1965: Remembering the year in music

1965 was a year of transition in popular music and a very good one for music lovers. What were some of the highlights?
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By Todd Whitesel

1965 was a year of transition in popular music and a very good one for music lovers. The folk music of the early ’60s was being integrated into the electric world of rock ’n’ roll and also reshaped into folk-rock. A lot was going on, inside and outside the studio. Here are some of the most memorable musical moments and recordings of the year.

• Bob Dylan plugs in his electric guitar for 16 minutes at the Newport Folk Festival in July, and folk music is never the same.

• Dylan plays acoustic for one side of Bringing It All Back Home and electric on the other. On the follow-up Highway 61 Revisited, he makes a full-on electric recording. Rock is never the same.

• The Beatles’ Rubber Soul is given short shift on its U.S. release, cut from 14 songs to 12 (minus the U.K.-released “Nowhere Man” and “Drive My Car”). Even so, songs such as “Norwegian Wood,” “Michelle” and “In My Life” are big signs of even bigger things to come. In June, Paul McCartney records “Yesterday” at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios.

• Elvis Presley hosts The Beatles at a rented house in California. An informal jam session is held.

• The Rolling Stones are very busy lads, releasing three albums, The Rolling Stones, Now!, Out Of Our Heads and December’s Children. They score hits with “The Last Time,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “As Tears Go By” and “Get Off My Cloud.”

The Who Sings My Generation is released. The band members appear on the television show Ready, Steady, Go, and no guitar or drum set is safe again.

• The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man features Roger McGuinn’s ringing 12-string Rickenbacker on the cover of the Dylan track. The rest of the band — David Crosby, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, and Chris Hillman — are absent on the track, replaced by studio musicians.

• The Beach Boys’ pair of releases Today and Summer Days (And Summer Nights), showcase the increasingly sophisticated writing and arranging of Brian Wilson, as evidenced on the single “California Girls.”

• Otis Redding’s Otis Blue: Sings Soul serves notice that the soul world has a new major player.

• The Kinks follow their 1964 hit “You Really Got Me” with “Tired Of Waiting For You” and “All Day And All Of The Night.”

• Eric Clapton leaves The Yardbirds to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Enter replacement Jeff Beck, who with the band scores a major hit with “Heart Full Of Soul.”

• Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions unleash the classic “People Get Ready.”

• On the West Coast, the psychedelic movement is in its infancy but not for long. A band called Grateful Dead usher in the psychedelic era and play the first rock concert held by promoter Bill Graham at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. Jefferson Airplane are also on the bill.

• Jimi Hendrix forms Jimmy James And The Blue Flames. The band plays Greenwich Village cafés.

• Herman’s Hermits place six singles in the U.S. Top 10 charts — “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am,” “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “Wonderful World,” “Silhouettes” and “Just A Little Better.”

• Flat-picking wizard Clarence White leaves The Kentucky Colonels to embark on a career as studio musician and electric guitar pioneer in the country-rock field.

• Arthur Lee forms Love with Bryan MacLean, John Echols, Ken Forssi, and Don Conka.

• “Do You Believe In Magic” is a Top 10 hit for The Lovin’ Spoonful.

• John Phillips, Dennis Doherty, Michelle Phillips, and Cass Elliot form The Mamas And The Papas in New York City.

• The Moody Blues have their first hit single with “Go Now,” which reaches #10.

• Ireland’s Them, with vocalist Van Morisson, land hits in the U.K. with “Baby Please Don’t Go” (#10) and “Here Comes The Night” (#2). In the U.S. they enjoy some success with “Here Comes The Night” (#24) and “Mystic Eyes” (#33).

• Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLise comprise the first edition of Velvet Underground. Later in the year, Moe Tucker replaces MacLise as drummer.

• Surf group The Ventures release the instructional LP Play Guitar With The Ventures.

• Jr. Walker And The All Stars’ “Shake And Fingerpop” shoots to #7 on the R&B charts.

