The 1960s
The era began with a number of novelty records making the top ten and it wasn't unusual to see novelty titles like 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini', 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport', and 'My Boomerang Won't Come Back' riding up the charts. By the early 1960s the public were buying more records than ever before and the record charts expanded to illustrate this. In March 1960 the trade magazine Record Retailer published the first top 50.
Perhaps as a backlash to Rock n' Roll the USA began producing 'clean-cut' image pop stars such as Bobby Vee, Mark Wynter and Johnny Tillotson. But there were also new sounds just around the corner and boats arriving at Liverpool were bringing with them the sounds of Phil Spector and groups such as The Ronnettes and The Crystals.
t was very hard to hear this type of music on BBC Radio (there was no commercial radio in those days) and even the popular tunes of the day got very limited airtime. Radio Luxembourg became immensely popular at this time. The station, which had been founded in 1951 on its famous 208 metres wavelength used British disc jockeys in programmes that were recorded in Britain on wax discs and transported to Luxembourg for transmission.
Influenced by Rock n' Roll and the new sounds that were arriving from the US something of a musical revolution began, very gradually, in Liverpool. But in 1963 the Mersey Sound exploded onto the pop scene and changed the course of popular music for ever.
The biggest and most influential group of all time were The Beatles, who were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. But The Beatles were not the only Liverpool chart toppers and fellow scousers Gerry and the Pacemakers made pop history when their first three singles went to Number One. Many other Liverpool bands and artistes also scaled the dizzy heights of success.
The arrival of new talent in the pop charts meant farewells for many of the stars of the fifties. After 1960 Frankie Laine never appeared in the charts again. Duane Eddy also disappeared from the charts although he made a minor comeback with a single hit in the 1970s. 1962 also saw the end of Lonnie Donegan's 28 hit run which included three Number One records, and six others in the Top Five. That same year Craig Douglas also ended his run of nine chart hits.
The influence of television was also showing on the charts with several hits from TV shows including 'Stranger On The Shore', 'The Theme From Z Cars', and the Dr. Kildare Theme to name a few.
With many of the popular songs of the day still getting limited airtime a number of pirate radio stations, led by Radio Caroline began broadcasting pop music in 1964 from ships moored off the east coast.
It wasn't until 1967 that BBC Radio began its own dedicated pop music station, Radio One, when they convinced many of the pirate radio DJs such as Tony Blackburn to go 'legal'. It would be another five years before the Sound Broadcasting Act would legalise commercial radio.
The Beatles and Lennon & McCartney compositions dominated the pop charts around the world. In the USA in one week the group held all top five chart places.
Four songs entered the charts at Number One: It's Now Or Never (1960), Surrender (1961) both by Elvis Presley, The Young Ones (1962) by Cliff Richard and Get Back (1969) by The Beatles.
Record buying was at its peak. But just as the birth of The Beatles signalled the start of Britain's domination of the pop charts and defined so much of the swinging sixties, so their break-up was representative of the end of that era. The 1970s was to see the birth of a more showbiz style of pop star...