Hugh Masekela – Single: Grazing in the Grass
Let’s round out May with a few of my favorite singles released 50 years ago this month, beginning with Hugh Masekela’s version of Grazing in the Grass. Masekela, considered by many the “father of South African jazz,” scored a #1 hit with this peppy tune on the Billboard Hot 100. The multi-instrumentalist passed away this past January 23rd in Johannesburg at the age of 78.
Masekela is also known in the rock music world for his trumpet contribution to the 1967 Byrds song So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star:
Eric Burdon and the Animals – Single: Sky Pilot
This anti-war song, released in January in the UK and in May in the US, was the last hit record for the Animals in the US where it reached #14 on the US pop charts. Due to the song’s length, it was spread out over both sides of the single. It’s always been one of my favorite songs from the era.
The Amboy Dukes – Single: Journey to the Center of the Mind
It’s odd to use the words “psychedelic” and “Ted Nugent” in the same sentence, but the melody of this psychedelic song by the Detroit-based Amboy Dukes was in fact written by the future Loincloth Legend himself. This is one of those songs that used to be played on classic rock radio in the first decade or so of the format, but has unfortunately been squeezed out in favor of extra plays of Hotel California and Stairway to Heaven. For a number of years – probably into my 20’s – I thought it was the Moody Blues (in the vein of Ride My See-Saw).
The Amboy Dukes went their own ways in 1975, with Ted Nugent going on to become one of the worst people in the history of ever. Good song, though.
5/10/68 The US and North Vietnam peace talks
The Tet Offensive and the siege at Khe Sanh earlier in the year brought the two main parties together for talks in Paris over the war in Vietnam. You know, the war both the current Don’t-you-dare-disrespect-the-military-by-kneeling-for-the-Anthem US Bully in Chief, and the aforementioned ultra-patriotic, pro-military, far right-wing, gun loving Ted Nugent dodged. Funny how that works. Anyway, neither side could agree on the other’s demands just to get talks rolling, and proceedings stalled for another five months.
Temps here in North Texas USA are creeping into triple digits, which means June is soon. See you then!