A History of Pop Music – 1969

Featured song: The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women

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 1969: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about the Space Race, orbiting the earth and the moon and then landing on it. Monty Python starts.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 13, still hating school. The highlight of the year for me was 20-21 July – A live transmission from the Moon is viewed by 720 million people around the world, with the landing of Apollo 11: at 10:56 p.m. EDT on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon, broadcast live. That was so special for me. After that I loved everything to do with space and science fiction.

TV programmes included:

The UK shares the win of the 14th Eurovision Song Contest, in a four-way tie with France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Lulu represents the UK, singing “Boom bang-a-bang”. Patrick Troughton makes his last regular appearance as the Second Doctor in the concluding moments of Episode 10 of the Doctor Who serial The War Games. It also marks the final time that the series was broadcast in black and white.  Lulu the elephant runs amok on Blue Peter. Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) premieres on ITV, you can still watch this on the Moving Pictures channel each night. The ITV seven horse races on WoS. 3 November – ITV airs the first edition of Coronation Street to be videotaped in colour. 19 November – The Benny Hill Show premieres on Thames Television.

A special mention for Monty Python’s Flying Circus airing its first episode in October on the BBC. Best comedy programme ever.


Prime Minister – Harold Bloody Wilson

2 January – Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased the best-selling UK Sunday newspaper The News of the World.

30 January – the Beatles performed for the final time, on the rooftop of Apple Records. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.

18 February – pop star Lulu, 20, married Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees at St James Church, Gerrards Cross.

March – the first B&Q DIY superstore was set up in Southampton by Richard Block and David Quayle.

2 March – the maiden flight of Concorde took place.

4 March – the Kray twins were both found guilty of murder: Ronnie of murdering George Cornell; Reggie of murdering Jack “the Hat” McVitie. On 5 March they are sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum of thirty years by Mr Justice Melford Stevenson.

12 March – Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman at Marylebone register office in London, and on 25 March – John Lennon and Yoko Ono married in Gibraltar

9 April – Sikh busmen in Wolverhampton won the right to wear their turbans on duty.

23 May – The Who released the concept album Tommy.

29 May – Carry On Camping was released, becoming the year’s most popular film at the UK box office.

12 July – Golfer Tony Jacklin won The Open Championship.

23 July – BBC Two television first aired the Pot Black snooker tournament. And for those of you (like me) watching in balck and white, the green ball is behind the brown.

12 August – rioting broke out in Derry, Northern Ireland in the Battle of the Bogside, the first major confrontation of “The Troubles”, though I prefer to call it a war.

26 September – The Beatles released what would be their final album (Abbey Road) recorded together.

14 October The new seven-sided 50p coin was introduced as replacement for the 10-shilling note, to a mixed reception from the British public, with many people complaining that it was easily confused with the 10p coin.

November – Ken Loach’s film Kes was released at the London Film Festival. I remember well going to see this film, it was, and remains rather brilliant.

17 November – The Sun newspaper was re-launched as a tabloid under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch.

18 December – The abolition of the death penalty for murder was made permanent by Parliament.

The sixth James Bond film – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – was released in British cinemas. Bond is now played by Australian actor George Lazenby after Sean Connery starred in the first five films. Starring alongside him is Yorkshire-born actress Diana Rigg.

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

Top Hits of 1969
   1 Frank Sinatra My Way – (I have put the one with lyrics in it, go on, I know you want to)
   2 Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus
   3 Dean Martin Gentle On My Mind
   4 The Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Women
   5 Robin Gibb Saved By The Bell
   6 Karen Young Nobody’s Child
   7 The Beatles Get Back – I have linked the rooftop version up
   8 Donald Peers Please Don’t Go
   9 Bobby Gentry I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
   10 Tommy Roe Dizzy

A marvellous year for the Beatles, Elvis, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder. The beginnings of Fleetwood Mac. A top song of the year was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, as much I loved that song, one-hit wonders will never be a favourite for the year. I may write an article on one hit wonders though. Frank Sinatra doing well of course with “My Way”. Space Oddity from Bowie, what a tune. I am not that big a lover of the Rolling Stones having been a Beatles fan, at the time it was a choice of one or the other, I have no idea why, but I did, and still do love this track, and the Rolling Stones have always been very successful for many decades so in my view deserve the favourite spot.

The tune: The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards while on holiday in Brazil from late December 1968 to early January 1969, inspired by Brazilian “caipiras” (inhabitants of rural, remote areas of parts of Brazil) at the ranch where Jagger and Richards were staying in Matão, São Paulo. Two versions of the song were recorded by the band: the familiar hit which appeared on the 45 single and their collection of late 1960s singles, Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2); and a honky-tonk version entitled “Country Honk” with slightly different lyrics, which appeared on Let It Bleed (1969).

Thematically, a “honky tonk woman” refers to a dancing girl in a western bar who may work as a prostitute; the setting for the narrative in the first verse of the rock-and-roll version is Memphis, Tennessee: “I met a gin soaked bar-room queen in Memphis”, while “Country Honk” (Click the hyper-link for this version) sets the first verse in Jackson, Mississippi: “I’m sittin’ in a bar, tipplin’ a jar in Jackson”.

The band initially recorded the track called “Country Honk,” in London in early March 1969. Brian Jones was present during these sessions and may have played on the first handful of takes and demos. It was his last recording session with the band.

The song was transformed into the familiar electric, riff-based hit single “Honky Tonk Women” sometime in the spring of 1969, prior to Mick Taylor’s joining the group.

“Honky Tonk Women” is distinctive as it opens not with a guitar riff, but with a beat played on a cowbell. The Rolling Stones’ producer Jimmy Miller performed the cowbell for the recording.

More writings on this song here: Honky Tonk Women

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

Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer

David Bowie – Space Oddity

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – classic

The Archies – Sugar Sugar

Martha & The Vandellas – Dancing in the Streets – You’re feet are tapping, go on, admit it.

Peter Sarstedt – Where Do You Go To My Lovely – I got the video from the Simon Dee show. Remember him? Then he just went.

Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Fleetwood Mac-Albatros

Zager And Evans – In The Year 2525 – Probably the first song I remember as the “Power Play” on Radio Luxembourg, played every hour, great tune.

Robin Gibb – Saved By The Bell

Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life

Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air – great tune

Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well – great to watch them. Also as it is one of OT’s favourite tunes I could not miss it out.

Desmond Dekker – Israelites – “I get up every morning slaving for breakfast, so that every mouth can be fed”, then after that no one knew the actual words.

Amen Corner – If Paradise Is Half As Nice – yet another classic, always get me singing.

Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle – classic opening

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary – Great band, great tune

Elvis Presley Suspicious Minds Live in Las Vegas – If you are not singing to this (and doing the lip movement), you are dead to me.

Marmalade – Ob La Di Ob La Da

The Move – Blackberry Way

Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

The Hollies – Sorry Suzanne

The Foundations – Build Me Up Buttercup

The Who – Pinball Wizard – never did like them much, but this is a good tune.

Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman – not “pop” music to me, but great tune for a great singer/song writer

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – The Tracks of My Tears

Give Peace A Chance – Plastic Ono Band – It’s OK, but never liked it that much.

Blue Mink – Melting Pot – I have always like the tune, but even on release I felt uncomfortable with the message.

Fun song: – Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue: with lyrics, so you can sing along to.

Fun Song: Rolf Harris – Two little boys – but I am not going to link it.

Bonus fun song: The Scaffold – Lily The Pink

32 songs for 1969 in my favourite lists, probably my most favourite year from the 60’s. 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 1970.

© Phil the test manager 2019

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