‘Spillyear 1963

At some point last week I think I read a quote from someone, possibly John Peel, saying that 1977 was the best year for popular culture since 1963.

What was so great about 1963 then?

Do you remember where you were when that happened? Did sex really begin between the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP? Were you at the Stones’ first gig (even though you were a toddler/not yet born at the time)?

Listen to the playlist here

Add your top 3 choices here

By the way, I’m worried we may be using up all the best years… anybody want to suggest a really bad year instead?

67 thoughts on “‘Spillyear 1963

    • Didn’t know it at the time but when I finally bought a copy of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (in 1973 I think) my favourite track was (and still is)

      Talkin’ World War Three Blues

      • And, after R/R songs about Control, I can’t get this one out of my head. Knew it and liked it before that but now it’s one of my (500) Desert Island Discs.

        Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me

      • It is still a brilliant album, I just left it on the record player when I got it and played it over and over again. It’s got an authentic crackly sound now.

  1. Starting the playlist off with some obvious ones as usual:

    The Beatles – All My Loving
    As a kid, “With The Beatles” was one of my favourite Beatles LPs.

    Bob Dylan – Masters of War
    As relevant as ever, sadly.

    Martha and the Vandellas – Heat Wave
    For may1366.

  2. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was the first album I ever bought – I had to save up for ages! I was still buying up the Everly Brothers’ back catalogue as the early songs (which I like best) came out on EP, but I didn’t like any of their 1963 singles. I did like The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits however, and it may have been my introduction to country music, which I’ve liked ever since. I also encountered Roy Orbison for the first time in 1963.

    A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
    Silver Threads And Golden Needles – the Everly Brothers
    In Dreams – Roy Orbison

    • Big donds for In Dreams, but it’s the Springfields that I remember singing Silver Threads and Golden Needles, not the Everlys – I haven’t heard their version.

      • It’s on the playlist, Suzi. The song was first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956, and the Everlys recorded it especially for their country hits album.

  3. The year The Beatles really made it big time led me to buy my first LP at the tender age of 10*: With The Beatles. But I’ll go for these memories from Merseybeat instead:

    Billy J. Kramer & The DakotasDo You Want To Know A Secret?
    The Swinging Blue JeansHippy Hippy Shake
    Freddie and the DreamersI’m Telling You Now

    *Is that about when you bought your first album?

  4. i started work in London around 1981 living in Ealing .. there was a disco in a basement opposite Ealing Broadway tube station .. which back in 63 was the club that Blues Incorporated had a residency at, so was where the Stones did their first gig .. it must have been a great time Alexis Korner’s band had Baker, Bruce & Bond, and them, the Stones, the Kinks, Long John Baldy, Screamin’ Lord Sutch were all playing in pubs
    Though Liverpool might have topped it
    Me brother was born in ’63 and calls it the year Man Utd beat Stoke in the cup final .. i was too wee too have noticed that or the fab four .. but when was the first Doctor Who – a i remember that

  5. Hmmm. I was 4. I’ve had a look at the charts and there are so many songs I remember including The Beatles, Elvis and Cliff Richard. As I’ve mentioned before, we used to listen to “Family Favourites” on the radio on a Sunday morning, and I think these are probably the ones that I genuinely remember from that time:

    Trini Lopez – If I had a Hammer
    Roy Orbison – Blue Bayou
    Peter, Paul and Mary – Blowin’ in the Wind

    When I end up doolally in a nursing home, will one of you youngsters please come and play me loads of music? You don’t have to mop up the dribble, just tune me in to an .mp3 player or whatever’s the norm by then.

    • aw, you were very cute (and still are)! I visited Frenchay Museum on Saturday, it was, I’m afraid far from fascinating, but that site was relatively interesting.

    • I remember that snow well, was in a village in West Somerset and it was cut off for several – I was going to say, weeks, but surely not….days, anyway….remember helicopters dropping feed for the animals. Opened the front door and there was a wide frame of snow around the relatively small opening that was left. Went for walks in the snow, it got very deep

  6. 1963 I still hadn’t seen the light, but I reckon I’d have been able to hear what was playing on the radio. I’m nabbing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before anybody else makes off with it – it’s the anthem for FC St Pauli down the road to me as well as being affiliated with other football clubs!

