The Pop History Dig

“Offshore Oil Blaze”
Shell: 1970-71

[…] On December 1st, 1970, an offshore oil rig operated by the Shell Oil Co. in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and caught fire. Four workers were killed and 37 others were seriously burned, some jumping from the burning rig to save their lives…. The Shell platform and wells burned for nearly three months. A large oil slick formed, covering more than twenty miles at one point, oiling some Louisiana islands and beaches. Oil slicks of smaller size were visible in the Gulf five months after the incident… At the time, the Shell blowout was the worst offshore oil disaster to have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico […]

“Tomorrow Never Knows”
The Beatles: 1966

[…] The Beatles, with their 1966 album, “Revolver,” continued to push the boundaries of popular music with new studio techniques and novel songs, venturing further into what became known as psychedelic music. “Tomorrow Never Knows” was one of the songs in that genre, with a sound all its own… John Lennon consulted a Timothy Leary book and Tibetan sources for help with the lyrics… And in 2012, the song also made a cameo in a “Mad Men” TV episode […]

“Mountain Warrior”
Harry Caudill: 1950s-1980s

[…]Harry M. Caudill (1922-1990) was a writer and activist who did battle with the coal industry and political establishment in a life-long effort to improve his Eastern Kentucky homeland and the larger Appalachian region. During the 1950s and 1960s, he rose on the issue of coal mining’s destructive effects on land and people, publishing a landmark 1962 book, “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” that helped convince JFK and LBJ to bring federal help to the region …This account provides an overview of his and his region’s struggles with coal mining, its environmental effects, and some of their battles[…]

“CBS Loved Lucy”

[…] “I Love Lucy,” a 1950s television sitcom starring comedienne Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, dominated TV like no other program had before, and few since. Generating 30-to-40 million viewers per episode, “I Love Lucy” (and subsequent Lucy shows) helped make CBS a leading television network, brought in tens of millions in advertising, and enriched Lucy and Desi beyond their wildest dreams, making them entertainment moguls with Desilu Studios… The“Lucy effect” has reverberated throughout the world for nearly 70 years – in TV reruns, TV publications, and the TV nostalgia industry – generating tens of millions well into the 2010s […]

“Mailer on Kennedy”
New Taschen Book

[…] In November 2014, the Taschen publishing house released its “JFK/Norman Mailer” book, a spiffy new photography/politics book featuring 300 JFK campaign photos built around Norman Mailer’s famous 1960 Esquire magazine piece – “Superman Comes to The Supermarket.” The 370-page book takes a unique historical cut on politics, campaigning, journalism, and photography… This piece provides an overview of its contents along with a few photos and a profile of Mailer […]

“Legend of a Mind”
Timothy Leary & LSD

[…]“Legend of a Mind” is the name of a 1968 Moody Blues song about a man named Timothy Leary, a former Harvard University instructor and research psychologist who became something of a “pied piper” for LSD drug use in the 1960s… This story includes the Moody Blues song as intro and period piece, and also a detailed history on Leary & associates, as well as other LSD users, including the owners of Time-Life magazines and the CIA […]

“Noteworthy Ladies”
36 Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 36 stories at this website on female careers in music, film, sport, politics, publishing and other endeavors… Some offer in-depth biographical profiles with extensive photos, and in the case of recording artists, mp3 song files… Among those featured, are: Ali MacGraw, Anna Q Nilsson, Ava Gardner, Babe Didrikson, Barbara Lewis, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, Billie Holiday, Carly Simon, Cyd Charisse, Dinah Shore, Gisele Bündchen, Grizabella from “Cats,” Janis Joplin, Lady Gaga, Keira Knightley, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Martha & the Vandellas, Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, Pearl White, Petula Clark, Princess Diana, Rachel Carson, Rosie The Riveter, Sarah Palin, Skeeter Davis, Taylor Swift, the Ronettes, The Shirelles, and Tina Turner […]

“JFK’s 1960 Campaign”
Primaries & Fall Election

[…] This story covers Sen. John F. Kennedy’s run for the White House in 1960 – from the primary elections and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, through the extensive fall campaign, long election night, and photo finish. An introductory narrative of JFK’s successful White House run is offered, followed by a detailed listing of his campaign itinerary for the entire year, city-by-city, along with related speech topics, photos, and other anecdote… Extensive sources are also included with additional photos and links to his earlier presidential campaigning in 1957, 1958 and 1959 […]

