Here we are in year two of however many years there will be of Introgroove – Happy New Year everyone! I was a bit hesitant to jump into these waters a year ago, but as I’ve stated a few times it’s been a lot of fun, so let’s keep on truckin’ into another year of celebrating 50th anniversaries of some of the greatest music ever.
1969 was still a couple of years before I came back to the motion picture of life as the character I’m still playing, but looking at it from afar it seems that year was a bit bleaker than it appeared through my younger eyes. As always, Hollywood did its best to present its own motion pictures which diverted people’s attention from the headlines of the day. These included some of the greatest Western-flavored films of our time such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, True Grit (John Wayne’s only Oscar), and The Wild Bunch. But it was a cowboy story of another sort which took the Academy Award for Best Picture in Midnight Cowboy. And fans of music from that era gravitated to films such as Easy Rider and Alice’s Restaurant.
1969 was a crazy year for sports fans, especially in New York, as “Broadway” Joe Namath and the Jets won Superbowl III and the Miracle Mets shocked the sports world by winning the World Series. Upstate from those two teams, NFL rookie O.J. Simpson entered his first Purgatory when drafted by the awful Buffalo Bills out of the sunny, cozy confines of the University of Southern California. Of interest to probably nobody who reads this blog other than yours truly, 1969 was also the last year the Missouri Tigers won a conference championship in college football. Still waiting…
As for these pages’ raison d’être, the music world was shifting toward a new era just as year itself. The Beatles were fading despite having two classic albums yet to record. The Rolling Stones were at the front end of arguably the best stretch the band had yet seen and would ever see. Elvis hit Vegas for the beginning of both a very successful run of shows as well as his sad demise. A new batch of superstars was in the process of launching along with the continuing Apollo missions which found their way to the Moon in July. Their ranks included Bowie, Elton, James Taylor and many others, and they tended to write more introspective and sometimes esoteric material, leaving much of the protest songwriting to the ones who came before, even as Vietnam raged on.
1969 was the symbolic peak of the Hippie Dream with Woodstock and the Isle of Wight festivals in August, but was also the sad symbolic ending with the Manson murders that same month and Altamont in December. If there was any doubt at that point, it was removed in May of 1970 at Kent State University. Much – not all, but much – of the popular music which arose from the resultant disillusion was cotton candy Top 40 mush.
The lists of bands who formed and broke up in 1969 doesn’t seem as eye-popping to me as did those of the previous year. However, the variety of genres represented among the newly formed groups is rather astonishing with jam bands, prog, electronica, power pop, blue-eyed soul, metal, country rock, singer/songwriter and (very) easy listening, and the first full-fledged 50’s retro group of note.
Bands that died in 1969: Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Jeff Beck Group (first incarnation), Dillard and Clark, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Manfred Mann, The Spencer Davis Group, The Beau Brummels, The Easybeats, and The Lemon Pipers, among others.
Bands born in 1969: The Allman Brothers Band, Atomic Rooster, Badfinger, The Carpenters, Crazy Horse, Curved Air, Faces, Hall and Oates, Hawkwind, Head East, Humble Pie, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, Little Feat, Mountain, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Plastic Ono Band, Renaissance, Seals and Crofts, and Sha Na Na, among others.
To anyone new to my blog, welcome! I’ve culled the following from my inaugural post a year ago in an attempt to explain the somewhat vague parameters of my posts (updated for the year at hand):
To understate it slightly, stuff happened in 1969. Much of it looked really cool and exciting from the distant land of 1989 (“when I was young…”), and much of it even now. At times I’ve thought it would’ve been great to have come of age in the mid-late 1960’s. Alas, I probably would’ve died in the muck of Southeast Asia (maybe I did, but that’s a topic for another blog). My hope is that this might stir some thoughts for you and that you might in turn occasionally share some of your own musings on these things: where you were and what you were up to (if you were alive), and of course any opinions on the music, positive, negative, or otherwise.
For now, I’d like to offer an occasional reminder of some of the many 50th anniversary milestones in music from the year 1969, subjectively handpicked by yours truly, as well as occasional thoughts on music from other eras when the urge arises. I’ll focus on albums, but sprinkle in the occasional notable single from albums not otherwise mentioned. Many of these albums have specific release dates I’ll stick to, others only have the release month available. Some are apparently so forgotten that only “1969” is given as their release date. Some are obvious choices that most of us know and many of us love.
Other albums I’ll list because I’m aware they’re “important,” but I really don’t know much about them other than maybe a track or two that ended up on greatest hits compilations. Occasionally I’ll throw in a side tidbit that relates to the music or a historical factoid to add perspective. If I leave out an album or song you feel I should have included, you can let me have it for my ignorance or for being such a snob. Sorry, but the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the early works of the Bee Gees probably won’t make the cut – unless you want them to.* And by all means, please let me know of any factual errors. Without further adieu, Happy New Year, and welcome back to 1969 (and beyond). Can this planet Come Together, or will we remain Suspicious Minds?
*I ended up acknowledging a Bee Gees single I’ve always liked in the twelfth month of the blog.
Thanks for reading!