Countdown Saturday – 1970

It’s Countdown Saturday! Here’s a look at the top five WKNR Hits from this week in 1970.

#5 House of the Rising Sun  – Frijid Pink formed when a local Detroit-area cover band called the Detroit Vibrations recorded a psychedelic version of the classic folk song, “House of the Rising Sun”. That’s Gary Ray Thompson’s distorted guitar on top of the pounding rhythms of  Richard Stevers’ drum kit. It was a record that WKNR was first to play. Keener was still an entry point for local bands who wanted to break out nationally. Programmers across the nation heard the tune and were smitten. It surpassed the Animal’s rendition, becoming the most popular worldwide iteration. (Video)

#4 ArizonaMark Lindsay was truly the creative force behind Paul Revere & the Raiders. There was chemistry from the moment Paul met Mark in the bakery where he was working. Lindsay had a knack for creating hit records with hooks that appealed to advertisers. Yamaha co-opted “Silver Bird” (Video). He wrote “Sing Your Own Song” for Bush Beer’s bicentennial commercials. But it was composer / producer Kenny Young who wrote “Arizona”. Mark was smart enough to engage the Wrecking Crew as his backup band throughout his solo career. (Video)

#3 Rainy Night in Georgia –  Tony Joe White wrote it in 1967 and recorded the tune in 1969. It was Brook Benton‘s comeback hit followed his modest success as a singer / songwriter in the 50s and 60s. He would chart 49 singles during his career, dying young at the age of 56. (Video)

#2 Thank You/Everybody is a StarSly & The Family Stone‘s two sided top 10 featured funk on side A and a slow-dance tune on side B. It marked the final Family Stone recordings issued in the 1960s and the first sign that the band was falling apart. They wouldn’t chart again until the release of “Family Affair” in 1971. (Video)

#1 Bridge Over Troubled Water – Paul Simon wrote this iconic hit so quickly that he wondered “Where did that come from? It doesn’t seem like me.” Art Garfunkel didn’t want to sing it at first and Simon transposed the key to better facilitate his partner’s voice. The duo’s relationship was strained at the time. Bridge was recorded in California, to make it easier for Garfunkel to go to Mexico where he was filming Catch-22. His character, “Tom” is referenced in another track from the eponymous LP, “Only Living Boy in New York.” The album’s eclectic mix of styles yielded other faves including “Cecilia” and “The Boxer”. Simon told Rolling Stone that the orchestrations were inspired by Phil Spector‘s technique in “Old Man River” by The Righteous Brothers. Simon said that the last track on the album sounded like the Beatles‘ “Let It Be“, and as his relationship with Garfunkel continued to fray, he had second thoughts about letting his partner sing the lead vocal. Bridge Over Troubled Water became Billboard’s Number One song of the year, taking home the Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1971. (Video)


James Brown & Danny Ray

Another thing great radio announcers share is the ability to be a skilful emcee. We learned yesterday that  James Brown’s long time “Hype Man,” Danny Ray passed away on February 3 at the age of 85. The vaunted master of ceremonies, is seen at left with the star backstage at the Apollo Theater in 1964. Ray’s energetic introductions and closing cape routine helped cement Brown’s image as the “Godfather of Soul.”  “The James Brown estate mourns the passing of Mr. Danny Ray, the legendary emcee and cape man for James Brown.” the James Brown estate said in a statement. “Ray worked with Brown from 1960 until the music legend’s death on Christmas day 2006. He became famous for draping a cape over Brown at the end of his signature tune ‘Please, Please, Please.’ Mr. Ray was the second-hardest working man in show business.”

Louder Than Love: For those who want to dig deeper into the Grande Ballroom story we told in yesterday’s Legendary Rock Venues edition, here’s a link to the documentary, Louder than Love, still available on DVD. Shane Pinnegar, writing for 100 Percent Rock in 2016 says, “One of the most irresistible features of Louder Than Love is the plethora of photos and home video footage of Iggy & The Stooges, The MC5, The Who, Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes, Grand Funk Railroad and more both onstage and off – it’s an invaluable rock n’ roll time capsule.” Russ Gibb opened The Grande opened on Oct. 7, 1966. It’s final show was on New Year’s Eve, 1972.

Conspiracy theories abound in show business. We all know about the “Paul Is Dead” rumors. But I bet you didn’t know some of these, including a couple that turned out to be true. Via Ultimate Classic Rock.

One in six American adults now wear a computer on their wrist. And our biggest challenge is figuring out when to recharge it!

Today in History:

Paul McCartney & Mary Hopkin

1866: Jesse James holds up his first bank, stealing $15,000 from the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri.
1914: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (known as ASCAP) was formed in New York City. The society was founded to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.
1935: Bruno Richard Hauptmann is convicted of the Lindbergh baby murder. The trial was a national sensation.
1958: Ford introduces a four-passenger Thunderbird.
1961: Frank Sinatra launches his own record label. Reprise Records will later the home of Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and The Beach Boys.
1969: Bob Dylan recorded Lay, Lady, Lay at Columbia Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
1969: Mary Hopkin releases her ‘Postcard‘ album on Apple records. Produced by Paul McCartney, her hit, ‘Those Were the Days‘ is substituted for a cover of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me‘ on the US version of the LP.
1971: The Osmonds started a five week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with One Bad Apple. The group had been appearing on TV since 1962.
1972: The Musical ‘Grease‘ opens on Broadway.
1972: The film ‘Cabaret‘, directed by Bob Fosse, based on the musical of the same name and starring Liza Minnelli and Michael York, is released.
1981: Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon becomes the longest-running rock album on the Billboard albums chart. It’s been there for 402 weeks. But it still has a few years to go before it beats Johnny Mathis, whose Greatest Hits was on the chart for a whopping 490 weeks.
2000: A day after his death, Charles M. Schulz‘s last original Sunday Peanuts comic strip appears in newspapers.” (Link)

Today’s Birthdays:

Kim Novak 1962

1919: Tennessee Ernie Ford, (Sixteen Tons),  (d. 1991).
1923: Test pilot Chuck Yeager,  the 1st man to break the sound barrier. (d. 2020).
1930: Dorothy “Dottie” McGuire, (McGuire Sisters – “Sincerely”; “Sugartime”), (d. 2012).
1933: Kim Novak [Marilyn], (Vertigo, Of Human Bondage).
1934: George Segal (Carbon Copy, Fun with Dick & Jane).
1938: Oliver Reed, (Three Musketeers) (d. 1999).
1941: Bo Svenson,  (North Dallas 40, Walking Tall)
1942: Peter Tork [Thorkelson], (The Monkees), (d. 2019).
1944: Jerry Springer.
1944: Stockard Channing, American actress (Grease, Big Bus, Without a Trace).
1945: King Floyd (Groove Me), (d. 2006).
1945: Roy Dyke, drummer (Ashton, Gardner & Dyke).
1950: Peter Gabriel, (Genesis, In Your Eyes).

Number one today in 1968, ‘Love Is Blue,’ by Paul Mauriat. The song is the only American No. 1 single to originate in France.

Thanks for listening!

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