(Above: Brian Jones and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.)
July 5, 1969
The Rolling Stones play a gig at London’s Hyde Park before an estimated crowd of 250,000 people. The show takes place just days after the death of Brian Jones, who was found in his swimming pool at the age of 27. Jones had left the band to work on a solo career. (Bit of trivia: the estate where Jones died was the same place that A.A. Milne wrote the “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories. The events are not believed to be linked.)
The previous day rounds of severe storms spawning tornadoes kill 42 people in Michigan and Ohio. Many of those killed were outside for 4th of July celebrations and didn’t receive warnings. Actually, most people didn’t receive warnings; radio stations in Cleveland sounded the Emergency Broadcast System, urging listeners to stay tuned for additional information that never came.
On Monday the 7th, French joined English as one of two official languages in Canada. The law, requiring both languages in “places where 10 per cent speak the language not spoken by the majority,” takes effect in September.
On the charts: It’s the second and final week at Number One for Henry Mancini’s “Love Theme from ‘Romeo and Juliet.'” The list of new debuts is a bit shorter than last week, but it’s a pretty solid list.
“Abraham, Martin & John” – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (debut at #73). This is a version of the song that we never get to hear, what with Dion getting the airplay, and only about three times a year at that. It’s not a vastly different interpretation of the record – perhaps a bit more up-tempo once it gets going – but I’d listen to Smokey sing the phone book. This version will go on to hit #33.
“I’d Wait a Million Years” – The Grass Roots (#85). This one you know. It goes on to become a #15 hit – their biggest record of 1969 – and is a staple of every Oldies playlist everywhere.
“Polk Salad Annie” – Tony Joe White (#86). This is the first – and only – Top 40 hit for Tony Joe, making it to #8. (There’s a great follow-up coming nearer the end of the year, but I’ll save it for that chart.) As a young disk jockey I got my hands on an aircheck from a jock at WROK/Rockford, Illinois interacting with Tony Joe at the beginning of the record (as he’s setting up the story) and once did my own interpretation/theft of the bit while at WCFL/Morris. There’s tape somewhere, but you likely don’t want to hear that.
“Clean Up Your Own Back Yard” – Elvis Presley (#90). An Elvis movie song will always make the charts, whether it’s worthy of the position or not. This one’s pretty forgettable, but goes on to hit #35. It’s from the soundtrack of The Trouble With Girls (and how to get into it), which is, if I recall, his second-to-last film. This represents the 119th single that Elvis has placed on the Billboard charts, which is in itself pretty remarkable.
“Did You See Her Eyes” – The Illusion (#92). Now we’re getting someplace. Another one-hit wonder, this makes it to #32 while subsequent releases fail to get into the Top 40. This record’s interesting in that two versions come out in 1969: the one in the link is the hit version. There’s also an LP version if you’d like it to be twice as long.
“Break Away” – The Beach Boys (#93). I have always loved this record, for reasons I can’t quite explain. Any time I’ve put together a collection of Beach Boys tunes for the car (back in the days when we did such things), this made the list. It could be because the radio rarely played it; with a peak of #63, it’s not exactly a huge hit. But that doesn’t change my opinion of it a bit.
“Soul Deep” – The Box Tops (#94). Here’s another one that your local Oldies station has played the grooves out of. It’ll be the last Top 40 record the band has, landing at #18.
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” – Burt Bachrach (#98). OK, we have an ‘oh wow.’ Many folks know this song by Dionne Warwick, as they should. But we’ll get to that later in the year, as that’s the remake. Technically, the original version comes from the musical Promises, Promises and was sung by Jill O’Hara and Jerry Orbach. The musical gives us this, the title track, and “Turkey Lurkey Time,” which will earn its own post. This version only spends two weeks on the charts, hits #93, and disappears. (And no, that’s not Burt singing. You need to watch Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me to see that, and he’s got help from Elvis Costello.)
“Nothing Can Take the Place Of You” – Brook Benton (#99). Oh wow, part 2: this is a fantastic little record that I’m guessing you haven’t heard in years. It doesn’t do much on the charts: it stops at #74, but his next record – “Rainy Night In Georgia” – is a much bigger record in early 1970.
“My Little Chickadee” – The Foundations (#100). If you like “Build Me Up, Buttercup,” you’ll like this, since they sound like the same record in many ways. (“Beat it to death” – Ernie Kovacs) The plan doesn’t work, as this moves up a place to #99 next week and falls off the charts.