A History of Pop Music – 1968

Featured song: The Bee Gees – Words

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 1968: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about great music, Harold bloody Wilson and Enoch Powell.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 12, life was about going to the hated school, and homework often entailed visits to the town library. It was the time I realised I had misophonia. At this time though it did not officially exist, not even named, nor could I find anything about it, libraries had index cards based on Author, title and genre only.  It just meant when my dad, who was an exceptionally loud eater and slurper of tea, and my 2 elder sisters ( 4 and 5 years older) who were not much better, quickly caught on that I hated the sound of eating crispy things and slurping tea, so they took every opportunity to eat apples, celery and crisps. Fight or flight, and they were all much bigger than me.  I did eventually snap that Christmas and took both my sisters food off their plate and stamped on it.  They saw I was mad, and left me alone after that. I never did sit down to a family meal after that day.

TV programmes included:

1 January – The Colour television licence is introduced when a £5 “colour supplement” is added to the £5 monochrome licence fee, therefore making the cost of a colour licence £10.

The cult series The Prisoner finishes its first run on British television. Opportunity Knocks (Mary Hopkin became a big start after that), Magpie premieres on ITV, but how could you not watch Blue Peter on the Beeb? Dad’s Army begins its nine-year run on BBC1. Hector’s House had the five to six slot. I used to watch Animal Magic, World of Sport on a Saturday, then not long after The Golden Shot, obviously never missed a Top of the Pops on a Thursday.


Prime Minister – Harold Wilson (Labour)

January – the Ford Escort car is introduced to replace the Anglia

5 January – Gardeners’ World debuts on BBC1 television, featuring Percy Thrower

4 February – 96 Indians and Pakistanis arrive in Britain from Kenya. Some 1,500 Asians have now arrived in Britain from Kenya, where they were forced out by increasingly draconian immigration laws.

1 March – Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 further reduces right of entry for citizens from the British Commonwealth to the U.K.

11 April – popularity of Harold Wilson’s Labour government is shown to be slumping as opinion polls show the Conservatives, led by Edward Heath, with a lead of more than 20 points.

20 April – Conservative MP Enoch Powell makes his infamous Rivers of Blood speech about immigration and anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom. The speech is made at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham to a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre at 2:30 pm. The Birmingham-based television company ATV saw an advance copy of the speech that morning, and its news editor ordered a television crew to go to the venue, where they filmed sections of the speech. The speech provokes great outcry among the British public, making Powell one of the most popular and loathed politicians in the country, and leading to his dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet by Conservative party leader Edward Heath on the 21st April.

8 May – the Kray Twins, 34-year-old Ronnie and Reggie, are among 18 men arrested in dawn raids across London. They stand accused of a series of crimes including murder, fraud, blackmail and assault. Their 41-year-old brother Charlie Kray is one of the other men under arrest.

7 June – start of Ford sewing machinists strike at the Dagenham assembly plant: women workers strike for pay comparable to that of men.

31 July – the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army is first aired on television. – Even the repeats are still one of the few programmes I watch on the SCBBC now.

8 August – Royal Navy Leander-class frigate HMS Scylla is launched at Devonport, the last ship to be built in a Royal Dockyard.

16 September – General Post Office divides post into first-class and second-class services.

8 October – Enoch Powell warns that immigrants “may change the character” of England. (Insert that meme of “He’s right you know”.

26 November – the Race Relations Act is passed, making it illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people in Britain because of their ethnic background.

17 December – Mary Bell, an 11-year-old girl from Newcastle upon Tyne, is sentenced to life detention for the manslaughter of two small boys.

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

Top Hits of 1968
   1 Louis Armstrong What A Wonderful World
   2 Des O’Connor I Pretend
   3 Mary Hopkin Those Were The Days
   4 Tom Jones Help Yourself
   5 The Union Gap Young Girl
   6 Tom Jones Delilah
   7 Leapy Lee Little Arrows
   8 The Equals Baby Come Back
   9 Hugo Montengro The Good The Bad And The Ugly
   10 The Beatles Hey Jude

Very good year for the crooners, not my cup of tea, no matter how good Tom Jones was, and still is to this day. Just was not pop for me. Hey Jude by the Beatles would have been my No 1 song, but I have chosen the Beatles already. Bill Hayley had several hits this year as did Elvis, The Beatles and the Bee Gees. Status Quo with “Like Ice in the Sun” and “Pictures of Matchstick Men” came out, but not yet that Quo sound I think most of us like.  So my pick is The Bee Gees with “Words”, for this year it could have been “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”, but I think the vocals on “Words” is outstanding.

The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their line-up consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their decades of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as prominent performers of the disco music era in the mid-to-late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies; Robin’s clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists. I think they were very influential indeed and are up there with Lennon and McCartney for writing great songs. As much as I liked their disco era, these songs from the earlier years are my favourites.

The Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million records worldwide, making them the 7th world’s best-selling artists of all time.

The tune: Words is a song by the Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb. The song reached No. 1 in Germany, Canada, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Only No 8 in the UK though.

More writings on this song here: Words-Bee Gees

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

Beach Boys – Do It Again – great tune

Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson

The Monkees – Daydream Believer

The Beatles – Hey Jude

Bee Gees – I’ve gotta get a message to you

Canned Heat – On The Road Again

Mama Cass Elliot – Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Love Affair – Everlasting Love

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu – very memorable performance on TOTP.

Joe Cocker – With a little help from my friends – what a voice.

Manfred Mann Mighty Quinn

The Hollies – Jennifer Eccles

The Move – Fire Brigade

Small Faces – Lazy Sunday

Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay

The Rolling Stones – Jumping Jack Flash

Barry Ryan – Eloise

Amen Corner – Bend Me, Shape Me

The Beach Boys – Darlin’

Status Quo – Pictures of Matchstick Men

Status Quo – Ice In The Sun

The Foundations – Build Me Up Buttercup – Seen here with Tom Jones as compere.

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown – Fire – very memorable, not my cup f tea, but it brings back memeories.

Julie Driscoll Brian Auger & Trinity – Wheels On Fire

Cliff Richard – Congratulations – very cheesy today, but at the time it was fun.

Donovan – Hurdy Gurdy Man – He was to “hippy” for my liking.

Fun song: – Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – I’m the Urban Spaceman

Bonus fun song: – The Scaffold – Lily The Pink

28 songs for 1968 in my favourite lists, what golden years and what a golden decade.

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 1969.

© Phil the test manager 2019

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