Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


September 22nd, 2015

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1965

Are We On The Cusp Of  ‘Destruction’?






HOLLYWOOD — A record predicting the frenetic plight of society today, written with biting incisiveness by a 19-year old renegade from surfing music, is gaining acceptance over Top 40 music stations despite its “controversial” lyric.

The writer is P. F. Sloan and his composition is “Eve Of Destruction,” sung by Barry McGuire on Dunhill Records.

Close to 200,000 copies were sold as of last week. The disk was released on July 26.

Barry McGuire's 'Eve Of Destruction,' Dunhill Records; 1965.

Barry McGuire‘sEve Of Destruction,’ Dunhill Records, 1965.

What is so remarkable about the single is it’s acceptance by radio stations. During the past two years three other singles of a controversial or social nature were refused by radio stations. These disks, labeled unacceptable or controversial by American broadcasters were In The Summer Of His Years,” a tribute by Millicent Martin to the late-President Kennedy on ABC-Paramount, which was covered by Kate Smith on RCA, Connie Francis on MGMMahalia Jackson on Columbia and Tony Arden on Decca; “Now,” a plea for first-class citizenship for Negroes sung by Lena Horne and released on 20th Century Fox and “Ballad Of Ira Hayes,” depicting injustices to American Indians, sung by Johnny Cash on Columbia.

Dunhill Productions executive Lou Adler, in attempting to explain why “Destruction” has jumped on format station playlists, claims the song is not a protest at all. The writer is simply relating conditions in the world today, he says. “Sloan is not a hippie or pacifist,” Adler says. “He’s just a youngster who speaks in a contemporary language.”

Adler feels many of radio’s young disk jockeys have beliefs which coincide with those of Sloan’s. Adler points to a broadening of attitudes by broadcasters which allows them to now accept a song whose lyrics (published by Trousdale Music) makes mention of “senators (who) don’t pass legislation . . . .  marches alone can’t bring legislation . . . .  when human respect is disintegratin’ . . . .  think of all the hate there is in Red China . . . . then take a look around down Selma, Alabama.” 

A rekindling of interest in folk music, including the current folk-rock trend (see Billboard; June 12) has created an aura in which disk jockeys are aware of changing times, Adler says.

One additionally vital reason for the acceptance of the single, according to Adler, is the rock-like background behind Barry McGuire, a former lead with the New Christy Minstrels. 



This contemporary guitar-harmonica sound allows disk jockeys to quickly identify the disk as a commercial product. In the case of the other three “message” records, the arrangements (were regarded) uncommercial. There were scattered stations which played them, but nothing like the exposure “Destruction” has received here from KRLA, KFWB, KHJ and KBLA.

Despite the probing of domestic tinderbox situations like the struggle for human rights, the single is being played in all parts of the country, the label says. Among the first markets providing exposure were Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington. It was reported in some areas disk jockeys and program directors went to station managers and owners in obtaining clearance to play the record.

When Lena Horne’s “Now” protest single was released, several program directors told Billboard in Los Angeles they were in the entertainment business and were not concerned with airing records with political overtones. When the Millicent Martin tribute to the slain president was recorded from its original “This Was The Week That Was” British TV show, broadcasters claimed the single was in poor taste. Some said they did not think it was proper for anyone to make money from the tragedy.

John Barrett, general-manager of rating leader KRLA, told Billboard that the arts have always been associated with political thought and that for radio to negate this was foolish.KRLA was playing “Destruction” because it suddenly appeared on its local survey, Barrett says. If public demand warrants play, the station complies, unless decency rules out exposure, Barrett explained. “It is not our prerogative to censor.”  Barrett said the station played a Kennedy tribute single but did not air the “Now” disk since it never showed up on its survey of 30 locations a week.

Barrett added there has been “surprisingly little comment” from listeners about “Eve Of Destruction,” McGuire’s debut for Dunhill. There were more comment from station personnel who were split idealistically over the controversial overtones heard throughout the song. END

 (Information and news source: Billboard; August 14, 1965).


May 8th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1963

Folk LPs Leading Album Chart In Sales






NEW YORK — Just how big a force is the folk movement? From all indications it is very big and at the moments shows little signs of a let-up in the pace. This is true not only in the personal appearance and concert level, but particularly on the record front.

A few minutes of chart study leads to the clear conclusion that folk-styled albums are accounting for the best chart positions and highest sales rate for a number of firms fortunate enough to be in the folk derby. It is, of course, no secret that folk singles become big items from time to time. But in the album field, its the folk artists who are carrying the ball for some of the most important firms.

