The Troggs

The Troggs became one of Britain’s most salient and distinctive bands of the mid-to-late 1960s. Unlike much of its material, the group did not write its initial hit, “Wild Thing”, which has been covered many times by artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Tommy Roe, Jeff Beck, The Runaways, The Creatures, Sam Kinison, and Tone Loc. The song was written by New Yorker, Chip Taylor, a brother to actor, Jon Voight. The recording of “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, in 1966, made the song an instant classic.

The group arose from near the town of Winchester — famous for its cathedral — in southern England, and from 1966 until 1968 consisted of leading vocalist and the band’s principal songwriter, Reg Presley; guitarist, Chris Britton; bassist, Peter Staples and drummer, Ronnie Bond. “With A Girl Like You”, written by Reg, was the quartet’s follow-up to “Wild Thing”, and went to No.1 in Britain, as well as a number of European countries.

Reg Presley’s ability to write songs at either end of the musical spectrum is made no more stark than when one listens to the overtly sexual, “I Can’t Control Myself”, followed by the reflective poignancy of “Love Is All Around”. The latter has been revived by the likes of R.E.M. and the Scottish group, Wet Wet Wet. Unlike so many other artists in the retrospective 1990s, Wet Wet Wet’s cover was highly meritorious and spent fifteen weeks atop the British charts. What a pity so many other revivalists of that musically best-forgotten decade did not follow suit!

I have always thought that The Troggs’ “Little Girl” deserved to sell better than it did. Its controversial subject matter deals with having a child out of wedlock, and, in 1968, for this reason, was generally shunned by radio stations.

Reg Presley died in February of 2013, at the age of seventy-one.

The names of other tracks by The Troggs are available in the suggested playlists. A list of my favourite recordings can now be located in the suggested playlists.

Joe Dolan

On Boxing Day in 2007, Joe Dolan passed away from a cerebral haemorrhage, in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, at the age of sixty-eight. The Irish singer and entertainer had been born in County Westmeath, in October of 1939. Joe, the youngest of eight children, had lost his father, when he was eight, and his mother, at fifteen.

His first single, “The Answer To Everything”, was released in September of 1964. My favourite recording of Joe’s is “Pretty Brown Eyes”, from 1966.

Many singles were to come, with the likes of “Make Me An Island” (1969) and “You’re Such A Good Looking Woman” (1970), doing much to make him a global star.

The names of other recordings by Joe Dolan can be located in the suggested playlists. A list of my favourite recordings can now be found in the suggested playlists.

Del Shannon

Charles Weedon Westover was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in December of 1934. In 1954, he was drafted into the army and deployed to serve in Germany. There, in his spare time, he played the guitar in a band.

Once his military service had expired he returned to Michigan, where he worked as a truck driver. In the evenings he played rhythm guitar in a group, of which, in 1958, he was to become its leader and singer, under the name of Charlie Johnson.

Recordings of this group, The Big Little Show Band, were sent to Detroit, and, in 1960, Charles was signed to a contract. Under the name of Del Shannon he was assigned not only to record, but to write songs as well.

Del’s rise was meteoric, as his single, “Runaway”, went to No.1 on Billboard’s chart in April of 1961. “Hats Off To Larry” was to perform almost as well.

His success in America waned after that, however, across the Atlantic the opposite was the case. In Britain, between 1961 and 1965, Del had eight singles enter the Top 10 on the British charts. He became the first American to cover a recording by The Beatles, “From Me To You”. The British duo, Peter and Gordon, recorded “I Go To Pieces”, a song written by Del, in 1964. Although it did not chart in America or Britain, it did in Australia.

Unfortunately, depression and alcoholism punctuated Del’s later life and in February of 1990, at the age of fifty-five, he used a rifle to suicide at his home in Santa Clarita, California.

The names of more tracks by Del Shannon can be found in the suggested playlists.

