December 1961: The Lucky Stars/Juke Box Jury Saturday night clash

Pop music began to appear regularly on TV in the late 1950s, with the biggest breakthrough probably being BBC’s Six-Five Special, first broadcast in February 1957. Shortly after we moved to Gerrards Cross in the spring of 1958 (and therefore were within transmission range of an ITV station) Oh Boy started its run on ITV on Saturday nights, in the same time slot as Six-Five Special.

More to follow.

Huge thanks for the information taken from Geoff Leonard’s Thank Your Lucky Stars site and his Juke Box Jury site. Also his other sites:
Oh Boy

More information about the early days of pop music on TV.

BBC TV programmes for Saturday 9 December 1961

With The Beatles

The Beatles carried on performing in various venues, mainly in and around Liverpool throughout December 1961
They also made an attempt to play their first UK performances outside the Merseyside area with five consecutive Saturday nights booked in Aldershot, starting on 9 D December. 
The promotor was Sam Leach who had put on numerous Beatles’ gigs in the Merseyside area. He thought that, since no A&R men or record label executives were willing to travel to Liverpool to see the group play, he would take them to the south east instead.
For some reason he settled on Aldershot as a suitable town but, in the end, only one night was played and just 18 people turned up. There is a great account on The Beatles Bible website, with details from the first hand reminiscences of Leach, Terry McCann and Pete Best who were there. Late at night the whole party moved on to the Blue Gardenia club in London, and played an impromptu set there. They got back to Liverpool at 9 on the Sunday morning.

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Pic: Richard Matthews/Beatles Bible

Richard Matthews took some photographs of the Aldershot event, which well convey the underwhelming nature of the occasion.

The month’s UK Top Tens

7 December 1961

1. Tower of Strength: Frankie Vaughan
2. His Latest Flame/Little Sisters: Elvis Presley
3. Big Bad John: Jimmy Dean
4. Take Good Care Of My Baby: Bobby Vee
6. The Time Has Come: Adam Faith
7. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
8. Take Five: Dave Brubeck
9. Midnight In Moscow: Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen
10. I’ll Get By: Shirley Bassey

14 December 1961


1. Tower of Strength: Frankie Vaughan
2. Moon River: Danny Williams
3. Take Good Care Of My Baby: Bobby Vee
4. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
5. His Latest Flame/Little Sisters: Elvis Presley
6. Big Bad John: Jimmy Dean
7. Midnight In Moscow: Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen
8. My Friend The Sea: Petula Clark
9. The Time Has Come: Adam Faith
10. I’ll Get By: Shirley Bassey

21 December 1961

1. Tower of Strength: Frankie Vaughan
2. Moon River: Danny Williams
3. Take Good Care Of My Baby: Bobby Vee
4. Johnny Will: Pat Boone
5. Midnight In Moscow: Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen
6. Stranger On The Shore: Mr Acker Bilk
7. My Friend The Sea: Petula Clark
8. Big Bad John: Jimmy Dean
9. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
10. His Latest Flame/Little Sisters: Elvis Presley

28 December 1961

1. Moon River: Danny Williams
2. Tower of Strength: Frankie Vaughan
3. Midnight In Moscow: Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen
4. Let There Be Drums: Sandy Nelson
5. Johnny Will: Pat Boone
6. Stranger On The Shore: Mr Acker Bilk
7. Toy Balloons: Russ Conway
8. Take Good Care Of My Baby: Bobby Vee
9. My Friend The Sea: Petula Clark
10. Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen: Neil Sedaka

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

The Best of Enemies

Travelling Light

The Young Ones

Petticoat Pirates

The Trojan Horse

Source: filmdates.co.uk

November 1961: Big Bad John reaches Number 2 in Top Ten

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Pic: EIL

Some time in the latter part of 1961 we bought a record player, because from this month on I have a distinct memory of having new singles in the house. These were mostly bought in Brendons, Gerrards Cross’s finest (and only) record shop, which was in Packhorse Road next to Woolworth’s. There is very little about the store on the web, but it has a listing on the British Record Shop Archive website, which is where I found these paper bags and receipts.

