Category Archives: Excerpts

David Bowie in the 1960’s

07d9912d125b7fcc2ac90014476e513bDavid Bowie  January 8, 1947—Janaury 10, 2016

Born David Jones, Bowie’s debut release was the 1964 single “Liza Jane” by Davie Jones & the King Bees. He released two more singles in 1965 under the names of The Manish Boys and Davy Jones & the Lower Third. His first release using the name David Bowie was the 1966 single “Can’t Help Thinking About Me“, which was released with The Lower Third. Bowie’s next single, “Do Anything You Say“, also released in 1966, was the first release by simply David Bowie. Bowie released four more singles and his debut album, David Bowie (1967), in the late 1960s before he first had success in the United Kingdom with the 1969 single “Space Oddity“.

Born and raised in south London, Bowie developed an interest in music while at Burnt Ash junior school and showed aptitude in singing and playing the recorder. When he left school he studied art, music and design, and became proficient on the saxophone, forming his first band that year at the age of 15. He embarked on a professional career as a musician in 1963, and received his first management contract shortly afterwards. “Space Oddity” became his first top five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. During his career, Bowie released 27 studio albums (2 as part of a group), 9 live albums, 49 compilation albums, 6 extended plays (EPs), 120 singles, including 5 UK number one singles, and 3 soundtracks. Bowie also released 14 video albums and 58 music videos.


London Fifty Years Ago – 1965

1965: The Year Modern Britain Was Born

by Christopher Bray

Review by Iain Morris, The Guardian, April 28, 2015 

Analysis of a revolution
A combination of arts criticism and political commentary demonstrates why the events of the 1960s are still relevant

Is there a single year that can be said to have bequeathed us the Britain we live in today? For journalist Christopher Bray it is 1965, when a confluence of cultural, political and socio-economic developments smashed apart the certainties of the postwar period and ushered in the modern era.

Although just three years old in 1965, the author – who has published acclaimed biographies of Sean Connery and Michael Caine – is evidently an aficionado of the swinging 60s, a label that has already paid homage to the decade’s profound impact on Britain’s cultural and political landscape. This is not, however, to suggest that 1965 lacks originality. Blending arts and literary criticism with biography and political commentary, Bray serves up a nostalgia-tinged appraisal of the year’s key characters and events, never failing to show why these remain relevant.

Whether or not 1965 really does have greater significance than 1964 or 1966 (take your pick of the bunch), there is a neat logic about its selection as the turning point. In that year, the first baby boomers were due to come of age, while guardians of the old order such as Winston Churchill and TS Eliot were being interred. It was seven years since Eliot had written The Elder Statesman, but with the passing of Britain’s true elder statesman, along with “the high priest of high culture”, as Bray calls Eliot, a new generation of adults was free to escape the past in a way that Lord Claverton, the protagonist of Eliot’s final play, could never do.

Cue a revolution in the arts and literature that saw the marriage of high culture and “pop”, as European surrealist influences seeped into the comedy of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the music of the Beatles and the film-making of Roman Polanski. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, there had been a stratification of western culture along class lines, with frivolous entertainment for the masses and highbrow art for the elite. What the Beatles and their contemporaries achieved, writes Bray, “was to lay waste to this tragic bifurcation”, meaning pop (if not all of it) could acquire the respectability it had previously lacked.

Change was also afoot in education and transportation, although with less positive long-term implications, as far as the author is concerned. In the vast territory of America, cars remain a symbol of the freedom the 1960s was supposed to be all about, but in comparatively lilliputian Britain their spread since then has blighted cities and countryside alike, reckons Bray, while our railways have been left to rot. As if to resist being conveniently pigeonholed on the basis of his political sympathies, he expresses an equally forthright opinion that educational reforms carried out in 1965 – aimed at replacing grammar schools and secondary moderns with comprehensives – were a misguided affront to meritocracy that have ultimately made today’s education system “one of the bulwarks of class division in our society”.

