A musical diary: October 1961 99



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In October 1961….

  • John Barry visits Hollywood, USA, to discuss possibilities of composing music for movies.
  • Gene Pitney releases “Every Breath I Take”, produced by Phil Spector at a four song session which cost a then unheard of $13,000; it features a grandiose falsetto climax which owes a great deal to Pitney’s heavy head cold.
  • Brian Bennett replaces Tony Meehan as The Shadows drummer on the 6th
  • The 19th – Helen Shapiro has her second consecutive number one with her third single “Walking Back To Happiness”. Helen was still a schoolgirl when it hit the top spot but left school at the end of 1961 to start work on the movie, It’s Trad Dad, known in the USA as Ring-a-ding-rhythm. The movie was quite a standard bearer for British cinema and co-starred with Helen, Craig Douglas, and DJ David Jacobs, also featured such acts as The Temperance Seven, The Paris Sisters, Del Shannon, John Leyton, Gary U.S.Bonds, Gene Vincent, Gene McDaniels, The Brook Brothers, Chubby Checker, Chris Barber, Terry Lightfoot, and Acker Bilk.
  • Also on the 19th at the Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool, The Beatles temporarily join with Gerry & The Pacemakers to form The Beatmakers. Nine days later a customer walks into Brian Epstein’s record Shop and asks for “My Bonnie” by The Beatles.
  • On the 30th, Phil Spector’s new Phillies Label releases “There’s No Other Like My Baby”, c/w “Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby”, by The Crystals and it reached #20. Barbara Alston on lead vocals originally sang an up-tempo version but Spector told them to slow it down and sing it in the dark and the musical genius produced a new hit sound. Other acts signed to the label include The Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, The Alley Cats and Darlene Love.
  • Released in the USA by the Detroit based Motown Record Corporation is The Marvelettes debut single, “Please Mr Postman” and it will be number one in the USA by the end of November. This wrapped up a spectacular year for the company after their first million seller “Shop Around” by The Miracles.

Motown and its sister label Tamla had been formed in 1959 by Berry Gordy Jr. Gordy had produced more than 20 USA top 100 entries including Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite”, Marv Johnson’s “You Got What It Takes”, and Barrett Strong’s “Money”. Motown’s year was rounded off by the signing of a gifted young blind singer/instrumentalist Steveland Judkins, only 11 years old and was scheduled to release his debut disc in the New Year under the name of Little Stevie Wonder.

Number one both sides of the Atlantic and top 10 in Australia is The Highway Men with “Michael”. The song is actually an old 19th century slave song. They were a college band and included a college champion pole vaulter, a fraternity president, a campus radio sports reporter, and a Charango player. A Charango is a ten stringed Bolivian instrument made from the back of an armadillo!

The top 10 in Australia in October 1961

  1. I’m Counting On You – Johnny O’Keefe
  2. (Marie’s The Name Of) His Latest Flame – Elvis Presley
  3. Mexico – Bob Moore
  4. Crying/Candy Man – Roy Orbison
  5. Donald Where’s Your Trousers? – Andy Stewart
  6. More Money For You And Me – The Four Preps
  7. Take Good Care Of My Baby – Bobby Vee
  8. Michael – The Highway men
  9. I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door – Eddie Hodges
  10. You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby – Bobby Darin

The number one in the USA for October 1961

7th  Take Good Care Of My Baby – Bobby Vee

14th 21st Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles

In the UK     7th  Kon Tiki – The Shadows

14th  Michael – The Highway Men

21st 28th Walking Back To Happiness – Helen Shapiro

In Australia     7th 14th   I’m Counting On You – Johnny O’Keefe

21st 28th Mexico – Bob Moore


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Benjamin Hill

I was born in Belfast Northern Ireland 1946, I attended school at Ballygomartin Secondary School until I began an apprenticeship as an Electrician in 1962 at Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders (Birthplace of the Titanic). I married Rose-Marie in 1964 and immigrated to Australia in 1970 together with our two children Anna-Marie and Ronald. I worked in various sections of the construction industry as an Electrician until retirement 2011 and now my blog about 60s music is a labour of love that I am lucky to share with all lovers of music.

  1. only 7 in 1961 and living with Grandparents, the only thing i remember listneing to was the Footy on Sat afternoons and Dad and Dave

    2 REPLY
    • Dad and Dave, hadn’t thought of that show in years. I also remember Blue Hills. The Goons and The Hit Parade. Lol long while ago but I likes the radio.

    • Too many to list. Loved all of the music from 50’s thru’ to mid 80’s.The odd newer songs, but most don’t have the same appeal. However different times!!

  2. grateful that I can remember those halcyon days full of energy and hope, sad though that now the world is full of superficiality.

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