Peter, Paul and Mary Movin'Warner Bros. is easily the best example at the moment. Two Warners’ albums by Peter, Paul and Mary have been riding along in the top 10 album chart for months. The first of these, which carries as its title, the name of the group, is presently in its 78th week on the chart. The group’s “Moving,” has been on the Billboard LP charts for 40 weeks.

With Capitol, the phenomenon is not so pronounced, only because the Kingston Trio has been on the scene somewhat longer than Peter, Paul and Mary. The fact remains, however, that this group, even after a change of personnel sometime back, continues to be a major factor on the album chart. Their most recent set, “Sunny Side,” is one of three of the firm’s top position albums in recent weeks, now in its 10th week on the list. It is only one of three by the Kingston Trio now on the charts.  The other two, “The Best Of The Kingston Trio,” and “Kingston Trio No. 16,” have a combined total of over 100 chart weeks.

Letterman Sound

The Letterman, another Capitol group with the folk sound, are also pulling their share of the load, moving in their first eight weeks on the chart up to position No. 86 with their “In Concert” LP.

Joan Baez The Best OfOne of the most stellar examples on the power of folk on the present scene is that of Vanguard, currently enjoying four spots on the album chart, all by folk artists.  The label made Joan Baez a star and she’s returning the favor with three albums on the chart for Vanguard. Two of these, Volumes I and II, have each been on the list for upward of 100 weeks, while the third, “Joan Baez In Concert,” now in the top 20, has had a full year of sales on the chart.

Vanguard, most recently, has sprung a new trump card out of its sleeve, in the person of Ian and Sylvia. The pair’s first album, “Four Strong Winds,” hit the chart for the first time only four weeks ago.

The picture is very much the same at another label, Mercury Records. In fact, of Mercury’s present four entries on the LP chart, three are by one folk act, the Smothers Brothers. (The other is by pop maker Lesley Gore). Newest of the Smothers program, “At The Purple Onion,” is now in its 15th week, while its oldest Brothers, “Think Ethnic” and “Two Sides” have been clicking along for 29 and 44 weeks respectively.

Hot Entries

Chad Mitchell TrioKapp Records two hottest entries at the moment, both turn out to be folk-based, by the Chad Michell Trio. The group, though it recently moved over  to Mercury, is doing good business with Kapp with its newest, “The Best Of The Chad Michell Trio,” moving up fast to the 71 spot in its fourth week and “Blowing In The Wind,” an older album, has been on the charts for 23 weeks in the 126 spot.

United Artists has been moving well with four chart contenders in recent weeks,  one of the hottest which is the new “Hootenanny With The Highwaymen,” on the charts for seven weeks and presently No. 82.

Though Columbia Records is and has been swinging recently with all classifications of recorded product, the label is by no means without its representation with folk material. It is scoring particularly well with the New Christy Minstrels. The Randy Sparks managed group currently has three on the album chart, with the newest entry, “Ramblin’,”is showing up No. 17 after nine weeks. The New Christy Minstrels’ “Tall Tales,” has been on the album chart for almost five months and had been in the top 50, while the original “New Christy Minstrels” has been on the chart just short of a year.

Bob Dylan Freewheelin'Bob Dylan is also showing well for Columbia, with his “Freewheelin’,” album in its seventh week at the 30 slot, while the Brothers Four have just returned to chartdom with their “Big Folk Hits,” jumping from No. 146 to 114 this week.

RCA Victor’s Limelighters, in their fourth week on the chart with their new “Fourteen 14K Folk Songs,” have moved from 125 to 77. Odetta is moving along equally fast for the label. Her newest “Folk Songs” album, also a chart item for about four weeks, is now in the No. 81 spot, after a start in 145.

Meanwhile, Liberty Records has also placed a new folk-style act, The Johnny Mann Singers, in the album chart race. The group’s new “Golden Folk Song Hits” moved from 118 to 92 in two weeks. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; October 19, 1963).


May 6th, 2014
Newport Folk Festival, Billboard, August 7, 1965

The Newport Folk Festival, August 1, 1965. Billboard, August 7, 1965 (click image 2x for larger PC view)


April 30th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archive: 1965

Folk Swinging Wave On – Courtesy of Rock Groups and Artists






Hollywood —With Bob Dylan as the stimulus and the Byrds as the disciples, a wave of folk rock is developing in contemporary pop music.

The Byrds in New York City in 1965 (click on image for larger view).

