Sounds of the 60s: Garage Bands and Rock, Part 11
by Jack B. Stephens
We continue with our exploration of the many bands that made up the 1960s. This week we cover some bands that many of you may not be very familiar with, but each had a profound influence on several later bands. As we have seen, several bands have had a devout following since the time they began while many listeners did not discover them until years later. Some had a strong regional following while not receiving much national attention. Some were from and popular in other countries, but failed to make a strong impression in the United States. However, each of these groups are still known today and are part of what we call the Sounds of the 60s.
Count Five formed in San Jose, California in 1964 by two high school friends. The band went through a couple of name and lineup changes as many garage bands do. They were very recognizable as they sometimes played live wearing Count Dracula style capes. After going through several rejections from record labels, they finally signed with Double Shot Records.
The result was one of the most known singles in garage rock “Psychotic Reaction” which peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.
The next release in 1966 “Peace Of Mind” did not have the same success.
They released several other singles including “Pretty Big Mouth” in 1966
“Revelation in Slow Motion” 1968
“Mailman” in 1969. However, the band was short lived and disbanded in 1969 due partially to several members leaving for college.
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The Blue Things
The Blue Things from Hays, Kansas formed in 1964. Although, they are known as one of the best bands from the Midwest they were basically unknown outside of the region. “Mary Lou” was their first single in 1965. The song did chart in Oklahoma City and eventually led to a signing with RCA Records.
The next single also in 1965 was “Pretty Thing-Oh” was again a huge hit in the Midwest.
“Doll House” released in 1966 dealt with a subject that was typically not spoken of during the time, namely prostitution.
“Orange Rooftops Of Your Mind” and “You Can Live In Our Tree” both saw the bands foray into psychedelic rock. However, due to lack of sales and frustration within the group, the band broke up by 1968.
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Pretty Things formed in 1963 in London. Although they never achieved a hit record in the United States, they had several charted singles in the United Kingdom and other countries. They began as a rhythm and blues bands, but later became involved with psychedelic rock as well as hard rock and new wave.
Their first single “Rosalyn” reached number 41 in the UK in 1964.
It was followed by “Don’t Bring Me Down” reaching number 10 in 1964 and “Honey I Need” reaching number 13 in 1965.
They then had a string of less successful releases such as “Midnight To Six Man” in 1966 and 1967s “Talking About the Good Times”. The band is credited with having the first rock opera ever in 1968 on the “S.F. Sorrow” album. However, the album did not do well leaving the band frustrated. Group members began to depart which finally resulted in the original band breaking up in 1971.
Status Quo hailed from England and officially formed in 1967. Like Pretty Things, most of their success was in the United Kingdom.
However, they did have some success in the United States as well including their first single “Pictures of Matchstick Men” which reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. It was their only top 40 hit in the US.
The follow up single “Black Veils of Melancholy” did not sell well; however, the next single “Ice in the Sun” was a big hit in the UK. The band continued on for many decades to follow with the 1970s being one of their most successful. We may visit them again in our series when we eventually move into the 1970s.
The bands we have covered this week may not be household names to all. However, they were able to make a mark in rock and roll music history. In the study of bands of the 1960s era, it is often amazing to find out how long it took for bands to be truly discovered. Although all had a following at the time, it has often been the case that bands truly expanded their listener base and influence several years after their initial appearance. Many were simply unique enough to not initially be understood during their time. Next week, we will continue our journey through the bands of the 1960s. It is extraordinary how many bands actually existed and hopefully this series is successful in helping these groups attain even more attention today.
-Jack B Stephens