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The Francis Frith website has this picture of Packhorse Road from the early 1960s. Brendons and Woolworths were on the left hand side. The shop with the awning may well be Woolworths.

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Pic: Francis Frith Collection

I believe that the first record I ever bought was, for some reason, Sucu Sucu. This was a folky/dancey number which was a hit in 1961 for several different artistes, including the Laurie Johnson Orchestra and Nina & Frederick. I don’t know which version came into our possession. However, almost immediately afterwards we definitely acquired Big Bad John by the country singer Jimmy Dean, and played that incessantly.

More to follow

With The Beatles

The Beatles carried on performing in venues in and around Liverpool throughout November 1961.
However, a significant event occurred on 9 November when Brian Epstein went to see them play a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club, and went backstage to meet them. According to this article on the Beatles Bible website he was recognised by the band, with George Harrison opening the conversation by asking: “And what brings Mr Epstein here?”

The month’s UK Top Tens

2 November 1961

1. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
2. Wild Wind: John Leyton
3. When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart: Cliff Richard
4. His Latest Flame/Little Sisters: Elvis Presley
5. Bless You: Tony Orlando
6. You’ll Answer to Me: Cleo Laine
7. Hit The Road Jack: Ray Charles
8. Mexicali Rose: Karl Denver
9. Sucu Sucu: Laurie Johnson Orchestra
10. You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby: Bobby Darin

9 November 1961

1. His Latest Flame/Little Sisters: Elvis Presley
2. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
3. When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart: Cliff Richard
4. Big Bad John: Jimmy Dean
5. Wild Wind: John Leyton
6. Hit The Road Jack: Ray Charles
7. The Time Has Come: Adam Faith
8. Take Five: Dave Brubeck
9. Mexicali Rose: Karl Denver
10. Bless You: Tony Orlando

16 November 1961

23 November 1961

30 November 1961

Films released this month

The Helions
King of Kings
Pit and the Pendulum

Source: filmdates.co.uk

October 1961: Private Eye publishes first issue

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This is the front cover of the first issue of Private Eye, published on 25 October 1961.

More text to follow.

With The Beatles

John Lennon and Paul McCartney in Paris, early October 1961. (Pic: Beatles Bible)
After John Lennon and Paul McCartney returned from their brief holiday in Paris, the Beatles returned to playing lunchtime and evening gigs in the Liverpool area. Between 15 and 31 October 1961 they gave 19 separate performances.
On 28 October a customer, Raymond Jones, went into Brian Epstein’s NEMS record store in Liverpool and asked for a copy of The Beatles’ sincle My Bonnie. This was the event which piqued Epstein’s interest and led to his visit to the Cavern Club the next month to see them play live.

The month’s UK Top Tens

5 October 1961
1. Kon-Tiki: The Shadows
2. Jealousy: Billy Fury
3. Michael: Highwaymen
4. Johnny Remember Me: John Leyton
5. Reach For The Stars/Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Shirley Bassey
6. Wild In The Country/I Feel So Bad: Elvis Presley
7. You’ll Answer to Me: Cleo Laine
8. Together: Connie Francis
9. Hats Off To Larry: Del Shannon
10. Get Lost: Eden Kane

12 October 1961
1. Michael: Highwaymen
2. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
3. Kon-Tiki: The Shadows
4. Jealousy: Billy Fury
5. Johnny Remember Me: John Leyton
6. Together: Connie Francis
7. You’ll Answer to Me: Cleo Laine
8. Wild In The Country/I Feel So Bad: Elvis Presley
9. Hats Off To Larry: Del Shannon
10. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro

19 October 1961
1. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
2. Michael: Highwaymen
3. Kon-Tiki: The Shadows
4. Jealousy: Billy Fury
5. You’ll Answer to Me: Cleo Laine
6. Wild Wind: John Leyton
7. Hats Off To Larry: Del Shannon
8. Johnny Remember Me: John Leyton
9. Together: Connie Francis
10. Wild In The Country/I Feel So Bad: Elvis Presley

