The Rocking Chronicles

by Tim Van Schmidt

1964- Records

Music Memories

My strongest memory of 1964 music is a late night scene. I had my transistor radio with me- I wasn’t tired and I was trying to see what I could tune in and still hear at the lowest possible volume while supposedly asleep in bed. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds since I was then sharing a single room with both of my brothers. I had the radio held fast to my ear, tuned to WLS in Chicago, looking out at the night through the window by my bed- and The Beatles’ “She Loves You” was coming in strong and clear.

The Beatles had quickly become vivid characters that not only filled the airwaves and appeared on television in 1964, but who also popped up in one of my dreams. It was a brief one- there was a huge toy box in our bedroom and I dreamed that I opened the box and up jumped a Beatle, like a cross between a Leprachaun and a jack-in-the-box.

Still too young really to be much interested in buying records, I found another way to buy into the Beatle craze. That is, collector cards.
I loved collector cards- and here, I’m talking about non-sports cards. I wasn’t buying baseball cards yet, but I was buying cards for “The Outer Limits,” a series of cards based on Big Daddy Roth’s wild cars, called Weird-Os, and James Bond cards. I wasn’t allowed to see the James Bond movies, but I could collect the cards.

This early interest in collector cards could have been fueled by the fact that an 8-year-old has limited access to cash, so buying a couple of packs of collector cards at five cents each was more affordable than records at 89 cents each. At one point, I was forbidden to buy any more of the “Outer Limits” cards- it seems I was having a series of bad nightmares and some of the images on the cards could be considered disturbing.

However, collecting Beatles cards was still allowed and easy to do- after the initial series of black and white cards, colored ones followed. I can remember looking at and sorting out my Beatle cards the evening my dad came in the living room with a man he introduced as the guy who was going to buy my parents’ greenhouse business. It seems we were going to be moving to a new house in town.

As far as the Beatles music was concerned, it was just everywhere in 1964. The Beatles didn’t just release a great song and then wait to do a follow-up. They went ahead and released the follow-ups and the follow-ups to the follow-ups in rapid order, flooding the market. This worked for two reasons- it was a gigantic campaign that was perfect for that moment. And the Beatles stuff was really good.

I vaguely remember the Beatles’ famous 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearances on television but I’m not even sure I was all that interested- I think I was playing in the other room when it was on. I wasn’t really buying records- and was still playing with my GI Joes- but thanks to some listening to WLS on the transistor radio, I could recognize the Beatles’ music- especially those first couple of block buster hits including “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

At this point in time and for several years to come, the Beatles so dominated the music market, both with products and cultural influence, that it is almost unfair to compare any one else’s success to theirs. It’s kind of like this: there is everything Beatles and then there is everything else.

Everything Else

Records were around in our house and that included a growing stack of hit singles collected by my older brothers. My favorite from the “everything else” side of 1964 music would be Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” The organ had a cheerful, upbeat effect and the song had a kind shout along quality where you didn’t have to so much sing it as say it. It was jaunty, a little silly but had attitude nonetheless.

Another famous single in my mind from 1964 would be Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger.” Just knowing that this was a James Bond movie theme song made it of interest, but there was no doubt the dramatic power of Bassey’s delivery was effective even to young ears. The full orchestra backing made the recording all that more monumental.

Jan and Dean’s 1964 hit “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)” is also memorable because of TV, not from spinning the single- I remember a scene with the two singers delivering the tune along with, naturally, a little old lady.

But the single in the stack that most attracted me in 1964 was actor Lorne Greene’s “Ringo.” The flip side had a vocal version of the “Bonanza” theme song, featuring Greene’s questionable singing. However, “Ringo” was all spoken word drama. It’s a compelling record, full of Old West attitude and danger- a gritty story appealing to a rough sense of justice.

Female Invasion

Dipping back into my own dusty stack of records, I found that 1964 produced plenty of strong records by female performers. That would include the Shangri-Las’ fun “Leader of the Pack.” It’s a fine piece of confection, the gals’ voices mixed strong, supported by effective sound effects- including a horrific crash. The flip side is “What Is Love” and demonstrates that the Shangri-Las remain strong even without the sound effects- both tunes have a pretty snappy rhythm.

The production on Lesley Gore’s 1964 hit “You Don’t Own Me” is huge, but Gore’s voice just cuts right through all those instruments and backing voices, despite the overdone arrangement. That also holds true on the other side of the record “Run Bobby Run”- Gore has the pipes to soar on top of the heavy-handed studio work.

