritchie sang, this was a smash.  They played it again and again and I liked it more every time.

"You guys wait here," I said and I ran into Morris Levy's office.  He was on the phone but he hung up and waved me right in.  "So what's up, kid? You got the next single?"  I said "Ritchie and his new partner just played me a fucking number-one record."  

Ritchie booked time at Allegro Studios in the basement of 1650 Broadway.  First we raised the key from G to A and then started toying with the arrangement. Ritchie and Bo originally wrote the song as a mid-tempo ballad.  I said no way and started speeding it up.

I began playing the staccato eighth notes on the bass strings, Bo began pounding out quarter-notes on the piano, Ritchie grabbed some drumsticks and did the best he could.  I then put on a nasally, almost juvenile-sounding lead vocal and, without realizing it, we invented "bubblegum" music.

"I Think We're Alone Now" was released the first week of January, 1967.  Radio loved it and it exploded.  Within two weeks, we had virtually every major station in the country playing the record.  It climbed the charts steadily through February, March and April in jumps of eight to ten points a week.  It ensured we would keep our bullet in the trade papers which, in turn, kept radio playing the record which, in turn, kept the record selling.
-- Tommy James

Friday, February 24, 2017

February 24th

This week's hot shot debuts include "Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles, premiering at #49 and, for the time being anyway, ahead of "Penny Lane", which sits at #62.

Also new on the chart this week is "Dedicated To The One I Love" by The Mamas and the Papas, which premiers at #55 and still to this day remains one of my favorite recordings of all time.  

"The 59th Street Bridge Song" by Harpers Bizarre (another timeless classic), is new at #75, "The Return Of The Red Baron" by The Royal Guardsmen, the obvious follow-up to their previous #2 Snoopy Hit, debuts at #82 and "Jimmy Mack" by Martha and the Vandellas", one of those great Motown hits that you will NEVER get out of your head, comes in at #86.  

Paul McCartney records his lead vocal for "Lovely Rita" at today's EMI Session for the upcoming "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.  

The Bee Gees sign a five year manger's contract with Robert Stigwood  

In an ABC Television Special titled "The Songmakers", profiles of popular artists of the day are featured via interviews, rehearsals, recording sessions and live performances on stage.  The All-Star Line-Up includes The Mamas and the Papas ("Boys And Girls"), Simon and Garfunkel ("The 59th Street Bridge Song"), Dionne Warwick ("I Say A Little Prayer"), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ("Mickey's Monkey"), Judy Collins, The Byrds (who, with Judy, perform "Turn Turn Turn"), Burt Bacharach, Hal David, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Henry Mancini and others.  (Be cool to see THAT one again!)  

The Supremes begin recording "The Happening" at Motown Records in Detroit.  The Motown "house band", The Funk Brothers, are joined by Wrecking Crew Drummer Hal Blaine for this session.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23rd

The Monkees' television series is renewed for a second season.  

That afternoon they re-record "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" ... this time with Micky handling the lead vocal.  (It will wind up as the B-Side of their next single.) 

Elvis Presley records the title track to his 25th motion picture, "Clambake".  (Wow ... Elvis thought the music for this movie was weak?!?!  Wonder what ever gave him THAT idea?!?!)

Across the pond, The Beatles record the basic tracks to "Lovely Rita" for their new Sgt. Pepper album.  (They will finish this up on March 21st.)

The 25th Amendment to The Constitution is enacted.   

It states:  

Section 1:  In the case of the removal of the President from office or his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President  

Section 2:  Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall  nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.  

Section 3:  Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the power and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.  

Section 4:  Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.  

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.  Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session.  If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.  

The Fifth Dimension perform three songs on "Where The Action Is" this afternoon:  "Go Where You Wanna Go", "The Hard Times" and "Fortune Teller".  Dick and DeeDee are also on hand to sing "All Strung Out".