26 October 1961
1. Walking Back To Happiness: Helen Shapiro
2. Wild Wind: John Leyton
3. Michael: Highwaymen
4. When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart: Cliff Richard
5. Jealousy: Billy Fury
6. Hats Off To Larry: Del Shannon
7. You’ll Answer to Me: Cleo Laine
8. Bless You: Tony Orlando
9. Sucu Sucu: Laurie Johnson Orchestra
10. Kon-Tiki: The Shadows

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

A Matter of WHO

On The Fiddle

What A Whopper

The Queens Guards

Gorgo

Source: filmdates.co.uk

September 1961: ETU expelled from TUC and Labour Party

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I doubt that I read much of the coverage in June and July 1961 of the High Court action against the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) by a couple of its officers, nor indeed of the decisions in September 1961 to expel the union from the TUC and disaffiliate it from the Labour Party. However, in the 1980s my interest in the subject was aroused when I bought a second hand copy of a book about the trial, All Those in Favour by C H Rolph.

More to follow

With The Beatles

The Beatles played 33 separate lunchtime and evening gigs in the Liverpool area between 1 and 29 September 1961. On 30 September, John Lennon and Paul McCartney set off on a holiday trip, financed by the £100 John had been given as a gift in advance of his forthcoming 21st birthday. They intended to hitchhike to Spain, using bowler hats as a gimmick to encourage lifts, but only got as far as Paris.

The month’s UK Top Tens

7 September 1961
1. Johnny Remember Me: John Leyton
2. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro
3. Reach For The Stars/Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Shirley Bassey
4. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
5. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
6. Romeo: Petula Clark
7. That’s My Home: Mr Acker Bilk
8. Marcheta: Karl Denver
9. Quarter To Three: US Bonds
10. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson

14 September 1961
1. Johnny Remember Me: John Leyton
2. Reach For The Stars/Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Shirley Bassey
3. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro
4. Wild In The Country/I Feel So Bad: Elvis Presley
5. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
6. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
7. Kon-Tiki: The Shadows
8. That’s My Home: Mr Acker Bilk
9. Quarter To Three: US Bonds
10. How Many Tears: Bobby Vee

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

Raising The Wind
What A Carve Up!
The Terror of the Tongs
Source: filmdates.co.uk

August 1961: The A6 murder

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Pic: Murderpedia.org/Ron Case/Getty Images

The A6 murder was one of those crimes which gripped the nation for several months in 1961. It started on 23 August with the discovery of the body of a man, Michael Gregsten, in a lay-by on the A6, near the village of Cophill, Bedfordshire. Lying next to him was a semi-conscious woman, Valerie Storie.

More to follow

With The Beatles

The Beatles played 34 separate lunchtime and evening gigs in the Liverpool area during August 1961.

The month’s UK Top Tens

3 August 1961
1. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
2. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro
3. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
4. Temptation: The Everly Brothers
5. Romeo: Petula Clark
6. Runaway: Del Shannon
7. Pasadena: Temperance Seven
8. A Girl Like You: Cliff Richard
9. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
10. You Always Hurt The One You Love: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

Source: filmdates.co.uk

July 1961: The Guns of Navarone on general release

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I have a definite memory of going to see The Guns of Navarone with my brother George and my cousin David while George and I were staying with David’s family in Wheatley, Oxfordshire. This had become a ritual every summer school holiday, taking the pressure of having five young children off our parents for a few days.

Such is the continuing influence of the film, there are many modern retrospective reviews all over the internet:

Mike’s Take

Gone with the Twins

Many further links on Rotten Tomatoes

More to follow.

With The Beatles

The Beatles played at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg on 1 July, and then travelled back to Liverpool on the following two days. They then took a holiday before their next live performance on 13 July at St John’s Hall in Tuebrook, Liverpool. They played a further 24 gigs in the Liverpool area between then and the end of July,. 

