A History of Pop Music – 1966

Featured song: The beach Boys – Good Vibrations

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it.  One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So on we go with memories from 1966: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about Harold Wilson, mass unemployment, half a million, but we did not have the enrichment we have now, so this was a lot. England win the world cup and Soft-core pornographic magazine Fiesta was launched. Happy days. Top tunes from the Beatles, Hollies, Beach Boys, Cilla, Dusty, Ike & Tina Turner. What a year!

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 10, I distinctly remember watching the world cup final at my grandma’s house with all the family, grandad and a couple of uncles.

TV programmes included:

Camberwick Green is the first BBC television programme to be shot in colour. The Money Programme, Julie Goodyear makes her Coronation Street debut as Bet Lynch. She did not become a regular character until 1970, BBC1 sitcom Till Death Us Do Part begins its first series run. Patrick McGoohan quits the popular spy series Danger Man after filming only two episodes of the fourth season, in order to produce and star in The Prisoner, which begins filming in September. Thunderbirds is back with a second season on ITV.   Actor Patrick Troughton appears in his first full Doctor Who serial The Power of the Daleks as the Second Doctor. Cathy Come Home, possibly the best-known play ever to be broadcast on British television, is presented in BBC1’s The Wednesday Play anthology strand. Till Death Us Do Part started.


Prime Minister – Harold Wilson (Labour)

20 January – the Queen commutes the death sentence on a Black prisoner in Rhodesia, two months after its abolition in the UK. Also Radio Caroline South pirate radio ship MV Mi Amigo runs aground on the beach at Frinton.

9 February – A prototype Fast Reactor nuclear reactor opens at Dounreay on the north coast of Scotland.

28 February – Harold Wilson calls a snap general election for 31 March, in hope of increasing his vulnerable single-seat majority in Parliament

4 March – In an interview published in The Evening Standard, John Lennon of The Beatles comments, “We’re more popular than Jesus now”.

9 March – Ronnie Kray, one of the Kray twins, shoots George Cornell (an associate of rivals The Richardson Gang) dead at The Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, East London, and a crime for which he is finally convicted in 1969.

20 March – Theft of football’s Jules Rimet Trophy whilst on exhibition in London.

27 March – Pickles, a mongrel dog, finds the FIFA World Cup Trophy wrapped in newspaper in a garden in south London.

31 March – The Labour Party led by Harold Wilson win the general election with a significantly increased majority of 96 seats. At the 1964 election held just two years earlier, Labour had a narrow majority of five seats but subsequent by-election defeats had led to that being reduced to just one seat prior to this election.

6 April – Hoverlloyd inaugurate the first cross-channel hovercraft service, from Ramsgate harbour to Calais using passenger-carrying SR.N6 craft.

19 April – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley go on trial at Chester Crown Court, charged with three so-called Moors Murders.

6 May – The Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are sentenced to life imprisonment for three child murders committed between November 1963 and October 1965. Brady is guilty of all three murders and receives three concurrent terms of life imprisonment, while Hindley is found guilty of two murder charges and an accessory charge which receives two concurrent life sentences alongside a seven-year fixed term.

6 June – BBC1 television sitcom Till Death Us Do Part begins its first series run.

29 June – Barclays Bank introduces the Barclaycard, the first British credit card

16 July – Prime Minister Harold Wilson flies to Moscow to try to start peace negotiations over the Vietnam War. The Soviet Government rejects his ideas

30 July – England beats West Germany 4–2 to win the 1966 World Cup at Wembley. Geoff Hurst scores a hat-trick, and Martin Peters scores the other English goal, in a game which attracts an all-time record UK television audience of more than 32 million people.

29 August – the Beatles play their very last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.

15 September – Britain’s first Polaris submarine, HMS Resolution, launched at Barrow-in-Furness.

19 September – Scotland Yard arrests Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards, suspected of being involved in the Great Train Robbery (1963).

20 October – In economic news, 437,229 people are reported to be unemployed in the UK – a rise of some 100,000 on last month’s figures.

