A History of Pop Music – 1970

Featured song:  Simon & Garfunkel –

Bridge over troubled water

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 1970: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about the change from Harold (Bloody) Wilson to Ted Heath (nudge nudge).  Kicking off in Rhodesia, the thalidomide victims, more strikes, by the dockers.  A Brit won the US gold open.  Sadly, the end of The Beatles.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 14, reading newspapers for the first time, The Sun.  School was still awful, and the serious amounts of homework given out was ridiculous.  I did though find enjoyment in Biology, Physics and Chemistry, all other lessons were detested.  Summer holidays were spent at Butlins in Skegness, happy days.

TV programmes included:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII, a series of six teleplays, each of which focused on the life of one of King Henry VIII of England’s six wives.  I had to watch this for school reasons.  Boring.  Jon Pertwee makes his first appearance as the Third Doctor in the Doctor Who serial Spearhead from Space.  It also marks the first time that the series is broadcast in colour.  The Nine O’clock News is first broadcast on BBC1.  Felix Dennis becomes the first person to use the word “cunt” on British television during a live broadcast of The Frost Programme.  Also, A Question of Sport started as did Scooby Doo (did appear a little bit the previous year though).  The Goodies (1970–1982).  UFO another favourite of mine started as well.


Prime Minister – Harold Wilson (Labour) (until 19 June), Edward Heath (Conservative) (starting 19 June)

1st January – The age of majority for most legal purposes was reduced from 21 to 18 under terms of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.

1st January – The half-crown coin ceased to be legal tender.

13th February – English band Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album in the UK, credited as the first major album in the heavy metal genre.

2 March – Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared Rhodesia a republic, breaking all ties with the British Crown; four years after the declaration of independence. The Government refused to recognise the new state as long as the Rhodesian Government opposed majority rule.

23 March – Eighteen victims of thalidomide were awarded a total of nearly £370,000 in compensation.

10 April – Paul McCartney announces that he has left the Beatles (Sobz)

18 April – British Leyland announces that the Morris Minor, its longest-running model which had been in production since 1948, would be discontinued at the start of next year and be replaced with a new larger car available as a four-door saloon and three-door fastback coupe, and possibly a five-door estate by 1975.

17 June – The bodies of two children were found buried in shallow graves in woodland at Waltham Abbey, Essex. They were believed to be those of Susan Blatchford (11) and Gary Hanlon (12), who were last seen alive near their homes in North London on 31 March this year. This became known as the “Babes in the wood” case.

18 June – The 1970 general election is held, the first in which eighteen-year-olds were entitled to vote. Opinion polls point towards a third consecutive victory for the Labour Government led by Harold Wilson.

19 June – The general election results are announced and Edward Heath’s Conservative Party wins with a majority of 30 seats, a major surprise as most of the opinion polls had shown that Harold Wilson’s Labour were likely to stay in power.  Among the new Members of Parliament are: future party leaders Neil Kinnock and John Smith for Labour, and Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker, Norman Fowler and Geoffrey Howe for the Conservatives.

21 June – British golfer Tony Jacklin won the U.S. Open

26 June – Riots broke out in Derry over the arrest of Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette Devlin

3 July – Three civilians were killed, and 10 troops injured when British Army soldiers battled with IRA troops in Belfast

16 July – A state of emergency was declared to deal with the dockers’ strike

30 July – The docks strike was settled.

31 July – The last issue of grog in the Royal Navy was distributed.

9 August – Police battled with black rioters in Notting Hill, London. – How times change hey.

26–31 August – Third Isle of Wight Festival attracted over 500,000 pop music fans, with appearances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors and Joan Baez

9 September – BOAC Flight 775 was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after taking off from Bahrain—the first time a British plane had been hijacked.

18 September – American rock star Jimi Hendrix, 27, died in London from a suspected drug-induced heart attack.

23 October – The Mark III Ford Cortina went on sale.  At launch a full range of models are offered including two-door and estate variants. Unlike previous models, this Cortina was developed as a Ford Europe model sharing the floor-pan with the similar German Ford Taunus.