The month’s UK Top Tens

6 July 1961
1. Runaway: Del Shannon
2. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
3. Temptation: The Everly Brothers
4: Pasadena: Temperance Seven
5. A Girl Like You: Cliff Richard
6. Surrender: Elvis Presley
7. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
8. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
9. Frightened City: The Shadows
10. Running Scared: Roy Orbison

13 July 1961
1. Runaway: Del Shannon
2. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
3. Temptation: The Everly Brothers
4. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
5. A Girl Like You: Cliff Richard
6. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
7: Pasadena: Temperance Seven
8. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
9. Surrender: Elvis Presley
10. Frightened City: The Shadows

20 July 1961
1. Temptation: The Everly Brothers
2. Runaway: Del Shannon
3. A Girl Like You: Cliff Richard
4. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
5. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
6. Pasadena: Temperance Seven
7. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
8. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
9. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro
10. Running Scared: Roy Orbison

27 July 1961
1 Temptation: The Everly Brothers
2. Well I Ask You: Eden Kane
3. Runaway: Del Shannon
4. You Don’t Know: Helen Shapiro
5. A Girl Like You: Cliff Richard
6. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
7. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
8. Pasadena: Temperance Seven
9. Time: Craig Douglas
10. Romeo: Petula Clark

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Whistle Down The Wind
The Long Shadow
Source: filmdates.co.uk

June 1961: First four Richard Gordon ‘Doctor’ books published by Penguin

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We’re jumping forward a little here because although these four books were published in paperback in June 1961, I didn’t get hold of a copy of the first, Doctor in the House, until late August or early September. We were on holiday in Polzeath, where there was a small bookshop near to the corner of the beach. I distinctly remember going inside and spotting a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on the shelf. I was of course too nervous to pick this up, let alone buy it, but I did buy a copy of the Richard Gordon novel. 

More to follow.

With The Beatles

The Beatles spent the entire month of June playing a residency at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, and played 30 gigs in total, one gig every day. They also recorded a series of singles, some with Tony Sheridan on vocals and others on their own. The sessions took place on 22 June, 23 June and 24 June.

The month’s UK Top Tens

1 June 1961
1. Surrender: Elvis Presley
2. Runaway: Del Shannon
3. Frightened City: The Shadows
4. More Than I Can/Staying In: Bobby Vee
5. Blue Moon: The Marcels
6. On The Rebound: Floyd Cramer
7. Don’t Treat Me Like a Child: Helen Shapiro
8. You’ll Never Know: Shirley Bassey
9. You’re Driving Me Crazy: Temperance Seven
10. What’d I Say: Jerry Lee Lewis

8 June 1961
1. Surrender: Elvis Presley
2. Runaway: Del Shannon
3. Frightened City: The Shadows
4. More Than I Can/Staying In: Bobby Vee
5. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
6. Don’t Treat Me Like a Child: Helen Shapiro
7. On The Rebound: Floyd Cramer
8. You’ll Never Know: Shirley Bassey
9. Blue Moon: The Marcels
10. What’d I Say: Jerry Lee Lewis

15 June 1961
1. Surrender: Elvis Presley
2. Runaway: Del Shannon
3. Frightened City: The Shadows
4. More Than I Can/Staying In: Bobby Vee
5. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
6. You’ll Never Know: Shirley Bassey
7. Don’t Treat Me Like a Child: Helen Shapiro
8. Have A Drink On Me: Lonnie Donegan
9. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
10. I’ve Told Every Little Star: Linda Scott

22 June 1961
1. Surrender: Elvis Presley
2. Runaway: Del Shannon
3. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
4. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
5. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
6. Frightened City: The Shadows
7. I’ve Told Every Little Star: Linda Scott
8. You’ll Never Know: Shirley Bassey
9. Little Devil: Neil Sedaka
10: Pasadena: Temperance Seven

29 June 1961
1. Runaway: Del Shannon
2. Surrender: Elvis Presley
3. Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man: Ricky Nelson
4: Pasadena: Temperance Seven
5. Temptation: The Everly Brothers
6. Frightened City: The Shadows
7. Halfway To Paradise: Billy Fury
8. But I Do: Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry
9. Running Scared: Roy Orbison
10. I’ve Told Every Little Star: Linda Scott

Source: officialcharts.com

Films released this month

Taste of Fear

Flame in the Streets

Source: filmdates.co.uk

May 1961: Spurs win the Double. Those Glory Glory Days

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It may be 60 years since Spurs won the Double but, doing the maths, it’s sobering to think that it’s also now 38 years since the first and only time I saw Julie Welch’s 1983 TV film, Those Glory Glory Days. I still remember what a gem it was.

