The Rolling Stones and other Happenings - Fifty and Counting

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Submitted by Don Graham

The unsinkable, unstoppable, indefatigable Rolling Stones have named their latest tour 50  and Counting to commemorate a half century of making music together. The Stones and the Beatles didn’t really hit North America until the following year, 1964, or late December of 1963.,so what was the North American landscape like in 1963?

The Bobby’s were still ruling the charts, Darin, Rydell, Vinton, Curtola et al. Our first taste of what was to come from over the pond was a record made by Del Shannon in 1963 of a song called From ‘Me To You’ that he had picked up while touring England. The song was written by a then unknown songwriting team, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and would be included on the Beatles debut album. To be honest, when I heard the Beatles version I thought they were covering a Del Shannon song.

1963 was the year of Martin Luther King’s Freedom March on Washington when folksingers, who were very much in vogue at the time, were the voice of the young people and the politically active. Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Josh White and a fledgling protest singer/songwriter named Bob Dylan were involved in the march. It was the year of massive change as the United States most beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I’m one of those folks that believes that the tragic assassination is one of the reasons the Beatles were so openly and devoutly accepted in America. The nation was plunged into darkness and needed something to make them smile again. What better than a zany quartette of British mop tops with a cheerful , exciting sound like no one had ever heard before. The accents and the cool new words,. Fab, gear, grotty,  toppermost of the poppermost. By February 1964, the people of America were ready for the Beatles.

The Beatles 1963 Photo Credit GrangerThe Beatles 1963 Photo Credit GrangerA lot of events and changes occurred in 1963.

• George C. Wallace becomes governor of Alabama. In his inaugural speech, he defiantly proclaimed "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!
• Sam Cooke and his band are arrested after trying to register at a "whites only" motel in Louisiana. In the months following, he recorded the song "A Change Is Gonna Come"
• The Beatles recorded  their debut album ‘Please Please Me’ in a single day at the Abbey Road Studios in London
• The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed; the last 27 prisoners are transferred elsewhere at the order of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
Sam Cooke A Change is Gonna ComeSam Cooke A Change is Gonna Come• The long running soap opera General Hospital  debuted on ABC television in the United States
• In Quebec, Canada, members of the terrorist group Front de Libération du Québec, bombed a Canadian Army recruitment center, killing night watchman Wilfred V. O'Neill.
• Dr. No, the first James Bond film, was shown in theatres
• In 1963 Patsy Cline was killed in small plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, while on her way to Nashville, Tennessee from Kansas City, Missouri at the height of her career
19-year-old Andrew Loog Oldham signs a contract with The Rolling Stones , becoming their manager. Oldham had seen the band in concert the previous day at the Crawdaddy Club in London
• The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's second and most influential studio album is released by Columbia Records
• The lead song, "Blowin' in the Wind ", is released as a single by Peter, Paul and Mary in June and by Dylan himself in August
• On August 3,The Beatles perform at The Cavern Club  in Liverpool for the final time

The Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary TourThe Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary TourFor the year 1963 Cashbox Magazines top songs included:

Telstar The Tornados
Go Away Little Girl  Steve Lawrence
Hey Paula, Paul and Paula
Walk Like A Man The Four Seasons
He’s So Fine by the Chiffons
Dominique by the Singing Nun

The song that was #1 when the Beatles debuted ?  Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton.

The Rolling Stones Cashbox Cover 1969The Rolling Stones Cashbox Cover 1969The musical landscape after 1963 would never be the same. Who would have thought that 50 years later the act that is still touring and selling records/CDs, even though they are fifty shades of grey would be the 60’s bad boys The Rolling Stones. And they’re not just mailing it in. Still kickin’ serious musical butt.

Amazing !!  50 and counting!!! Can’t wait to see what the next 50 years  brings.

Editor’s Note: See Michael Williams story about The IMF’s and their amazing connection to the Rolling Stones.