• Wayne Shorter joins Miles Davis’ quintet, who along with Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams, exerts enormous influence on the jazz community.

• The Spencer Davis Group release their first album, 1st Album, with a teen-age Steve Winwood in tow.

• John Denver replaces Chad Mitchell in The Chad Mitchell Trio, beating out 250 others who audition for the part.

• Donovan gives his premiere U.S. performance at the Newport Folk Festival. His debut single, “Catch The Wind,” hits the Top 25.

• Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek conceive the idea for a band on the beaches of Southern California. Ex–Psychedelic Rangers members Robby Krieger and John Densmore join Morrison and Manzarek to form The Doors.

• The Four Tops go to #1 with “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).”

• James Brown releases the funk classic “I Got You (I Feel Good).” It becomes his biggest hit, reaching #3 on the charts.

• “The Tracks Of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson will soon become his signature song.

• The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is voted a “miss” by Juke Box Jury’s panel of four. The song goes on to become the most played song in American Radio history.

• Fender Guitar is sold to CBS for $13 million.

• Legendary DJ Alan Freed dies in Palm Springs, Calif., nearly destitute. The one-time wealthy and influential promoter is credited with bringing the phrase “rock ’n’ roll” to the masses.

• Nat King Cole dies at age 45 from lung cancer.

• Sonny Bono and 18-year-old bride Cher sign to Atlantic Records. They soon have a #1 single with “I Got You Babe.”

• Kinks drummer Mick Avory hits guitarist Dave Davies on the head with a cymbal during a performance at the Capital Theatre in Cardiff, Wales. Davies receives 16 stitches but refuses to press charges against his bandmate.

• Blues harmonica great Sonny Boy Williamson, age 56, dies of a heart attack in Helena, Ark.

• Wilson Pickett gets his first #1 R&B hit with “In The Midnight Hour.”

• Ford Motors offers eight-track players in their automobiles, the first car manufacturer to do so.

• A 15-year-old Bruce Springsteen joins The Castiles.

• The Beatles play to a packed Shea Stadium, grossing a record $304,000.

• R&B duo Sam & Dave make their first recordings at Stax Records’ studios in Memphis, Tenn., while “on loan” from Atlantic Records.

• Australia’s The Seekers are the first act from Down Under to top the U.K. pop charts, with the single “I’ll Never Find Another You.”

• Solomon Burke goes to the top of the U.S. R&B charts for the first time with “Got To Get You Off My Mind.”

• Welsh singer Tom Jones takes “It’s Not Unusual” to #1 in the U.K.

• The Beatles begin filming their second movie, Help!, in the Bahamas.

• Rick Derringer and brother Randy form The McCoys. Their single “Hang On Sloopy” becomes a U.S. #1 hit.

• Gerry And The Pacemakers score a Top 10 hit with “Ferry Cross The Mersey.”

• The Gentrys have their biggest hit with “Keep On Dancing.”

• Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell) scores a #1 hit in the U.K. with “Yeh Yeh.”

• The Electric Prunes form in Los Angeles.

• The Dave Clark Five ride the wave of the British Invasion and chart three Top 10 hits, “Over And Over” (#1), “Catch Us If You Can” (#4) and “I Like It Like That” (#7).

• Britain’s Petula Clark breaks into the American market with the #1 single “Downtown.”

• Clifton Chenier releases his first album, Louisiana Blues & Zydeco.

• Ray Charles is arrested for possession of heroin.

•The Paul Butterfield Blues Band releases their self-titled debut album.

• Big Brother And The Holding Company form in San Francisco.

• The Beau Brummels’ “Laugh Laugh” goes to #15. The single is produced by Sylvester Stewart, who will become better-known as Sly Stone.

• The Animals make chart noise with “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and “It’s My Life.”

• Brothers Duane and Greg Allman change their band’s name from The Escorts to The Allman Joys.

• Elvis Presley begins work on his 20th movie, Frankie And Johnny.