But on top of the list of female performers breaking through in 1964 would have to be Diana Ross and the Supremes. “Where Did Our Love Go?”, “Baby Love,” and “Come See About Me” all get going quickly with crisp rhythms, custom-made to clap your hands top, snap your fingers or get down to dancing.

The Supremes’s sound was distinctive too. Unlike the overall power of the Shangri-Las, where just about everybody was belting it out, there was a measure of reserve in the Supremes’ records. That would be Diana Ross’ fragile, velvety voice. The strength here came from the other ladies. The mix of the two was cool and exciting at the same time.

Other 1964 female hits: Mary Wells’ “My Guy,” Marianne Faithful’s “As Tears Go By,” Dusty Springfield’s “Losing You,” Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” and the great dance hit by Martha and the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Street.”

In America

The same smooth blend of voices is also there on the Four Tops’ 1964 hit “Baby I Need Your Loving.” The same instant danceability is there too, suggesting that the record company responsible for both acts- the Four Tops and the Supremes- had an effective formula figured out. That would be Motown records.

The strongest of the male vocal groups in America in 1964, however, was the Four Seasons. Again, vocalist Frankie Valli hit some impossibly high notes in hits “Rag Doll” and “Silence is Golden.” Both records are classic vocal performances- sincere and dramatic. And “Silence is Golden” spurred many a helpful comment- instead of telling someone to be quiet, you could just say “Silence is golden…” and hope they get the hint.

In England

There’s a very striking resemblance between the music of 1964 hitmakers the Dave Clark Five and the Beatles- a certain smooth blend of the voices and the same kind of approach to wooing the girls. I don’t get a sense that the Dave Clark Five were copying the Beatles, but that they were just a part of the same slipstream of young pop song writers in England at the time.

But something else was going on in England in 1964 besides. That is, a gritty contingent of bands were stripping away the big production aesthetics that had become the norm in the recording industry and were breaking things back down into music small combos could play. Accomplishing this and adopting the basic blues song structure allowed them wiggle room to express themselves. And the results were on the wild side.

You can’t get much more wild than The Kinks’ 1964 hit “You Really Got Me.” There’s a freak out factor in this recording that nearly overwhelms itself. It’s an aggressive, rough, shout it out tune that is unrelenting and extremely direct. The flip side- “It’s All Right” features a funky harmonica part and a very supersonic moment when the band is all crashing on the rhythm at once. This is the point- finding release in the simmering repetition of the blues.

Much more serious, but just rough in 1964 was the Animals. On their 1964 single “I’m Crying,” vocalist Eric Burdon sounds like a world-wise old blues guy- who doesn’t mind going over the vocal edge to abandon singing in favor of shouting it out.

The dark, brooding mystery of the Animals couldn’t get much mlore intense than in their 1964 hit “House of the Rising Sun.” This unique record takes the listener to a different time and place- and it’s not about dating. Burdon howls with the pain of the poor boy’s story in the song.

Joining the Kinks and the Animals in making aggressive, small combo music was the Rolling Stones. Their 1964 hit “It’s All Over Now” puts Mick Jagger’s distinctive vocal right up front and he proves to be another guy who doesn’t mind shouting it out while the band indulges in a jamming guitar break in the middle of it all. This one is not so much blues-based, as country music-based.

Back to the Beatles

Okay, so to listen to the Beatles’ amazing output of music in 1964, I pulled out three albums- “Meet the Beatles,” “The Beatles’ Second Album” and the movie soundtrack to “A Hard Day’s Night.” It seems necessary to point out that all of these records are American releases. The Beatles’ music had been released in their native England on significantly different products. However, this is how Americans got to hear the Beatles, so I will maintain that perspective.

Besides the hit material that buoys the Beatles’ debut album in the United States, “Meet the Beatles,” most notably the break-out introductory hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” there’s a curious track titled “Till There Was You.” It is a feature slot for Paul McCartney and does not seem to be a group song. The recording itself is very clean, the production sophisticated. To be honest, it sounds like it really doesn’t belong on the album with the rest of the songs or with the idea that this is a bunch of playful boys. It’s kind of mature in comparison, with a decidedly un-pop-like rhumba rhythm.

Though “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is most certainly upbeat, it also seems a little naive, which is part of the charm. But the track “I Wanna Be Your Man” proves that despite big time production and a public image as good boys, the Beatles knew how to rock. “I Wanna Be Your Man” is frantic and direct with a truly screaming freak out factor.