British groups, such as the Animals and the Nashville Teens, have on occasions used pure country-folk materials. But their identity has been really in the Beatles vein. The Byrds, on the other hand, with a similar driving sound, are the first American rock group to obtain the majority of its material from the folk field and make a success out of it. Their Columbia single release, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” is the No. 6 record in the “Hot 100” survey this week.

The five folk singers switched over to rock and roll when the Beatles made it fashionable to wear long hair and play amplified guitars.

Since the Byrds single was released, with San Francisco and Los Angeles were the first two markets accepting the Dylan-authored song, a host of other rock groups have caught the message. And the race is on the get on the folk-rock bandwagon.

Such acts as Billy J. Kramer, Jackie DeShannon and Sonny and Cher have all begun using folk-oriented materials on their singles. A new group, the Rising Sons, displayed a folk-rock style at their Ash Grove bow in Los Angeles recently. Joe and Eddie, Crescendo Records top folk artists, are now reportedly switching over to blend of folk-rock. An act billing itself as the Lovin’ Spoonful, reportedly is working in the New York area with a folk-rock sound.

Byrds’ Gene Clark and Bob Dylan at Ciros in Los Angeles, 1965 (click on image for larger view).

When the Byrds played their first engagement at Ciros in Los Angeles, many folk artists attended. The boys rubbed elbows with Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary and, with Bob Dylan as well, who attended the Byrds’ L. A. venue. It was reported that several disk-men brought portable tape recorders to the club to catch their sound. The Byrds’ sound combines falsetto voicing with blaring guitar chords along with a rock bottom drum beat, songs already applicable for dancing with the current pop scene.

Their repertoire is heavily Dylan influenced, espousing his causes just above their din of their own playing. Their new album has four Dylan tunes and one by Pete Seeger. For some, the blending of folk lyrics with a rock beat becomes a natural extension for the current new folk sound. For the Byrds, this sound has become their key to their success.

They have already played dates with Britain’s own Rolling Stones, and a tie-in with the Beatles on their planned forthcoming United States tour has been mentioned. For the Byrds, TV appearances have already been in the making, giving more exposure to the new folk-rock sound.

If the folk-rock movement takes hold, a song’s lyrical contents could become as influential as the dominating beat that has always been the pride of rock and roll at best. With the Beatles in the mainstream as one from the old rock-and-roll-school, and the Rolling Stones along with the Righteous Brothers, with their white R&B acts infused with euphoric soul, the Byrds are in flight towards a new plateau, combining the imagery of folk lyrics along with the wave the group is now riding with their newly-acclaimed sound. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; June 12, 1965).

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April 30th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

Rock, Folk, and Protest Equals An Erupting New Sound






New York — Call it folk-rock, urban folk, protest music or rock with a message. It’s so new the trade lexicographers haven’t yet agreed on a name. But whatever it’s called, the new sound is selling — and selling big.

Here’s what’s happening. The traditional folk music and the folk-oriented pop product are still selling, but not nearly as much as a few years ago. The hard rock product is still the core of the singles market, but again, it’s not selling as well as it did a year ago. And the sound is not quite as hard today as it has been in recent past.

Fresh Urban Lyric

A hybrid, combining the best and instrumentation of rock music with the folk lyric — usually a fresh urban lyric, and combined with a lyric of protestation — is selling across the board.

Sonny and Cher with Bob Dylan in 1965 (click on image for larger view)

Among the leading exponents of this new form of music are Sonny and Cher, whose Atco record, “I Got You Babe,” hit the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for the second week in a row. “All I Really Want To Do,” another single in the same vein, is on the charts with versions by Cher on Imperial and by the Byrds on Columbia. Two weeks ago, Sonny and Cher’s “Look At Us” album was released on Atco Records.

Also released were singles by Sonny on Atco, and Cher on Reprise. Bob Dylan, the Columbia artist influential in spearheading the “new” folk-rock sound, is also back on the charts with his latest single, “Like A Rolling Stone.”

Elektra, a traditional folk label, announced last week that its fall program would include a heavy dose of the rocking urban-folk product. This Week, Verve-Folkways, another traditional folk label, said it would branch into the folk-rock field this coming fall.

Sound And Message

Barry McGuire folk-rocked the charts with “Eve Of Destruction” in 1965

With many notable exceptions, folk music has been more concerned with the message and narration with the new sound. And rock music has been more concerned with the sound than the message.

The latest development has been is to take the rock sound and instrumentation and use folk-oriented lyrics. The singer or group has something to say. Until recently, the message would be delivered with a guitar with a plaintive voice. Now it’s delivered, often by a group, by hard rock instrumentation behind their lyrics, what they seem in trying to convey of their message.