    Gerry & the Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone
    Dusty Springfield – I Only Want To Be With You
    the Searchers – Sweets For My Sweet

    • Donds for the second and third of those….especially Dusty…and I guess for the first one as well, although playing FIFA on X-Box with grandson (a Liverpool fan) and having him belt that number out (rather tunelessly) when he’s winning has somewhat blunted its charm…he nearly always wins, too, dammit

  7. A couple stand out for me, my favourite song from Freewheelin Bob Dylan is
    Corrina, Corrina
    Davey Graham – The Ruby and the Pearl
    and for the film
    Cliff Richard – Summer Holiday

  8. There was one standout song from 1963 for me, it was Telstar by the Tornadoes. We’d spent the winter in southern France and when returning to the UK we discovered that all the cross channel ferry services were cancelled. Someone suggested that we drive to Dieppe and try for a freighter going to Newhaven, so we did and were successful. It was an overnight trip and I recall coming into Newhaven on a beautiful sunny morning, there was a bloke standing on the jetty with a rope waiting for us and he was whistling Telstar, a vivid image that’s stayed with me for 50 odd years.
    Plenty of Ray Charles that year: That lucky old Sun, Busted and Take these chains from my heart to name just a few.
    Dylan/Peter, Paul and Mary – Blowin’ in the wind
    And the Kingmen – Louie, Louie.

    • I was just about to shout: ‘Telstar! How could I forget that amazing thing?’ But it was released (and topped the UK and US charts) in 1962….

  9. Some favourites already picked, including Roy Orbison “In Dreams.’
    Had to add one of my fave Fabs numbers, Twist and Shout, John singing himself hoarse (which is why they always ended the show with that song.) Then The Crystals with Then He Kissed Me, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with Sherry. This is such a fantastic year that it’s hard to pick just 3.

  10. I was 14 in 1963 and inlove with music & dancing. Here’s the first 3 came to mind. There’s a ton of Surf music too. Wipe Out & Pipeline come to mind. Graet year.

    Can I Get A Witness – Marvin Gaye

    Needles & Pins – Jackie De Shannon

    Baby Workout – Jackie Wilson

  11. Donds for Dylan (esp Corina Corina), Marvin Gaye, Peter Paul & Mary, Louie Louie. And Wipeout, becuase i was intending to pick up the slack with the surf music, so i will.

    No trip down memory lane for me here tho, i was two for most of the year. First memory i have i think is when my sister was born and came home from the hospital, so that would have been end of May. Don’t remember anything else really.

    Sam Cooke – Another Saturday Night
    Beach Boys – Surfer Girl
    Beach Boys – In My Room

    cheating a bit maybe, but not much for me that year, really.

  12. The Twist and Shout EP was one of my first ‘purchases’ – my mum bought it for my brother and me. I’ll add ‘A Taste of Honey’ to the earlier ‘Twist and Shout’ nom.

    Something that is almost Pythonesque was The Singing Nun with ‘Domenique’, but I think I’ll go for Andy Williams and ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’.

    I thought The Dave Clark five were a bit different – more ‘stompy’ than a lot of the sweet harmonics coming out at the time (see above). ‘Glad all Over’ is my final choice. See, there’s the rebel in me emerging at the tender age of 9!

  13. P.S. I don’t think there has been a ‘bad year’. I reckon that the Spill ‘taste’ is so eclectic that we can all find something good from any year you care to mention.

    • I thought the same about a ‘bad’ year. I don’t have much of a connection to the early ones, but I can still find 3 tracks that are exceptional from back then, I would say the 00s or the 10s, but I bet I’d be able to find tracks I love in every one of them, albeit not that had troubled the charts much in my case 🙂

      • There have obviously been great records/mp3s in the last 20-odd years but I’m tempted to say that there hasn’t been a ‘great’ year….. but I’m sure shane would disagree! 😉

      • Nah – music has basically been shite since ’95 – don’t know why they bother anymore really it’s all made by Shit Robots*
        (*Shit Robot’s album ‘We Got A Love’ was my album of the year last year – you’d detest it).

