A musical diary: July 1969

This time in 1969…

  • Kiki Dee becomes the first British girl singer to be signed by Tamla Motown Records.
  • Sam Phillips sells his Memphis based Sun Records to Nashville record mogul Shelby Singleton on the 1st.
  • Sun Records gave the first breaks to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison among others.
  • On the 3rd, Brian Jones, lately of The Rolling Stones, is found dead in his swimming pool in Sussex. A verdict of misadventure was returned. Two days later The Rolling Stones played a free concert in Hyde Park, London, where Mick Jagger read Shelley’s Adonis as a tribute. The plan to release thousands of butterflies into the London skies back-fired when most of them died in the heat of their cages. Six days after he died Brian Jones’ funeral was held at Cheltenham Spa. Years later Frank Thorogood, Jones’ minder, admitted on his death bed that he had accidentally drowned him in the swimming pool while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Jones was placed at the head of the infamous “27 club”, a cluster of rockers who died at the same age:

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (Canned Heat) died 3rd September 1970, barbiturate overdose; Jimi Hendrix died 18th September 1970, sleeping pills overdose and choked in his own vomit; Janis Joplin died 4th October 1970, heroin overdose; Jim Morrison (The Doors) died 3rd July 1971, unknown causes; Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (Grateful Dead) died 8thMarch, gastrointestinal haemorrhage due to alcoholism; Pete Ham (Badfinger) died 24th April 1975, suicide (a plaque commemorating the life of Pete Ham is at Swansea railway station); Gary Thain (Uriah Heep) died 8th December 1975, drug overdose; Pete De Freitas (Echo & The Bunnymen) died 14th June 1989, motorcycle accident; Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) died 5th April, shot himself; Kristen Pfaff (Hole) died 16th June, heroin overdose; Amy Winehouse died 23rd July 2011, alcohol poisoning, “death by misadventure”. The 27 Club founding member is delta blues legend Robert Johnson, died on 16th August 1938, possibly poisoned by a jealous husband or lover.

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  • Robert Johnson’s fame came long after his death when The Rolling Stones recorded “Love In Vain” for the classic 1969 album “Let It Bleed” and Cream did “Crossroads” (Johnson’s version was called “Crossroad Blues”) on “Wheels On Fire”.
  • Once again The Beatles come under the USA’s hypocritical censorship when half of the radio stations have banned “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, because of the line “Christ you know it ain’t easy”.
  • On the 12th Blind Faith make their USA debut at Madison Square Gardens, New York. Noel Redding quits The Jimi Hendrix Experience to concentrate on his new band Fat Mattress, and drummer Mitch Mitchell is also thinking of quitting the group.
  • Doug Parkinson is in the Australian charts with his first national hit, “Dear Prudence”, from the pen of Lennon and McCartney. Doug started off with a pub band, The Questions, in Manly, Sydney but with a change of personnel Doug Parkinson in Focus was formed and won the 1969 prestigious band completion, Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds. His only other major hit was “Without You”.
  • Two of the biggest one hit wonders were top the charts worldwide, Thunderclap Newman number one in the UK with “Something In The Air”, and Zager and Evans depressing number one in the USA and soon in Australia and the UK, “In The Year 2525”.

The top 10 in Australia in July 1969

  1. The Ballad of John and Yoko – The Beatles
  2. Hair – The Cowsills
  3. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  4. Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles
  5. Dear Prudence – Doug Parkinson in Focus
  6. My Sentimental Friend – Herman’s Hermits
  7. Love Me Tonight – Tom Jones
  8. Heather Honey – Tommy Roe
  9. In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley
  10. The Real Thing – Russell Morris
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In the UK

5th 12th 19th  – Something in the Air – Thunderclap Newman

26th – Honky Tonk Woman – The Rolling Stones

In the USA  

5th – Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet – Henry Mancini & his Orchestra

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12th 19th 26th – In The Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) – Zager & Evans

In Australia

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” – The Beatles for the whole month.