“Buses Are A’Comin’”
Freedom Riders: 1961

[…] In 1961, an extraordinary display of courage came from hundreds of ordinary Americans who stood up to racial bigotry in the South. They rode buses to make a point about senseless segregation… Some were beaten; many went to prison. Before it was all over more than 60 “Freedom Rides” carrying more than 400 riders – black and white; liberal and conservative; Protestant, Catholic, and Jew – would crisscross the South in protest. Many were college students; some from the seminary. They came to lend their presence and put their bodies on the line. Their actions were innocent and non-violent. This is part of their story – with photos, prison mug shots, Kennedy political history, and more […]

1971: John Prine

[…] In 1971, a country music song titled “Paradise,” by singer-songwriter John Prine, told the tale of 1960s-1970s strip mining in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where Peabody Coal Co., operating a gigantic strip mine shovel named Big Hog, supplied coal to a TVA electric powerplant… In the process, the small, rural river town of Paradise, KY was bought out and bulldozed… Story also covers other similar “small town removal” cases at the hand of strip mining… John Prine biography and recording history also included […]

“The End of the World”
Skeeter Davis: 1963

[…] In early 1963, a song by country singer Skeeter Davis with the title “The End of the World” was doing something that no other recording had done then or since then – making its way into the Top Ten of four of the nation’s music charts… This story covers the history of that song, the biography of Skeeter Davis, and the success of some of her country and pop music hits… Includes photos & music sample […]

“Last Date”

[…] A couple of Floyd Cramer’s instrumental piano hits of the early 1960s are the focus of this piece, as the “countrypolitan” Nashville sound began to permeate pop music at the time… Cover versions of Cramer’s hit song “Last Date” by Skeeter Davis, Emmylou Harris, and Conway Twitty are also discussed, as well as his Cramer’s work with Elvis Presley and Chet Atkins […]

“Burn On, Big River…”
Cuyahoga River Fires

[…] This story explores the history of several Cuyahoga River fires in the Cleveland, Ohio region, circa 1890s to 1969; their influence on national environmental history & public policy; and some related music from Randy Newman, R.E.M., and Adam Again… Includes photos, political cartoons, and some music […]

“JFK’s Pacific Swim”
August 1962

[…] Surprised beachgoers in Santa Monica, California were astounded to find President John F. Kennedy swimming on their public beach… So were ten secret service agents charged with protecting him… Story of the famous photo of JFK amid admiring beach crowd taken by L.A. Times photographer Bill Beebe… Part of JFK’s “inner boy” making an escape, and a national moment of an American president mixing with the masses […]

“Keira & The Zombies”
2014 & The 1960s

[…] In March 2014, actress Keira Knightley and the 1960s’ Zombies teamed up to do a Chanel perfume TV ad to the tune of “She’s Not There”– attention-getting music that backs the ad’s “mystery” mini-plot… The article lays out some of the ad’s screenshots & plot, and also offers an in-depth look at the history of the Zombies and other uses of their music in film, TV and advertising, along with 3 song samples […]

“Moondog Alan Freed”

[…] In the staid Eisenhower 1950s, when pop radio featured mostly standard fare, a Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey named Alan Freed began to shake things up with his what he called “rock ’n roll” music – the upbeat rhythm & blues music then primarily performed and followed by black Americans… Freed soon made a name for himself with upbeat broadcasts and live stage shows, taking R&B and rock ’n roll to New York and throughout the country… Later hit with charges of inciting “rock ’n roll riots” and implicated in a national “payola” scandal, Freed suffered a reversal of fortune that left him dead & financially ruined at 43… His story and his impact on music & popular culture are covered here […]

“Bednarik-Gifford Lore”
Football: 1950s-1960s

[…] Includes back story & biographies of two professional football players – Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker, Chuck Bednarik, and New York Giants’ running back, Frank Gifford – leading up to a famous November 1960 game & collision between the two… Also about a transition era – football prior to Super Bowls, media glare & pop culture focus – kind of “old school” meets “new era”… Workman-like players vs. those with media appeal, public personas & second careers in media, advertising, entertainment […]

“Celebrity Gifford”

[…] Frank Gifford, a talented New York Giants football player in the 1950s & 1960s, became a popular figure in New York & nationally and a familiar face in print & TV ads. He also became one of the first professional athletes to successfully venture into TV sports broadcasting, first with CBS and later — for 25-plus years — on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” program. Gifford’s celebrity, in fact, would span nearly six decades, helped in later years by his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, books & magazine stories about him, his own publishing, and a controversy or two […].

