This week’s Countdown Saturday focuses on February, 27, 1964. The Keener brand was just four months old, but already the station had made waves, rocketing to the front of the pack in the ratings in just 60 days.
A look at Countdown Saturday – 1964 reveals that the world around us on that February Thursday reflected some of the issues we still struggle with today.
President Johnson had just won an $11.5 billion dollar tax cut that, “could put money in people’s pockets as early as March 5,” wrote the Detroit Free Press. Johnson urged Americans to “Spend as much as they can… to strengthen and bolster the economy.” The Senate’s approval of the tax cut was far from unanimous. Al Gore’s dad was among the 19 Democrats and Republicans who voted against it. Both Michigan senators voted “yes”.
In Dallas, Texas, attorneys were still wrestling with jury selection in the trial of nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, for murdering JFK Assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, days after the president’s death. The John Birch Society accused Ruby of being a communist. The defense rested in the jury tampering trial of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. And at the trial of alleged Frank Sinatra, Jr. kidnapper, Barry Keenan, a self-incriminating letter was read that turned up in a safety deposit box the suspect shared with Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean fame.
From the Countdown Saturday – 1964 Lifestyle Page:
Grocery prices at E.J. Korvettes. Pork Loins: 39 cents a pound. Ground chuck was 59 cents a pound. A half gallon of ice cream cost 59 cents. 8 oz cans of Hawaiian Punch were 2 for 29 cents. You could buy 10 navel oranges for just 49 cents.
In Northland, WKNR News was covering the construction and stocking of an atomic fallout shelter that was loaded with enough provisions to feed and clothe 21,000 people, “for enough time to allow the atomic bomb hangover to disappear.”
Michigan Secretary of State, James Hare, was promoting the sale of metal tabs for 1964, so motorists could keep their old license plates. The following Monday, police were instructed to start ticketing tab-less drivers.
Steve McQueen was fresh off his success in The Great Escape, co-starring with Jackie Gleason and Tuesday Weld in Soldier in the Rain. Also premiering that week was the Rock Hudson / Paula Prentice vehicle Man’s Favorite Sport. On television in prime time, Rawhide‘s plot on CBS was the story of a man who walked into camp in a rainstorm praying. Suspicions arose when the guy was bone dry, despite the storm. On NBC, Jose Jimenez tells his cousins he owns the hotel where he is in fact a bellhop on the Bill Dana Show. Things go awry when his cousins ask for jobs. And the Donna Reed Show plot on ABC involves Trisha and the neighbor kids doing chores “for a small fee”.
People were still talking about Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, defeating Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight boxing championship. Michigan basketball stars Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin were named All Americans.
Delta was promoting two daily non-stop flights from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Atlanta. The coach fare was just $39.10. Montgomery Wards advertised new hot water heaters for just $42.00. The average home cast $18,900 and a new car averaged less than $4,500 dollars
Average annual income in 1984 was $6,600 per year.
We were savouring one more day in February. 1964 was a leap year.
Keener was still hyping the new brand in a quarter page newspaper ad, promoting Keener Lucky Matchbooks and the chance to win one million Top-Value Stamps.
Our Countdown Saturday – 1964 review of the the WKNR Music Guide includes The Beatles with three of the top 5 tunes. The Four Seasons held back to back positions on the chart and Berry Gordy’s labels boasted four hits in the survey. Here are our Countdown Saturday – 1964 Top 5.
1 – She Loves You – The Beatles: The song was mostly written on 26 June 1963, in a room in the Turk’s Hotel in Newcastle, prior to The Beatles’ second performance at the city’s Majestic Ballroom. A true collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, ‘She Loves You’ distilled the essence of excitement in their music, and became a defining moment of their early career.” John Lennon remembered, “.. it was Paul’s idea: instead of singing ‘I love you’ again, we’d have a third party. That kind of little detail is apparently in his work now where he will write a story about someone and I’m more inclined to just write about myself.” Paul McCartney added, “There was a Bobby Rydell song [‘Forget Him’] out at the time and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another.” (The Beatles Bible) (Video)
2 – I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles: Released on 29 November 1963, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ sold more than a million copies on advanced orders alone. It became The Beatles’ first US number one, and kick-started the British Invasion of America. In 1980, John Lennon told author David Schiff, “We wrote a lot of stuff together, one-on-one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher’s house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, ‘Oh you-u-u… got that something…’ And Paul hits this chord and I turn to him and say, ‘That’s it!’ I said, ‘Do that again!’ In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that – both playing into each other’s nose.” (The Beatles Bible) (Video)
