October 1960 starts with a very important day in the music world, the arrival of the Sony transistor radio. While it had launched a jade-green transistor radio in 1955, it was the TR-620 portable radio that helped the company achieve international acclaim. These radios were the perfect product for the emerging rock ‘n’ roll generation because they not only wanted to hear a new sound on the radio, but they wanted to take that music with them wherever they went.
Riding high on the Australian national charts was Lonnie Lee and The Leemen with ‘I Found A New Love’ it was his third top 10 hit in two years. It was in 1956 that Lonnie Lee took part in a radio talent competition on The Alan Toohey Amateur Hour run by radio station 2UW, and placed second. In the following year, after he’d won a contest for ‘Australia’s own Elvis Presley’ (performing as Laurie Lee) and came to the attention of Johnny O’Keefe who became his manager and wrote his first top 10 hit in 1959 ‘Ain’t It So’. This was followed by another national top 10 hit ‘Starlight Starbright’ in January 1960.
Lee was a regular on the TV shows Six O’Clock Rock and Bandstand. His career also produced a further five top 100 hits in the ’60s. In the late-’60s he toured the United Kingdom and the United States, finally settling in America in the 1970s. He was still performing into the 2000s.
The musical comedy film, GI Blues became the first movie Elvis Presley had made since leaving the army and the soundtrack to the film was released on October 1. The film starring Presley, also co-starred Juliet Prowse and featured the songs ‘Wooden Heart’, ‘Frankfurt Special’ and ‘GI Blues’. ‘Wooden Heart’ was released as a single in the UK and it sat in the number one spot for six weeks. When Joe Dowell recorded a cover version of the song and released it in the US, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It was Elvis’s fifth movie and many saw it as the start of the downhill slide into mediocrity for him as far as his movies were concerned.
On the October 11, and 18-year-old Aretha Franklin made her stage debut as a pop performer at the Village Vanguard jazz club in New York. She arrived in New York as a shy mother of two, almost unknown outside of gospel circles, before signing with Columbia Records. It was at Village Vanguard that the Queen of Soul cut her teeth, singing the blues and garnering rave reviews.
Gary US Bonds — a rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll singer — cuts ‘New Orleans’ in a back room of a Norfolk music store. The recording is a mess and a world away from the sophistication of The Brill Building that it sounds like a live party going on. For that reason it becomes a huge hit and an influential one for the future. The message is clear, the aim is no longer the expert reproduction of sounds but the fun loving party like atmosphere.
Chubby Checker, The Tremeloes and Johnny Rivers had that ‘live party’ sound. Bonds’ other hits included ‘Quarter To Three’, ‘Twist, Twist Senora’, and ‘Dear Lady Twist’.
The New Zealand-born Australian rock musician, Johnny Devlin spent much of his time touring with The Everly Brothers and making appearances on Six O’Clock Rock, Bandstand and The Go!! Show during 1959. When the hype died down, Devlin had his first hits in Australia with the song ‘Koala Bear’ and ‘Turn the Lights Our Johnny’. Though he had limited success, Devlin is still considered the benchmark by which New Zealand musicians are judged because Devlin opened for the Beatles when they toured in 1964.
1. ‘It’s Now Or Never’, Elvis Presley
2. ‘I Found A New Love’, Lonnie Lee and The Leemen
3. ‘Walk Don’t Run’, The Ventures
4. ‘Come On Take My Hand’, Johnny O’Keefe
5. ‘Yes Sir That’s My Baby’, Col Joye and The Joy Boys
6. ‘Please Don’t Tease’, Cliff Richard and The Shadows
7. ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’, Johnny Bond
8. ‘A Kookie Little Paradise’, Jo Ann Campbell
9. ‘Robot Man’, Connie Francis
10. ‘Volare’, Bobby Rydell
1, 8, 15: ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’, Ricky Valance
22, 29: ‘Only The Lonely’, Roy Orbison
1, 8: ‘My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own’, Connie Francis
15: ‘Mr Custer’, Larry Verne
22: ‘Only The Lonely’, Roy Orbison
29: ‘I Want To Be Wanted’, Brenda Lee
‘It’s Now Or Never’, Elvis Presley, was number one for the whole month
It’s Now Or Never”, Elvis Presley, was number one for the whole month