“The Saddest Song”

[…]“Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber might also be called “Adagio for Tears” since it is known for evoking very powerful emotion and sadness among its listeners. Used in film scores from “Elephant Man” to “Platoon,” Barber’s Adagio has also been used at prominent state & celebrity funerals, such as those for FDR, JFK. Grace Kelly & others – also played following 9/11. Electronic dance and trance DJ.s have recorded versions as well… This piece looks at the history and reception of “Adagio for Strings” and it related choral version, “Angus Dei”[…]

“Kennedy History”
12 Stories:1954-2013

[…This topics page provides links to ten Kennedy family stories at this website – 8 stories on John F. Kennedy and 2 on Robert F. Kennedy. The JFK stories deal with his career as a U.S. Senator and his White House run in 1960; his involvement with Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack; his visit to Ft. Worth, Texas hours before he was assassinated, and a tribute site & statue erected there in 2012. Two RFK stories cover his work in Brooklyn, NY (and a commemorative memorial there) and his bid for the 1968 Democratic Presidential nomination…]

“Civil Rights Topics”
14 Selected Stories

[…] This “topics page” lists 14 stories at this website which include civil rights-related content. Among stories listed are several related to civil rights & music; civil rights & television; civil rights & art; and civil rights & politics – stories which include performers & artists such as: Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Norman Rockwell, Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Martha & the Vandellas, U2, and others. Also listed are stories on Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama, and others with sections on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King […]

“1960s Girl Groups”

[…] They were named The Crystals, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, and more. Their music was buoyant & optimistic, befitting a time when a new young president took office…The “girl-group sound” also became a key source of innovative song-writing & novel instrumentation, powering the industry to new heights with millions of records sold to approving Boomer kids… This piece reviews the era & its leading groups w/18 full song samples included […]

“JFK’s Texas Statue”
Fort Worth: 2012

[…] In 2012, the citizens of Fort Worth, Texas dedicated a statue and tribute site to former President John F. Kennedy commemorating his November 22, 1963 visit to their town. JFK made his final public appearances & speeches there before being assassinated only hours later that day in Dallas, Texas. This story covers JFK’s speeches and events that day with period photos, audio of one speech, and other history on that ill-fated 1963 Texas trip […]

“Nader’s Raiders”

[…] Let loose on official Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ralph Nader’s teams of law school and college students were sent to investigate government agencies and corporations… A small cottage industry of publisher-worthy paperbacks resulted, some becoming bestsellers, all with messages that stirred the public policy pot. …Official Washington was challenged and changed, investigative journalism was re-ignited, and public interest advocacy became a much more prominent part of the culture. This article examines how the Nader teams and reports came about and what effect they had […]

“G.M. & Ralph Nader”

[…] In early 1966, a young law school graduate named Ralph Nader was summoned to testify at U.S. Senate hearings on automobile safety on the merits of a book he had written…But a furor erupted shortly thereafter when it was learned that the world’s largest corporation, General Motors, had hired private investigators to try to find dirt on Nader to discredit him as a Congressional witness… Nader would go on to national fame, founding a movement in the 1960s that would spark changes in government, politics, and investigative journalism that reverberate to this day […]


[…] In late 1964 a memorable spy film named “Goldfinger” arrived in theaters – the third in a series featuring British secret agent, James Bond, played by actor Sean Connery. The “Bond films” were based on novels penned by former British intelligence officer Ian Fleming… “Goldfinger” became something of a spy film trend-setter & template for 22 more “Bond films” to follow, one of the world’s most lucrative film franchises to date… “Goldfinger” song also featured, along with film screen shots, magazine covers & more […]

“Please Please Me”

[…]“Please Please Me” was the Beatles’ first No. 1 hit – the 1963 song that energized “Beatlemania” in the U.K. and became the take-off point for the Beatles’ rise to international fame and fortune… It was also the song that typified that early “Beatles sound” that powered numerous hits to follow and the group’s rise in America in 1964… But there were also a few interesting quirks with this song’s production and its subsequent release in America […]

“Sinatra: Cycles”

[…]“Cycles” is the name of a song Frank Sinatra recorded in July 1968, written by Gayle Caldwell. The song rose on the pop charts in late 1968, prompting an album of the same name. “Cycles,”the song, is vintage Frank Sinatra, and he delivers it in that “wee-small-hours” style he is known for from his earlier years… Story covers song history & fan reaction […]

“Dion DiMucci”

[…] Dion DiMucci – better known as “Dion” from his 1950s doo-wop fame – flourished as a pop recording artist through the 1960s. This story recounts parts of his career, touching on his family life, his battle with drugs, and how he explored various musical genres in later years, from Christian music to the blues roots of rock `n roll. Dismissed by some critics as being defined by his teen idol years, a range of artists – including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and others – have cited his influence. Six songs also included […]

“What A Wonderful World”
Louis Armstrong:1967-68

[…] In 1967, at the age of 66, jazz master Louis Armstrong recorded a song titled, “What A Wonderful World.” Armstrong’s very poignant, gravelly-voiced version of this song – brimming with his ebullient character and optimism – is regarded as a classic… However, this song had a rough beginning as it was opposed by an ABC Records executive… And 20 years after its first release, it was revived, by above all things, a Vietnam War movie […]