A case in point is Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction,” released last week on Dunhill Records. The beat is solid, but the lyrics, aimed at teenagers (are adults listening?), deals with social disarrays at the present, such as the possibility of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere on the planet, maybe during this lifetime.

Capitol Records recording artist Jody Miller circa 1964

Jody Miller’s “Home Of The Brave” on Capitol, which defends the rights of youngsters to dress as they see fit, is another of the protest genre that is served up with a rock-influenced beat.

Donovan, the British artist on Hickory Records with his current release on the charts, “Colours,” falls in that same category, along with a message of protestation.

The reconstituted Highwaymen, making their first ABC-Paramount album, have come out with a Bob Crewe produced rock sound, but the message remain in the traditional folk idiom.

The songs are plain enough. Traditional folk, while it will continue to serve it’s specialized market, and what has come to be considered rock music, is being influenced to a major degree by the wave of the new folk sound, evidently heard in lyric and in message with today’s ever-expanding music scene. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; August 21, 1965).


April 30th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

West Coast Clamors For Dylan Tunes





HOLLYWOOD — West Coast recording companies are rushing to cut Bob Dylan songs, with his message-protest numbers all but killing surfing, hot-rod, and all other teen-age themed topics in recorded numbers this Summer.

California-based Music Publishers Holding Corporation head Jack Maas reveal that 48 different Dylan records have been cut within the past month, hav either been released, or will be cut in the next several months. Many of the Dylan songs are ‘covers’ of hits already having found their way on the current national charts.

Bob Dylan at work at Columbia Records in 1965. (Click on image for larger view)

“Most of Dylan’s materials has been requested and recorded by West Coast companies,” Mass said. The reason he attributes to this West Coast activities is simply that young a&r men here have latched unto Dylan with more enthusiasm than their Eastern confreres.

Among these “young” producers, Maas names Steve Douglas and Dave Axelrod at Capitol; Gary Usher, Decca; Andy DiMartino, Liberty Records; Al Schmitt, RCA; Dick Glasser, Warner Bros.; Bud Dain, Crescendo; Terry Melcher, Columbia; Herb Alpert, A&M Records.

“In all my years as a publisher, I’ve never seen such activity for demand for one writer,” Mass emphasized. I’ve got people constantly calling me for his material!”

There are currently seven Dylan tunes on the charts, and the movement is moving forward for the new folk-rock sound, which began with the Byrd’s single, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and then the avalanche for Dylan songs began.

MPHC has a total of 80 Dylan songs and 12 new songs the folk-singer just cut for a new Columbia long-playing album. All of Dylan’s songs are published by M. Whitmark & Son, an MPHC company.

Just released are the following Dylan tunes: “I Don’t Believe You,” by the Lincoln Greens, Crescendo; “Blowin’ In The Wind,” by Johnny Rivers, Imperial; “If You Gotta Go, Go Now,” by the Liverpool Five, RCA; “All I Really Want To  Do,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” by Joe and Eddie in new Crescendo albums.

Set For Release

The Turtles’ debut LP, “It Ain’t Me Babe”; 1965. Album re-issued on Compact Disc. (Click on image for larger size).

Soon-to-be-released Dylan tunes include “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Love Minus Zero” and “I Don’t Believe In You” by the Turtles in their first White Whale LP; “Chimes Of Freedom,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” in a Dino, Desi and Billy Reprise LP; “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Randy Boone in his Decca LP; “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “All I Really Want To Do,” “Like A Rolling Stone” and “You Were On My Mind” in a new Surfaris Decca LP; “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “All I Really Want To Do” in a new David Rose MGM LP; “All I Really Want To Do,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in a forthcoming Cher Imperial LP; “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Love Minus Zero,” “All I Really Want To Do,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “She Belongs To Me” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” will be in Duane Eddy’s new Colpix LP.

Leroy Van Dyke’s first single for Warner Bros., is Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” Also, World Pacific is readying a new band (name undisclosed) which will debut an LP featuring 10 Dylan tunes, to be released near the end of the year.

Mass claims that teenagers are listening to the lyrics. Despite the heavy commercial rock n’ roll beat and the blasting overly amplified guitars, most in the music business tend to realize that the lyrical content of a song is getting through to young people, more in popularity in the current folk-music scene. The rock background, that in itself, has helped the singles get on Top 40 music stations. There are some skeptics who feel the kids are not quite listening to the words, but are rather phased by the new beat instead.

Dylan’s Columbia albums are loaded with message, protests, and satire songs, very cerebral and complex., which has not yet been “discovered” by the “long-haired” folk-rock performers as a preference of choice with today’s popular music.

