The Sixties in Music

The internet is a wonderful place. If you want to see a 13 year-old Jimmy Page playing guitar on the BBC, you can see it here.

You can see him being interviewed – he wants to be a biological researcher when he grows up. Or how about listening to a young David Bowie being interviewed at the Marquee in 1966? He wanted to move into cabaret. Twenty years ago only a serious collector would even know that such recordings existed. Now, anyone with internet access and a spare ten minutes can find them. The past is no longer a foreign country – it’s available in our living rooms.

So … who fancies a delve into Youtube’s sixties music vaults?

I’ve tried to avoid the usual suspects (The Beatles and the Stones) and hunt down those British acts that, to me, have been neglected of late. So, in no particular order, here are some of those seminal British singers and groups from the sixties.

First is Procul Harem and A Whiter Shade of Pale.

This was one of those songs that was so different to all the other songs being played at the time. A haunting melody and lyrics that had everyone wondering what they meant.

Carrying on the haunting melody theme, here’s another from the Moody Blues. What else could it be but Nights in White Satin.

Next I thought I’d take a look at singers. There were many excellent female singers in the sixties but there was only one Dusty Springfield. Dusty was one of those singers who, even though she was a huge star, and in 1966 the bestselling female singer in the world, never seemed to get the recognition she deserved in later years. Here she is singing Son of a Preacher Man.

On the male side, I thought I’d go for a singer songwriter and, when it comes to singer songwriters, you can’t do better than Cat Stevens. Here’s one of his very earliest songs, The First Cut is the Deepest.

Back to groups, here’s one of the most underrated, The Zombies, and a song from 1964 – She’s Not There.

Wondering who the singer is? It’s Colin Blunstone. And the song was written by the group’s organist – Rod Argent.

I thought I’d throw in a non-Brit at this stage – though it is a BBC recording. This is a song that had everyone analysing the lyrics. Just what was being thrown off of Tallahatchie Bridge?

The song is of course Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry. The interest in these lyrics was so great that they later made a film about them.

And now two groups who both lost their main man to mind-exploding drugs. And then changed direction and went on to even greater fame in the seventies. Most people only remember the later incarnation, here’s the original and, to me, the greatest.

The first group is Fleetwood Mac or Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac as they were originally called. Peter Green was a one-off – one of the best blues guitarists who ever lived. Abatross, Black Magic Woman, Oh Well, Green Manalishi and this one – Man of the World.

The second group was Pink Floyd, and the inspiration behind the early Floyd was their singer/songwriter Syd Barrett – the crazy diamond. Here’s See Emily Play, a song that had a profound effect on a young David Bowie.

And, as a bonus, here’s David Bowie and Pink Floyd singing the Syd Barrett song Arnold Layne.

Isn’t nostalgia wonderful.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf

Out Now!
An Unsafe Pair of Handsa quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?
Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.
What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!
French Fried true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth.

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The Sixties in Music — 5 Comments

  1. “Son of a Preacher Man” has always been one of my favorite songs. What a find. Though the “Mod” haircut on Dusty is a reminder of the insanities of the early 60s style.

  2. Great clips. I particularly enjoyed 13-year-old Jimmy Page.

    Our local TV station Radio Bremen ran a popular rock and pop program from the 1960s into the 1980s. Pretty much all of the greats of the time were guests at one point or another. And since Radio Bremen kept scrupulous archives – unlike the BBC which threw many early episodes of Top of the Pops and similar programs away – all of those performances are still around. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to see them in repeats on TV. Nowadays, they have their own YouTube Channel.