“The Yogi Chronicles”

[…] Yogi Berra, the famous Hall-of-Fame, New York Yankee baseball player, in addition to becoming a sports celebrity of his day, also became something of cultural icon know for his “famous sayings” – sparking a bit of cottage industry in book publishing… Berra’s story not only captures the baseball aura of his times, but also shows how his sports popularity seeped into popular culture in a novel way, as Yogi Berra’s celebrity is now in its eighth decade […]

“Love Me Do”

[…] This story covers the history of the Beatles’ first hit song, “Love Me Do,” their first recording sessions at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London, how their manager Brian Epstein pushed to get them a recording contract in the early 1960s, and how their relationship with recording engineer George Martin developed around that song and thereafter…The story also includes mp3 versions of 4 songs and also tracks 20-year and 50-year history surrounding “Love Me Do” & the Beatles […]

“Empire Newhouse”

Filed under: 1921-1930,1931-1940,1941-1950,1951-1960,1961-1970,1971-1980,1981-1990,1991-2000,2001-Today — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — J.D. @ 12:26 pm

[…] Advance Publications is a sprawling media empire of leading magazines, newspapers, cable TV and websites owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York. In recent years the Newhouse/Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest privately-held companies in the U.S. This article dips into the 90 years of Newhouse empire-building history, with some focus on the newspaper and magazine parts of the story, celebrity and political issues, and the Newhouse publishing and media impact on America culture…[…]

“Bandstand Performers”

[…] In 1963, American Bandstand, the popular nationally-televised dance show was still going strong with its youthful host, Dick Clark. However, 1963 would be the last year the show would originate from Philadelphia, as it would move to California in 1964… Still, in 1963, Bandstand was the place for new artists to debut their songs, and the show hosted more than 200 guests that year. This story highlights some of those guests and provides a 1963 day-by-day listing of artists & their songs […]

“Baseball Stories”

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 14 baseball stories at this website, including in-depth profiles and photos of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, Christie Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, and others […]

“Dylan’s Hard Rain”

[…] In 1962, during a time when the Cuban missile crisis was unfolding, Bob Dylan wrote a song titled, “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall,” a classic protest song filled with forebodings on war, social injustice, and other dreads, but left for the ages to interpret… The story here provides some background on the Dylan song in those times, subsequent reception and interpretation of Dylan’s work, and his legacy since then […]

“Kent State Reaction”
May 1970

[…] University of Washington students were among the many who rose up in protest following the May 4th,1970 shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University in Ohio during Vietnam War protests over President Richard Nixon’s military incursion into Cambodia… One photo captures a freeway occupation in Seattle during that protest […]

“Power in the Pen”
Silent Spring: 1962

[…] In June of 1962, a series of three articles under the title “Silent Spring” began appearing in The New Yorker magazine. The articles – excerpted from a blockbuster book of the same name by Rachel Carson – offered disturbing accounts of how chemical pesticides were contaminating the environment… A national uproar followed… This account revisits book, author, controversy & legacy at its 50th anniversary […]

“Beatles History”
Ten Stories

[…] This “topics page” lists ten Beatles stories published at this website, with links to each story, including: the first U.S. Beatles concert in 1964; the Beatles’ activities and rise in America during 1964; a profile of the song “Dear Prudence” & “White Album” history;” the Beatles & Nike battling over the use of “Revolution” in a Nike TV ad; history of Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson & the Beatles song catalog; John Lennon history during the time he wrote the song “Watching the Wheels,” and a story on the “Paul-is-dead” rumor & the time of the Beatles’ break-up […]

“Rockwell & Race”

[…] In 2011, Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” depicting a famous 1960 school desegregation scene in New Orleans, was displayed in the Obama White House. This article explores that painting and other Norman Rockwell civil rights paintings, as well as related history on magazine cover art dealing with African American and civil rights topics during the late 1950s and early 1960s […]

“The Jack Pack”
Pt.2: 1961-1990s

[…] Part 2 of the history of Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack and their dealings with the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and his presidency thorugh 1963…. The story picks up at 1961 JFK inauguration and also covers Sinatra’s falling out with JFK, some history on Rat Pack & JFK friends such as Marilyn Monroe, and ends with a “Rat Pack Postscript” on lives & careers beyond the Rat Pack years […]

“…No Satisfaction”

[…] In 1965, a new rock ’n roll group from the U.K. named the Rolling Stones, produced a hit song known as “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” which became a kind of all-purpose, anti-establishment anthem for the ’60s’ generation, also helping create a kind of musical boundary line separating old from new… At that point, some mainstream rock ’n roll groups, following the lead of folk and protest, began adding “message” to their music […]

