Though it was released in late-September 1969, The Beatles 11th studio album Abbey Road topped 4 million in the first two months. The recording sessions for this album were the last in which all four members of the band participated. Despite Let It Be being the final album they completed, many of the songs on that album had been completed before the band called it quits in April 1970.
On November 29, Billboard magazine changed its policy of charting the A and B sides of 45 singles on its pop chart (the former policy charted the two sides separately, but the new policy considers both sides as one chart entry), the Beatles became the first beneficiary of the new policy as their current 45 single featuring ‘Come Together’ on one side, and ‘Something’ on the other, accrued enough combined points to make the single a number 1 pop hit. Similarly, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’ and ‘Down On The Corner’ accrue enough combined points to reach number three three weeks later.
Elvis Presley made a return to the top of the music charts at the start of November 1969 with the song ‘Suspicious Minds’. It was the song that was widely regarded as returning Elvis’s career success after his Comeback Special a year earlier. It was his 18th number one and also his last in the United States.
Also on November 1, English rock band the Faces formed. The band included ex-Small Faces’ Kenny Jones, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane, who joined with Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart who had both been performing in the Jeff Beck Group.
After a break of almost three years, The Rolling Stones return to the stage on November 7. The band hadn’t toured since 1966, largely due to drug charges and complications. The band played to sold-out arenas and more mature crowds. Their tour started at Colorado State University. Terry Reid, BB King, Chuck Berry, and Ike and Tina Turner were the support acts, with Janis Joplin joining the Turners at one of the Madison Square Gardens shows. The performances lasted up to three hours before the Rolling Stones appeared on-stage.
Simon and Garfunkel, on tour for the first time with a band on November 8, give a live concert in Cardondale, Illinois. The concert is not released until 1999 as part of a recording compiled by Head Records, called Vintage Ganguard. The duo also give live concert at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on November 11. The recording is later released in the 1990s as Back to College on Yellow Dog Records and A Time of Innocence on Bell Bottom Records.
On November 15, 1969 a massive anti-Vietnam War demonstration was held in Washington DC. The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was considered to be the largest anti-war protest in United States history. In attendance with more than 500,000 people were Arlo Guthrie; Peter Seeger; Peter, Paul and Mary; John Denver; Mitch Miller; and the touring cast of the musical Hair.
Songs with an anti-war sentiment released in November ’69 included Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’. It became an anti-war movement anthem; an expressive symbol of the counterculture’s opposition to US military involvement in the Vietnam War and solidarity with the soldiers fighting it.
Also on the 15th, Janis Joplin was arrested had one of her most memorable moments in Tampa, Florida. The iconic and rebellious woman of rock ‘n’ roll was charged with using “vulgar and obscene language” following an altercation with police who were ordering people in the audience to sit down. Police ordered Joplin to instruct the crowd to sit down but she refused, cursing at the officers. She was arrested in her dressing room and was released on bond soon after. All charges were subsequently dropped.
That date marks Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s biggest hit single ‘The Onion Song’ entering the United Kingdom charts. The song reflected social consciousness. It peaked at number nine. Unfortunately, Terrell died, aged 24, before the song was released in the US, where it peaked at number 18 on the charts.
It had been more than four years since John Lennon, and the rest of the Beatles, had been made a Member of the Most Honorable Order of the British Empire. He maintained he had to be talked into receiving the honour by the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, given how flippant and anti-establishment he presented himself to be. However, Lennon was pretty savvy when it came to leveraging his celebrity to further his favoured causes and on that list was ending the British involvement in global conflicts such as Vietnam and Biafra. He called a press conference on November 25 and announced he would be returning his MBE to the Queen. He cited his reasons to the Queen as being “I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts”.
On November 30, Simon and Garfunkel aired their TV special Songs of America, ostensibly an hour-long show to end their tour of the US. It was anti-war and anti-poverty and featured live footage from their 1969 tour.
1. ‘The Star’, Ross D. Wylie
2. ‘Something / Come Together’, The Beatles
3. ‘Penny Arcade’, Roy Orbison
4. ‘Hair / Without You’, Doug Parkinson in Focus
5. ‘Sweet Caroline,’ Neil Diamond
6. ‘Part 2 Into Paper Walls / The Girl That I Love’, Russell Morris
7. ‘Jean’, Oliver
8. ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’, Bobbie Gentry
9. ‘Suspicious Minds’, Elvis Presley
10. ‘Picking Up Pebbles’, Matt Flinders
1st, 8th: ‘The Star’, Ross D. Wylie
15th: ‘Penny Arcade’, Roy Orbison
22nd, 29th: ‘Something / Come Together’, The Beatles
1st: ‘Suspicious Minds’, Elvis Presley
8th, 15th, 22nd: ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, The Fifth Dimension
29th: ‘Something / Come Together’, The Beatles
In the UK, ‘Sugar Sugar’, The Archies was number one for the whole month.