The Lovin’ Spoonful

John Sebastian was introduced to Zal Yanovsky, who was from Toronto, by ‘Mama’ Cass Elliott of The Mamas and The Papas. When the pair was joined by drummer, Joe Butler and bass guitarist, Steve Boone, The Lovin’ Spoonful was complete.

John, a native of New York City, presented the band with a number of original songs he had written. He and Zal were devotees of folk music, whereas Joe and Steve had come to the band from playing rock and roll in the bars of Long Island. Consequently, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s creation was to meld folk music with that of rock.

“Do You Believe In Magic”, which sounds as fresh today as it did then, was released in August of 1965. It was to introduce a succession of masterly singles, each considerably different to the one or ones that preceded it.

During its relatively brief time together, the quartet also released seven albums: ‘Do you Believe In Magic’ (1965), ‘Daydream’ (1966), ‘Hums Of The Lovin’ Spoonful’ (1966), ‘What’s Up Tiger Lily?’ (1966), ‘You’re A Big Boy Now’ (1967), ‘Everything Playing’ (1968) and ‘Revelation: Revolution ’69’.

As a solo artist John Sebastian’s indisputable talents were to provide us with the No.1 hit, “Welcome Back”, in 1976, the theme to the television series, ‘Welcome Back Kotter’, which heralded the rise of a young John Travolta as an actor.

The names of more singles by The Lovin’ Spoonful can be found in the suggested playlists.

Marcie Blane

American female singer, Marcie Blane — who was born as Marcia Blank, in May of 1944, in New York City — was one of many ‘one-hit wonders’ of the 1960s although the hit she did have, “Bobby’s Girl”, in 1962, was to sell in excess of a million copies.

In the United Kingdom, this hit was covered by Susan Maughan, who successfully deprived Marcie of receiving royalties from there.

Bing Crosby’s Death:Saturday, 15th October, 1977

Via a news bulletin, at 8.30 a.m., I heard of the death of crooner, Bing Crosby, at the age of seventy-three. He had collapsed on a golf course in Spain whilst playing the game with three Spanish professionals. In the same bulletin I heard that Mount Everest’s conqueror, Sir Edmund Hillary, is seriously ill, some five thousand metres up in the Himalayas, yet can’t be brought down due to bad weather. Sir Edmund is fifty-seven years of age.

For the first time in ages, I weighed myself. I am only eleven stone two. We drove, in drizzle, to Miranda Fair. In Myer, Tiki stood in a queue for twenty minutes to pay $6.30 (a discount of ten per cent had reduced it from $7.00) for a dark blue cardigan. It is a birthday present for her younger sister, Wendy.

In the high humidity, I drove to town, via Redfern, eventually parking in the Kent Street parking station, at the rear of the Hoyts Cinema complex. I paid $3.25 for each of us to see “Rocky” (voted the Best Film of 1976), written by its principal actor, Sylvester Stallone. Prior to this, a film, on Mount Warning and Surfers Paradise, had been followed by a poor cartoon featuring two blue anteaters. During the interval we each devoured a packet of crisps.

At a quarter to five, we crossed Kent Street in the rain and I drove to Manly. As we were entering a marked lane on the Harbour Bridge, a light blue Holden sedan attempted to push up on the inside of our vehicle and had to brake suddenly, in the wet conditions. The young couple, with children, knew that they were in the wrong. As we crossed The Spit Bridge, it was mentioned on the ‘2UW News’, at 5.00, that “Ming Dynasty” (9/1), trained by Bart Cummings, had won the one hundredth running of the Caulfield Cup, from “Unaware” and “Salamander”.

I parked in the asphalt car park on Wentworth Street, facing the old buildings at its eastern end. Once inside ‘K’s Snapper Inn’ we were shown to the same table, in the rear section of the restaurant, that we had occupied a few weeks ago. A seafood cocktail, curried scallops, pavlova¬† with ice-cream for Tiki; scallops kebab, a king prawn salad, pavlova with ice-cream for me — two glasses of lemon squash each, two cups of cappucino: all for $20.80.

