The golden year of 1960. A brief journey through the music, entertainment, happenings, memories and some trivia of the year.
By John Surgenor
Irvine Beat FM – Golden Hour Presenter
I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m John Surgenor and I do a golden hour show on Irvinebeatfm 107.2 and the website Irvinebeat.com every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 11.00 and 12.00hrs. I was asked if I could contribute something to our webpage and I decided I’d do a little escape into our pasts like I do on my show. I usually keep between 1960 and 1989 so where else to start but 1960.
What do you remember, if anything, about 1960?
My abiding memory is starting school at Loudon Montgomery Primary school in Irvine Ayrshire. I signed on for school when we lived in the Fullerton side of the water in John Street. That was the tenements down the harbour from the Garnock pub to Gottries road.
By the time I started at school I was living at Vineburgh Avenue some nearly two mile away. After the first few month it was Shanks’s pony every day except the first day when I left school and headed home at playtime. How I got home I don’t remember but I managed. After that school wasn’t so good as they kept me there until lunchtime.
The Music Of 1960
The music of the sixties started with a debut band of the fifties Emile Ford and the Checkmates with “What do you want to make those eyes at me for?”
This would stay top until the end of January when Anthony Newley another from the fifties charts would have his first number one with “Why”
Anthony would last four weeks until Adam Faith (Terence Nelhams), another artiste from the fifties with his second and indeed last number one “Poor me”. That would give him a number one with his first two chart entries as he had already been at number one with “What do you want?”
Adam only lasted one week before Johnny Preston (Johnny Courville) took the Big Bopper (JP Richardson) penned Running Bear to the top spot for two weeks. The Big Bopper had been one of the passengers in the fatal air crash which also included Buddy Holly at the end of the fifties.
Johnny lasted for two weeks before the “King of Skiffle” Lonnie Donegan from Glasgow knocked him off the top with his last number one “My old mans a dustman”. Lonnie was the most successful recording artist on our charts before the Beatles came along. Lonnie had managed 28 successive top 30 hits between 1956 and 1962.
Lonnie lasted four weeks before being knocked off the top by Anthony Newley with his second 60’s number one “Do you mind” which only topped the chart for one week so both his number ones came in 1960.
After Anthony’s chart topper came the Everly brothers second number one “Cathy’s clown” which would also be an American number one which would make it their fourth back home. This track would stay top for seven weeks which beat their first number one “All I have to do is dream” as they only stayed top for a still massive six weeks with that one.
The tragic Eddie Cochran would be the next number one with his “Three steps to heaven” staying at the top for two weeks. This would be his posthumous number one as he died in a car crash while touring in the UK. He would be only twenty one years old when he died.
Eddie Cochran would be knocked off the top by Jimmy Jones with his only number one “Good timin”. This would follow up his other top ten entry “Handy man”. Jimmy would only have these two top thirty hits.
After three weeks at the top Jimmy would be replaced by Cliff Richard and the Shadows third number one “Please don’t tease” their first sixties number one. Johnny Kidd and the Pirates with their only number one “Shaking all over” would knock Cliff off for one week only before Cliff and the Shadows had another two weeks at number one.
Cliff would be find himself knocked off the top by his backing band the Shadows with their first solo number one Apache” which stay there for five weeks.
After their five week stay at the top The Shadows would get knocked off by the Welsh singer Ricky Valance (David Spencer) with his version of “Tell Laura I love her. He would be three weeks at number one.
Next would be the debut of Texan Roy Orbison who would spend two weeks at the top of the charts with “Only the lonely.” Roy’s trademark was wearing sunglasses on stage. When the Beatles were starting out in a few years time they would support Roy on a couple of long tours.
Elvis Presley would reach the top for the first time in the sixties with “It’s now or never” which would stay there for eight weeks outdoing the Everly Brothers seven weeks earlier in the year. This single wasn’t in his album but it was recorded at the time of “Elvis is back.” Which was referring to his military service which he had just completed this year.
Elvis was knocked of the top by Cliff Richard and the Shadows with “I love you.” which would stay at number one over Christmas and give them the first number one in 1961.
1960 Album Chart
The soundtrack album to South Pacific dominated the album chart in 1960 as it did in 1959. Only the American rocker Freddy Cannon had a one week stay at the top although he would only ever have one top ten hit single over here, Elvis also with a one week stay when “Elvis is back” reached the top spot and a five week stay for the German orchestra 101 Strings with their album “Down Drury lane to memory lane”.
Entertainment in 1960
We never had a Television set in 1960 so I crawled through the archives to see what programmes started this year. I learned to love them when my time came. I’ll mention a few but the one that sticks out for me was the Hana-Barbera produced Flintstones. Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, Pebbles, Bam-Bam and Dino set in Bedrock. It was the longest running animated cartoon until Homer Simpson came along.
The next pick would need to be Coronation Street. Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples, Ken Barlow, Albert Tatlock and Minnie Caldwell. I know they were all a bit crabbit but that was life then. And life in the pub seemed great even with AnnieWalker and Stan and Hilda not arrived yet. Classic stuff.
Danger Man started this year as well. Secret Agent John Drake played by Patrick McGoohan. I suppose he was a precursor for James Bond.
It would also be the first we would meet Bugs Bunny and Popeye with the lovely Olive.
Watch with Mother would introduce “Tales of the riverbank” to it’s rota this year I loved them all especially the Woodentops and Bill and Ben even though I wasn’t pre-school when we eventually got a television. Happy days.
All our yesterdays
Another series that started this year which I grew to like was “All our yesterdays” which I suppose I’m doing now.
Let’s move on to films. My favourite would need to be The Alamo with John Wayne as Davy Crockett and Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie I always loved a good cowboy. Possibly the one standout of 1960 would be Alfred Hitchcock’s Pyscho. Scary to say the least. Janet Leigh was gorgeous while Anthony Perkins was scary.
Oceans 11 would be another classic from the year. The rat pack together, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and Peter Lawford.
The most successful film was probably Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier as the Roman general. There was other big names like Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons helping out.
Others happenings in 1960
We had the Olympics in Rome in 1960 with Cassius Clay winning the heavyweight boxing gold while there was also gold for Don Thomson in 50k walk and Anita Londsbourough in the 200m Breast stroke. Abibi Bikili won the marathon gold running barefooted over the 26 mile in a new record.
The European Cup final was played at Hampden park with Real Madrid beating Eintrach Frankfurt 7-3. They don’t make cup finals like that anymore.
It would be the first time the Grand National was televised live and the Scottish Grand National was still taking place in Irvine.
The first traffic wardens appeared on ours roads.
The last time you would have to enrol for National Service
First time you could buy Fairy liquid. Soft hands from here on in.
The arrival of the etch-a-sketch happened.
The first kidney transplant was performed.
A handful of arrivals in 1960
Michael Hutchence (INXS) 22nd January
Brian Surgenor (My wee brother) 30th January
Prince Andrew (Duke of York) 19th February
Bono (U2) 10th May
Tilda Swinton (Actress) 5th November
A handful of departures in 1960
Eddie Cochran (rock star) 17th April
Sylvia Pankhurst (Suffragette) 27th September
Johnny Horton (Country singer) 5th November
Ward Bond (Wagon train) 5th November
Clark Gable (Actor) 16th November
That’s my subjective brief journey through 1960. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Many thanks for joining me, good health, good fortune and God bless. Bye for now.
Listen to John Surgenor on the Golden Hour on Irvine Beat FM on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11am – 12pm.
John also presents his Sunday night show 8pm – 10pm.
Other Years Featured In This Series