25 Years of Rock – 1960 – 1964



Cathy’s Clown – the Everly Brothers

Sergeant Elvis Presley leaves the army and starts a career as a film actor.

Interview with Elvis Presley.

It’s Now or Never – Elvis Presley

Cassius Clay wins gold medal at Rome Olympics. Commentary by Eamonn Andrews.

Tell Laura I Love Her – Ricky Valance

Eddie Cochran killed in a car crash. Gene Vincent injured.

Three Steps to Heaven – Eddie Cochran

Francis Powers captured by Soviets after U2 crash lands in USSR

Apache – the Shadows

Francis Powers sentenced to ten years in prison

Only the Lonely – Roy Orbison

Queen and Prince Philip attend Royal Variety Performance

Walk Don’t Run – the Ventures

Italian suits and college boy haircuts

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-dot Bikini

Stay – Maurice Williams

Sharpville massacre. Hendrik Verwoerd survives assassination attempt. Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change Speech”.

Chain Gang – Sam Cooke

Britain’s first Traffic wardens

Sweet Nothin’s – Brenda Lee

Investigations into payola scandal. Lady Chatterley’s Lover published

Poetry in Motion – Johnny Tillotson

Pioneer 5 and Discoverer 11 launched. USS George Washington fires first Polaris missile

Shakin’ All Over – Johnny Kidd and the Pirates

Nikita Kruschev makes speech on 66th birthday. Kruschev hits desk with his shoe at United Nations session. Guiseppe Bianco, aka Brother Emin, predicts end of the world

Please Don’t Tease – Cliff Richard

Birth pill becomes available in USA. Caryl Chessman executed.

Good Timin’ – Jimmy Jones

Princess Margaret marries Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Beatnik wedding in Soho

You’re Sixteen – Johnny Burnette

Two planes collide at Idelwild Airport, Brooklyn

Save the Last Dance For Me – the Drifters

Floyd Paterson regains work heavyweight title

Hit and Miss – John Barry

John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon run for US president. Kennedy wins election.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – the Shirelles

In 1960 people were still listening to Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Everley Brothers, Eddie Cochran who died in 1960, and Elvis Presley who was changing direction musically after coming out of the army. There were some good new acts, such as Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and the Shirelles, but they were mostly following in the style of the older acts.

1960 was the start of a new era in American politics. Funnily enough three of the news stories, Kruschev’s birthday speech, the Discoverer 11, and the death of Eddie Cochran, happened during Easter. I liked the way that they contrasted Princess Margaret’s wedding with the beatnik wedding. Was that Cliff Michelmore looking at young people’s fashions?

But there was no excuse to include to include Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-dot Bikini.


President Kennedy’s inaugural speech

Runaway – Del Shannon

President Kennedy’s inauguration

The Twist – Chubby Checker

New dance craze called the twist. Teddy boys, modernists, beatniks, ravers and squares

FBI – the Shadows

Tottenham Hotspur win League Challenge Cup and FA Cup. Danny Blanchflower thanks the supporters.

Mary Lou – Ricky Nelson

Yuri Gagarin becomes first man in space

Blue Moon – the Marcels

President Kennedy pledges to get men on the Moon. Virgil Grissom becomes second American in space. Freedom Riders protest against segregation on buses. South Africa leaves the British Commonwealth

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – the Tokens

Chuck Berry convicted

Runaround Sue – Dion

Teenage girl interviewed about going out with boys

Don’t Treat Me Like a Child – Helen Shapiro

Helen Shapiro voted best female singer in New Musical Express poll. Barricade erected in Berlin

Wild Wind – John Leyton

US sends troops into Vietnam

President Kennedy on nuclear fallout shelters

Civil Defence – Beyond the Fringe

Beyond the Fringe tour America

Take Good Care of My Baby – Bobby Vee

Rudolph Nureyev requests political asylum

Stranger on the Shore – Acker Bilk

Interviews with jazz fans

Take Five – the Dave Bruebeck Quartet

Bertrand Russell sentenced to prison after anti-nuclear demonstration. Ban the Bomb demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles

Polaris submarines stationed in Britain. Dag Hammarskjold killed in plane crash

Ebony Eyes – the Everly Brothers

United States supports bid to overthrow Fidel Castro. President Kennedy on Bay of Pigs incident.

Who Put the Bomp? – Barry Mann

Tony Hancock in The Blood Donor

Calendar Girl – Neil Sedaka

Berlin Wall goes up

Wooden Heart – Elvis Presley

Variety Club luncheon. Cliff Richard returns from tour of Australia and attends premiere of his latest film

The Young Ones – Cliff Richard and the Shadows

Speech by President Kennedy

There are some memorable records in this programme from Del Shannon, the Marcels and the Tokens. (I was surprised that Stand By Me wasn’t played, but then it became more famous later when it was used in a film of the same name and a pretentious jeans advert.)