3 – Suspicion – Terry Stafford: One of 25 songs written by Pomus and Shuman for Elvis Presley, “Suspicion” was recorded by Presley on March 19, 1962, in Studio B of RCA’s Nashville studio and issued on Presley’s album Pot Luck released on June 15, 1962. Terry Stafford cut a demo of “Suspicion” at the Los Angeles studio of Bob Summers: Summers, best known as the producer of the 1959 Larry Hall hit “Sandy”, played all the instruments on the demo which Stafford and Stafford’s manager pitched to record companies in the Los Angeles area and also to local radio stations including KFWB where disc jockey Gene Weed was impressed enough with the demo to take it next door to the headquarters of the newly formed Crusader Records. John Fisher, the president of Crusader, spent several hours remastering the demo with the resultant track becoming the second single released on Crusader. (Wikipedia) (Video)
4 – The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations: Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers, the single was the Temptations’ first charting single on the Billboard Hot 100. The recording was done on January 8, 1964, a mere two weeks after founding Temptation Elbridge Bryant had been fired, and Jimmy Ruffin’s younger brother David Ruffin had taken Bryant’s place. The Temptations learned about the success of “The Way You Do the Things You Do” after returning home to Detroit, Michigan, and hearing nonchalantly from a Motown executive that “oh, you guys got a hit.” After reading the number 76 (“with a bullet”) listing in Billboard magazine, Temptations members Otis Williams and David Ruffin immediately began crying with joy. (Wikipedia) (Video)
5 – Tall Cool One – The Wailers: Kennith Bridgemen, writing for AllMusic tells us, “Tall Cool One is as excellent of a representative of the era of surf/garage rock era as anything else of the early-to-mid 1960s. Constantly walking a fine line between Dick Dale and Booker T. & the MG’s, the Wailers gave us a record which still passes by quickly and is enjoyable from start to finish in the 21st century. Yes, some of (the LP) sounds kitschy now, but wonderfully so. The rest just plays like cool retro rock to modern ears, highlighted by the bluesy guitar licks of Richard Dangel.” (All Music) Tall Cool One was the lead track of 12 cuts on the album of the same name. (Video)
From the Feed:
At right, an ad for Bob Seger’s 1972 Smokin O.P.’s. LP. “OP’s” is code for “Other People’s Songs.” The cover was a take off on a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Bob is one addiction we’ll never give up.
Alice Cooper’s love for Detroit runs deep in his new album. (Rolling Stone)
Why do we still care about the Golden Globes? (NYT)
A fascinating interview Larry King had with Jackie Gleason (Born This Week in 1916) at his home in 1975.
Way before her stint as a Star Trek Starship Commander, Kate Mulgrew briefly played the wife of another TV icon in 1979’s Mrs. Columbo. The show was pretty much doomed from the start, an early warning that Fred Silverman was not infallible (Supertrain confirmed it).
This week in 1926, Louis Armstrong introduced scat singing when he recorded “Heebie Jeebies.” As Armstrong tells it, he improvised his vocals (video) when his lyric sheet fell off the stand. (60s Psychedelic Jukebox)A McDonalds combo from 1965.
How James Cordon went from Hollyoaks to Hollywood power player. (The Daily Mail)
Another thing we knew was coming sooner or later: Batman has entered the world of Fortnite. DC and Epic Games on Friday revealed a six-issue comic book miniseries combining the Dark Knight with the battle royale video game world. (Hollywood Reporter)
Salon reviews Hulu’s Billie Holiday biopic, “The United States vs Billie Holliday.” Melanie McFarland says the film doesn’t live up to it’s promise, but star Andra Day does.
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Today in History:
2019: English drummer Doug Sandom died one day after his 89th birthday. He was the first drummer for the rock band The Who. No recordings with Sandom playing with the band were ever released.
1922: The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was upheld by the Supreme Court.
1939: Sit-down strikes in America were outlawed in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1946: The fourth in the series of ‘Road’ movies, ‘Road to Utopia,’ starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, premiered in New York City.
1951: The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting American presidents to two terms.
1956: Little Richard released the single ‘Long Tall Sally’ b/w ‘Slippin’ and Slidin.”
1964: At EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, the Beatles recorded two John Lennon compositions, ‘If I Fell’ and ‘Tell Me Why?.’
1965: In Sheffield, England, the first performance of a 21-date concert package tour featured Del Shannon, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits.
1966: Petula Clark, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Nancy Sinatra and Richard Pryor performed on CBS-TV’s ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’
1968: Singer (Why Do Fools Fall In Love?) Frankie Lymon, lead vocalist of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, died of a drug overdose at the age of 25.
1970: Officials in Oklahoma City fined Jefferson Airplane $1,000 for using profanity during an October 1969 concert in the city.
1972: Actor (The Roy Rogers Show, Bells of Coronado, Trigger, Jr., Down Dakota Way, South of the Caliente) Pat Brady, Roy Rogers’ movie and television show sidekick, died in a traffic accident at age 57.
1974: People magazine made its debut.
1981: Chrysler Corporation was granted another $400 million in federal loan guarantees. The carmaker had posted a $1.7 billion loss for 1980.