Beach Boys on Chart

The Beach Boys are the only group represented on the charts with a summertime, teen-outdoorsy song with “California Girls.” All the West Coast  beach-surf sound groups seemingly have been washed out to sea by the Dylan-influenced groups who have also begun imitating Dylan’s droning, monotonous vocal style.

Asked by Billboard to comment on the current rage to record message songs — some meaningful, some otherwise — folk singer Harry Belafonte said that folk music has always stressed social interests in protesting. Characteristics of the folk and rock idioms may be found in some established musicians as Odetta and Brownie McGee, Belafonte said. Folk and rock have their roots in Negro music,” Belafonte noted.

Today’s commercial folk singers may be compared to troubadours of yesterday, he said. The intensity of Negro music is part and parcel of the new sound reflecting the the world’s changing society, the entertainer continued.

Folk-songwriter and singer Phil Ochs in 1965. (Click on image for larger view).

Dylan’s overwhelming emergence as the chief procrastinator of the protest writers has all but obliterated other young folk-oriented writers who were created in this vein. This group includes Phil Ochs, Mark Spoelstra, Len Chandler, Richard and Mimi Larina and Pamela Poland. Paul F. Sloan has already gained notoriety for penning, “Eve Of Destruction,” a powerful single which has begun it’s climb up the charts.

The current trend has all but eliminated Caucasian groups from singing “let’s go to the hop-type songs.” The newest teen topic is protesting against a person’s abnormally long hair, and of social discords evidently present in our times. On the other hand, rhythm and blues’ artists and groups have not yet discovered Dylan and are yet still singing in their soulfully shouting style, with enough drums and rhythmic beat to satisfy their listeners with the current music trends. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; September 4, 1965).


March 29th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

Eve Of Destruction Has Its Day






“This eastern world, it is expodin’, violence flarin’, bullets loading. You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’, you don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’. And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’. …

But cha’, tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”…                                                                               


CHICAGO — Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” may be too controversial for the city’s middle-of-the-road radio station, but it represents a new trend in music, according to WCFL and WLS, the city’s two rockers.

Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” on Dunhill Records. Released in 1965

The record also has all the earmarks of being a hit in terms of retail sales. Bob Garmisa, of Garmisa Distributing Co., says he moved 17,000 copies of the record in the Chicago area in the past three weeks.

Fred Sipiora, of Sipiora One-Stop, said he’s sold 1,500 records of the song and has another 1,500 on order. “Dealers are starting to ask for the records,” Sipiora says.

WCFL Broke Disk

WCFL broke the record in late July and was followed by WLS a week later. Some of the more conservative radio stations, however, are keeping hands off. Jack Williams, recently named program director at WIND, Group W’s powerful middle-of-the-roader, termed the “Eve Of Destruction” lyrics “sick.” “It’s not the sort of record we want to play for our audience,” Williams said. WIND evaluates its playlist weekly, and Williams said “Destruction” was voted down twice.

“Eve Of Destruction” was written by P. F. Sloan; produced by Lou Adler, P. F. Sloan for Dunhill Records

At NBC’s WMAQ, Glenn Bell, program director, said, “We’re not playing it because it’s too hard for our middle-of-the-road audience sound.” Bell, however, said he felt the record will have the greatest impact on the world of pop music of any record issued in the past several years.

“If I were a Top 40 station, I would play it,” Bell said. “In fact, I would make it a pick.”

Earmarks Of A Hit

At kingpin WLS, Clark Weber, the station’s new program director, said “Destruction” had all the earmarks of a hit. WLS’ sister stations WXYZ, Detroit; WABC, New York; KQV, Pittsburgh, all put it on the air the same time.

Weber described “Destruction” as a “message record blending folk and R&B.” “It bites,” he said.

The WLS music man feels that the British hold on pop music may be on the wane and that “Destruction” may represent a type of music which will “move up to fill the void.”

WCFL’s program chief Ken Draper predicted flatly that “Eve Of Destruction” would be “a very big record.” “Pop music doesn’t create taste, it reflects it,” Draper said. He felt that “protest music” was already a trend. “It’s a little frightening, it makes us look at ourselves, but it’s here.” Draper remarked.

The WCFL programming chief said the McGuire record was nothing more than a logical follow-up to other “protest” disks done by such artists as Sonny Bono, Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher and Jody Miller.

“Tragedy is nothing new to music,” noted Draper. “Operas are filled with it, and people consider it art. When people hear it in a pop song lyric, it shakes them up a little bit.” END.

 (Information and news source: Billboard Magazine; August 21, 1965).

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life