Me & Grandma just before 1960 started, in Gloucester in our Sunday best.
Right. I was born in January 1958 right at the start of the year, and Harry Belafonte topped the charts with Mary’s Boy Child in the UK. I was born in the house we lived in, in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, as was my mum, and my younger brother. Dad joined the RAF, and pretty much by 1960 we are off travelling about on postings, Gloucester and Germany first up. My earliest memories are of Germany. Just fragments. I got into music pretty much as soon as I can remember, though everything is a bit jumbled up for the first five years – I can’t place where or when I heard the records on the list for the most part, I just know that I have always remembered loving, or at least liking, them.
Tin Bath time, outdoors in Mansfield, boiled from a kettle, no hot water, no central heating, outside WC, no bathroom. “You were lucky! We lived in a paper bag! But we were ‘appy!”
Obviously I wasn’t aware of the music charts in 1960 through to early 1963, but I was very aware of pop music. Dad and mum both loved it, dad had some old 78’s of David Whitfield and the like and some sort of ancient player to listen to them on. The first specific music memory I have is of a 78rpm shellac record I loved getting sat on and broken. Life can be so cruel! I was probably 3 or 4, as we were back in Mansfield again. We may have had a couple from the movie, I kind of think Some Day My Prince Will Come also featured, but I very much know we had one of them:
I’M WISHING/WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
I loved the song I’m Wishing, and the echoes from the wishing well. Back in those days Disney songs were always on holiday specials devoted to keeping the back catalogue and new stuff popular on TV and resissued in the cinema. The first film I saw was Bambi, mum took me in and cried on my head when Bambi’s mum got shot, apparently – I was a toddler and have no memory of it at all!
So on with the rundown of 1960, the first year when some songs meant something to me as I grew up, most probably as oldies in the first few years afterwards. The rules? Just the one song I loved most that was in the UK charts of that week (My “Number One”) until another track came along that I loved more, or the same, or until it dropped out of the charts. This gives it a rough chronological accuracy, even if the order may be haywire and later than I think:
So the oldest record to chart that I loved first?
LITTLE WHITE BULL – Tommy Steele (9 weeks)
Tommy Steel was everywhere in the early 60’s and I’m pretty sure I saw the movie it came from Tommy The Toreador. Tommy was big in the 50’s as a sort of Brit rocker/showman, but by this time he was well into family entertainer mode. The song appealed to kids, and popped up for many years afterwards on Ed Stewart’s Juniors Choice, a show where kids requested songs they wanted to hear. Released in late 1959, and certainly a song I was very fond of, and knew well.
THEME FROM A SUMMER PLACE – Percy Faith and His Orchestra (3 weeks)
A theme tune I wouldn’t know about, an instrumental I couldnt have named at all throughout the 60’s and an orchestra leader I didn’t know about till the 70’s, but this gorgeous melody seems to have always been there and evokes waves of nostalgia without being associated with anything in particular. It just sounds great. Still. It’s been in The Simpsons and a myriad pop culture spots over the years, and quite rightly too.
MY OLD MAN’S A DUSTMAN – Lonnie Donegan (11 weeks)
The British skifflemaster passed me by apart from his novelty songs, as novelty songs go this one was HUGE. It was everywhere and was still being sung by kids at school years later, it was referenced by adults, sung by them for fun about me, and I don’t remember never not knowing it. Would it make my list of fave records these days? Nah. Wouldn’t even make my top 100 of 1960, but then I’m not 4-years old anymore 🙂
GOOD TIMIN’ – Jimmy Jones (4 weeks)
I didn’t know who sang it, and I still don’t know much about American black singer Jimmy Jones, I have no memories of Jimmy the singer at all, but I do remember liking this catchy falsetto pop chart-topper whenever I heard it on the radio as an oldie. Jimmy influenced subsequent singers like Del Shannon, and it still sounds fresh to my biased ears. As a kid the best bit? “Tick-a-tick-a-tick-a——TIMIN'” of course!
ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI – Brian Hyland (10 weeks)
If there’s a record that could be called my first pop record obsession, it’s this one, the kiddie-pleasing rhyming title and the subject matter about a shy girl in a bikini, a cultural thing at the time was jolly, catchy, good-natured, and gave Brian a few years of good singles success with decent ballads, such as Sealed With A Kiss, a record so good it charted all over again in 1975 for Brian and topped the charts for Jason Donovan in 1989. Sadly this song also topped the charts again for manic DJ Timmy Mallet under his pseudonym Bombalurina in 1990, doing his very best to kill all my nostalgic fondness for the original. I mean, I was glad kids got to love the song the same way I did almost 20 years earlier – I loved singing the title as pre-school and for at least a decade afterwards! – it was just a shame wholesome clean-cut wistful charm had been replaced with tacky cheese. Mind you I was 32 and not the target audience in any way 🙂