As Cliff Richard pointed out in an interview in the next programme, the music scene had moved from rock n roll to pop, although some young people preferred to listen to the rock n roll records from a few years earlier, and others preferred jazz. And of course Chubby Checker popularised the twist.

This is one of the few programmes in the series to begin with spoken words rather than music. Outside the world of pop music the sixties were starting to take shape as John F Kennedy was sworn in as the new United States President, the USSR and the USA sent their first men into space (although oddly they played a clip of Virgil Grissom’s space flight rather than the first American space flight by Alan Shepard), and the Beyond the Fringe team kicked off the satire boom.

On a less happy note the Berlin Wall went up and the United States sent their first troops into Vietnam.


Talkin’ New York – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan emerges from New York folk scene. Princess Margaret attends Cliff Richard concert.

The Young Ones – Cliff Richard

Interview with Cliff Richard

Wonderful Land – the Shadows

John Glenn makes first manned orbit of the Earth

Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker

Twist marathon in Harlow, Essex

Twistin’ the Night Away – Sam Cooke

Twist banned in dance halls. Interview with Mary Quant

Come Outside – Mike Sarne

Andy Warhol paints pop art

James Bond Theme – John Barry Orchestra

William John Vassall imprisoned for spying. Francis Powers released in exchange for Vilyam Fisher. President Kennedy attends Atlas missile launch. Nuclear shelters made in Britain

It Might As Well Rain Until September – Carole King

Marilyn Monroe dies

A Picture of You – Joe Brown

Communications satellite Telstar launched

Telstar – the Tornados

Vice President Johnson speaks to Frederick Kappel via Telstar

The Locomotion – Little Eva

Black student tries to enrol at all-white Oxford College, Mississippi

Oxford Town – Bob Dylan

He’s a Rebel – the Crystals

Plymouth mail robbery. Thalidomide tragedy

Twist and Shout – the Isley Brothers

Liberal Party win Orpington by-election. Communists demonstration in Paris against French government policy on Algeria. Escape tunnels dug under Berlin Wall

West of the Wall – Toni Fisher

Cuban missile crisis

Booker T and the MGs – Green Onions

Cuban Missile Crisis continues

Let’s Dance – Chris Montez

Bertrand Russell sends messages to Kennedy and Kruschev. Kennedy calls for end to missile crisis

Talkin’ World War III Blues – Bob Dylan

Atomic Survival Instructions

Nut Rocker – B Bumble and the Stingers

Kruschev calls for withdrawal of missiles in Cuba. Richard Nixon loses bid the become governor of California

Crying in the Rain – the Everly Brothers

The Beatles perform in Hamburg

Twist and Shout – the Beatles

EMI signs up the Beatles

Love Me Do – the Beatles

A lot of people regard 1962 as the real beginning of the 1960s. Andy Warhol and Mary Quant made their breakthrough into the worlds of art and fashion, the James Bond films started, and there were two ground-breaking pop acts, starting off with Bob Dylan.

The biggest news story was the Cuban Missile Crisis, but then it was the year of the Cold War, with missile tests, people preparing for nuclear war, spy scandals, and the Berlin Wall. When former Vice President Richard Nixon lost a bid the become governor of California some people thought his political career was over. How wrong they were.

The twist became even more popular. Someone said the most famous twist record was Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker, the best twist record was Twistin’ the Night Away by Sam Cooke, and the most influential twist record was Twist and Shout by the Isley Brothers. The last of these was covered by a group called the Beatles, and the programme ends with the second record that changed everything forever.


Please Please Me – the Beatles

Britain has one of its coldest winters

Surfin’ USA – the Beach Boys

Cassius Clay versus Henry Cooper

Come On – the Rolling Stones

Peace treaty between USA, Britain and USSR signed in Moscow. Speech by President Kennedy.

Fingertips – Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder and Murray the K plug Big Holiday Show at Brooklyn Fox Theatre. WMCA radio jingle. South Coast Broadcasting Company campaign for independent radio. Saturday Club is one of BBC’s most popular radio shows.

He’s So Fine – the Chiffons

Medgar Evers assassinated. Martin Luther King prays for Evers.

Only a Pawn in Their Game – Bob Dylan

Interview with white supremacist. Civil Rights march in Washington. Martin Luther King has a dream.

We Shall Overcome – Pete Seeger

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers

I Like It – Gerry and the Pacemakers

That Was the Week that Was – Millicent Martin

David Frost on Britain’s remaining colonies

Surf City – Jan and Dean

John Profumo resigns after affair with Christine Keeler

Do You Want to Know a Secret – Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas

Harold Wilson on becoming leader of the Labour Party

It’s My Party – Lesley Gore

Doctor Beeching announces closure of British stations and railway lines. Harold Macmillan resigns and appoints Alec Douglas-Home as successor. Interview with new prime minister.

