Sunday, June 03, 2012

Ten Great Songs From One Great Week
The songs the radio played this week in history

June 2-8, 1968

Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (June 5) - The 1968 presidential primary elections in California were held on Tuesday, June 4. Four hours after the polls closed in California, Kennedy claimed victory in the state's Democratic presidential primary. At approximately 12:10 a.m. PDT, he addressed his campaign supporters in the Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room ballroom, in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. At the time, the government provided Secret Service protection for incumbent presidents but not for presidential candidates. Kennedy's only security was provided by former FBI agent William Barry and two unofficial bodyguards, former professional athletes. During the campaign, Kennedy had welcomed contact with the public, and people had often tried to touch him in their excitement.

Kennedy had planned to walk through the ballroom when he had finished speaking, on his way to another gathering of supporters elsewhere in the hotel. However, with deadlines fast approaching, reporters wanted a press conference. Campaign aide Fred Dutton decided that Kennedy would forgo the second gathering and instead go through the kitchen and pantry area behind the ballroom to the press area. Kennedy finished speaking and started to exit when William Barry stopped him and said, "No, it's been changed. We're going this way." Barry and Dutton began clearing a way for Kennedy to go left through swinging doors to the kitchen corridor, but Kennedy, hemmed in by the crowd, followed maître d'hôtel Karl Uecker through a back exit.

Uecker led Kennedy through the kitchen area, holding Kennedy's right wrist but frequently releasing it as Kennedy shook hands with those he encountered. Uecker and Kennedy started down a passageway narrowed by an ice machine against the right wall and a steam table to the left. Kennedy turned to his left and shook hands with busboy Juan Romero as Sirhan Sirhan stepped down from a low tray-stacker beside the ice machine, rushed past Uecker, and repeatedly fired what was later identified as a .22 caliber Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver.

After Kennedy had fallen to the floor, security man Bill Barry saw Sirhan holding a gun and hit him twice in the face while others, including maîtres d' Uecker and Edward Minasian, writer George Plimpton, Olympic gold medal decathlete Rafer Johnson and professional football player Rosey Grier, forced Sirhan against the steam table and disarmed him as he continued firing his gun in random directions. After a minute, Sirhan wrestled free and grabbed the revolver again, but he had already fired all the bullets and was subdued. Barry went to Kennedy and laid his jacket under the candidate's head, later recalling: "I knew immediately it was a .22, a small caliber, so I hoped it wouldn't be so bad, but then I saw the hole in the Senator's head, and I knew". Reporters and photographers rushed into the area from both directions, contributing to the confusion and chaos. As Kennedy lay wounded, Juan Romero cradled the senator's head and placed a rosary in his hand. Kennedy asked Romero, "Is everybody safe, OK?" and Romero responded, "Yes, yes, everything is going to be OK".

Ethel Kennedy stood outside the crush of people at the scene, seeking help. She was soon led to her husband and knelt beside him. He turned his head and seemed to recognize her. After several minutes, medical attendants arrived and lifted Kennedy onto a stretcher, prompting him to whisper, "Don't lift me". He lost consciousness shortly thereafter. Kennedy was taken a mile away to Central Receiving Hospital, where he arrived near death. One doctor slapped his face, calling, "Bob, Bob", while another massaged Kennedy's heart. After obtaining a good heartbeat, doctors handed a stethoscope to Ethel Kennedy so she could hear her husband's heart beating, much to her relief. After about 30 minutes, Kennedy was transferred several blocks to the Hospital of the Good Samaritan for surgery. Surgery began at 3:12 a.m. PDT and lasted three hours and 40 minutes. Ten and a half hours later, at 5:30 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, spokesman Frank Mankiewicz announced that Kennedy's doctors were "concerned over his continuing failure to show improvement"; his condition remained "extremely critical as to life".

Despite extensive neurosurgery at the Good Samaritan Hospital to remove the bullet and bone fragments from his brain, Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. PDT on June 6, nearly 26 hours after the shooting. Five other people were also wounded: William Weisel of ABC News, Paul Schrade of the United Auto Workers union, Democratic Party activist Elizabeth Evans, Ira Goldstein of the Continental News Service and Kennedy campaign volunteer Irwin Stroll. Although not physically wounded, singer Rosemary Clooney, a strong Kennedy supporter, was present in the ballroom during the shooting in the pantry and suffered a nervous breakdown shortly afterward.

Sirhan Sirhan was a Palestinian Arab with Jordanian citizenship, born in Jerusalem, who held strongly anti-Zionist beliefs. A diary found during a search of Sirhan's home stated, "My determination to eliminate RFK is becoming more and more of an unshakable obsession. RFK must die. RFK must be killed. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated...Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68." It has been suggested that the date of the assassination is significant, because it was the first anniversary of the first day of the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. When Sirhan was booked by police, they found in his pocket a newspaper article that discussed Kennedy's support for Israel, and at his trial, Sirhan testified that he began to hate Kennedy after learning of this support. In 1989, he told David Frost "My only connection with Robert Kennedy was his sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those 50 bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians". Some scholars believe that the assassination was one of the first major incidents of political violence stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. The interpretation that he was mostly motivated by Middle Eastern politics has been criticized as an oversimplification that ignores Sirhan's deeper psychological problems.