“The Love Story Saga”

[…] “Love Story” is the name of a 1970-71 best-selling novel and blockbuster film that swept the nation of its feet, surprising literary critics & Hollywood. Though considered sappy today, in the early 1970s both book and film were perfectly timed, and they permeated popular culture through and through, making bundles of money… Book’s tale, characters, biz history recounted here […]

“Iron Butterfly”

[…] In 1968, a hard rock band named Iron Butterfly came out with a 17-minute song that became something of a psychedelic anthem in the Summer of 1968… ”In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” went on to sell tens of millions of albums worldwide and was also used by Fidelity Investments to pitch Baby Boomers in a 2005 TV ad…Iron Butterfly was an early influence on the heavy metal rock sound that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s[…]

“Come Softly to Me”

[…] In 1959, a singing group from the Pacific Northwest named the Fleetwoods rose briefly to the top of the pop music scene with a few top hits that were sweet and melodic with good harmonies, engaging arrangement, and innocent lyrics… The style flourished briefly as the pop music landscape was soon to be transformed by the Beatles and other British groups a few years later…But for a time, the Fleetwoods’ sound became very popular […]

“The Green Berets”

[…] In 1966, the most popular song of the year wasn’t from the Beatles or the Rolling Stones… Rather, it was a song about a Special Forces military group called the Green Berets… It sold millions of copies…But there’s more to this story than just music…. There’s also some politics via JFK & RFK, a paperback book, more music, and a Hollywood film made by Hollywood actor John Wayne […].

“Big Chill”Promo

[…] This is the movie trailer for 1983’s “The Big Chill,” a film about eight former 1960s’ college friends who gather for an unscheduled reunion following a friend’s untimely suicide. The film became something of a landmark in its influence on the subsequent use of original, pre-existing rock songs in commercial advertising […]

“The Paul-is-Dead Saga”

[…] In 1969, the year the Beatles made their “Abbey Road” album – and their last year as a functioning rock group prior to their break up – there was also a “pop rumor” that spread around the world that Beatle Paul McCartney had died in a car crash and had been replaced by a look alike… The story proved to be a giant hoax as Life magazine would report on its cover in early November 1969 […]

“The Loco-Motion”

[…]”The Loco-Motion” is the name of 1962 dance song authored by famous Brill Building song-writing duo, Carole Kind & Gerry Goffin, and recorded by a young artist known as Little Eva… Two other artists — Grand Funk Railroad, an American rock band of the 1970s, and Kylie Monogue, an Australian pop star of the 1980s, also had hits with the song. “The Loco-Motion,” it turns out, is one of a very few songs that managed to top the popular music charts in three separate decades […]

“Dylan: Only A Pawn…”
1963 Video

[…] This video shows Bob Dylan performing the complete version of “Only A Pawn in Their Game” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. Following the murder of black civil rights worker Medgar Evers in Mississippi on June 12th, 1963, Dylan was moved to write the song about the incident, which he titled “Only a Pawn in Their Game”[…]

“Mia’s Metamorphoses”

[…] In the mid-1960s, a young actress named Mia Farrow was the TV celebrity de jour starring in a new kind of prime-time soap opera called “Peyton Place”…It now seems light years away from that earlier time, and Ms. Farrow, with an impressive film career behind her, has lived a life full of twists & turns, interesting people, and now international activism… Some of her story is offered here […]

“Levi’s – Be My Baby”
1989 TV Ad

[…] A video of a 1989 Levi’s jeans TV ad that uses the Ronettes’ classic 1964
song “Be My Baby” as background… Ad story: A good Samaritan in the middle of nowhere, pulls his pick-up truck over to the side of the road to help a distressed driver and discovers a beautiful woman […]

“At The Hop”

[…] They began singing on Philadelphia street corners in the mid-1950s…They were just teenagers, 14 and 15 years old…. They had cut a record locally, and in December 1957 caught a big break, when Dick Clark at ‘American Bandstand’ asked them to fill-in for a last-minute cancellation… Their recording, “At The Hop,” shot to No.1 on the charts and their lives were forever changed […]

“Pitcher Perfect”

[…] There are only three people in all of baseball history who have done it: win three “triple crowns” in pitching. Sandy Koufax is one of them. He garnered this distinction during his magical years on the pitching mound with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963, 1965 and 1966 – a memorable time for baseball…But Sandy Koufax almost missed these years, as he tossed his glove and spikes into the trash at one point, believing he was through with baseball […]

“Harlem Nocturne”

[…] “Harlem Nocturne” is a saxophone-saturated song that has had a long shelf life. It first found fame in the late 1930s’ jazz and big band era…More than 20 years later, and again nearly 50 years after its first release, “Harlem Nocturne” found popular appeal – first in a sultry1959-1960 version by The Viscounts from New Jersey, and again in the 1980s’ as the signature crime show theme song for “The Mike Hammer” TV series… This story includes the full song and covers its history […]

