Fifty years ago in 1966

It was a big year for the Australian Pop Music Scene in 1966. There were two national TV shows dedicated to pop music. The weekly The Go Show and five nights a week Kommotion.

Most bands headed for Melbourne, the heart of the pop music scene. From Adelaide came The Masters Apprentices and the Hoadley Battle of the Sounds winner, The Twilights. From Brisbane came The Purple Hearts. In Sydney, The Easybeats still ruled supreme and — following the achievement of The Seekers in the United Kingdom — decided to try their luck in Europe with great success.

Normie Rowe also went to England but with much less of an impact.

The Easybeats recorded their top selling record ‘Friday On My Mind’ in London and it was a worldwide hit.

On February 2, Australia’s first magazine dedicated to teens and 20s was published. “GO-SET was my big break in the business; they were unforgettable days,” Ian “Molly” Meldrum is quoted as saying.

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New to the Australian charts were the Melbourne band The Loved Ones with two top 10 singles ‘The Loved One’ and ‘Everlovin’ Man’.

Johnny Young had the biggest selling record in Australia with the Stevie Wright penned ‘Step Back’ coupled with ‘Caralyn’. This was the biggest selling Australian record since Slim Dusty’s ‘Pub With No Beer’ back in 1958.

In the UK it seemed like The Merseybeat era was over with the year’s surprising top selling record Distant Drums by the late Jim Reeves and The Spencer Davis Group hitting number one with ‘Keep On Running’, and ‘Somebody Help Me’, The Troggs also reaching the top with ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘With A Girl Like You’.

But in the United States middle of the road was back in style with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass selling 13 million records and Frank Sinatra hitting number one with ‘Strangers In The Night’, which was also number one in the UK and Australia.

The top selling record in the US was Ballad Of The Green Beret by S/Sgt. Barry Sadler.

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In March in the US, a commercial failure of an album was released, only to become one of the most influential and critically acclaimed albums in Rock History.

It was The Velvet Underground and Niko with the famous cover of a banana styled by Andy Warhol. Brian Eno (record producer and member of Roxy Music) famously quoted in 1984 “This album initially only sold 30,000 copies but everyone who bought it, later formed a band”.

The Top 10 Australian Hits for 1966
1. ‘Step Back/Caralyn’, Johnny Young
2. ‘Let It Be Me’ (EP), Johnny Young
3. ‘Friday On My Mind’, The Easybeats
4. ‘The Loved One’, The Loved Ones
5. ‘Spicks And Speck’, The Bee Gees
6. ‘Women (Make You Feel Alright)’, The Easybeats
7. ‘Hitch-Hiker’, Bobby and Laurie
8. ‘The Carnival Is Over’, The Seekers
9. ‘Tell Him I’m Not Home’, Normie Rowe
10. ‘Everlovin’ Man’, The Loved Ones

The top 10 hits other than Australian for 1966
1. ‘The Green Green Grass Of Home’, Tom Jones
2. ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra
3. ‘Somewhere My Love’, The Ray Coniff Singers
4. ‘Winchester Cathedral’, The New Vaudeville Band
5. ‘Strangers In The Night’, Frank Sinatra
6. ‘Lady Godiva’, Peter and Gordon
7. ‘Born Free’, Matt Munro
8. ‘No Milk Today’, Herman’s Hermits
9. ‘Good Vibrations’, The Beach Boys
10. ‘Elusive Butterfly’, Bob Lind

Where were you in 1966? What musical hits were your favourites?

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