“The Beatles’ Second Album” cobbles together some Beatles originals with some upbeat covers. The impression is that the record is a hastily conceived collection, not a cohesive project. However, the covers the Beatles do on “The Beatles’ Second Album” are not ill-conceived, like Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.”

John Lennon provides a little bit of “freak out factor” on “The Beatles’ Second Album” with a cover reading of “Money,” certainly a cynical treatment of the subject. There’s some more attitude present in Lennon’s featured slot on “Can’t Do That.”

Paul McCartney gets his shot at providing some freak out factor to “The Beatles’ Second Album” as well with an impassioned run at Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.”

As for the “A Hard Day’s Night” soundtrack, you can say that each of the featured Beatles’ tracks, including the title song, are serious works and each of the instrumental tracks are shameless fillers.

All of this leads to a conclusion: the early Beatles albums, at least the releases in America, were pretty inconsistent. For the advent of such an influential music group, these records are not well conceived.

That said, the wealth of material that seemed to just spring up over night in 1964 from the Beatles was overwhelming, perhaps much in the same way that Elvis Presley dominated the music industry in 1956. Only this time, there wasn’t just one performer- there were four.

Bob Dylan

With all of the above music churning around in 1964, however, the most distinctive music of the year- including the Beatles’ stuff- was recorded by Bob Dylan.

Dylan’s 1964 album “The Times They Are A Changin” kind of puts the whole business of pop music to shame with its openness and boldness. Many of the songs on this album are not ditties, chained to a strong melody, but come from deep introspection and passionate release. Some of the songs even sound very much the same. But as you follow the flow of Dylan’s lyrics, the trappings of aesthetics become less important. In short, Dylan was an artist you LISTENED to- and he had a lot to say.

Dylan’s music wasn’t about teenage issues, dating or romance. He was singing about murder, war, religion and political manipulation at the highest level. This doesn’t sound very musical, especially when adding the fact that Dylan’s vocal quality was thin and reedy, yet somewhere between the elemental strum of the guitar and the rushing imagery and ideas in the lyrics, it gets musical indeed. But this musical experience is cerebral and picks at the emotions with an intellectual intent.

More 1964 Records

Bobby Vinton- There! I’ve Said It Again; Mr. Lonely
Lenny Welch- Since I Fell for You
Bobby Rydell- Forget Him
Rip Chords- Hey Little Cobra
Beach Boys-Fun, Fun, Fun; I Get Around
Louis Armstrong-Hello, Dolly!
Dave Clark Five-Bits and Pieces; Can’t You See That She’s Mine
Dixie Cups- Chapel of Love
Peter and Gordon-A World Without Love
Barbra Streisand-People
Johnny Rivers-Memphis
Gerry and the Pacemakers-Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying
Getz/Gilberto-The Girl from Ipanema
Dean Martin-Everybody Loves Somebody
Drifters-Under the Boardwalk
Roy Orbison-Oh, Pretty Woman
Ronny and the Daytonas-GTO
Gale Garnett-We’ll Sing in the Sunshine
Jay and the Americans-Come a Little Bit Closer
Zombies-She’s Not There
The Kinks- All Day and All of the Night
Cilla Black- Anyone Who Had a Heart
Them- Baby Please Don’t Go; Gloria
Gerry & the Pacemakers- Ferry Cross the Mersey
Dusty Springfield- I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Freddie & the Dreamers- I Understand
Herman’s Hermits- I’m Into Something Good
The Hollies- Just One Look
The Rolling Stones- Little Red Rooster
The Zombies- She’s Not There
The Temptations- The Way You Do The Things You Do
The Nashville Teens- Tobacco Road
The Who- Zoot Suit


Ain’t That Good News – Sam Cooke
All Summer Long – The Beach Boys
The Animals– The Animals
Another Side of Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album – The Beach Boys
Beach Boys Concert – The Beach Boys
The Cat – Jimmy Smith
The Five Faces of Manfred Mann – Manfred Mann
A Girl Called Dusty – Dusty Springfield
Here I Go Again – The Hollies
Hide and Seekers – The Seekers
I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
In The Hollies Style – The Hollies
Joan Baez/5 – Joan Baez
Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits – Johnny Horton
The Kinks – The Kinks
Kissin’ Cousins– Elvis Presley
The Manfred Mann Album – Manfred Mann
The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones
Roustabout– Elvis Presley
The Seekers – The Seekers
A Session with the Dave Clark Five – The Dave Clark Five
Simmer Down – The Wailing Wailers
Stay with the Hollies – The Hollies
12 X 5 – The Rolling Stones
Five Live Yardbirds – The Yardbirds
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. – Simon & Garfunkel
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Jimmy Smith