During his trial, Sirhan's lawyers attempted to use a defense of diminished responsibility, while their client tried to confess to the crime and change his plea to guilty on several occasions. Sirhan testified that he had killed Kennedy "with 20 years of malice aforethought", although he has maintained since being convicted that he has no memory of the crime. The judge did not accept this confession and it was later withdrawn.

Sirhan was convicted on April 17, 1969, and six days later was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the California Supreme Court, in its decision in California v. Anderson, invalidated all pending death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. In 2011, Sirhan was denied parole for the fourteenth time and is currently confined at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California

Music Charts:

#1 Single -- "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel
#1 Album -- "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel

Other Events:

70 – Titus and his Roman legions breach the middle wall of Jerusalem in the Siege of Jerusalem.
1837 – Houston, Texas is incorporated by the Republic of Texas.
1883 – The first regularly scheduled Orient Express departs Paris.
1917 – World War I: Conscription begins in the United States as "Army registration day".
1946 – A fire in the La Salle Hotel in Chicago, Illinois kills 61 people.
1947 – Marshall Plan: In a speech at Harvard University, United States Secretary of State George Marshall calls for economic aid to war-torn Europe.
1956 – Elvis Presley introduces his new single, "Hound Dog", on The Milton Berle Show, scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements.
1967 – Six-Day War begins: The Israeli air force launches simultaneous pre-emptive attacks on the air forces of Egypt and Syria.
1977 – The Apple II, one of the first personal computers, goes on sale.
1981 – The CDC reports the first recognized cases of AIDS.
1989 – The Unknown Rebel (aka Tank Man) halts the progress of a column of advancing tanks for over half an hour after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Grazing In The Grass -- Hugh Masekela

When Hugh Masekela's producer Stewart Levine delivered Masekela's latest album to the record company, Uni, it was pointed out to him that it was 3 minutes short of the contractually agreed length of 30 minutes.Levine suggested that they fill the gap by covering a 7-inch single that Hugh had recently bought in Zambia, a novelty tune called "Mr. Bull #5" that started with a cowbell. Neither Masekela nor Levine saw any potential in the track but Uni Records executive Russ Regan thought it would be a hit record and persuaded him to issue it as a single. It became one of the all time summer anthems, reaching the top of the charts in July. The following year The Friends of Distinction charted at #3 in America with a vocal version of this song. Incidentally, Hugh is the father of Sal Masekela, who is known as a commentator on ESPN's X Games.

Turn Around, Look At Me -- The Vogues

This song was first released by Glen Campbell in 1961, and it reached on #60. In 1962, The Lettermen released their version as a single, however, it failed to crack the Hot 100, listing only at #105 (in the "bubbling under the hot 100". The Vogues first became popular in 1966, with their #4 cover of Petula Clark's "You're The One", followed nine weeks later by the #4 hit "Five O'Clock World" (which was rejuvenated as the theme song to the "Drew Carey Show" in the late '90s. Two further singles, "Magic Town" and "The Land of Milk and Honey", did not reach the same heights, but still made Billboard's Top 40 in 1966. The group's fortunes dwindled until a move in 1968 to Reprise Records sparked a fifteen-month revival with a string of remakes that began with this song and Bobby Helms' "My Special Angel". The group lost favor in the 1970s, but various groupings used the name The Vogues into the 2000s. Their last charting single however was 1969's "Green Fields."

Lady Madonna -- The Beatles

Paul McCartney said that this song is a tribute to women everywhere. It was inspired by a picture of an African woman suckling her child, over the caption "Mountain Madonna." The Beatles recorded this song at the same time they were recording the promotional film for it. In the video for this song, The Beatles are actually singing "Hey Bulldog" (for the most part). They went in to shoot "Lady Madonna" and John changed it at the last minute to "Hey Bulldog." If you watch the video montage for "Madonna" closely, there's even footage from the "Get Back" sessions thrown in.

Angel Of The Morning -- Merrillee Rush

This tender ballad is about premarital sex, and while the '60s were very permissive in some regards, it was still a taboo subject in the media. Interestingly, it's virtually the same song as the primitive rocker "Wild Thing." Chip Taylor, who wrote both songs explained to Mojo magazine September 2008: "I heard some guy playing 'Wild Thing' real slow on a guitar. It sounded nice. So I did the same, lifting one of my fingers off a chord to create a suspension. Then the words 'There'll be no strings to bind your hands, not if my love can't bind your heart' came out. It was as beautiful a love connection as I could ever feel." Taylor added that it was the producer who added the sweeping strings.

