Countdown Saturday – 1966

It’s Countdown Saturday and we’re setting the way-back machine for March 13, 1966.

This week in 1966, WKNR was living the dream. The line-up you see on this week’s Countdown Saturday music guide is the one most remember. Dick Purtan made the switch to mornings. Ted Clark and Jerry Goodwin covered the workday. Bob Green held down the crucial “afternoon drive” shift. Scott Regen was in his prime in the evenings. Jim Jeffries had made the transition from Knorr station WKFR in Battle Creek to Detroit on overnights. And Music Director, Paul Cannon kept his chops sharp on Saturdays.

The front page of the Detroit Free Press for March 13, 1966 featured Jim Treloar’s sensational reporting on LSD use on campus. The title of the article: “The Whole World Was – Wow!

It may be Countdown Saturday this year, but in 1966, March 13 fell on a Sunday. The Vietnam War was front and center with 38 state governors backing Lyndon Johnson‘s military strategy. Detroit Mayor, Jerome P. Cavanaugh was pondering a senate primary run against former Michigan Governor, G. Mennen Williams. Johnson would have prefered a more moderate Cavanaugh to “Soapy” Williams more independent political outlook. Congressman John C. Mackie, for whom the famous US 127 Rest Area near Claire is named announced his intention to run again. Nine people died on Michigan highways in the first 24 hours of the weekend.

The J.L. Hudson Company took out a full page ad saluting Detroit’s 470,000 working women. Three of the eleven faces featured were women of color.

The Delta Airlines coach fare from Detroit Metro to Jacksonville, Florida cost $55.00

Lillian Roth was starring in the Barbara Streisand role in “Funny Girl” at the Fisher Theater. The piano duo Ferrante and Teicher were in concert at the Masonic Auditorium. The Summit theater was showing “The Battle of the Bulge” in modified Cinerama. A twenty-year-old Liza Minnelli was on the bill at the Elmwood Casino. And Julie Andrews was getting Oscar buzz as the Sound of Music was on screen at “neighborhood and drive-in theaters” around Detroit.

Hot ’67 Muscle Cars

There was buzz about the 1967 American Motors AMX, the Chrysler Panther and the Mercury Cougar as the Big Three automakers tried to respond to the immense popularity of the Ford Mustang. Coach Dave Strack was lamenting the loss of Cazzie Russell, Oliver Darden and John Thompson, three seniors who brought fame and fortune to the University of Michigan basketball team. And the Detroit Tigers were seasoning the line-up, many of whom would be part of the World Champion team in 1968.

Adam West’s Batman was at the height of his fame, featured on the cover of the Freep’s Sunday TV magazine. Marta Kristen of “Lost In Space” was profiled inside. Classics on the TV schedule included “Get Smart” and “The Man From Uncle“. Also around for it’s brief run was “My Mother The Car“. Bob Hope was hosting another comedy special with stars of the day, Lee Marvin, Jonathan Winters and Phyllis Diller. Detroit had just six TV channels in those pre-cable days. Channels 50 and 56 were still hard to receive on many older TVs without a UHF converter.

The Countdown Saturday Top 5

5. Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was Simon & Garfunkel‘s third studio album, but Homeward Bound was a left-over from the  Sounds of Silence sessions. Paul Simon wrote the tune in 1964 after returning to England. He had entered a relationship with Kathy Chitty there and wrote the song about his new love on a scrap of paper before boarding an early morning milk train to London after a performance in Liverpool. She’s also mentioned in “Kathy’s Song” and “America” and possibly in the 1969 hit, “The Boxer“.

4. These Boots are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra: Lee Hazlewood wrote Nancy’s most recognizable hit and originally intended to record it himself. She reportedly talked him out of it. “Coming from a guy it was harsh and abusive, but was perfect for a little girl to sing.” Production of “boots” included contributions from the famed Wrecking Crew.  Hal Blaine on drums, Al CaseyTommy Tedesco, and Billy Strange on guitars, Ollie MitchellRoy Caton and Lew McCreary on horns and Carol Kaye on electric bass. That’s Chuck Berghofer‘s fingers on the unforgettable double bass line that is the song’s signature hook.

