Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


August 11th, 2017

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” lyrics.

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)


August 11th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1965

‘Eve Of Destruction’ Has Its Day





This eastern world, it is explodin’, 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 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.”


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; August 21, 1965)

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life