Movie Reviews

The T.A.M.I Show ****

The Santa Monica Civic Center was a favorite concert destination of mine when I lived in the LA area in the early 1970s. This production- and this is a production as opposed to simply a concert- happened some ten years before- and I just watched it for the first time in 2013, nearly fifty years later. Other than the hackneyed opening theme song, which awkwardly tries to mention all the artists participating in the event, this is an excellent glimpse of early 1960s pop music. In fact, it is more than just a glimpse, offering performances from a diverse roster of artists, from Motown and surf music to British Invasion groups and even a grungy garage-style band.

The highlights here are plentiful in terms of the musical performances and the whole thing is augmented by a troupe of dancers who tirelessly jerk about to each tune. They’re incorporating the latest dances in their routines, as do many of the performers. This brings up a key element to the times. Almost universally, the material presented by the artists is romance-oriented- it’s all about dating and mating- and this content reflects the times in general. While the lyrical content may be soft, the energy of the material is mostly oriented to dance, indicating what the music was really for.

The performers have different ideas about how to present this material, but every time one of the performers steps away from the mike to do a dance step or two, the crowd reacts loudly, indicating what it is they want to see out of a performer.

The king of stage movement among the performers at the T.A.M.I. concert was most certainly James Brown- and he was a real character, dropping hard to his knees and brushing off the robe he is wrapped in while being escorted off the stage- not once, but many times over. This is kind of like Brown’s music- repetition breeds the opportunity for increased tension on stage.

But even just two years into the long tenure of the Rolling Stones, frontman Mick Jagger had already achieved an active stage style- and an aggressive attitude- and adequately follows Brown’s performance.

But Jagger and Brown aren’t the only ones. Smokey Robinson does some performing calisthenics too. While Gerry and the Pacemakers are pretty much rooted to their microphones, they stoke up a respectable personal energy too. Check Berry also has some moves.

The most dynamic SINGER of the lot is actually Lesley Gore, who just takes over the spotlight with confidence. Two drummers in particular stand out- the drummer for the Beach Boys and the drummer for the Barbarians- both of whom add some excitement that doesn’t have anything to do with singers.

The weakest part of the show is the MC work by Jan and Dean. Their performance isn’t so red hot either, but it is significant that “sidewalk surfing” on a skateboard is promoted.

Besides the performances, I enjoyed the few times the cameras swept the auditorium, showing the excited youngsters, as well as the fully outfitted, helmeted policemen circulating throughout the room. The auditorium did look familiar from my concert days there.

One of the not-so-hidden things revealed by the movie is the constant screaming by the girls. They calm down here and there, especially for the Motown groups, but otherwise, the females are screaming at and for just about everybody. This puts Beatlemania into perspective. Certainly the Beatles became the focus, but according to this movie, apparently teenaged girls in 1964 just liked getting together to scream- it was their big, wild emotional release of the time and the crowd shots here often show the girls not only expressing themselves, but doing it along with their friends and the other girls in the audience.

Directed by Steve Binder…1964…123 min…featuring Beach Boys, Barbarians, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Miracles, Supremes, Rolling Stones…including Glen Campbell, Leon Russell in house band.

Zulu ****

“Zulu” is a serious and compelling war movie. Despite the simplistic carnage, the tension of the situation is plenty palpable. A relatively small company of British soldiers guarding a desolate South African outpost find out that thousands of Zulu warriors are massing for an imminent attack and they have no choice but to overcome differences in order to prepare for it and survive.

The first attraction to “Zulu” is plenty of native African scenes, especially in the beginning, when the preacher and his daughter are attending a mass Zulu wedding. These scenes look pretty authentic and that is underscored by extended sequences of bare-breasted Zulu maidens, doing their part of the wedding dance.

But further, there is plenty of attention paid to the military tactics of the Zulus, recreated here in some detail. It is hard not to be impressed with such a strongly distinctive culture and it becomes obvious why the British are afraid of the attack. The Zulus apparently had an unnerving drive and a determined ferocity.

The rest of “Zulu” examines the stressful situation of the British soldiers- they have a small force indeed, weakened by personnel and management problems that eat up valuable time. Still, despite the snags, the British pull together to face multiple attacks. Their success perhaps could be boiled down to one main ingredient- training.

Directed by Cy Endfield…1964…138 min…featuring Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, Michael Caine, James Booth, Nigel Green, Patrick Magee.

Mary Poppins ****

How do you rate a memory? “Mary Poppins” is not just a movie to me, but a strong childhood experience. Then, in the theater in 1964, it was such a grand and slightly mystical daydream. Now, certain flaws in the pacing, weakness in the dialogue and inconsistent songwriting make the movie kind of a chore to watch.

However, in between the chatter and filler that make the movie drag, there are some of the best children’s sequences on film. The rooftop chimney sweep dance scene is a major piece of work, invigorating- and very long. The whole fantasy sequence inside the chalk drawing remains charming, breaking ground by seamlessly fusing live action with animation. And then there are also those songs that will not get out of your head once they start- “Chim Chim Cheree,” “Supercali…” and “Just a Spoonful of Sugar” are at the top of the list. These elements still take even an adult viewer into another world- one that is primarily happy, adventurous and based on some sense of integrity.

“Mary Poppins” also stands out thanks to the indelible characterizations of Mary Poppins and Bert by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Andrews is exactly as advertised- practically perfect. Van Dyke proves to be an effective showman, handling song and dance chores easily with an ever-changing rubber face and his gangly physical style. Together, they dominate the screen in such a way that the scenes without them seem dull indeed.

Directed by Robert Stevenson…1964…139 min…featuring Julie Andrews (as Mary Poppins,) Dick Van Dyke (as Bert,) David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Ed Wynn.

Masque of the Red Death ****

The effect of this movie is plenty striking. It’s a step up for Roger Corman movies- significantly. In many ways like Ingmar Bergman goes to Hollywood.  This movie is a serious mortality play- cruelty is a part of the plague. Colorful, finely detailed costuming, opulent settings and a serious, deliberate pace create an otherworldly atmosphere and Vincent Price is a wonderful villain. He’s camping it up plenty, but somehow, through the ooze, some real terror comes through.

Directed by Roger Corman…1964…89 min…featuring Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher, David Weston, Patrick Magee, Skip Martin.

Godzilla Vs The Thing ***

With this movie, it takes some doing at first- suspending disbelief and getting caught up in the story- but somehow this curious mix of fantasy and science fiction accomplishes that task.

The featured menace is Japan’s famous monster, Godzilla, in all his stiff, brutish glory. It seems Godzilla has been awoken by a building project and is seeking to level civilization again. But see, before all this happens, a major storm on a far away island has dislodged a giant moth egg, which happens to float into the same region Godzilla is slumbering in.

Here’s where this movie enters another realm. A tiny set of singing twins appear to appeal for help returning the egg to their island- the home of Mothra, the monster moth. There, the monster is a god and the natives do its bidding reverently and with passion- there’s a great scene of a native dance when mainlanders go to the island to appeal for help against Godzilla.

But finally it is the battle sequences between Godzilla and Mothra, then Mothra’s offspring, that satisfy- fake-looking for sure, but plenty imaginative while reflecting the drama of a struggle of huge proportions.

Directed by Ishiro Honda…1964…87 min…featuring Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yu Fujiki, Emi Ito, Yuni Ito, Jun Tazaki, Yoshifumi Tajima.

Becket ***

A spoiled rotten king with absolute power is a hard person to handle, as his best friend finds out when elevated to a position of power that requires unquestioning allegiance. There’s intrigue here at the highest level and while historical in nature, it’s just not very interesting. Maybe it’s because it’s all about men and their maneuvering for power. There is no strong female in the picture to mix things up- bring back “Cleopatra”! Actor Richard Burton is a brooding thundercloud- loud and all wet- without a female foil.

Who keeps this lengthy, slow-paced yarn lively is actor Peter O’Toole, who plays the maniac King Henry II with explosive passion. He’s a lit, loose cannon for sure and no one around him is safe from his petty, childish whims. Entering into the mix is a love for his friend that goes beyond just chums. His mother even says it out loud- “It’s unnatural.” It’s an obsession that spells doom for everybody involved.

Directed by Peter Glenville…1964…148 min…featuring Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud, David Weston.

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster **

Here’s a questionable sequel to “Godzilla Vs Mothra.” It’s kind of like a kiddy show, bringing in monsters like they are cartoon characters, acting like heroes to the kids- celebrities of a kind for sure- rather than enormous menaces. In this case, old favorites Godzilla, Mothra and the giant pterodactyl Rodan team up to fight an even bigger menace- a three-headed monster with plenty of tonnage. Again, the titanic struggle between the monsters is what’s worth watching, although the strange singing fairies also appear in a kind of “greatest hits” package for director Ishiro Honda.

Directed by Ishiro Honda…1964…92 min…featuring Yôsuke Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Akiko Wakabayashi, Emi Ito, Yuni Ito.

More 1964 Movies

3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt
7 Faces of Dr. Lao
The Americanization of Emily
Bedtime Story
The Best Man
The Carpetbaggers
Children of the Damned
Circus World
Diary of a Chambermaid (Le journal d’une femme de chambre)
The Disorderly Orderly
Dog Eat Dog
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Ensign Pulver
The Fall of the Roman Empire
A Fistful of Dollars
The Flesh Eaters
From Russia with Love
A Hard Day’s Night
Hey There It’s Yogi Bear
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Invitation to a Gunfighter
The Killers
Kissin’ Cousins
Marriage Italian Style (Matrimonio all’italiana)
A Married Woman (Une femme mariée)
The Moon-Spinners
My Fair Lady
The Night of the Iguana
Paris When It Sizzles,
The Patsy
The Pawnbroker
The Pink Panther
The Pumpkin Eater
A Ravishing Idiot
Robin and the 7 Hoods
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Séance on a Wet Afternoon
Seven Days in May
Seven Up!
A Shot in the Dark
The Thin Red Line
The Three Lives of Thomasina
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Viva Las Vegas
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Ieri, oggi, domani)
Your Cheatin’ Heart
Zorba the Greek


Television Memories

By 1964, I was switched on in terms of the television. The latest TV shows were favorite talk with me and my buddies at school- it was something we could all experience separately and yet share the next day in our play.

Until 1964, the stuff on television kind of just came at me as a result of what was going on in the household and who wanted to watch what. The youngest in the family usually didn’t have much say in what was on the tube.

However, with this particular season- full of debut shows that I would watch for years to come- I would come to have a real DESIRE to follow particular shows. I was serious too- I started keeping track of the prime time TV schedule in my area. By the Fall, I was keeping track of when the new shows were scheduled to come out, according to the preview ads, comparing my list with a friend to see who had the most complete list before the whole thing came out in the TV Guide.

I give the most credit for my budding passion for TV to the 1964 debut show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” I was a fan and especially thought Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum, was cool. He was the partner of main man Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn, both agents for the good guys spy organization UNCLE (United Network Command for Law Enforcement). Solo was cool too. The pair was bossed around by Leo G Carroll, fighting endlessly against the bad boy spy organization THRUSH.

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” accomplished something great for young adolescents in 1964. Too young to go to James Bond movies, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” brought the spy craze to the little screen. It also hit the toy shelves- one of the items I just had to have for Christmas was a “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” toy guy. It was one of those sleek snub nose jobs Napoleon Solo used on the show.

Another important and exciting 1964 debut adventure show was “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” Richard Basehart, as Admiral Nelson, and David Hedison, as Captain Crane, headed up the crew on a super-submarine, the Seaview, that managed to find plenty of trouble under the sea, especially outsized monsters.

Another sea-going adventure series that debuted in 1964 was “Flipper.” Brian Kelly played Porter Ricks, a Florida Ranger with two sons, Sandy and Bud, played by Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden. Together and with a super-smart dolphin they befriend, Flipper, the group has plenty of more realistic adventures than “Voyage.” “Flipper” also had one of the most distinctive, sing-along theme songs on television at the time.

Other adventure series that debuted in 1964 include “Daniel Boone” featuring Fess Parker and Ed Ames as Mingo, and the animated
adventure/sci-fi series, “Jonny Quest.”

But then, for filler, there was plenty of new comic stuff that debuted in 1964, including “Gilligan’s Island,” “Gomer Pyle” and “Bewitched.” Also debuting in 1964 were two landmark monster comedies- “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters.”

Let’s also add in a few other new influences. For example, my mom didn’t spend a lot of time watching TV. She and Dad were too busy running their own business. However, she did find time to watch new 1964 show, “Peyton Place.” Apparently it was okay for me to watch with her, so I did and, for as much as I could understand the plot, I got familiar with the characters.

Also somewhere in there was the teenage dance show “Shindig.” “American Bandstand” had often been on in our house, but “Shindig” was a bigger production.

All in all, it was a busy schedule in 1964 for a kid just turning on to TV- and that was only on three channels.

Other new shows in 1964: “Jeopardy!,” and, in England, “Top of the Pops.”