17 November – The first Page Three girl appeared in The Sun.  On an unrelated topic, we stopped getting the Daily Mirror delivered and we had the Sun instead.

20 November – The ten-shilling note ceased to be legal tender.

31 December – Paul McCartney files a lawsuit against the other members of the Beatles to dissolve their partnership, effectively ending the band. – More sobz.

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

Top Hits of 1970
   1 Elvis Presley The Wonder Of You
   2 Christie Yellow River
   3 Mungo Jerry In The Summertime
   4 Freda Payne Band Of Gold
   5 Shirley Bassey Something
   6 Lee Marvin Wanderin’ Star
   7 Norman Greenbaum Spirit In The Sky
   8 Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water
   9 England World Cup Squad Back Home
   10 Free All Right Now

 Great year for Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis and The Beatles (as ever), Cliff of course.  A few good one-hit wonders as well with Norman Greenbaum and Mr Bloe.  The Kinks and the brilliant Lola and All Right now by Free was close to being the featured song as was Dave Edmunds “I hear you knocking”, but this tune by Simon & Garfunkel is superb.  In these days, whenever you went to a mate’s house, you always checked their record collection.  It was very rare not see this album.  On of my all-time favourites is Spirit in the Sky, the original by Norman Greenbaum, but over here a one-hit wonder, so cannot have that.

The tune:  Bridge over Troubled Water, released on 26th January 1970, recorded in November 1969.

Bridge over Troubled Water is the fifth and final studio album by American folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel. Following the duo’s soundtrack for The Graduate, Art Garfunkel took an acting role in the film Catch-22, while Paul Simon worked on the songs, writing all the tracks bar 2.

Despite numerous accolades, the duo decided to split up, and parted company later in 1970; Garfunkel continued his film career, while Simon worked intensely with music. Both artists released solo albums in the following years. Bridge includes two of the duo’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful songs, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “The Boxer”.  Critically and commercially successful, the album topped the charts in over ten countries and received two Grammy Awards, plus four more for the title song. It sold around 25 million.

Definitely worth watching and listening to the Simon and Garfunkel live in central park full concert – wondrous stuff.

More writings on this song here:  Bridge Over Troubled Water

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

The Kinks – Lola

Free – All Right Now

T Rex – Ride a White Swan

Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds

Dave Edmunds – I hear you knocking

The Beatles – Let It Be

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Up Around the Bend – great band, great tune

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) – They just do not write song titles like this anymore.

Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tears Of A Clown

Deep Purple – Black Night

Three Dog Night – Mama told me not to come

Status Quo – Down the Dustpipe – The start of Quo being Quo.

Mr Bloe –  Groovin with Mr Bloe – could not resist this video with Fred and Ginger, just for OT.

Diana Ross & The Supremes – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Hotlegs – Neanderthal Man

Desmond Dekker – You Can Get It If You Really Want

Jimmy Ruffin – Farewell Is A Lonely Sound

Bread – Make it with you

Herman’s Hermits –  Years May Come Years May Go

Four Tops – Its All In The Game

Neil Diamond – Cracklin Rosie – as fresh now as it was then

Nicky Thomas – Love of the Common People – The original, but Paul Young’s version was superb.

McGuinness Flint – When I`m Dead and Gone

Melanie (Safka) – Ruby Tuesday

Peter Paul n Mary – Leaving on a Jet Plane – Lovely tune – RIP Mary Travers, beautiful tune,

Canned Heat –  Let’s Work Together –  Great tune, I feel guilty that Roxy Music made it even better.

Don Fardon – Indian Reservation

Edwin Starr- War

Mary Hopkin – Knock Knock Who’s There – I am very soppy, I just like her voice.

Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Chile Slight Return – not really a favourite of mine, I just have never liked his music, but prefer not to be lynched for not including him.

Fun song:  The Archies – Sugar Sugar

Fun Song: The Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding

33 songs for 1970 in my favourite lists, another great start to another great 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 1971.

Featured Image. Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 – negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang, bestanddeelnummer 919-3036 [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl], via Wikimedia Commons

© Phil the test manager 2019

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