Tiki requested that I drive to Tania Park, at Dobroyd Point, to look out through the rain at the lights. Ours was the only car there and when another containing four youths stopped suspiciously before slowly moving by, we agreed that we should drive on, in case it should appear again. This time, I drove to Edgecliffe Esplanade, at Seaforth, and we looked out over The Spit. At 8.00, we left for home and found it to be bone dry on the southern side of the city. We arrived home by 8.50 and watched most of the movie, ‘Doctor In Trouble’ (1970), with Leslie Phillips and Harry Secombe.

Ten Seconds’ Viewing: Thursday, 18th August, 1977

It has been a pleasant sunny day, yet again, with a maximum of nineteen degrees Celsius. This afternoon one of Tiki’s workmates was losing his patience because he had asked thrice, over the public-address system, for a Mr. Ferrett to come to the office. I didn’t help matters when I volunteered: “Perhaps he’s out chasing a rabbit!”

“Flashez” screened at 5.30 p.m.; 6.00 (and also on Channel Two), “Wild, Wild World Of Animals” looks at the chimpanzee; 7.00, “Willesee”; and, at 8.30, a new “Benny Hill Show”.

More than 13,000 people have fought to see Elvis’s body, for just ten seconds, as it lay in a huge copper-lined coffin. The body was dressed in a white suit, light blue shirt and silver tie. President Carter said today that Elvis was unique and irreplaceable.

Elvis’s mother died on the 14th of August, in 1958. He adored her and died within two days of her obit – on the 16th August (American time).

The No.1 song at the moment, in Sydney, is “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” by Joe Tex.

A Somewhat Similar Theme: Monday, 16th May, 1977

I awoke at 6.30 a.m. from a deep sleep. A heavy overcast is accompanied by a strong wind but it is not raining. At noon I turned on Channel Nine and “The Mike Walsh Show”. Guests include the Scottish singer, Andy Stewart, who is forty-three years of age and dressed in a kilt, and actress, Elaine “Number 96” Lee. At two o’clock, in today’s edition of the series, “Medical Center”, Dr. Joe Gannon (Chad Everett) falls in love with a nurse (Barbara Anderson), only to learn that her long lost husband has been located in a Vietcong prison camp. The couple had been married for just three days when he left for Vietnam and have a son who is now ten years of age.

The basis of the plot is somewhat like that used in the programme from the series, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which was screened last Saturday week.

In “Mannix” — which has Mike “Tightrope” Connors cast in the title role as a private detective — a girl, who has been in a coma for a year, regains consciousness and solves the hit-and-run crime by remembering who was at the wheel of the vehicle that struck her.

It is only sixteen degrees Celsius with a heavy overcast that is still threatening to dump more rain on Sydney’s southern suburbs.

This year’s winner of the Sydney Cup, “Reckless”, trained by “Phar Lap’s” strapper, Tommy Woodcock, started at even money when he won this afternoon’s running of the Adelaide Cup, from “Straight Up”.

On Channel Two, at half past five, “Flashez” features music presented by Australian singer, Ray Burgess. It is followed, at 6.00, by “The Big Match”, in which Ipswich defeated West Ham by two goals to nil. Cliff Richard is being interviewed by funny man, Paul Makin, on “Willesee”, at 7.00, on Channel Seven. Cliff — born Harry Roger Webb, in Lucknow, India — will be thirty-seven years of age in October, but looks a deal younger. His career began in 1958 when he recorded his first hit, “Move It”.

From half past seven, on Channel Seven, “The Dick Emery Show”; 8.00, Channel Two, “In The Wild” with Harry Butler: a visit to an oasis in the Great Sandy Desert makes us aware of some of the animals that have become extinct in the relatively short period of white Australian history. The seventeenth episode of “Rich Man, Poor Man: Book 2” screens, on Channel Seven, from half past eight.