So, as I have already written about Spurs and the famous Double season, I thought this month I would cover the climax of the two competitions via the medium of the Welch film.

Those Glory Glory Days starts in the 1980s with a female sports journalist at White Hart Lane having to put up with a lot of casual sexism in the press box, with one of the main protagonists played by Richard Wilson. As she leaves, she bumps into Danny Blanchflower, played by himself, also working as a sports writer. He gives her a lift, something that actually happened to Julie Welch in real life, as she says in this article: “I met Danny for the first time in early September 1974, at Selhurst Park, and he really did give me a lift back to Fleet Street afterwards. It’s always difficult meeting God, but he was always brilliant to me. Incredibly talkative. A fine, fine man. Always my hero, for ever!”

More to follow

With The Beatles

The Beatles spent the entire month of May playing a residency at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, and played 000 gigs in total.

The month’s UK Top Tens

4 May 1961
1. Blue Moon: The Marcels
2. Wooden Heart: Elvis Presley
3. You’re Driving Me Crazy: The Temperance Seven
4. Gee Whiz It’s You: Cliff Richard
5. War Paint: The Brook Brothers
6. Are You Sure: The Allisons
7. Don’t Treat Me Like a Child: Helen Shapiro
8. Theme From Dixie: Duane Eddy
9. African Waltz: Johnny Dankworth
10. Where The Boys Are/Baby Roo: Connie Francis

11 May 1961

18 May 1961

25 May 1961

Films released this month

The Curse of the Werewolf
The Shadow of the Cat
Double Bunk
Where the Boys Are
Spare the Rod
Les Nymphettes
Don’t Bother to Knock

April 1961: Yuri Gagarin becomes first man in space

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For an 11 year old boy, April brought the biggest news of the year: a man went into space. At 6.07 Moscow Time on Wednesday 12 April 1961, a Vostock rocket took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on board. The spaceflight undertook a single orbit around the earth, skimming the upper atmosphere at 169 km high at its lowest point. The flight took 108 minutes from launch to landing. Gagarin landed on the ground in the Saratov region of the USSR inside the capsule, after the parachute opened at an altitude of 7km.

Not surprisingly, this story dominated the news around the world.

More to follow.

March 1961: Nicolaus Silver wins the Grand National

Pic: eBay

In 1961, we still went to school on Saturday mornings, but the afternoon was our own. Usually that meant Grandstand, and viewing it would trigger a lifetime habit of watching sport on TV.

Throughout the 1960s the BBC added various sports to its Saturday line up on Grandstand: Test matches, Wimbledon, Five Nations rugby, the Open, the FA Cup Final, the Boat Race.  Pride of place one spring afternoon every year was always given to the Grand National, an event that it had started televising in 1960.

A little remembered fact about the 1961 running of the National was the participation of two horses from the Soviet Union, Reljef and Grifel. A third Russian horse had also been sent, but didn’t run.

More to follow.

With The Beatles

The Beatles played 000 gigs in the Liverpool area in March 1961.

The month’s UK Top Tens

2 March 1961
1. Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes: The Everly Brothers
2. Sailor: Petula Clark
3. Are You Lonesome Tonight: Elvis Presley
4. Are You Sure: The Allisons
5. Will You Love Me Tomorrow: The Shirelles
6. Who Am I/This is It: Adam Faith
7. FBI: The Shadows
8. Calendar Girl: Neil Sedaka
9. You’re Sixteen: Johnny Burnette
10. Riders in the Sky: The Ramrods

9 March 1961

16 March 1961

23 March 1961

30 March 1961

Films released this month

The Rebel

The Fiercest Heart

Source: Filmdates.co.uk