Wipeout – the Sufaris

Da Doo Ron Ron – the Crystals

Great train robbery. Cleopatra premieres in New York

Big Girls Don’t Cry – the Four Seasons

Lord Stansgate renounces his peerage and becomes Anthony Wedgewood Benn. Vietnamese Buddhist priest burns himself to death President Kennedy visits West Berlin

From Me to You – the Beatles

Interview with Beatles fans. Interview with the Beatles.

She Loves You – the Beatles

President Kennedy assassinated

Blowing in the Wind – Bob Dylan

Lyndon Johnson’s inaugural speech. Lee Harvey Oswald shot dead by Jack Ruby

Be My Baby – the Ronettes

Record companies sign Liverpool groups following success of the Beatles

Please Please Me – the Beatle

Beatles wigs. Interview with Beatles fans. Beatles’ Christmas record.

I Want to Hold Your Hand – the Beatles

Two names dominate this programme, the Beatles and President Kennedy.

Apart from the Kennedy assassination, one of the biggest news stories of 1963 was the rise of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.” speech. In Britain 1963 is remembered for the Profumo affair, which along with Harold Macmillan’s controversial decision to appoint Alec Douglas-Home as his successor led to the Conservative part losing the following year’s election.

The Radio Times article on Twenty-five Years of Rock mentioned that Pope John XXIII died in 1963, yet this new story didn’t appear in the programme.

Following the success of the Beatles other Liverpool groups such as Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas had hits. From America there was folk music, a proliferation of female vocal groups, and the surf sound, although we only hear a tiny bit of Wipe Out. But the programme ends with an extract from the Beatles’ first fan club Christmas record.


I Get Around – the Beach Boys

I Want to Hold Your Hand – the Beatles

The Beatles tour America. Interview with the Beatles.

Can’t Buy Me Love – the Beatles

Beatles dominate US pop charts. Breathalyser test. Rolling Stones play in Hull

Not Fade Away – the Rolling Stones

Great train robbers sentenced. Charles Wilson escapes.

You Really Got Me – the Kinks

Carnaby Street fashions

All Day and All of the Night – the Kinks

Needles and Pins – the Searchers

BBC2 launched. Dennis Tuohy introduces belated opening night. Shindig! starts on ABC tv.

Where Did Our Love Go? – the Supremes

Elizabeth Taylor marries Richard Burton. Mods and rockers clash on British beaches. Interview with mods.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – Dancing in the Street.

Interview with rockers.

Leader of the Pack – the Shangri-Las

Radio panel discussion on mods and rockers. Pirate station Radio Caroline goes on air, including Simon Dee programme.

As Tears Go By – Marianne Faithful

Tony Blackburn on Radio Caroline

Bits and Pieces – the Dave Clark Five

Tokyo Melody – Helmut Zacharias

Ann Packer wins gold medal at Tokyo Olympics

A Hard Day’s Night – the Beatles

Interview with John Lennon after writing his first book. Cassius Clay become world heavyweight champion. Cassius Clay recites poem. Cassius Clay converts to Islam and changes his name to Muhammad Ali. Sportswriters’ dinner and awards.

It’s All Over Now – the Rolling Stones

Labour win general election. Harold Wilson becomes prime minister. Nikita Kruschev deposed

House of the Rising Sun – the Animals

President Johnson denies that USA is planning an attack on North Vietnam. Barry Goldwater opposes US intervention in Vietnam

The Times They Are a Changing – Bob Dylan

Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson run for president. Johnson re-elected. Robert and Edward Kennedy elected to the Senate.

5-4-3-2-1 – Manfred Mann

Do Wah Diddy Diddy – Manfred Mann

Harold Wilson supports the Beatles

I Feel Fine – the Beatles

Ringo Starr has his tonsils out

Eight Days a Week – the Beatles

The Beatles went from strength to strength, with a successful tour of America and their first film. In the interview with John Lennon he says that he doesn’t care if he’s remembered or not after he’s gone, and that was more poignant when the programme was repeated the year after his death.

There was a proliferation of British groups known as the British Invasion. A lot of groups such as the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five were very Beatles influenced, but one group who were distinctly different were the Rolling Stones, although in 1964 they were mainly a cover versions band. Britain in 1964 saw the rise of pirate radio and the mods and rockers. They mention the launch of the American pop show Shindig!, but not the launch of the longest running pop show Top of the Pops.

One of the main news stories was Labour winning the general election, and most of the social reforms in Britain in the sixties happened under Harold Wilson’s government.

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