Musical Diary: December 1968

The year started in controversy in Australia on a plane bound for Adelaide from Melbourne, The Who, The Small Faces and Paul Jones currently on a package tour. The group were hounded as rowdy rockers when a disturbance broke out. Pete Townshend vowed never to return to Australia and he didn’t.

The event also encouraged other bands never to visit Australia. Bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Cream and The Doors never came to Australia.

On December 5, The Rolling Stones had a banquet style party which ended up in a food fight, to celebrate the release of their new album Beggars Banquet. A week later they begin filming their TV extravaganza Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, The Who, Jethro Tull, Mitch Mitchell, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal, Mia Farrow as well as a company of clowns and acrobats.

On December 17, Pink Floyd released the record ‘Careful with that axe Eugene’; it was to be their last single for over a decade.

On December 21, Janis Joplin made her first appearance since leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company. Backed by The Kosmic Blues Band she performs on stage at The Stax-Volt Records Annual Convention in Memphis.

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Jimi Hendrix appeared on TV The Lulu Show on December 27 and during his performance of ‘Purple Rain’ launched into an unscheduled tribute to Cream by playing ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, the producer nearly had a fit and pulled the plug but the show went on.

Cream were arguably the best of the hard-rock supergroups formed in 1966 by Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Their first hit was ‘Wrapping Paper’ followed by the album Fresh Cream and hit singles ‘I Feel Free’ and ‘Strange Brew’.

The following year had the worldwide best-selling album Disraeli Gears, which yielded ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ (Number 5 on the United States charts). In 1968 they had their first Australian Number 1 with ‘White Room’ (Number 6 in the US) and ‘Crossroads’. In 1969 they hit the charts with ‘Badge’ before surprisingly breaking up.

Love Sculpture featuring Dave Edmunds signed a US deal with London Records for £250,000.

On New Year’s Eve a gala Pop and Blues Festival is held at Alexandra Palace, London, featuring Joe Cocker, Amen Corner, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Small Faces, and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band.

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Bert Berns who had been producing Van Morrison’s career since he left Them dies on New Year’s Eve. Although the album recorded under Berns, ‘Blowin’ Your Mind’ had produced the hit ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, Morrison wanted out of the contract and when a new contract was signed he set about recording the songs he had accumulated over the years.

It took just three days to complete Astral Weeks with jazz musicians accompanying Van’s Belfast origins poetic lyrics. Although it did not turn out the way he imagined, it was world’s away from what his fans had previously heard and it took a while to sell, it was still a classic record.

The top 10 in Australia in December 1968

1. Hey Jude/Revolution, The Beatles
2. White Room, Cream
3. Little Arrows, Leapy Lee
4. Love Child, Diana Ross & The Supremes
5. Those Were The Days, Mary Hopkins
6. Hold Me Tight, Johnny Nash
7. Elenore/Surfer Dan, The Turtles
8. With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker
9. All Along The Watchtower, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
10. Lament Of The Cherokee Indian, Don Fardon

In Australia, ‘Hey Jude’ was number one for the whole month.

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In the US, Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard it through the Grapevine’ was number one for the whole month.

In the United Kingdom, The Scaffold’s ‘Lily the Pink’ was number one for the whole month.

Do you remember the hits of December 1968? Which song, band or album was your favourite?

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