“Early Beach Boys”

[…] In the early- and mid-1960s, the Beach Boys became one of America’s hottest and most successful groups, credited with inventing “California rock” and “sunshine pop.” Along with the Beatles, they also pushed out the boundaries of contemporary music on a new and imaginative front of songwriting and pop composition. Their music was happy, fun-loving and filled with beautiful harmonies – and it appealed to millions, then and 50 years later […]

“Early Beach Boys”
Part 2: Six Songs

[…] If you know the Beach Boys’ music and haven’t heard it in a while, you may find revisiting these six songs a pleasant reminder of just how gorgeous their harmonies were… If , on the other hand, you’ve never heard the Beach Boys 1960s music, you should at least give these six songs a listen […]

“Gifford For Luckies”

[…] Frank Gifford, a famous professional football player with the New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s, is shown in early 1960s’ magazine ads for the Lucky Strike cigarette brand…. Gifford’s football achievements are also covered, as well as some of his second career as a sports broadcaster on Monday Night Football and as husband of Kathie Lee Gifford […]

“Mantle’s Griffith Shot”
April 1953

[…] In mid-April 1953, a young baseball player named Micky Mantle of the New York Yankees hit one of the longest home runs ever in a game against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C…This article includes some of the historic press coverage of that home run, some of the controversy that followed it, and a look at the power of Mickey Mantle is some of his other famous home runs… Several interesting photos and magazine covers are also included […]

“The Story in Your Eyes”

[…] “The Story in Your Eyes” is the name of a popular 1971 hit single by the English rock band The Moody Blues, a song which also appeared on the album, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.” …The song provides one example of their music at about mid-career, as they still had another three decades of recording and performing ahead of them… To date, the Moody Blues have sold more than 60 million recordings worldwide, and some members of the original group, founded in 1964, are still performing as of 2010 […]

“Wayne For Camels”

[…] John Wayne, the popular Hollywood film star of the 1950s, became one of a number of celebrities, sports stars, and other famous individuals to participate in cigarette and tobacco-product advertising in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s… This short article examines two of Wayne’s print ads, some of his film history during that period, and his personal battles with cancer […]

“Be My Baby”

[…] “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes was one of the defining rock ‘n roll songs of the early 1960s — a song notable for advancing a new sound that changed pop music…“Be My Baby” is also a bigger story — of lives entangled in the business of making music during 1963-66 and the fallout years later, including the demise of the group, ill health for one member, a prominent divorce for another, and a protracted legal battle over royalties and song rights[…]

“I Guarantee It.”
1969: Joe Namath

[…] In 1969, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath became famous for his prediction that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, which they did, 16-7… But Joe Namath the celebrity also became a key figure in changing the allure of pro football, making it more exciting & telegenic, more appealing to fans & advertisers, and generally helping improve its economic growth through the 1960s and 1970s […]

“Joplin’s Shooting Star”

[…]Janis Joplin burned bright as a national rock star for five short years before dying of a heroin overdose at age 27. Yet in her short time she carved out a piece of music history that was distinctly her own… This piece tracks some of the major events in her life during her last four years, from 1966 through 1970, and reaction and plaudits thereafter […]

“I’m A Dole Man”

[…] In the 1996 U.S. Presidential campaign, Republican candidate Bob Dole, former U.S. Senator from Kansas, became involved in a controversy over the use of the 1960s’ song “I’m a Soul Man” at his campaign rallies… A lawsuit was threatened, and Dole’s campaign then tried using other music, including some by artists Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Rabbitt […]

“Motown’s Heat Wave”

[…] In 1963, a Motown singing trio named Martha and the Vandellas swept onto the music scene with a string of hits that captured the attention of leading-edge baby boomers, then in high school… With tunes such as “Heat Wave” and “Dancing in the Street,” Martha and the Vandellas helped define the popular music of that day and also helped make Motown a major power in the pop music business […]

“Beatles in America”

[…] The story of the Beatles’ rise in America in 1963 and 1964; how their songs were first ignored in America by music industry executives, radio DJs, “American Bandstand,” and others, then later embraced as “Beatlemania” took hold following their TV debut in February 1964… History of Beatles’ 1964 song output covered, as well as their popular media coverage, U.S. concert tour, and their business and cultural impacts […]

“Legs: Cyd Charisse”

[…] From the late 1940s through the 1960s, a classically-trained dancer named Cyd Charisse helped bring a new style of dance to Hollywood film during the Golden Age of the MGM musical. Dancing with partners such as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and others in some of the most famous films of that era, including “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Band Wagon,” Charisse brought grace, beauty, and sensuality to dance in a way not often seen on film before that time, making her an audience favorite then and something of a Hollywood dance icon today […]

“JFK, Pitchman?”

