Seems to be a line from a song by the Big Bopper or was it Genesis ? My earliest musical influences in the world of music were the musical likes of my mother and my older brothers. My young ears picked up on Perry Como, The Hi-Los, Dinah Shore, Nat King Cole, and many others. Elvis was always a huge influence in any home in the late 1950s but I paid attention when my brother became obsessed with Buddy Holly after his tragic death. I suppose it was cultish in a way.
Moving to England in the summer of 1961 was an ear-opener. Before we heard “Please Please Me” we listened to imported American Pop by the artists of the day...Elvis, Bobby Vee, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Del Shannon were some of these artists. My ears could tell English Pop versus American Pop. Joe Meek's Telstar was a record that was neither.
My first flip was for The Crickets' “My Little Girl.” They had made good records without Buddy. I knew from then on that I liked some music a lot more than others and that records were an important way to hear the music I liked in my own home when I wanted to hear it. The Beatles arrived in our home in early 1963. They had a serious approach to Pop and a flippant view of the established world. Initially, to me anyway, they were not magical on television. That came later.
The Beatles Move In
Moving to Canada at the end of the summer of 1963 meant that my ears had to learn the new music of local Canadian AM radio stations from scratch. But our move to Canada was a great move and we arrived six months ahead of the British Invasion. The Beatles we saw on the first night of their three Sullivan appearances in February 1964 were from a different planet than The Beatles we had seen on TV in England in the summer of 1963. They exuded a confidence that was missing in early 1963. It was all contrived by their astute manager, but it was totally new and liberating, the way Rock and Roll had been in the 1950s.
From then on, Pop music would affect me in many ways. The Beatles did not let up between 1963 and 1970 and God bless them for that. They moved the yardstick ahead with each new release, single by single and LP by LP, and perhaps much had to do with the machine behind them. But their music also reflected what they were listening to...Motown, Dylan, Soul, Buck Owens, Henri Mancini, etc.
In early 1966 I began to realize that I could study the Top 40 on a weekly basis and bounce new impressions of new songs off my friends at school. I had to learn how to put aside clever Pop like “Winchester Cathedral” and Herb Alpert's “A Taste Of Honey” from what I wanted to classify as my own music –The Troggs, The Who, The Yardbirds, and The Beach Boys (who had also evolved like The Beatles). The Beatles continued to dominate even with Dylan, The Byrds, The Lovin Spoonful and then The Doors.
In 1967 my brother turned me on to The Kinks great singles of the 1966-1967 period and to the first album by The Pink Floyd. Another great group was The Sopwith Camel from San Francisco. We were well served by local record stores and family memberships to two different record clubs.
During this time I would also appreciate the great tunes that were in the air. Well crafted Top 40 music by the likes of Paul Mauriat, Dionne Warwick, Dusty, and even the top 40 covers of James Last.
The next four years saw me and many friends of mine move steadily from pure singles to a mix of singles and LPs. The album form became a way to listen to music for an extended period and to appreciate music that could not exist in the single form. Headphones and better hi-fi equipment changed things for the better. My first experience with headphones was the result of a babysitting job for a couple that had bought a stereo Sergeant Pepper LP.
My musical graduation occurred in my final year of high school. I dropped anything that appeared to be too commercial to me. Imported records became the norm and I wanted to listen to more obscure music that my peer group did not have access to. Perhaps a return to some of my English roots. The Pretty Things, Soft Machine, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, King Crimson, The Deviants, Audience, Jackson Heights, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Moody Blues, and Gentle Giant. But I still liked Pop and I continued to listen to what the radio had on offer, be it Anne Murray or Lighthouse.
And then my friends would turn me on to music that I would never have listened to. Eddie Harris, The Chambers Brothers, The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, Pierre Henry, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Mott The Hoople, Trees, and Traffic.
And that music has always led me to more musical friends.