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22nd

The Beatles overdub the famous last chord to "A Day In The Life", perhaps the most famous final chord in music history.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and assistant Mal Evans, sitting at three different pianos, simultaneously struck an E-Major chord.  (In all, it took nine takes before all four struck the chord in perfect unison.)  Producer George Martin then overdubbed the same chord on a harmonium to extend the effect.   

The entire chord recording (lasting 53 seconds) was then overdubbed three times (thus tripling it to NINE pianos!) and attached to the end of the song.  The length of the fadeout was extended even further by gradually bringing up the volume control in the studio.  (Listen closely at high volume and you'll hear rustling papers and a creaking piano stool)  

Can you imagine what the playback of this must have felt like that night?  (One who would know would be David Crosby of The Byrds … he just happened to be visiting in the studio that evening!)  

Buffalo Springfield perform "For What It's Worth" on "Where The Action Is".

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21st

Big movers outside The Top 40 include "Happy Together" by The Turtles (#44, up from #65), "Ups And Downs" by Paul Revere and the Raiders (#56, up from #74), "No Milk Today" by Herman's Hermits, up twenty spots from #80 to #60, "The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage", also taking a twenty point leap from #87 to #67 for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" by Sam and Dave, which climbs 22 places from #100 to #78.  

Ford recalls 217,000 vehicles to check for faulty brakes and steering.  

The Beatles finish "Fixing A Hole",  a track they started on the 9th of February.  (Monkee Micky Dolenz is present for the session.)  

? and the Mysterians are back on "Where The Action Is" performing "96 Tears" as is Jimmy Castor, doing his latest hit "Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Calling You".  

Elvis was scheduled to begin filming his new motion picture "Clambake" today but has been so preoccupied with his ranch and horse collection of late, The Colonel arranges for Elvis to begin recording the soundtrack music in Nashville instead.  (He arrives by Lear Jet for these sessions!)  Elvis found the movie music to be typically weak but will continue to work on these recordings over the next three days.  

Of greater interest to him is waxing a version of "You Don't Know Me", for which he records 21 takes at a session that runs from 5:30 PM until 6:00 am the following morning.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20th

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame is born.  This won't mean ANYTHING to anybody for another 24 years.  

Elvis Presley's "How Great Thou Art" album is released.  It will go on to become Elvis' very first Grammy-winning record when it wins the 1967 Award for Best Sacred Performance.  

In the "Captain Crocodile" episode of The Monkees, the boys perform "Valleri".  The song would not officially be released by the group for a year … but deejays around the country tape this performance from the television broadcast and it quickly becomes the most requested song on the radio, outpacing the tracks on their brand new LP.  Monkemania is in full swing!  

Read the "Behind The Scenes" story of the song "Valleri" here …  (Chapter 6) …   

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19th

The Rolling Stones knock The Buckinghams out of the #1 spot after only one week as "Ruby Tuesday" climbs to the top of this week's Super Chart.  "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" seems poised to overtake it as it continues its climb in The Top Ten, this week moving from #5 to #3.  "Gimme Some Lovin'" by The Spencer Davis Group and "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" by The Casinos finally reach The Top Ten this week as well, climbing from #12 to #7 and #13 to #9 respectively.  

Johnny Rivers continues his climb up the chart, moving from #30 to #15 with his version of "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'", as does Ed Ames with his new hit "My Cup Runneth Over", up from #28 to #20.  

The Buffalo Springfield crack The Top 40 for the first time with their '60's anthem "For What It's Worth", climbing from #45 to #28 this week.  "Darling Be Home Soon" by The Lovin' Spoonful make an impressive move from #56 to #32, as does Herman's Hermits, leaping from #51 to #33 with "There's A Kind of Hush".  

"More Of The Monkees" tops the album chart for the third week in a row.  

The Four Tops perform a hits medley on The Ed Sullivan Show including "Reach Out, I'll Be There", "I Can't Help Myself", "Bernadette" and "Climb Every Mountain".  Pat Boone is also in the line-up tonight, performing a soliloquy from "Carousel".  

Number One at the Box Office:  Hurry Sundown