John Gibbs: Saturday, 7th May, 1977

At noon, following “Sounds Unlimited” on Channel Seven, there is a repetition from the series, “Sonny And Cher”. From one o’clock, on the same channel, a British documentary, “Survival”, features the ‘darting’ of roan antelopes, via the use of a helicopter, in South-West Africa and the transportation of the tranquillised animals to the safety of a national park. We arrived home at a quarter past four and saw the last fifteen minutes of the live telecast of Australian Rules from V.F.L. Park, in Melbourne. Collingwood thrashed Carlton by 152 points to 50. Malcolm T. Elliott hosts the programme from the studios of Channel Seven in Sydney. “Jeopardy”, followed from five and half an hour later, “It’s Academic”. Both are on Channel Seven and are a test of school children’s general knowledge. Andrew Harwood comperes the pair.

At six o’clock, on Channel Two, “Top Saturday League” offered its edited delayed replay of this afternoon’s match between the North Sydney ‘Bears’ and the Manly-Warringah ‘Sea Eagles’, which was played at North Sydney Oval. The latter led by 13-0 at half-time, with the highlight of this half undoubtedly being John Gibbs’ great individual try. The diminutive, fleet-footed half-back, who runs with his head back, literally ran through the whole of the North Sydney team to score under the posts. Gibbs scored again in the second half after he had kicked ahead and regathered the ball; and played a major part in the scoring of two other tries during the course of the match. Although Manly-Warringah won by 24-10, it played unimpressively as a team, perhaps feeling somewhat jaded after its 8-16 loss to the Eastern Suburbs ‘Roosters’ in a round of the midweek Amco Cup competition, last Wednesday night.

At half past seven, on Channel Nine, there is a movie-length programme of the dramatic series, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which is set during the Second World War. Squadron leader, ‘Pappy’ Boyington, played by the short Robert “Hawaiian Eye”/”The Wild, Wild West” Conrad, falls in love with a woman whose husband is missing in action, only to learn that he has been found alive.


The Centenary Test: Saturday, 12th March, 1977

The Centenary Test between Australia and England began this morning at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. England’s captain, Tony Greig, won the toss and sent Australia in to bat. John Lever had Ian Davis trapped l.b.w. when the slim right-handed batsman had scored only five runs. Davis’s opening partner, Rick McCosker, did not last for much longer, cutting a ball from the tall, lanky right-arm speedster, Bob Willis, up into his face, only to have the ball, from there, drop on to his stumps.

Cosier was dismissed for ten and century-maker extraordinaire, David Hookes, playing in his first Test, came to the wicket with the score at 3-23. Hookes quickly added seventeen runs before he was caught by Greig, from the bowling of Chris Old when the total was forty-five. Walters was dismissed for four, in trying to hook a delivery from a metre outside of his off stump and Australia was 5-52, with Greg Chappell having been in for one and a half hours in order to score just eight runs.

Rod Marsh (28), Gary Gilmour (4), Kerry O’Keeffe (0), all fell in quick succession and, at tea, Australia was reeling at 8-126.

“Ngawyni” won the Australia Cup at Flemington and “Somerset Pride”, the Marlboro Classic at Rosehill.

Greg Chappell was bowled, by the left-arm spin of Underwood, for forty (9-136), when his patience finally ran out. One of my favourite racehorses, at present, “Blue’s Finito”, from Queensland, finished second in the last at Rosehill. Max Walker was bowled by Underwood for two, Lillee remained not out 10 and Australia was all out for just 138.

Woolmer and Brearley opened for England, at 5.00 p.m. Woolmer (9) was caught Chappell bowled Lillee when the English total was on nineteen and, at stumps, the score had moved to 1-29 with Brearley on twelve and the nightwatchman, Derek Underwood, on five.

At half past six, a programme of the “Holmes And Yoyo” series was screened and, an hour later, “100 Not Out” examines Test cricket played between England and Australia since that inaugural contest in 1877. Sydney’s maximum reached twenty-nine degrees Celsius.