  14. Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
    Skeeter Davis – The End Of The World
    Andy Williams – Can’t Get Used To Losing You

  15. Everton – led by the great Harry Catterick – won the League in the 1962-3 season, when Man City were relegated and Man United held on by their fingernails. Ah, the good old days!

  16. Birmingham, 1963

    Dad was working in a garment factory – making girls’ clothing – and apparently the only male employee on the factory floor. Hey, it was a job and he needed the money.
    Mum was a secretary for an insurance company in Nashville.

    1. The Chantays – Pipeline – I’ve always had a love for surf music. Maybe it’s because I can’t surf or even swim and live hundreds of miles from the nearest beach. At its best, it put musical experimentation and exotic instrumental sounds at the forefront while still producing catchy and accessible pop.

    2. Dionne Warwick – Don’t Make Me Over – Great vocals and build on this song. Her best vocal performance.

    3. Bobby Bare – Detroit City – The original version. I have kin who actually made the move to Detroit City in the years between the Wars.

  17. Just noticed the question in the intro: Do you remember where you were when that happened?
    That, I presume, is the assassination of JFK. I do remember: at home. They were very strange times indeed. Even at the time, it all seemed a little weird, particularly when Jack Ruby strolled up and shot Oswald in police custody. Clarification was a long time coming.

    What’s the current Spillview :
    a) Oswald did it, all by himself.
    b) Oswald did it, assisted by the Mafia and/or CIA.
    c) Oswald was purely a stooge and JFK was shot by the Mafia and/or CIA.
    d) Oswald tried to do it but only winged JFK with one shot (the rest missing their target). However, in the confusion, a Secret Service guy in the following car accidentally shot JFK.
    e) None of the above.

    I think d) is correct.

    • From an American –

      Where was i?

      nfc, don’t remember. I had just turned 3.


      Don’t know, don’t care.

    • I too was at home and we watched the story ‘unfold’ on our b&w telly. Of course, the ‘unfolding’ took its time. Not like today, with participants of major diplomatic discussions tweeting the outcomes before they’ve left the room. I’d like to think it was the CIA (who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?), but I fancy it was ‘a’.

    • I was at a scout show (a friend’s brother was in it) and while it was going on I heard a whisper running down the row but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. From the bus on the way home I saw a news placard but couldn’t read it. My mother met me on the doorstep and said “President Kennedy’s been assassinated” and we went in and watched the reports on the telly. The following day we watched the That Was The Week That Was tribute which I found very moving.

      I’ve read Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and can’t remember what I used to think.

    • As mentioned above, I was only five years old for most of 1963. I knew nothing then about JFK’s existence let alone his assassination. For years I thought I could remember hearing about it on a radio news bulletin. Eventually it dawned on me that I was remembering Robert Kennedy’s killing in 1968 when I would have been eight.
      I’m fairly certain that John Peel didn’t kill JKF.

    • I don’t remember all the details but I do know that I was on a bus going from Taunton to Minehead and someone got on at Watchet or maybe = Williton and said, ‘Have you heard the news, President Kennedy’s been shot, they think he’s dead.’ We were all so shocked and incredulous. Feel doubtful anyone would react that way these days to the assassination of any head of state – he seemed to represent hope for the future, including to us Brits. Think we were probably a bit deluded really, although Lyndon Johnson certainly was a lot worse.

  18. Way before my time of course, but I Googled the UK and US charts for 1963 and found that the US charts were much more my cup of tea.

    Will go for:

    Peter, Paul and Mary – Puff the Magic Dragon (a song featured on the first ever record I had as a child – 20 All Time Junior Hits – that I loved. I bought Panthercub a copy of the same LP for his birthday last year and he loves it too, especially this song)
    Jan & Dean – Surf City (just ‘cos it’s two to one!)
    Ronettes – Be My Baby (always great)

      • When The Seekers reformed and toured their “Carnival of Hits” in the early 2000’s people apparently asked for assurances “that you’ll sing my favourite”.
        In many case “my favourite” turned out to be Puff the Magic Dragon.
        “Er.. that wasn’t by us, that was Peter Paul and Mary”.
        In the end they played it anyway.

    • Adding my own donds for Puff! A certain little person is growing up, or just on the brink of it. When he stays with us he likes me to sing to him (people rarely make this request!) I think he knows that he’ll soon be leaving childhood behind and he wants to cling to it for a while longer. This song is all too appropriate. 😦

  19. I was in middle school, science class, when we were told about President Kennedy. No one spoke. There was a palpable silence, in the hallways, the classrooms -as if everyone, and everything stood still, suspended in time. We were dismissed early. and as we filed quietly out, we heard teachers sobbing,..

    Deep Purple – Nino Temple & April Stevens
    Sukiyaki – Kyu Sakamoto
    Blue Velvet ~ Bobby Vinton

  20. Don’t know why I’m telling you this but when Kennedy was shot I was a student, I was also a Fuller Brush salesman – [Google it.]
    It was about 11am, I was on my rounds and I knocked on a door, it was answered by an old Jewish man; “Have you heard the news, the president’s been shot! You’d better come in”. We sat there for the rest of the day staring at his small B&W TV not believing what we were seeing. Stories about a conspiracy began to emerge, much later I was open to such stories. The man was a musician, he played cello with a world famous string quartet but somehow I’ve forgotten which one and also his name.

      • 1999 was the year it was written and that sparked off the question “Could this be the worst year in the history of pop music?” They also slate 1960, 1975, 1987 and 1993.
        If you highlight the text, right-click and choose “open in a new tab” you should see the article. I hope.

    • It’s a fun article, and convincingly argued, even if the author tries a little too hard with that DREARY acronym. But, as it acknowledges, however much dross there is, there’s sure to be some gold to be found.

      Didn’t the Guardian website look funny in 1999!

  21. My three faves would be Louie Louie, Heat Wave, Blue Velvet, Wipeout, Can I Get A Witness. [Unusual Maths – Ed]. But we do need some ska:

    Derrick Morgan: Blazing Fire
    Laurel Aitken: What A Weeping
    Don Drummond: Rock A Way

    I think if I’d been alive and 16 in 1963, I’d’ve been on the boat to Jamaica.

  22. Greetings, all. Yes, it’s been a very long time; an unholy combination of work, health, family crisis, work and work, and I’m just about getting myself back together – have made it onto RR a couple of times in the last month or so, however briefly, and am now back here. Unfortunately I’m in Berlin at the moment and my laptop refuses to cooperate with Audacity so haven’t been able to put any Earworms together – sorry, Ali, I do have some ideas, and will sort this out when I get back to the UK – but I can at least join in here…

    Or not. You’re going to wish that I’d stayed away, but I’ll be curmudgeonly anyway and ask: Who, other than Beatles fans, actually thinks this is a particularly great year for music? As I wasn’t going to be around for a few years, I’ve never had a very clear idea of the differentiation between different years in the early 60s – it’s all basically ‘early 60s’ as far as I’m concerned – and what’s struck me, in trying to find some more songs to suggest, is how much this feels like “a year or so before things get really interesting”. Unless you’re a Beatles fan, I suppose, which I’m not.

    Some of this is obviously personal taste; I’d take Another Side Of… over Freewheelin’…, but I can see why others wouldn’t. But compare the measly return of ‘Come On’ and the other one with the astonishing run of great songs the Stones produced just a year later. In 1963 we’re still waiting for Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis to get their acts properly together to re-invent jazz again; I suppose we have Mingus’ Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and Mingus x 5.

    The Ronettes were fabulous as always, but otherwise give me anything from ’64 onwards rather than this one…

  23. Late to the party, as I’ve been in France, sans internet for the last couple of weeks.

    I was eight at the end of 1963.

    The music I remember from the year has mostly been mentioned, the start of Beatlemania being the biggest one.

    Songwise, a lot of the things I remember liking have mainly been mentioned but I’ll single out;

    The Beatles – “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (which is the first record I ever bought)
    Dusty Springfield – “I Only Want To Be With You”
    Gene Pitney – “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa”

  24. Plenty of great shouts there, and I see Mingus has been mentioned. I was 6 in 1963 and living in a small east sussex village with me mam and dad and brother. My taste has changed somewhat since then and of those not picked so far, these three stand out for my 58 year old ears :
    Try Me – James Brown (Live At The Apollo)
    Mood Indigo – Charles Mingus
    A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan

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