Top 10 Flashback: July 20, 1969 – KHJ Los Angeles


Well, good Sunday, loyal readers!  No, I didn’t go on hiatus again, I was coaxed out of retirement to host a family friend’s wedding reception  Friday night.  Had to set up both the DJ system and a projector/screen for a video slideshow.  Had a great time, saw some people I hadn’t seen since the late 90’s, got to check out a few well-dressed hotties half my age, and made some extra money.  Thinking about hanging my shingle back up.  You can hire me as a DJ or karaoke host for your wedding or other event, or you can just hit me up for a Top 10 flashback!

Today marks 45 years since Neil and Buzz walked on the moon.  Now if you doubt that it happened, fine.  I’m not here to get into that debate.  You may add the word “allegedly” if it makes you feel better.  Poor Michael Collins had to keep the engine running while Armstrong and Aldrin had all the fun and got all the glory.  Seven-year-old T10FB Guy watched the whole thing on my grandparents’ brand new 25″ Zenith color console – never mind that the images were in black and white, it just looked better on that set.

Sure I was listening to the radio then, and if I had grown up in Los Angeles, I most definitely would have been tuned to the legendary KHJ, and The Real Don Steele would have been my favorite personality.  I will not attempt to give even a rough outline of the rich history of Boss Radio, but here’s someone who created the definitive work on this influential format:

Why don’t we slip back to this week in 1969 and hear the top third of KHJ’s Boss 30?  Most of the songs are really swell, and they’re what we were hearing as history was being made nearly a quarter million miles away.  First, let’s listen to the great jingles from the Johnny Mann Singers:

So this is Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed!  Survey dated July 19, 1969, but we’ll pretend it was a day later.

Jr. Walker & The All-Stars – What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)

Just another average Motown song, which means it was superb.  I thought it was cool that my mom liked it, too.

Andy Kim – Baby, I Love You

This cover of the Ronettes’ song may be rather lame, but it still strikes a chord with me because if time travel were to become a reality, the first place I’d set the controls for would be the summer of ’69.  I love even the cheesy songs of that time.  Canadian Andy Kim would have his greatest hit, “Rock Me Gently,” five years later.

Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline

Yes, we all know that the song was written for Caroline Kennedy, who was only 11 at the time.

I don’t see the problem.

Bill Deal & The Rhondels – I’ve Been Hurt

Not one of my favorite groups.  On paper, their songs had all the trappings of late 60’s pop, but the execution sounded forced.  Even their name was a riff on Tommy James & The Shondells.  Sort of like a lot of today’s music in that it was written to conform to what research shows people like instead of from the artists’s vision.  Am I full of shit?  Maybe.

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Some will disagree with me, but this is Kenny’s greatest hit, even though you won’t hear it on the radio today.  It’s hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed, I guess.

Jackie DeShannon – Put A Little Love In Your Heart

If Jackie DeShannon’s only contribution to the world had been Bacharach & David’s “What The World Needs Now,” her place in the pantheon would have been secured.  She actually co-wrote this song, and unlike, say, Bill Deal & The Rhondels’ song above, it had all the elements of a late 60’s production, but didn’t sound forced.  A true classic that radio hardly plays these days.

Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525

This science fiction-influenced warning about the future was one of the biggest hits of the year, and Zager & Evans were the definition of a one-hit wonder.  People bag on this song a lot, but its summer of ’69 goodness keeps it off my personal shitlist.

Winstons – Color Him Father

This excellent soul classic is played on urban contemporary radio every Father’s Day.  Even though it’s actually about a stepfather, it’s pretty much the best “dad” song there is.  If you’ve never heard it before, play it – unless you’re a completely soulless metalhead or hip-hop loving gangsta wannabe, you’ll love this song.

Tommy James & The Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion

What a great song.  Nothing against songs like “Mony Mony” or “I Think We’re Alone Now,” but this and “Crimson And Clover” are on a completely different level.  In other words, Tommy matured fast.

As is our custom before reaching the top spot, let’s listen to the “oh, wow” song of the week, a song that has disappeared off the face of the earth for no good reason.  Louisiana’s Tony Joe White was quite a prolific songwriter in those days – a few months after this, his masterpiece “A Rainy Night In Georgia” became one of my favorite songs of all time when Brook Benton sang it.  This is the song he’s best known for himself, a cool little story told by someone who actually WAS born on the bayou.  At #19 on the KHJ Boss 30, here’s Tony Joe White with “Polk Salad Annie.”

A wretched, spiteful, STRAIGHT RAZOR totin’ woman!

All right, time to hear the biggest song in Boss Angeles the day they landed on the moon.  You might have heard it in a cafe, or sometimes on a crowded street:

A beautiful, perfect song from one of the great artists of our time.  It was actually recorded in 1967 but, like so many Motown classics, it had to wait its turn.  Very much worth the wait.

So there you are.  One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind, and absolutely one of my favorite eras.  How was it for you?  Even if you weren’t born yet, you can still chime in.

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Flashback: July 20, 1969 – KHJ Los Angeles

  1. Crystal Blue Persuasion. More than awesome. I grabbed the 45 at the store and adored it repeatedly at home. A delicious ditty that has withstood the ravages of time. Rumor roamed th cohort the tune referred to what some labeled Canadian blue rock, a particularly potent form of illicit substance around back in those days but whose name changed with the times.

    At that time and that place, the San Francisco Bay Area, AM radio was the predominant medium and all the groovy kids dug either the number one KFRC or the smaller cohort, me among that esteemed assemblage, who preferred the competing KYA. I considered KYA to be more appealing to the more cerebral among the Baby Boomers with the teeny boppers clamoring for the mass appeal of the less cerebral KFRC.

    And so it goes as the planet spins and we wander off through the fog of time; past, present and future.

    • Canadian blue rock? Is that anything like Walter White’s blue crystal?

      Detroit radio had a similar situation at the time. WKNR, Keener 13, was the big pop station throughout much of the 60’s, and they were where the Beatles were first heard here. Then came CKLW, a Drake/Chenault-RKO General station like KFRC and KHJ, and they took down Keener in short order. WKNR eventually settled into a rock-based version of Top 40, then they were sold and changed call letters/format in 1972.

      There’s a flashback here featuring KYA from August 1972 – check it out!

  2. Jim on Summerhill

    This was a great top 10 week. ‘Crystal Blue Pursuasion’ is just tremendous. Who knew it was about the Bible. ‘My Cherie Amour’ mightbe Stevie Wonder’s finest moment.
    I differ on ‘I’ve Been Hurt’ by Bill Deal and the Rhondells. That’s a Beach Music classic and I forgotten it for 45 years until Cousin Bruce played it as a request one Saturday night in 2014. Though I had not heard it for 45 years, I not only knew every word but every vocal inflections and drum roll. I sang along to the radio but did not recognize Bill Deal/Rhondels name. I figured why it was so ingrained in my memory – my neighborhood pool had a loudspeaker jukebox and someone played it over and over all summer along with ‘Crystal Blue Pursuasion’, ‘Polk Sslad Annie’, ‘Guitarzan’, ‘Love Can Make You Happy’ and ‘Grazin’ in the Grass’ and quite a few more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s