3. Gloria – Shadows of Knight: This Chicago based unit flipped the premise that “the StonesAnimals and the Yardbirds took the Chicago blues and gave it an English interpretation.” In promoting their self-titled LP they said, “We’ve taken the English version of the Blues and re-added a Chicago touch.” The Shadows opened for the Byrds at McCormick Place in the summer of 1965 and caught the ears of Bill Traut and George Badonski who were producers for Dunwich Records. The band covered  Van Morrison‘s “Gloria” during their set and ended up recording it as their first studio effort. The record received massive airplay in the midwest before breaking nationally and peaking at Number 10.

2. Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers / The Ventures: written by P. F. Sloan (who provided the iconic opening guitar lick) and Steve Barri, for the CBS licensed series Danger Man,, Secret Agent Man had many interpretations, but the recording of Johnny Rivers’ live performance at LA’s  Whisky a Go Go touched up afterwards by producer Lou Adler became a nationwide smash. The lyric, “giving you a number and taking away your name,” was a direct reference to James Bond. Thunderball was released the previous year and Sean Connery’s character was still very much in the minds of listeners. Keener also played The Ventures’ instrumental version of the tune in rotation with the Rivers interpretation.

1. (You’re My) Soul and Inspiration – The Righteous Brothers: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil rank up there with the best of the Brill Building songwriting duos. They provided the chart for what would become the Righteous Brothers first hit record after their break with long-time producer Phil Spector. Jack Nitzsche, who wrote many of the arrangements for the duo during their Spector years provided his services, with Bill Medley producing in the same Spector style.

Today in History: Mar 13

1938: World News Roundup is broadcast for the first time on CBS Radio.
1956: ‘The Searchers‘ American western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Natalie Wood is released
1959: An emergency plane landing in a South Bend, Indiana, field nearly kills The Kingston Trio‘s band members.
1961: Ricky Nelson records ‘Travelin’ Man.’
1961: The Temptations audition for Motown. They were then known as the Elgins but soon changed their name.
1964: Billboard reported that sales of Beatles singles currently accounted for 60 percent of the US singles market and the Meet the Beatles LP had reached a record 3.5 million copies sold.
1965: Eric Clapton quits The Yardbirds due to musical differences. Jeff Beck replaces him.
1965: The Beatles land their seventh #1 hit in America with ‘Eight Days A Week.’
1968: The ByrdsGreatest Hits is certified gold.
1971: Brewer and Shipley entered the US singles chart with ‘One Toke Over The Line‘. The song, which featured Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia on steel guitar, peaked at No.10 despite being banned by radio stations for its drug references.
1988: Bob Seger receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Today’s Birthdays:

1921: Al Jaffee (MAD Magazine), born in Savannah, Georgia.
1933: Songwriter Mike Stoller is born in Long Island, New York. Along with his partner Jerry Leiber, he writes a slew of hits, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yakety Yak” and “Stand By Me.”
1939: Neil Sedaka is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1940: Candi [Canzetta Maria] Staton (Young Hearts Run Free), born in Hanceville, Alabama.
1940: Daniel Bennie (of the Detroit doo-wop group The Reflections) is born in Johnstone, Scotland.
1949: Donald York (original vocalist for Sha Na Na) is born in Boise, Idaho.
1950: William H. Macy (Homicide, Pleasentville, Water Engine), born in Miami, Florida.
1956: Dana Delany, American actress (Colleen McMurphy-China Beach, Exit to Eden), born in NYC.
1960: U2 bass player Adam Clayton is born in Oxfordshire, England.
1970: Michael Arrington, American founder of blog TechCrunch, born in Orange, California.

One for the road: This week in 1966, Cleveland, Ohio’s Outsiders were on their way down the charts after a powerful survey performance with their one and only mega-hit. Considered a “garage rock” classic with an opening drum lick that mirrored the famous “Motown Pickup”, “Time Won’t Let Me” has all the hallmarks of a 60s classic. Promoted with a relentless road show, opening for the likes of  Paul Revere and the Raiders and Chad and Jeremy, the single and the LP of the same name spent 15 weeks on the charts, earning the band a shot on NBC’s Hullabaloo, a feat that the Outsiders were never able to duplicate.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit