1967 — David Bowie records “The Laughing Gnome”

Bowie himself regards it as one of his worst songs.

He’s not wrong. The Alvin and the Chipmunks high-voices, the tortured puns… it’s just horrible. Except for the music. Musically, it’s one of the strongest pieces of his work to that time. It’s the lyrics that let it down.

However, on the plus side, Bowie performed it for an audition in 1968 and failed to get the part – which meant that he continued to record pop music instead of pursuing a career in cabaret.

Referenced in:
No More Fun — Roger Taylor

1967 — Jimi Hendrix releases “Purple Haze”

Widely hailed as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, and probably the greatest psychedelic rock song, “Purple Haze” is not actually about drugs, psychedelic or otherwise. According to Hendrix (who wrote the lyrics and music), it’s mostly about falling in love – although it’s possible that the whole song is happening on Neptune (Hendrix was a big science fiction fan, and frequently used elements of it in his songs). In fact, Hendrix gave different explanations at different times – although he always strenuously denied that it was about drug use.

According to the track’s producer, Chas Chandler (no, not that Chas Chandler), Hendrix began writing it on Boxing Day, 1966. “Purple Haze” was recorded in a four hour session on January 11, 1967 at De Lane Lea Studios in London, and released in the UK a little over two months later. (It would not be released in the US until June 19.) It would become a Top Ten hit in the UK and other European nations, but fare less well in the US, where strong sales of the album it featured on as track one (“Are You Experienced?”) harmed sales of the single despite heavy radio play.

It remains one of the most well known and popular Hendrix songs.

Referenced in:
The End of the Line — The Travelling Wilburys

1967 — The Beatles release “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Originally recorded for “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, it was instead decided to release “Strawberry Fields Forever” as a double-A side with “Penny Lane”. It is widely regarded as one of the best songs the Beatles ever made, and one of the greatest exemplars of psychedelic rock.

The song was a top ten hit in the UK and the USA, and reached #1 in Norway and Austria, and was finally included on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album release. It remains one of the most popular Beatles songs, frequently covered by other artists. After John Lennon’s murder, a memorial was created for him in Central Park, New York City, and named after the song.

Referenced in:
Glass Onion — The Beatles

1967 — The County Borough of Blackburn reports on its potholes

The County Borough of Blackburn was, in 1967, the governing body of the Blackburn area. Blackburn is an industrial town in Lancashire, but one that was declining as a result of the cotton industry’s slow fading away. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that in that year, the roads in the borough had 4000 potholes in them – one for every 26 people living in the affected area.

The newspaper story about this incident, extrapolating from these figures, calculated that there must be two million such potholes in Britain’s roads, with 15% of them (300,000) in London. The fact that there are 4000 holes there is probably the single most widely-known fact about Blackburn, although presumably at least some of them have been repaired in the nearly 5 decades since John Lennon drew them to our attention.

Referenced in:
A Day in the Life — The Beatles

1967 – Jayne Mansfield dies in an automobile accident

Jayne Mansfield was one of the great blonde bombshells so beloved of American cinema in the Fifties and Sixties. Along with Mamie van Doren and Marilyn Monroe, Mansfield defined beauty for a generation of American men. By 1967, Mansfield’s star was in decline. Fashions had changed, and left her somewhat behind. She was still a celebrity, but her days of headlining films were coming to an end.

At approximately two thirty in the morning, the car Mansfield was traveling in rear-ended a truck that braked abruptly. Mansfield, her driver Ronnie Harrison and her lover Sam Brophy, all of whom were sitting in the front seat, were killed almost instantly in the impact as the car went under the rear of the truck. Mansfield’s three children, sitting in the backseat, survived with minor injuries.

Referenced in:
Kiss Them For Me — Siouxsie and the Banshees

1967 – The Torrey Canyon oil spill

At its time, the worst ever oil spill, the wreck of the Torrey Canyon spilled more than 32 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of the Atlantic off Cornwall. The ship had collided with Pollard’s Rock on Seven Stones reef between the Cornish mainland and the Isles of Scilly as a result of human errors.

The ship broke up while a refloating was being attempted, leading to the death of one of the workers. In the weeks that followed, the slick from the spill spread to coasts of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and assorted Channel Islands, especially Guernsey. The wreck was bombed, both to set the oil ablaze (and thus remove it from the ocean) and destroy the ship (which now posed a hazard to navigation). Its remains now lie in 30 metres of water off the coast of Cornwall.

Referenced in:
Torrey Canyon — Serge Gainsbourg

1967 – America as a whole becomes aware of Haight-Ashbury

Rightly or wrongly, the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco (i.e. the neighbourhood surrounding the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, in central S.F.) was seen as the centre of the hippie movement of the 1960s. It was an older neighbourhood, a little run down – just the sort of place where bohemian communities have always taken root. But it was a July 7, 1967 cover story on Time magazine: “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture” that took it mainstream for all American to see.

