Boomers Listened To Future Classics in 1963

Mister Boomer has mentioned many times what he has dubbed, Morning Jukebox Syndrome; that “affliction” characterized by waking up with a song playing in your head as if you were listening to a radio station. Mister Boomer has since discovered other boomers have experienced this phenomenon, including his brother. What is most fascinating about it is the songs that pop up are often ones that have not been heard in decades.

This past week, Brother Boomer told Mister B he had an MJS experience with a song that stayed with him from morning into the evening. He did not remember which group recorded the song, and ultimately looked it up: it was Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals (1963). Being curious of nature, Mister B wondered what other songs boomers were listening to in 1963. What he found was surprising in its scope, and amazing to think about how many classic songs were on boomer transistor radios before the Beatles hit the airwaves. Here is a sample of some of them:

Girl Groups Had Quite A Year
1963 was a big year for girl groups. Check out a partial list of popular girl group songs and surely it will jog a few memories.
My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels
Be My Baby by The Ronettes
Tell Him by The Exciters
Foolish Little Girl by The Shirelles
He’s So Fine by The Chiffons

Folk Was in the House
Folk music mixed right in with popular music of the day.
Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul & Mary
Blowin’ In the Wind by Bob Dylan (also released by Peter, Paul & Mary that year)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Bob Dylan
Walk Right In by The Rooftop Singers

Motown Was Moving’ On Up
Founded as Tamla Records, Motown became the company name in 1960. In 1963, several of its artists frequented the charts.
Fingertips, Part 2 by Little Stevie Wonder
You’ve Really Got A Hold on Me by The Miracles
Pride and Joy by Marvin Gaye

Young Girls Making Hits
It was quite a year for Lesley Gore, but there were also other solo girl artists under the age of 18 who made it big.
It’s My Party by Leslie Gore
She’s the Fool by Leslie Gore
It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry by Leslie Gore
I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March
Losing You by Brenda Lee

Crooners Were Crooning
Love songs released by new names and established artists were heard in 1963.
Can’t Get Used To Losing You by Andy Williams
Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence
Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton

Novelty Songs Hit the Airwaves
Unique, often one-hit-wonders made the cut.
Martian Hop by The Ran-Dells
Dominique by The Singing Nun
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh by Alan Sherman

The Four Seasons Were Going Strong
The group had two Top 50 hits in 1963.
Walk Like A Man by The Four Seasons
Candy Girl by The Four Seasons

Surfing the USA
Surf music was part of the boomer listening lists of 1963.
Wipe Out by The Surfaris
Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys
Surf City by Jan & Dean

But Wait .. There’s More!
The list of classics from 1963 goes on and on.
Louie Louie by The Kingsmen
Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilbert and the Fireballs
So Much In Love by The Tymes
Easier Said Than Done by The Exciters
I’m Leaving It Up to You by Dale & Grace
Sukiyaki by Kya Sakamoto

… and more. It’s remarkable that now, 60 years later, we still recall these songs with nostalgia and affection. What are your favorites from 1963, boomers?

Boomers Watched The Ed Sullivan Show

There are many TV shows that can be described as “quintessential boomer,” but when it comes to variety shows, there is only one: The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971). This week marked the 75th anniversary of the broadcasting of the first episode.

It is pretty safe to say the vast majority of boomers from coast to coast remember, as kids, tuning in to The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights. Even if their families weren’t weekly viewers, there were probably certain weeks that boomers insisted the family watch, such as the first live appearance on U.S. television of The Beatles on February 9, 1964.

Ed Sullivan was far from the expected TV host, both in appearance and voice. Some suggest his everyman demeanor helped to make him popular. Regardless, no one could argue that he presented a truly eclectic variety of acts, from Broadway and opera stars to future rock icons; puppet acts to comedians, sports stars and more.

Here are some interesting facts about The Ed Sullivan Show during the boomer years:

• The show premiered as The Toast of the Town in 1948; it was renamed The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were one of the show’s first acts.
• Elvis made his first Ed Sullivan appearance on September 9, 1956, but Ed was not the host. While Ed recovered from a car crash, Charles Laughton filled in for one episode. 60 million viewers tuned in. Sullivan had booked Elvis for three appearances. After the second appearance, protests emerged across the country against rock & roll because of Elvis’ swiveling hips. CBS censored his dancing in his third appearance and showed him only from the waist up.
• At a time when black entertainers were not welcome on many TV shows, Ed Sullivan welcomed black artists to perform on his show from the start. His support of Nat King Cole helped the singer to land his own network TV variety show in 1956, the first African-American to do so. Cole appeared 13 times on The Ed Sullivan Show. The list of black entertainers appearing on Ed Sullivan reads like a who’s who of popular music from the boomer years, including: Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, BB King, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The 5th Dimension, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Ike and Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye.
• Boomers were the rock & roll generation, and Ed Sullivan presented top acts like Bill Haley & His Comets, Buddy Holly, the Dave Clark Five, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkel, The Righteous Brothers, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and many more.

• Señor Wences, the ventriloquist with his hand puppet, first appeared in 1950. The Italian mouse puppet Topo Gigio appeared later, in December of 1962.

By all accounts, the man himself had an ill temper and a prickly personality. He banned several acts from appearing again on his show because they did not do what he asked. One of the more famous run-ins was with Bo Diddley, who changed his song choice shortly before the live broadcast began. Diddly felt his choice would coincide with what his fans wanted to hear, but Sullivan and his producers saw that the song was longer than the original one planned and it would would force them to cancel two acts following Diddley’s performance due to time constraints. As a result, Sullivan never booked Diddley again.

Whether people liked the show and hated him, or vice versa, he was a top influencer in the early days of television, for boomers and beyond.

What memories do you have of watching The Ed Sullivan Show, boomers? Did you watch The Beatles perform?