Music – 1960s

Barbara McNair

Brenda Holloway had one genuine rival in the Motown glamour stakes. The delectable Barbara McNair from Racine, Wisconsin, even went into the annals as the first Motown artiste to pose for Playboy, in October 1968. In truth, McNair wasn't in Holloway's class as an outright soul singer, but that wasn't why Berry Gordy signed her up(...)

Barbara Randolph

Having got the thumbs down from Diana Ross when she auditioned for a place with the post-Florence Ballard Supremes, one-time lead singer of The Platters Barbara Randolph released just two singles for Berry Gordy's stable - covers of The Four Tops' I Got A Feeling and Marvin Gaye's Can I Get A Witness, both proving perfect vehicles for(...)

Barclay James Harvest

Barclay James Harvest

From softly focused pastoral passages at the end of the 60s to more muscular rock-outs two decades later, Barclay James Harvest were never a band to wallow in their own heritage. Pompous enough to be labelled the "poor man's Moody Blues" but sufficiently self-aware to call one of their songs just that, the young BJH released(...)

Barron Knights, The

The Barron Knights formed in 1959 in Leighton Buzzard, and their first brush with fame came in 1963 when they appeared as a support act at The Beatles' Christmas shows in London. Although they would ultimately find fame as a comedy parody cabaret act, they actually started off as a straight beat combo playing the same Reeperbahn(...)

Beach Boys, The

Spent the last 55 years with a lost tribe in the Amazon? In that case, here's a band you should know about... Brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson joined forces with their cousin Mike Love, and David Marks, in the summer of 1961, releasing the first single, Surfin'. A minor hit, it was overshadowed the following(...)

Beatlemania

Beatlemania

By 1963 the newspapers were calling it "Beatlemania" - and there was no doubt that Britain was in love with The Beatles. Screaming fans clogged the streets around the London Palladium when the Liverpool rock group starred in a TV show, caused traffic jams at airports - incidentally delaying the new Prime Minister - and bought(...)

Beatles, The

Beatles, The

So it goes like this . . . 15-year-old Paul McCartney hears a Skiffle group called The Quarrymen play on Saturday 6 July 1957. Along with a police dog display and the crowning of a Rose Queen, The Quarrymen are one of the attractions at a garden fete of St Peter's, the parish church of Woolton in Liverpool. The(...)

Beatstalkers, The

Formed in Glasgow in 1962, The Beatstalkers were sometimes referred to as "the Scottish Beatles" in their early days. Their live repertoire mixed R&B-flavoured originals with black American music and less well known Rolling Stones songs. The group built up a loyal audience around Glasgow before moving South to London in 1965 when they were(...)

Beau Brummels, The

Formed in San Francisco in 1964 and most famous for their haunting mid-60s faux British Invasion-cum-folk rock, The Beau Brummels were also among the first notable bands to delve into Nashville-recorded country rock. They enjoyed a 1965 hit with the single Laugh, Laugh which was more polished than the usual garage rock fare. Produced by Sly Stone(...)

Bee Gees, The

The Bee Gees - the name is an acronym of "The Brothers Gibb" - are indisputably one of the most popular recording acts of all time. Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb have sold more than 100 million records. The trio were so incredible in the 1960s in a psychedelic pop way and yet transitioned so(...)

Ben E. King

Ben E King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina, in September 1938. After moving to New York in 1949 he was reputedly discovered by Lover Patterson of The Five Crowns and joined his doo-wop group. In 1959 The Crowns became The Drifters after the original outfit of that name split up, and(...)

Berry Gordy Jr

Berry Gordy's family, like thousands of others, had moved from the southern states of the USA to Detroit, whose automobile industry in the years between World War I and World War II was a massive honeypot to Americans keen for a good wage and the promise of a better life. After World War II, among(...)

Beryl Marsden

Merseybeat was a male-dominated sound. Cilla Black and Beryl Marsden were the best-known female performers, but rather than form backing bands of their own, they sang with established groups. Beryl Marsden (no relation to Gerry) worked with Lee Curtis & The All Stars for a while and made her first single when she was only 16.(...)

Betty Everett

Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1939, Betty Everett was playing piano and singing in church by the age of nine. In 1957, she moved to Chicago where she cut religious songs for small labels before being discovered by Calvin Carter of Vee-Jay Records in 1963. That same year her second single for Vee-Jay, You're No Good,(...)

Bettye Lavette

Bettye Lavette

Bettye LaVette was born Betty Haskins in Muskegon, Michigan on 29 January 1946. Raised in Detroit, she was signed by a local record producer called Johnnie Mae Matthews and in 1962, aged sixteen, she recorded her first single, My Man He's A Lovin' Man. The song became a Top 10 R&B hit after Atlantic Records bought the distribution(...)

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