1990: In Florida, Janet Jackson gave a preview of her Rhythm Nation World Tour at the Pensacola Civic Center. The concert, with proceeds to benefit the local homeless, was announced just one day in advance, and all 7,600 of the $10 tickets sold in less than an hour. The Rhythm Nation World Tour, with an attendance of more than two million people, remains the most successful debut tour by any recording artist.
1991: U.S. President George H.W. Bush announced that Kuwait had been liberated, seven months after Iraqi forces invaded and annexed the country.
1992: Actress Elizabeth Taylor took over Disneyland for a private after-hours 60th birthday party.
1992: At age 16, Tiger Woods became the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years.
1993: Actress (The Birth of a Nation) Lillian Gish died of heart failure at age 99.
1998: The House of Lords in Britain agreed to give a monarch’s first-born daughter the same claim to the throne as any first-born son, ending 1,000 years of male preference.
1998: Actor (A Few Good Men, Pleasantville, Good Morning Vietnam, Nixon) J.T. Walsh died following a heart attack at age 54.
2000: ABC began airing the two-part TV-movie, ‘The Beach Boys: An American Family,’ starring Kevin Dunn, Jessica Shannon, Frederick Weller, Alley Mills, Nick Stabile, and Emmanuelle Vaugier.
2002: Radio comedian/writer (The Goon Show)/actor (The Life of Brian, The Bed Sitting Room) Spike Milligan died of liver failure at 83.
2003: Peabody Award-winning children’s TV host (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood)/Television Hall of Famer Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer at age 74.
2004: Michael Jackson, wearing a ski mask as a disguise, was spotted in a Snowmass, Colorado Walmart. After refusing to remove the mask for store employees, Jackson left the building but was stopped by police. Jackson complied with a request to remove the mask and officials said there were no further problems.
2008: Television host (Firing Line)/political commentator/ columnist William F. Buckley, Jr. died of a heart attack while being treated for emphysema and diabetes at 82.
2013: The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned a settlement reached in 2009 that gave almost half of the multimillion-dollar estate of James Brown to his widow and children, saying a former attorney general didn’t follow the late soul singer’s wishes for most of his money to go to charity.
2013: In Toledo, Ohio, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band began a 20-date American tour with a 24-song set at the Huntington Center.
2013: Classical pianist Harvey Lavan ‘Van’ Cliburn, Jr. died of bone cancer at 78. Cliburn gained worldwide fame in 1958, at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.
2013: Actor (Tales of Wells Fargo, Iron Horse, J.J. Starbuck, Dynasty) Dale Robertson died of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia at 89.
2013: R&B singer (The Motown Song w/ Rod Stewart, Glasshouse, Power) Richard Street, a former member (1975-1995) of the Temptations, died at age 70.
2015: Actor (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Fringe, eight Star Trek feature films) Leonard Nimoy died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the age of 83.
1897: Marian Anderson, American contralto and celebrated singer (My Lord, What a Morning), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1993)
1902: John Steinbeck, American author (Grapes of Wrath-Nobel 1962), born in Salinas, California (d. 1968)
1930: Joanne Woodward, American actress, producer, activist, and philanthropist (3 Faces of Eve, Rachel), born in Thomasville, Georgia.
1932: Elizabeth Taylor, English-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian (Father of the Bride, Butterfield 8, Cleopatra), born in London, England (d. 2011)
1934: Ralph Nader, American consumer advocate (Unsafe at Any Speed), born in Winsted, Connecticut.
1934: Van Williams, American actor (Green Hornet, Tycoon), born in Fort Worth, Texas (d. 2016)
1940: Howard Hesseman, American actor (Dr Johnny Fever-WKRP, Head of Class), born in Salem, Oregon
1954: Neal Schon, American rock guitarist (Journey-Open Arms, Bad English), born in Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma
1959: Johnny Van Zant, American rock vocalist (Lynyrd Skynyrd), born in Jacksonville, Florida
1962: Adam Baldwin, American actor (Full Metal Jacket, My Bodyguard), born in Winnetka, Illinois
1980: Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Clinton and Hillary Clinton
1981: Josh Groban, American singer (You Raise Me Up), born in Los Angeles, California
At No. 22 in this weeks Countdown Saturday – 1964 survey, Ramona King renders her version of The Shoop Shoop Song, “It’s In His Kiss.” Betty Everett is commonly credited with the most popular rendition of the tune. But have you ever heard the original? It came out one year before Ramona charted on Keener and was recorded by Merry Clayton. She began her career in 1962, at the age of 14, singing “Who Can I Count On? (When I Can’t Count on You)” as a duet with Bobby Darin. She provided a number of backing vocal tracks for major performing artists in the 1960s, most notably in her duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter”. Clayton is featured in 20 Feet from Stardom, the Oscar-winning documentary about background singers and their contributions to the music industry. (Wikipedia) Let’s close with her original 1963 recording of “It’s In His Kiss.”
Thanks for listening!
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit