The year Australia’s The Throb needed more than a ‘Fortune Teller’ for success

Apr 01, 2019
Australian R&B surf band from Sydney, The Throb. Source: Flickr

In April 1966 a new Australian band was making its way into the charts. Sydney-based R&B group The Throb emerged in 1965 and briefly shot to national prominence with their version of Benny Spellman’s ‘Fortune Teller’, which had also been covered by the Rolling Stones.

They began their music career as The Resonettes and their line-up featured Peter Figures (drums), Marty Van Wyk, Paul Reay (guitar) and Geoff MacWalters (bass). Geoff Doyle was recruited as the band’s lead vocalist. They changed their names a bunch of times (Geoff Doyle and The Resonettes, The No-Names), and band members came and went. MacWalters was replaced by Denny Burgess and Reays and Doyle were replaced by English-born John Bell (who took on vocals, guitar and harmonica).

Managed by The Easybeats’ manager Mike Vaughan, The Throb, despite writing original songs, were encouraged to debut the little-known single written by Alan Toussaint. They made it their own and reached number 4 on the charts, leading to a series of gigs and television appearances.

They released their second hit single, the brooding lament title ‘Black’, which was a reworking of the English folk song ‘Black (Is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair)’ later in 1966, but it was only a minor hit. By 1967, The Throb had split for good.

Normie Rowe was again in the charts with the Bacharach/David song ‘The Breaking Point’ coupled with ‘Ya Ya’, a song that was recorded by many including Trini Lopez, Tony Sheridan, Joey Dee & The Starliters, John Lennon, and the original co-writer Lee Dorsey. Petula Clark had had considerable success with the song when she released it as the ‘Ya Ya Twist’ (and in French) in 1961.

On April 12, Jan Berry of Jan & Dean suffered a horrendous car crash in which he was lucky to survive. Berry was said to be speeding on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and crashed his Stingray into a parked truck. The crash was so horrific, and the injuries he sustained so severe, that when paramedics arrived at the scene they actually thought he was dead, only to be shocked when they found a weak pulse.

Berry was brain damaged and severely paralysed. He spent weeks in a coma and was unable to speak when he woke. He was also completely paralysed on his right side. However, none of this would stop him from returning to the recording studio, which he did in 1967. The section of the strip where the crash occurred was often referred to as ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ after the Jan & Dean hit, which was released two years before the accident.

Jan & Dean had several hits including ‘Surf City’ (number one in the United States), ‘The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’ (number three in the US), ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ (number eight) and ‘Drag City’ (number 10). They attempted several comebacks in the ’70s and even teamed with the Beach Boys at one point. Jan & Dean were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008, four years after Jan Berry died of a brain seizure.

Also in April 1966, Bob Dylan started his world tour in Sydney, Australia. His album Blonde On Blonde was released in June. After the huge success of the electric Highway 61 Revisted, Dyland again snubbed his nose at the folk purists at the Newport Folk Festival, but he was still receiving cat-calls and boos.

On April 15, the Rolling Stones released Aftermath. It is the band’s first album to feature only Jagger/Richards compositions. Songs include ‘Mother’s Little Helper’, ‘Stupid Girl’ and ‘Lady Jane’.

In Australia, Nancy Sinatra’s version of ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’ created a new record for the number of weeks on the top spot by a female artist (six). Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass set a new record in the US for having five albums — four in the top ten — simultaneously in the album charts, outselling The Beatles two to one. More than 13 million albums sold.

Despite having her first number one in the United Kingdom in with ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, Dusty Springfield says she will not record again for Philips Records until she is released from the US part of the contract. This comes after complaints by her American fans saying they are finding it difficult to find her records in the US, and Springfield felt Philips were not adequately representing her interests in the country. It wasn’t until 1968 that she switched from Philips to Atlantic Records.

The top ten in the Australia for April 1966

1. ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra
2. ‘Nowhere Man’/’Norwegian Wood’, The Beatles
3. ‘Michelle’, The Overlanders
4. ‘The Fortune Teller’, The Throb
5. ‘As Tears Go By’/’19th Nervous Breakdown’, The Rolling Stones
6. ‘The Cheater’, Bob Kuban and The In-Men
7. ‘Hitch Hiker’, Bobby and Laurie
8. ‘The Breaking Point’/’Ya Ya’, Normie Rowe and The Playboys
9. ‘Listen People’, Herman’s Hermits
10. ‘Shapes Of Things’, The Yardbirds

The number ones in Australia for April 1966

2nd, 9th, 16th: ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra
23rd, 30th: ‘Nowhere Man’/’Norwegian Wood’, The Beatles

The number ones in the UK

2nd, 9th: ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, The Walker Brothers
16th, 23rd: ‘Somebody Help Me’, The Spencer Davis Group
30th: ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, Dusty Springfield

The number ones in the US

2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd: ‘(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration’, The Righteous Brothers
30th: ‘Good Lovin’’, The Young Rascals

What music were you listening to in 1966? Do you remember these music moments from April of that year?

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