[…] In the summer of 2009, the Omega watch company, part of the Swatch Group of Switzerland, launched an ad campaign built around the image and words of former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy from the 1960s… The campaign, using the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Moon landing, focused on Kennedy’s initiative with the Apollo space program, using print & TV ads to promote Omega brand Speedmaster watches, which were used in the U.S. space and lunar programs […]

“Dear Prudence”

[…] In early 1968, John Lennon and the Beatles wrote the song “Dear Prudence” while in India on retreat… On their return from India, the 30 or more songs they had written there helped form the double-disc “White Album,” which would become their all-time best-selling album in the U.S., as some 19 million copies sold […]

“RFK in Brooklyn”

[…] A large bronze memorial bust of Robert F. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator and Attorney General in the 1960s, sits in the center of Brooklyn, New York… Kennedy helped initiate an innovative urban program there in a community named Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1966-67 […]

Bill Bradley

Bill Bradley on the March 18, 1968 cover of ‘Sports Illustrated,’ early in his ten-year career with the New York Knicks professional basketball team.     Before he became a U.S. Senator in 1978 and a presidential candidate in the year 2000, Bill Bradley was a famous high school, college, and professional basketball player who reaped All-American and […]

Ava Gardner

[…] Hollywood film star Ava Gardner is profiled from her “country girl” roots in North Carolina to her discovery in New York City, her film roles, and her love affairs with other notables, including Artie Shaw, George C. Scott, Spanish bullfighters and others, but especially Frank Sinatra (separate sidebar)… Includes photos, film posters and magazine covers […]

“Dinah Shore & Chevrolet”

[…] Dinah Shore was one of the first television celebrities whose name became synonymous with a product – Chevrolet automobiles. Singing the “See-The-USA-in-Your Chevrolet” jingle on her popular 1950s TV show every week, Dinah Shore had the nation as her audience, reaching tens of millions…She became a super-salesperson for General Motors and a trusted national persona […]

“Paint It Black”

Record sleeve for ‘Paint It Black’ single issued in South Africa, 1966, with B-side, ‘Long Long While’.     In the spring of 1966, all was not well in the world.  The Vietnam War was raging and  American involvement there was escalating.  U.S. troop strength had reached 200,000 by then, and draft quotas at home had doubled.   […]

“Hello Stranger”

Barbara Lewis, sometime in the early 1960s.     In the summer of 1963, a very smooth and sexy piece of music was being heard on the radio that was also rising on the pop charts.  The name of the tune was “Hello Stranger” and it was written and performed by a 20 year-old named Barbara Lewis.  […]

“1968 Presidential Race”

Richard Nixon, center, is flanked by Dan Rowan, left, and Dick Martin right, of ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In’ TV show at October 1968 campaign stop in Burbank, CA. Nixon appeared on ‘Laugh-In’ in mid-Sept 1968 in the humorous ‘sock-it-to-me’ segment, covered later below. (AP photo)     In the 1968 presidential race, Hollywood and celebrity involvement in […]

“When Harry Met Petula”
April 1968

[…] In March 1968, British pop star Petula Clark, singing a duet with Jamaican American singer and movie star, Harry Belafonte, innocently and naturally touched Belafonte’s arm during a taping of their performance for a TV show. The “interracial touching” incident – at a time when racial tensions and civil rights issues were major concerns – raised objections from an official at Chrysler, the show’s sponsor… This story explores that controversy and its outcome […]

“Stones Gather Dollars”

October 1989 edition of Forbes business magazine featuring Mick Jagger & Keith Richards among the world’s ‘highest paid entertainers’.     In October 1989, Forbes magazine featured rock ‘n roll stars Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on its cover.  The story’s headline asked “What’ll They Do With All That Money?”  Forbes writer Peter […]

“Nike & The Beatles”

…In mid-1987, Nike made a deal to use the Beatles song “Revolution” in their ad campaign, shelling out $500,000 to do so. However, Nike didn’t make the deal with the Beatles, but rather, with pop star Michael Jackson and EMI-Capitol Records…

“Only A Pawn in Their Game”

[…] This story covers the song Bob Dylan wrote in 1963 after the murder of Mississippi civil rights leader, Medgar Evers – a song Dylan performed at the 1963 March on Washington. This story also provides background on other Dylan civil rights songs, including “Oxford Town” (song sampled), “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and others, and also Dylan’s struggles with becoming a civil rights icon and protest leader as his muse pulled him in other directions […]

“Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”

