Skip to main content


1969 The year in music

Being fifty years ago, this year has of course received a lot of attention. While I'm no historian, I will go back to some of the moments in 1969 music history and some of  the songs that are still being covered today. A good indicator of popularity at the time is my oft used reference of the 'Billboard' charts. However as I've indicated several times in past posts some of the greatest songs of our time did not chart well at all and many a number one song has long been forgotten. While this year-end #1 Billboard Hot 100 song is a lot of fun, it's hardly one of the most enduring songs nor of such substance we'd choose to immortalize.

"Sugar, Sugar" performed by the 'Archies' and written by Andy Kim and Jeff Barry. The original 'Archies' are an American fictional band consisting of Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper from the 'Archie' comics TV series. The people that actually sang the song where; the lead by Ron Dante (of the Cuff-Links) with main backing from Toni Wine. Additional backing vocals from; Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Ellie Greenwich, Susan Morse, Ritchie Adams, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom and Lesley Miller. Covered surprisingly I think by some big names as well and in total nearly 100 times. Bob Marley & The Wailers (1969), Wilson Pickett (1970), Gladys Knight & The Pips (1975), Ike and Tina Turner (1977), Cornershop (2018).

The #2 song was "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" performed by the '5th Dimension' and written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music). Written for the musical 'Hair' it was recorded in two separate studios (for the album release) then mixed together with backing from the legendary 'Wrecking Crew'. This controversial hippie Broadway play produced other great songs as well; "Easy to Be Hard" was covered by 'Three Dog Night' in 1969 it went to #4.

"Good Morning Starshine" has been covered about 70 times, Andy Williams with The Osmond Brothers (1969), Gary Lewis & The Playboys (1969) and Serena Ryder from her album 'If Your Memory Serves You Well' (2006) which is a collection of covers of classic songs from Canadian writers. Galt MacDermot, the music composer of the "Hair" songs was born in Montreal.

Rounding out the top five are "I Can't Get Next to You" at #3 by the Temptations, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Cover by Savoy Brown (1971), Annie Lennox (1995), The cast from 'Ain't Too Proud' (2019). "Honky Tonk Women" #4 which I talked about in The Rolling Stones post. In 1969 there was a tragic incident at a Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California, a fan was stabbed to death by some Hells Angels hired to provide security for the event.  At #5 "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone, written by Sly Stone. Covers by Joan Jett and The BlackheartsAretha Franklin and Jeff Buckley.

By contrast if we look at the UK Charts for 1969 we do see "Sugar Sugar" again at number one but the #2 song was The Beatles with "Get Back" written by Paul McCartney (this song was #25 on Billboard). "Honky Tonk Woman" was #3 vs #4 on Billboard. A great song at #4 was written and performed by Peter Sarstedt, "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" which only charted #70 in May on Billboard. And at #5 a song written by Serge Gainsbourg for Bridget Bardot "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus" performed by Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg. A song literally too 'hot' for the Billboard Hot 100! Other great songs to chart in the UK and not in the US top 100 that year where; #9 "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, and some personal favorites at #18 Thunderclap Newman with "Something In The Air" , #21 Desmond Dekker & The Aces with "The Israelites" and #41 The Hollies "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother".

The premier music event of 1969 was of course 'Woodstock' held August 15-18 at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York. While coincidentally just 70 km away from a place called Woodstock N.Y. this had nothing to do with the name, it was the investment group backing the concert called "Woodstock Ventures". Apparently they are still attempting to commemorate this event with a concert this year but 'they' have been running into a multitude of problems including sponsorship withdrawal. This often referenced music festival has never been duplicated and was a pivotal moment in Rock and Roll. With 32 acts performing there are too many to list here. One critical act that once signed allowed promoters to obtain additional 'big name' artists was 'Creedence Clearwater Revival'. Their set was from 12:30 am – 1:20 am on Sunday. John Fogerty was very unhappy with the performance (and the sleeping mud covered audience) so the 11 song CCR set does not appear in the film or on the official soundtrack. Many people who were not there didn't and still don't even realize CCR was part of the festival at all.

Also that year Elvis Presley had returned to live performances in Las Vegas and would chart #1 on November 1 with "Suspicious Minds" written by Mark James. The Beatles charted at #1 twice that year with "Get Back" (with Billy Preston) and "Come Together/Something". The two songs marked a new policy for Billboard as they began to combine single releases (45's) A and B sides together to qualify for chart standings for the first time. The Beatles performed live for the last time on the roof of the 'Apple Corps.' music studio on January 30th. John and Yoko would marry March 20th in Gibraltar. (R&O!)