Love Is All Around -- The Troggs

The Troggs lead singer Reg Presley wrote this in about 10 minutes. He was inspired by the Joy Strings Salvation Army band he'd seen on TV. The song is a gentle Folk ballad and a far cry from The Troggs previous hit "Wild Thing." Reg Presley's real name is Reginald Ball and he adopted the name of Presley in 1966 as a publicity stunt. Presley recalled the inspiration for the song in the July 2011 edition of Mojo magazine: "I got back from America, I smelt the Sunday lunch cooking (inhales deeply), phaaaaw - after about 25 years on burgers - I kissed my wife, my little daughter, four years old. We went into the lounge and those Salvation Girls, The Joystrings, were on television, banging their tambourines and singing something, 'Love, love,' love.' I went over to turn it off, knelt down and hearing that 'Love, love' I got a bass line, (sings) 'doom, doomdoom, doomdoom, doomdoom, doom,' and I got: 'I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. My wife, my kid… And so the feeling grows.'" In 2003, this song was featured in the film Love Actually (with the lyric changed from "love" to "Christmas") by character Billy Mack (played by Bill Nighy). In the film, the song won the annual Christmas contest of a local radio show.

Young Girl -- Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

This song was written and produced by Jerry Fuller, who also wrote "Lady Willpower" and "Over You" for the group as well as "Traveling Man" for Ricky Nelson. It was a warning to a would-be lover of an underage girl of the consequences of him not being able to resist her charms. This was one of 4 Top-10 singles the band had in the US in 1968. They sold more singles in the US than The Beatles did that year. Gary Puckett spent his childhood in Hibbing, Minnesota, the same town that was home to the young Bob Zimmerman, who later changed his name to Bob Dylan. The band wore American Civil War uniforms and gave themselves military ranks, from General Puckett down to Privates Whitbread (the drummer) and Withem (the keyboardist). This was to tie in with the fact that they had taken their name from the site of a famous Civil War battle. Jerry Fuller explained the inspiration for "Young Girl" in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "I was on the road a lot as an artist, fronting various groups for many years. I guess every entertainer goes through a time when 14-year-olds look like 20-year-olds. That's somewhat of an inspiration not from my own experience, just knowing that it happens."

Like To Get To Know You -- Spanky and Our Gang

This song was the follow-up to Spanky and Our Gang's hits "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day," and it scored quite well, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was their last Top 30 hit, though they continued to score a number of minor hits until October 1968, when lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 27. Front woman Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane achieved some success as a solo artist, sometimes fronting for The Mamas and the The Papas after the tragic death of the late Cass Elliot.

This Guy’s In Love With You -- Herb Alpert

Alpert was a trumpet player and bandleader who started a record label with Jerry Moss in 1962. They named it A and M Records, after their last names. This was the first #1 hit for both Alpert and the record label and was written by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Alpert's previous material consisted of instrumental songs recorded with The Tijuana Brass Band. He had released vocal recordings for another label, Dot Records, under the assumed name of Dore Alpert. Alpert sang this to his first wife in a 1968 TV special called The Beat of the Brass, which was taped on the beach in Malibu. The song was not intended to be released, but after it was used in the TV special, thousands of telephone calls to CBS asking about it convinced label owner Alpert to release it as a single two days after the show aired.

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing -- Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

This was written and produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who worked on much of the material for Gaye and Terrell. The song explains how it's better for people to have their loved ones with them rather than to have materialistic items and memories that remind them of their loved ones. Shortly after recording this, Tammi Terrell collapsed onstage during a performance with Gaye in 1967. The diagnosis was a brain tumor. She died March 16, 1970.

A Beautiful Morning -- The Rascals

This was the first of the group's singles to be credited to "The Rascals," the original name of the group, rather than "The Young Rascals" which their producer had them take in order to avoid confusion from listeners with another group "The Harmonica Rascals." Written by band members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, this is an upbeat, optimistic song similar in theme to their 1967 hit "Groovin'." While the late '60s were a tumultuous time in America and a lot of the music dealt with social and political issues of the time, The Rascals provided hopeful songs that were a welcome relief for many listeners.


Do You Know The Way To San Jose -- Dionne Warwick

Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this. They discovered Dionne Warwick and wrote many of her hits. Warwick: "I thought it was a really silly song. Obviously Hal had a great affinity for San Jose as I believe he was stationed there during his time time in the Navy and he loved the place and he wrote a song about it. I just giggled all the way to the bank, what can I tell you?" This won a Grammy for Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Said Bacharach: "Dionne did not want to record that song. She didn't like it. But we talked her into it and she did it. Her mind changed once it was a hit (laughs). I knew it was a pretty special song and I knew it was a different kind of song, too."

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