The Man. Always late to the party: by the mid-Sixties, Haight-Ashbury boasted free love, cheap and plentiful drugs, and a thriving live music and theatre scene, albeit much of it so experimental and inept (but deeply, deeply felt) that it could never have been commercially successful – which was at least half the point for a number of artists. But during 1967, the year of the “Summer of Love”, it really took off. The media couldn’t get enough of it, and Haight-Ashbury became the destination of pilgrimages and migrations of disaffected youths all over America.

Referenced in:

Sick Man of Europe – Cheap Trick

1967 – Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt born

Nina Gordon was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1967. It was here that her friend Lili Taylor introduced her to Louise Post. This simple introduction would radically change the courses of both women’s lives.

In 1993, Gordon and Post formed the band Veruca Salt, which originally had a sound not unlike that of the Indigo Girls. However, with the addition of Gordon’s brother, Jim Shapiro, on drums, and Steve Lack on bass, the band began gigging, and soon recorded their first (and best known) song, “Seether”, which was a hit for the band. Gordon and Post eventually had a falling out that led to Gordon leaving the band in 1998; while the two have since mended fences, they are not as close as they once were.

Referenced in:

The Chanukah Song (Part II) — Adam Sandler

1967 – “How I Won The War” premieres

It was John Lennon’s debut in an all-acting role – it’s just a pity it wasn’t a better film. “How I Won The War” was a British film focusing on the exploits of a fictional military unit during WOrld War Two. It was intended to be a satirical retelling of the war, a humourous look at how a group of well-meaning incompetents lucked into saving the war.

It was critically panned, and a commercial failure despite the attention that Lennon’s casting brought it. About all that anyone remembers of it today it that it was for this film that Lennon adopted his now trademark circle-rimmed glasses, and that, of course, he mentioned it in a song on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Referenced in:

A Day in the Life — The Beatles

1967 – Peter Allen and Liza Minelli marry

It must have seemed quite the fairytale romance at the time. Peter Allen, the Boy from Oz, all of 23 years old; Liza Minelli, two years his junior; both of them just on the cusp of the stardom that would define their later lives; neither of them married before.

The marriage would last a little over seven years, ending in divorce in July of 1974. Minelli would marry another three times, divorcing each time. Allen would never marry again, becoming more comfortable and out about his sexuality, and spending most of the rest of his life in a steady relationship with his long time partner Gregory Connell.

Referenced in:
Tenterfield Saddler — Peter Allen

1967 – The first issue of Rolling Stone hits the stands

From slight beginnings, Rolling Stone magazine would go on to become one of the world’s great organs of music journalism, while also gaining respect for its excellent political reportage. The brain child of Jann Wenner, who started in San Francisco with borrowed money, it differed from most of the underground press at that time by eschewing radical politics (while still being notably left-leaning) and aspiring to standards of professional journalism.

One of their early successes was the serialisation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in its pages, the first publication of that legendary work. Aside from Thompson, notable writers for Rolling Stone have included Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, P.J. O’Rourke and Matt Taibbi.

Referenced in:

The Cover of the Rolling Stone — Dr Hook and the Medicine Show

Never fear, Hook fans: they were finally featured on the cover of the Rolling Stone (albeit as a caricature rather than a photo). It is unknown how many copies they bought for their mothers.

1967 – Jim Morrison dragged from the stage by the police

On December 9th, 1967, The Doors performed at the New Haven Arena in New Haven, Conneticut.

Accounts vary as to what motivated Morrison, but it is generally agreed that he launched into an extended rant in which he belittled the New Haven Police Department. The police invaded the stage, arresting Morrison and dragging him away, abruptly ending the concert. In response, the crowd rioted while the police booked Morrison on charges of indecency and public obscenity.

This incident helped to solidify Morrison’s reputation as a counter-culture hero and spokesman to his fans, and as a petulant drunkard to many others.

Referenced in:

Morrison Hostel — This Is Serious Mum
Peace Frog — The Doors

1967 – Jimi Hendrix releases “Castles Made Of Sand”

Jimi Hendrix’s brother Leon always claimed that the song was about their family – Jimi had told him so – but most people seem happier with the broader interpretation of the song as a meditation on the impermanence of all things, both good and bad.

Whatever the truth may be – and as with all art, isn’t the truth that works for you sufficient? – “Castles Made of Sand” was the second track on the second side of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s second album. It was never released as a single, although it did become one of Hendrix’ more popular songs, and the album it was from “Axis: Bold as Love”, was ranked at 82 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003.

Referenced in:

That Says It All – Duncan Sheik