It seems as we head into 2012 that there will be all kinds of celebrations and major events in the next year – some in the present, some about the past. For some reason I never quite get, we shall mark the centenary of the disaster of the Titanic; meanwhile the Queen will get another Jubilee. Then in the summer there will also be the Olympics in London and a few other bits of the country which means we can rediscover our deep passion for curling/ weight lifting/fencing/shot-putting (etc – take your pick).
But we could celebrate the 50th anniversary of a year in which Pompey won the (old) third division and even more one of THE most significant years in the history of Popular Music, especially in Britain. Consider for example how in 1962:
The Beatles recorded for Decca on 1st January 1962, and later in the year appeared for the first time on an album (backing Tony Sheridan). Then they signed to Parlophone, recorded their first sides with George Martin, replaced Pete Best with Ringo and in October 1962 released their first single “Love Me Do”.
Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated – the nursery for British Blues – began playing regularly and when in July they had to miss a night at the Marquee Club for a radio broadcast, Long John Baldry stood in and a brand new support band called the Rolling Stones appeared on stage for the first time.
The first two Bob Dylan albums were released and in December 1962 he appeared in London for the first time (apparently the only British Dylan gig John Roberts ever missed) as well as in a BBC TV play.
Around Pompey fifty years ago, Cliff Richard and the Shadows followed The Young Ones with a national tour, and the Guildhall’s Box Office set a record by selling 2,500 tickets in one day. Spinner noted his “quiet, neatly cut black suit” and the fact that “every other song was a ballad” – the young rocker was becoming respectable as the Beatles, Stones and Dylan loomed.
In May, Louis Armstrong came to the Guildhall and played many favourites including “The Saints”, “Blueberry Hill”, “Mack the Knife”, and “Georgia”. The Evening News correspondent ‘MRH’ suggested it was only the second time (after Sir Thomas Beecham) that he had heard genuinely “thunderous applause” in Portsmouth. On the local jazz scene, the Rendezvous moved to St Paul’s Square off King’s Road and opened with the Riverside Jazzmen, then the Downtown Syncopators. Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Ken Colyer and others visited and many fans adopted Beatnik habits and fashions – in October The Evening News ran a feature on them.
1962 was also the year in which Marilyn Monroe died, the Twist was everywhere (including the Guildhall for a visit from Chubby Checker) and The Sunday Times published the first colour supplement. There was still smog in London and capital punishment with the famous hanging of James Hanratty. October saw the release of the first James Bond film but also in the real world the alarm of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the last week of 1962 the three months big freeze began.
At the end of the year, in the Evening News, Spinner anticipated older style entertainment and “the return of music” in 1963. Citing recent hits for artists like Stan Getz, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Frank Ifield, Ronnie Carroll and Acker Bilk he “confidently forecast we shall see the end of the guitar era”, after the “long” and “wearing” process since Bill Haley and Elvis emerged. He believed music had “taken a back seat” but things were going to change.
He was right of course, but not at all as he imagined!
Happy New Year!