John Lennon’s statement that The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” caused quite an uproar with some radio stations refusing to play Beatles records. Living in liberal New York the noise of Anti-Beatledom was minimal, basically non-existent. As liberal as the politics of my home state might be, the radio stations were quite conservative, only playing the “hits” that had been tested in the minor markets. NY Radio would wait until others lesser known band’s song became a hit across the country before giving it a shot on the air. But not with The Fab 4 who seemed bigger than ever. The Beatles still had the instant hits.
REVOLVER was my most played album of 1966, and TAXMAN was a favorite song of mine from that collection, what a great opening tune. Years later I found that that song written as such still needed a hook during the recording process. Someone suggested, after watching an episode of the TV program BATMAN, that THE BEATLES replicate the BATMAN theme chant into TAX MAN. Hence, BATMAN became TAXMAN.
While the political innuendo of TAXMAN was not missed by me, ELENOR RIGBY did nothing for me. I later learned that not one Beatle played an instrument on that tune so that reason alone might subconsciously be why I didn’t care for it one bit. REVOLVER was the last album issued by Capitol with an altered playing order, that is one different from it’s UK counter part. In January of 1967 THE BEATLES had a new contract, one which specified Capitol records could no longer alter the tracks or the running order or remove tracks from Beatle approved albums. Just in time too, as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band could have been quite different if Capitol Records USA had still had control over songs, sequence, etc.
The fashion of 1966 was basically CARNABY STREET and with that style came the introduction of the “mini skirt”. Imagine being a 14 year old boy in high school at a time where girls were required to wear skirts in school. Then the mini skirt arrives. “Thank you, Lord” our prayers were answered. Keeping ’66 in mind, that same year Pampers were introduced and the Dow Jones year end average was 785. And of course October of 66, THE MONKEES debuted on TV, an ersatz Beatle-esk band, which caught on with the teeny boppers, as we were then referred as.
To recap the year, January 1, 1966 started off with the New York City Transit Strike, a 12 day event pairing a fiery Mike Quill the NYTA union leader against the newly installed Mayor John Lindsey. Lindsey was no match for the tough Irish union leader. The Transit workers received a 15% raise and The TAYLOR LAW was enacted the next year.
In July, MUHAMMED ALI once known as CASSIUS CLAY declares himself a CO, a “Conscientious Objector”. This brought more attention to the VIETNAM War and to the opposition to this “undeclared” war. I started to pay more attention to radio news reports. According to FCC regulations at the time, each radio station MUST present the news “on the hour” with updates “on the half hour”. The 6 PM and 11PM television evening news were quite visual in its coverage of the carnage in Vietnam, actually upsettingly so. In September the long running whitbread television program THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET ended.
NEWSWEEK had a featured article in its December edition about BE-INS, as in Human “Be-ings”, that were called “happenings” in major cities, San Francisco being one such city. The author referenced the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE as “the most popular of groups”. This was duly noted in my brain.
The USA had 500,000 troops in Vietnam, NASA’s Gemini 10 left “Earth for 3 days in space”, cigarettes were required to carry a health warning on the side package, and Richard Speck killed 8 nurses in Chicago which the news of this scared the bejesus out of me. Speck was outdone a few months later by Charles Wittman who killed 14 and injured 31 by shooting from a tower at the University of Texas to the crowd below. Mass murders, Vietnam, all too much bloodshed on the news and in print.
We had sit-ins, be-ins, teach-ins and the popular films were THUNDERBOLT, DR. ZHIVAGO, and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. I was 14 closing in on 15 and my world was changing around me, rapidly.
For me in 1966 The LOVIN’ SPOONFUL was a band I most desired to see, I even bought a vest and a yellow shirt because I saw John Sebastian wearing one on an album cover. At one point I almost wished my eye sight would fade a bit so if I needed glasses I could get a pair like Sebastian’s.
Those big band albums from Columbia record club that my dad had, and the little kid 45’ records that my brother and I had soon met their shelf mates including: 96 Tears, Summer In The City, Good Lovin’, Paperback Writer, 19th Nervous Breakdown and Gloria (Shadows of Night). The album collection expanded as well adding Revolver, Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde, High Tides and Green Grass: Big Hits, Fresh Cream, Love, Animalism, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Buffalo Springfield and of course the debut by The Monkees. That Monkees phenomena was a story unto itself.
And then there was the beginning of rock music on FM radio in NY, WOR-FM, August of 66. I needed, I wanted an AM/FM radio.
See you next time….Chapter18: AND THE JUKEBOX KEPT ON PLAYING… . Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org