1960: The Shadows – Apache
John Lennon once stated that “before Cliff and The Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.” The Shadows were the biggest british band before the Beatles hit the airwaves in 1963,formed by Cliff Richard, they were an instrumental 4 piece who pioneered the 4 piece rock band format that would later become a standard for bands worldwide. Recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, Apache was a breakthrough in rock music, for using an echo chamber combined a vibrato effect achieved by Hank Marvin’s Fender Stratocaster giving it a typical surf rock sound that would later boom across the Californian beaches.
1961: John Leyton – Johnny Remember Me
Produced by visionary record producer Joe Meek, “Johnny Remember Me” was a No. 1 hit for John Leyton in 1961.
The eerie musical landscapes of the song reflect its theme, a haunting call from a dead lover to be remembered by her survivivor.
1962: The Tornados – Telstar
Another great instrumental, and another one produced by Joe Meek. Telstar was the first british song to top the US charts. Named after the first AT&T satellite to go into orbit, Telstar ushered a generation into the space race and kept them looking athe sky at night. George Bellamy’s guitar skills as the Tornados’ rhythm guitarist have since been transmitted to his son, Matt, frontman of Muse. Telstar has also been claimed by the Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher) as her favourite song.
1963: The Beatles – She Loves You
And here they are, the ones that changed the face of rock and roll forever. Before them girls didn’t scream and pull their hair when they saw a band live, people didn’t faint if they caught a glimpse of their musical heroes across the street and the whole world wasn’t obsessed by the same band at the same time. Thanks to the Beatles all these things happened, and more.
1964: The Four Pennies – Black Girl
“Black girl/Where Did You Sleep Last Night/In the Pines”, is a song that has a cycle. It first was written in the late 19th century and was first recorded by influential southern-blues man Leadbelly. Revived in 1964 by blues-obsessed british beat/R&B band The Four Pennies, this emotional and dramatic tale of twisted love and jealousy came back again in the early 90s with Nirvana’s very emotional-in-retrospect version that closed their Unpugged in New York performance.
(I know it says 1965 on the video, but the song was actually recorded and released in 1964)