60's Saturday Night On WRKO

Mark Connelly markwa1ion@aol.com
Wed Jan 20 20:43:01 EST 2016

I would jump for joy if any station played my favorite '60s singer Helen Shapiro.


She was a 14 year old superstar in the UK in 1961 and made Top 20 on several stations in MA (and a few other places in the US and Canada) but only had one song sneak into the lower reaches of Billboard so, as a rule, is not to be found on US oldies station - terrestrial, web, or satellite.

As Steve says, streaming services from Europe are going to give you a better chance to hear '60s UK (+ Holland, Germany, etc.) hits.

But with the changes in how much streaming services have to pay in music licensing fees, will the days of this online bounty be numbered?

Besides hits from Old England that tended to do better in New England than in other parts of the US, there were a lot of local bands getting WBZ etc. airplay in the mid '60s.

But nowadays how often do radio stations play the Lost, the Others (from RI), the Barbarians, Miles and the Wild Ones, Rockin' Ramrods, Teddy & the Pandas, Remains, or (for that matter) Freddie Cannon and the G-Clefs?

We had some great bands in the '64 - '67 peak garage band period.  The region's '70s bands are better known - Aerosmith, Cars, J. Geils, Boston for sure, but we also had Reddy Teddy, Modern Lovers, and quite a few others whose music barely sees the light of day anymore.

Other parts of the US such as the Lakes Area (OH / MI / IL / WI etc.) also had a strong mid-sixties garage band culture, not to mention a lot of local soul / R&B as well.  Many great local bands.  But now, if the song didn't get to a critical mass nationally, it gets forgotten by programmers who tend to be "Billboard slaves".  There is very little in the way of customizing to local markets.

Once in a while a "wow I haven't heard that for like forever" song is remembered by a movie director or someone else influential enough to get it to mainstream consciousness.

The Robin Williams movie "Good Morning Vietnam" movie spun up Adam Faith's "It's Alright".  I hadn't heard it since high school in '64.  Good for a "cool!" and a couple of "wicked pissahs".


The movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral" had a "Caribbeanized" version of Helen Shapiro's "Walkin' Back to Happiness".  As good as the original?  No, nobody's as good as Helen.  Still fun to hear?  Yes, definitely.

I could come up with at least 200 songs that would send me into a very happy zone if I ever heard them on the radio or in a movie again.

99% of the time it isn't happening.  The thrill is when we hit that 1%.

WJIB / WJTO is one of the brighter spots at least in the non-hard-rock domain.  Stuck in a traffic jam and the "Sundowners" theme (Felix Slatkin, 1960) comes on and, all of a sudden, it's a good day.

Mark Connelly 
South Yarmouth, MA


The "Top 40 of the early and mid 60's" is something I have been excited to
find is still alive and well on the streaming services devoted to the
pirate radio era in Europe.  They run all the old, lamented hits from that
period and also some great unfamiliar ones from the other side of the
pond.  I find it an emotional roller coaster if I listen for an hour.  I
had no idea what was going on over there in those heady days!

Steve Snow

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