Far more egalitarian was the reforming zeal of Roy Jenkins, whose efforts after becoming home secretary in 1965 to legalise abortion and homosexuality, abolish capital punishment and penalise racial discrimination arguably make him one of the two postwar politicians who have most influenced present-day Britain. Margaret Thatcher, the other, also features in Bray’s narrative as the figure to whom so many of the hippies eventually turned more than a decade later, by which time the countercultural interest in personal freedom and permissiveness had evolved into a hostility to state involvement in individual affairs. Was Thatcher’s 1980s revolution simply the progeny of the one that occurred 20 years earlier? If so, the 1960s hold more sway than most readers could ever have imagined.

220px-TheBeatlesBeatles65reissuecover“Their efforts abroad to keep the Union Jack fluttering proudly have been far more successful than a regiment of diplomats and statesmen.”  The Beatles are each awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) In June 1965

The Marquee Club – September 1965


01 Al Stewart

02 The Steampacket Boz and the Boz People

03 Gary Farr and The T-Bones

06 Jimmy James and the Vagabonds The Crowd

07 The Mark Leeman Five

09 The Graham Bond Organisation Boz and the Boz People

10 Gary Farr and The T-Bones

13 Jimmy James and the Vagabonds

14 Manfred Mann. The Mark Leeman Five

16 Spencer Davis Group The Bo Street Runners

17 Gary Farr and The T-Bones

20 Jimmy James and the Vagabonds The Sidewinders

21 Spencer Davis Group The Silkie

23 The Graham Bond Organisation Boz and the Boz People

24 Gary Farr and The T-Bones The Crowd

27 Jimmy James and the Vagabonds

28 The Moody Blues

The Greater London Council replaces the London County Council and greatly expands the metropolitan area of the city.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray are arrested on suspicion of running a protection racket in London

What 1965 event do you remember?

Radio Caroline

“Radio Caroline was begun by Irish musician manager and businessman Ronan O’Rahilly. O’Rahilly failed to obtain airplay on Radio Luxembourg for Georgie Fame‘s records because its airtime was committed to sponsored programmes promoting the major record labels; EMIDecca,Pye and Philips.

Encouraged by the presence of the Scandinavian and Dutch pirates, Ronan O’Rahilly raised the capital to purchase a suitable vessel. In February 1964, O’Rahilly obtained the 702-ton former Danish passenger ferry, Fredericia, which was converted into a radio ship at the Irish port of Greenore, owned by O’Rahilly’s father. At the same time, Allan Crawford’s Project Atlanta organisation was equipping theMV Mi Amigo at Greenore, where the two competed to be first on air.[2]

Financial backing for the venture came from six investors, including Jocelyn Stevens of Queen magazine, with which Radio Caroline shared its first office.[3]O’Rahilly named the station after Caroline Kennedy, daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[4] On a fund-raising trip to the US, O’Rahilly reportedly saw a Life Magazine photograph of Kennedy and his children in the Oval Office that served as the inspiration for the name “Caroline Radio”. In an extant photo, Caroline Kennedy and her brother, John F. Kennedy Jr., are apparently dancing in the oval office as their father looks on, an activity which O’Rahilly reportedly interpreted as a playful disruption of government.[5][6] ,”  from Wikipedia

On 2 July 1964, Radio Atlanta and Radio Caroline’s companies, Project Atlanta and Planet Productions Ltd., announced that the stations were to be merged, with Crawford and O’Rahilly as joint managing directors. At 8pm that day, Radio Atlanta closed. It was re-branded Radio Caroline South and MV Mi Amigo remained offFrinton-on-Sea while MV Caroline would broadcast as Radio Caroline NorthMV Caroline sailed from Felixstowe around the coast of Great Britain to the Isle of Man, broadcasting as she went. The only broadcast staff on board were Tom Lodge and Jerry LeightonMV Caroline arrived at her new anchorage on 13 July 1964.[2] The two stations were thus able to cover most of the British Isles. Later, some programmes were pre-recorded on land and broadcast simultaneously from both ships.