24 November – Unemployment sees another short rise, now standing at 531,585.

20 December – Harold Wilson withdraws all his previous offers to the Rhodesian government and announces that he agrees to independence only after the founding of Black majority government.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top Hits of 1966
   1 Jim Reeves Distant Drums
   2 Frank Sinatra Strangers In The Night
   3 Herb Alpert Spanish Flea
   4 Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich Hold Tight
   5 The Beach Boys Sloop John B
   6 Nancy Sinatra These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
   7 The Beach Boys God Only Knows
   8 Dave Berry Mama
   9 The Mindbenders A Groovy Kind Of Love
   10 The Kinks Sunny Afternoon

The tune: Another very difficult choice as ever to make for 1966. I have opted for Good Vibrations as I really wanted the Beach Boys in my favourites list. To me a very special song, bringing back happy memories from a great band, I loved the surf music. Good Vibrations is a song composed by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Mike Love for the American rock band the Beach Boys, of which both were members. Released on October 10, 1966, the single was an immediate critical and commercial hit, topping record charts in several countries including the US and UK. Characterized by its complex soundscapes, episodic structure and subversions of pop music formula, it was the costliest single ever recorded at the time of its release. “Good Vibrations” later became widely acclaimed as one of the finest and most important works of the rock era. The making of “Good Vibrations” was unprecedented for any kind of recording. Over 90 hours of tape was consumed in the sessions, with the total cost of production estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Building upon his approach for Pet Sounds, Brian recorded a surplus of short, interchangeable musical fragments with his bandmates and a host of session musicians at four different Hollywood studios from February to September 1966. This process was reflected in the song’s several dramatic shifts in key, texture, instrumentation and mood. It heralded a wave of pop experimentation and the onset of psychedelic and progressive rock, and helped develop the use of the recording studio as an instrument.

More writings on this song here: Good Vibrations

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track and most of the above top ten are:

Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love – wish I could have many picks for top song, but it’s not like I make the rules up. Also, I am a bit soppy at times.

The Mamas & The Papas – Monday Monday

Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound – Awesome, not “poppish”, but awesome nevertheless.

Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep Mountain High – absolute classic, almost another choice to be my favourite.

Beach Boys – Barbara Ann

The Beatles – Day Tripper

The Beatles – We Can Work it Out

Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today – Churned out hit after hit, great band.

Rolling Stones – Paint It Black – In these days you were either a Beatles or a Rolling Stones fan, hard to be both, but now I am older, I do like them both.

The Supremes – You Can’t Hurry Love – This sort of music last forever, yet another worthy contender for top record.

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

The Beatles – Paperback Writer

Four Tops – Reach Out (I’ll Be There) (This is a recording from 1967, could not find a 1966 one)

The Troggs – Wild Thing – Good song, never liked the Troggs that much, but I did get to see them live in 1982 before the Falklands. Reg Presley was alive and we booked the band for a Corporal’s Mess do. I have never heard a band so loud, but we had a great time!

Tom Jones – Green Green Grass Of Home

The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon (Live on A Whole Scene Going, 1966) – Great tunes from a great band.

Manfred Mann – Pretty Flamingo – great song and they went on to do really good stuff.

The Beach Boys – God only knows

Percy Sledge – When a man loves a woman – another classic

Spencer Davis Group – Keep on Running – Some good music from this group as well.

Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’

Small Faces – Sha La La La Lee

Chris Farlowe – Out Of Time

Small Faces – All Or Nothing

The Hollies – Bus Stop (Top Of The Pops – June 1966)

Dave Dee Dozey Beaky Mick & Tich – Bend It

The Kinks – Dedicated Follower Of Fashion – Fun tune.

The Hollies – I Can’t Let Go

The Hollies – Stop Stop Stop

The Merseys – Sorrow – Later became Tony Crane and the Merseybeats.

Manfred Mann – Semi-Detatched Suburban Mr. James

The Who – Substitute – I am not a great Who lover, but this was a good tune.

The Seekers – Morningtown Ride – I was 10 at the time, I liked it then and still do.

Cilla Black – Alfie

Beatles – Yellow Submarine – Not my favourite Beatles song, but I cannot miss a Beatles song out.

Fun song: The New Vaudeville Band – Winchester Cathedral

36 songs for 1966 in my favourite lists, these articles are taking long and longer to write, but it’s so much fun!

Hat tips to:

http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/  These give the top 100 selling charts for each year

http://www.everyhit.com/chart1.html   These give the top 10 songs for each year

https://www.youtube.com/  You know them.

Next Time 1967.

© Phil the test manager 2018

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