[…] In December 1964, a song titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” began to be heard on the radio. It was a song that would one day become the 20th century’s most played song on the radio […]

1968 Presidential Race

[…] This piece focuses on the 1968 Democratic Primary and National Presidential elections, with particular emphasis on celebrity participation in backing particular Democratic candidates…Also covers general Democratic issues & developments that year, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the general uproar in Chicago at the August 1968 Democratic National convention […]

“Do You Love Me?”
1962 & 1988

2003 Motown CD showing the 1960s’ group, The Contours.      It was early summer 1962.  Berry Gordy, Jr., of Motown Records was in a swivet.  He was itching to record a new piece of music he was sure would be a hit record.  The name of the song was “Do You Love Me?,” a jumpy dance […]

“Beatles’ D.C. Gig”
Feb-March 1964

[…]When the Beatles first came to the U.S. in February 1964, their first-ever live concert performance in Washington, D.C., was filmed by CBS for later use as a “closed-circuit concert” shown in slected U.S. theaters[…]

“Mickey Mantle’s 535th”
19 September 1968

[…] In later years Mickey Mantle would joke half heartedly about his hobbled, late-career performance: “Hitting the ball was easy,” he would say. “Running around the bases was the hard part.” Those who played with Mantle, however, knew it wasn’t funny. In the above photo, you can almost see him wincing as he ran the bases […]

“Dream Lover”

[…] Bobby Darin’s music and film career lasted a short 15 years, ending in his premature death at age 37. But for a time, Bobby Darin set the entertainment world on fire, topping the pop music charts, becoming a successful Las Vegas headliner, Hollywood actor, and film-score writer. Along the way he married actress Sandra Dee, became a social & political activist, and had a change of life after Bobby Kennedy’s assassination […]

“Streisand Rising”

Between 1963 and 1965, at a time when rock and roll music was overwhelming just about everything in sight, a little known singer named Barbra Streisand managed to put not just one, but seven albums of American standards on the Billboard top-selling music charts. How this came to be, and the story of Streisand’s rise to stardom in those years […]

“Fingertips – Pt.2″

The clear, calling harmonica was the sound that first got your attention; it was coming from a new piece of music being played on the radio in late summer 1963 […] It was like nothing else at the time […]; a song recorded live with an unusual arrangement. And it was performed by a 12 year-old blind boy. “Little Stevie Wonder” they called him […]

“LBJ’s Atomic Ad”
1964 – “Daisy Girl”

On September 7, 1964, political advertising history was made on television during the broadcast of NBC’s ‘Monday Night at The Movies’. That’s when a new kind of TV ad was first aired that would forever change the art and practice of political advertising — and to a degree, political campaigning as well […] Photo: Daisy Girl counting her petals.

“American Bandstand”

[…] “American Bandstand” was a TV dance show that began in Philadelphia, PA in the 1950s. It became an important arbiter of rock `n roll in American culture, enabling a giant rock music business to explode nationally with the help of Baby Boomer kids… The show also became synonymous with its principal creator & DJ, Dick Clark, who parlayed the show into other entertainment ventures making him a wealthy man […]

“Rocker Supreme”

She walked away from her husband and a successful musical career with some loose pocket change, a gasoline credit card, and little else. It was early July1976 […] For a time, she relied on friends and food stamps to survive […] By 2005, Tina Turner had become one of the most successful female rock artists of all time […]

“The Kefauver Hearings”

In May 1950, a little-known U.S. Senator named Estes Kefauver, a 47 year-old Democrat from Tennessee, began a series of investigative hearings on organized crime […] An estimated 30 million Americans watched the ‘Kefauver hearings’ in 1950-51, some in movie theaters […]

“Newsweek Sold!”

In early March 1961 in New York, Phil Graham, the 45 year-old publisher of the Washington Post had just written a personal check for $2 million to the Astor Foundation… The Post was then in the process of acquiring one of the nation’s most prominent weekly newsmagazines, “Newsweek”… This piece describes some of the history, background, and characters involved in that deal, and what happened to Newsweek and the Washington Post in the years that followed, including recent events in the 2000s […]

“Selling Janis Joplin”

In 1995, Mercedes-Benz, the German luxury car maker, used a song by ‘60s rocker and blues singer Janis Joplin in one of its TV ads. The Joplin tune — which includes the famous refrain, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” — was used by Mercedes to push a new line of sedans […] Mercedes’ method was aimed squarely at the “maturing” Baby Boomer market […]

JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”

[…] “Profiles in Courage” became a best-seller and was ground-breaking in its day, becoming one of the first books used to advance a political career aimed at the White House […] The book gave Kennedy a certain political gravitas and national recognition he did not have before, lifting him from the ranks of unknown senators […]

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