Forward to Radio Caroline: The True Story of the Boat that Rocked by Ray Clark, out in printed form spring 2014:

“Radio Caroline was the centre of attraction in the Swinging Sixties and the first station that pop stars would turn to in having their records played.  Listeners loved the music and the DJs.  In turn Caroline helped bring about the deregulation of British radio with BBC Radio 1 and BBC local radio in the 1960’s. A number of offshore DJs joined Radio 1 in 1967. We had to wait until the 1970’s for the introduction of independent (commercial) radio.”  Keith Scues, 2014, who worked for Radio Caroline.

The Beatles Influence

50 years ago on February 7, 1964 when the doors of their PanAm flight opened at JFK Airport in New York City, the Beatles were blasted by the welcoming screams of hundreds of young people. America welcomed in a vitality and freshness that some say energized emerging cultural and societal creations and changes.

“The cultural revolution of the 1960’s is always, and with good reason, associated with the Beatles,” Paul Addison, No Turning Back: The Peacetime Revolutions of Post-War Britain.  

“The personalities, the songwriting, the freshness of their look and sound, the palpable exuberance they radiated onstage, on record, or simply talking off the cuff. Pop music had never know the like—if ever, which could be seriously debated—since the brief initial explosion of Elvis Presley.  And no British act had ever come remotely close to generating the same degree of heat, hysteria, and pan-cultural recognition,” Shawn Levy, Ready, Steady, Go: TheSmashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London

“They are part of a collective, universal memory — one that I believe goes back farther than 50 years,”  E. Levy, Subscriber

“We were just a band who made it very, very big—that’s all,”  John Lennon

73 million people tuned in to watch the Beatles first American appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9, 1964.  Here are some recollections of that night 50 years ago:

“A definitive moment for personal freedom, allowing, encoraging independent thought and action. It seems that the Beatles performace was a moment in history which changed a nation of young adults from followers of the pre-described to individuals with specific and common goals. Magic!  Oh how we need more of that!!*”

“How cool John was.  By far the coolest of the lot…(No rock musician of
our generation was ever cooler). The “tsk tsking” from the adults in attendance.  In retrospect, who can blame them?  Their world was never the same. The talking at school the next day about what we all witnessed.”

“While it was the big WE  for the boomers, at age 12 I was very much aware of the US/THEM between the generations as I rocked out and my parents watched in horror.”

On Sunday, February 9, 2014, the Grammy’s celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show” with “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute.”   Here’s a link to the NY Times review:


Read what others have said about “Swinging London”

From the London School of Economics website: PDF] Jerry White: Social and Cultural Change in 1960s London ‘The 

“Swinging London” — where did the term come from?  What’s been said about it?

In 1965, Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine said, “London is the most swinging city in the world at the moment.” Writer Piri Halasz coined the phrase “Swinging London” in her April 15, 1966 article in Time magazine; and since then several other authors have used the same term in writing about London in the early part of the 1960’s.

“It was great for two thousand people living in London, a very elitist thing, a naive kind of attitude before the accountants took over,” David Bailey Goodbye Baby & Amen (more…)

Being a teenager in 60’s London

While pop stars, actors, photographers, and fashion designers were “swinging” in London in the 60’s, many people “just got on with it.” We recently found a book that provides that perspective – A cup of tea that is forever England: Lighthearted tales of working class life in 1960’s London.
We welcome Julie Norton, editor of the book and a partner at Branchwood Publishing.

In the book, you write that as a teenager in 1960’s London, you “observed with keen interest the evolving social changes taking place around me.” What were some of these social changes? (more…)

A visit to Lola in full regalia

Lola was the hard-working Spanish au pair girl employed in the boarding house run by Agnes and her husband, where I helped out now and then. Funnily enough, when the bug (the flu) struck it seemed to immediately knock the Irish boys flat out. It only took from Friday to Monday to fill eight beds. Then Lola made the ninth.

The Nigerian students (Dan, Don, and Andy), though, were luckier. They remained immune, Never had we had so exotic an addition to the street. Neighbors gaped when the Nigerians first arrived in their beautiful flowing gowns; they had to contend not only with curious neighbors but also inquisitive, uninhibited children, who felt it necessary to accompany them wherever they went. Continue reading