Thursday, March 09, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Week My Life Was Saved by Rock 'n' Roll

Bruce Channel, third from right, with some band he met in England in 1962
Fifty five years ago this month, when I was in third grade, I got the measles. That's not a painful memory, I fact the main things I remember about it is the fact that I got to miss a week of school and that I became obsessed with my little transistor radio, which I believe I'd received as a Christmas gift a couple of months before.

No, it wasn't the radio itself, which was about the size of an iPhone, but thicker. It was the strange wild sounds that came out of it at night.

I wanted to know more about these singers who promised a mysterious, magical -- and sometimes a little dangerous world. I wanted to hear what other songs they'd sung and the musicians who'd inspired them, to find out where they came from. I might have been sick in bed with the lights out, but every night there was a party in my head coming in through that little ear plug attached to my radio

That was the week I became obsessed by rock 'n' roll.

And, as anyone familiar with this blog knows, that's an obsession that has lasted a lifetime. Well after the measles left me, the rock 'n' roll fever persisted.

A decade later when I first heard The Velvet Underground's "Rock n' Roll," about a little girl named Jenny who discovered a New York station and her life was saved by rock 'n' roll, I completely identified with her -- though I would have been eight years old and mine was an Oklahoma City station, WKY.

I don't know the exact date of my measles bout, but I  remember the song that was number one on WKY at the time. It was "Hey Baby" by Bruce Channel, who was backed up by a harmonica player named Delbert McClinton. I can't find any WKY Top 50 (yes, 50, not 40!) lists, but according to Billboard, that song was number one nationally for three weeks beginning March 10, 1962.

Here's that song, followed by a handful of others that shaped the soul of a young, measles-stricken rocker in March of 1962.

Here's another tune that was popular in March, 1962, "Let Me In" by The Sensations. I could identify with what the singer, Yvonne Baker, was saying. I could hear the music, I could hear the party. And I demanded to be let in!

Sue Thompson was already pushing 40 when she had this hit, but she still sounded cool and sexy beyond words to my young ears

Speaking of Lou Reed, this song still is my favorite "Walk on the Wild Side."

Back then I thought the Peppermint Lounge in New York had to be the coolest place in the world thanks to Joey Dee.

I still get chills when I hear this song late at night, just like the first time I heard it on my transistor radio that week in 1962. The organ solo is downright other-dimensional!

Finally, don't you be a good neighbor to her. Or I'll send you a love letter. Straight from my heart

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