Other notable events; 'The Who' released the 'Rock Opera' album 'Tommy' on May 23, June 28th marks the start of the Stonewall riots in New York City. The Isle of Wight Festival featured the likes of 'The Moody Blues', Bob Dylan, 'The Who' and 'The Band' August 30 & 31. Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform the first live 'Rock Opera's on September 24th. Simon & Garfunkel would have a stellar year of concerts and a TV special. One of the last albums released that year was one of the strangest and most bizzare ever, a fairly credible band known as Spooky Tooth and their lead guy Gary Wright were teamed up against their wishes (thanks to the Record label) with electronic music composer Pierre Henry and produced a career ending mess called 'Ceremony'. Shame of it is there's a pretty good album underneath the other crap from Pierre Henry and the band tried to separate themselves from this abomination of record production.

The last song to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 weekly charts on December 27 was "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & The Supremes, written by Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers and Harvey Fuqua. This would be the final 'Supremes' song before Diana Ross launched her solo career. You may not know this was a cover of 'Johnny & Jackey' from 1961, Johnny and Jackey being the above mentioned songwriters as well.

Images: Creator:Jac. de Nijs / Anefo
Credit:Nationaal Archief

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!


  1. OK - A lot happened this year! I had no idea that Sugar, Sugar was originally from The Archies! And I always wondered why it was called "Woodstock". I guess I could have just asked you :P


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.

Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.

1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.

2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With YouBob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyricsBob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in the …

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues

I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1-4. Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others.

Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times including Chuck Berr…

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music. The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977).

Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Know generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to listen to and great for d…

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.

The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song and or ma…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

There has been a very positive response to the first two 'Greatest' posts. So the list continues and the songs become no less in their timeless quality compared to numbers one through fifty. I will post a #76-100 edition in the near future and that will be out of my system. But what if I do lists by genre, just thinking out loud, sorry but I will keep blogging on various topics as long as people continue to click.

51. "I Put a Spell on You" written and originally recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956. There have been many really good covers of this song but Nina Simone (1965) was just the second person to cover this song. I just can't get over how overlooked this artist was in her time, a high class version that turns the song on it's ear to give it an entirely different sound.

52. "Strange Fruit" was a courageous recording by the legendary Billie Holliday from 1939. A song written as a poem by another …

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country

What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.

It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my op…



When talking about the band I have to confess I'm out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the 'Talking Heads' and their namesake song "Radio Head". The band had been called 'On a Friday' but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album "Pablo Honey' (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there's the 'sixth member' producer Nigel Godrich who's done all their albums since 1994. Their song "Creep" charted top 40 across the world and it's depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melo…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

The next 25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

In part one I listed 25 of the greatest cover songs and to date it's been my most viewed blog post. There are so many more I wanted to add to the list so depending on the response, I'm prepared to follow with 51-75 and 76-100 in the future.

This list in part comes from many of the songs that I have already posted in the past 15 months or so since I started blogging. As for how songs make it on my list there are a few criteria, while I don't dismiss music from more recent years a song has to have stood the test of time for me, hence much of the list are songs of some vintage and just plain old, like the writer. Next, the original song itself must have some character and some degree of popularity. And preferably the artist and or songwriters are of interest as well. I have read other lists of great cover songs from books, articles and google searches and you'll find much similarity, but some of them contain songs I just don…

Aretha Franklin: Remembering the Gospel, Soul and Pop music Virtuosa

Remembering Aretha Franklin, a story… through cover songs
On the first anniversary of her passing, another homage to one of the greatest voices of all time. I paid tribute to her and some of her most memorable cover songs on August 16 of last year, but there are many more to talk about.

If you know anything about Aretha Franklin then you will know that the Church and Gospel Music was a big part of her life. I myself do enjoy the odd Gospel song, particularly ones I’ve discovered from the likes of the unbelievably talented Sister Rosetta Tharpe . Also some of the other singers I regularly enjoy such as Elvis or Johnny Cash, mostly because of the vocal intensity and the connections I can draw to popular music. But this particular song from Aretha just blew me away.Considering this was a live recording of not the greatest technical quality with lots of background distraction, ‘believer’ or not you won’t be able to not feel something when you listen.
Precious Lord”, Aretha Franklin was re…

Country Rock

Country Rock

Music genres attempt to be definitive but are still typically full of a good spectrum of divergent styles. In order to pigeon hole artists we have over time developed other genres, sub and sub sub genres. Country music has over two dozen including; Classic Country, Country Pop, Blues Country and even Country rap.

Most Artists can be placed in more than one category but we tend to want to associate them most closely with a specific one. I've read that Country Rock came from Rock bands doing more Country flavored music not Country artists doing rock music. But I've found there are many early examples of Country music sounding pretty rock-like and I have included some examples below. We don't always tend to identify music and genres in the early stages of development and in many cases it's done quite retroactively. I've talked about a few artists thought to be 'Rock' that started to record with a more Country music feel, back as early as the 1950…