Beatlemania - 1965

1965 . . . and smack in the middle of Beatlemania too.

 . . . and smack in the middle of Beatlemania too.
1965. . . and smack in the middle of Beatlemania too.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear a slice of an average day of Top-40 radio in Los Angeles during those halcyon days of Rock, all things British Invasion and Motown, this may be your chance.

It comes with a caveat though – this tape, like so many during those days, was recorded by a unknown teenager, sitting at home, listening to the radio on what was a typical Saturday night for many – only this one was Saturday Night October 16th, 1965. 50 years ago to the day. The sound is typical of the period – a microphone, probably one that came with the tape recorder, is perched in front of the speaker of a transistor radio. Not good sound from the get-go, not made a whole lot better by one of those microphones used to record birthday parties or drunken sing-alongs around the holidays. So the sound is a bit crude – in fact, in places a lot crude.

But here’s the thing – this is what it sounded like to a lot of people at the time. It was AM radio, not FM – and most car radios didn’t have FM – most radios in general didn’t have FM. FM was the domain of the high-end Stereo owner, who had little or no interest in rock n’ roll – not for a few years anyway. And this is what you heard.

Muffled, tinny, distant and thoroughly evocative of a place and time, if you were there – and offers a lot of insight if you weren’t. The fact that it exists at all is something of a miracle because, most teenagers at the time grew bored quickly and since tape was easily erasable, most of these tapes got wiped shortly after they were recorded. This one managed to keep its 90 minutes from October 16th in 1965 in tact.

It also speaks volumes about the breadth and depth of what radio was playing 55 years ago; the kind of music and the mix that was so much a part of Youth Culture at the time. Whether you liked everything or not, you got an education in what was going on in Pop music. Something that’s not shared with commercial radio now – that fear of losing an audience is more important than having the opportunity of turning them on to the new and interesting.

So this is what it sounded like – adding crude, scratchy and low-fi to the experience, along with commercials for places which were important at the time, but no longer exist today – life in Los Angeles and the dawning of Youth Culture. Also on the tape are periodic newscasts – the news of the day; news of anti-war protests broken up by Hell’s Angels during a time when the Vietnam War was still popular, but growing less-so. All elements that were part of October 16th in 1965.

So with all those caveats in mind, here’s a bit of time traveling to dive into for the weekend. Enjoy and see how many songs you recognize.

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47 thoughts on “If You Were A Teenager, And You Lived In L.A. , October 16, 1965 Sounded Like This.

      1. Soo precious Gordon!!! It really puts you right back there and captures the pure essence of the life in those days, which I absolutely loved and will never stop cherishing!!! Judy <3
        PS. I share the feeling totally!!!

    1. Hi Gordon. I remember when my best friend (rest his soul) Ted Mc Caskey and I got taken in for curfew violation by the West LA sheriffs right as we were standing on the front steps of the club.

      1. •There used to be a small rock club called Pandora’s Box on the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. In 1966, it was the scene of many confrontations and protests between teens and police when authorities imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for those under 18. The goal was to help deter the growing crowds of youngsters from spilling out of the club and into the Strip’s traffic. Los Angeles officials bulldozed Pandora’s Box when the problems continued, which led to the 1967 release of a teen-exploitation movie Riot on the Strip.

      2. We used to avoid curfew by hitching from the Whisky down to the After Hours club that was open 2am-5am. Seeds played there a lot. Regarding Pandora’s Box, I used to go there, too. Of the clubs I went to, it was one of the more decadent. One memorable time we saw Frank Zappa’s wife sitting on the edge of the stage while the band was playing, nursing Moon Unit.

  1. Wow! This brought back memories! A slice of 1965. This was during the “British Invasion”. (A British accent got you in almost everywhere.) Some of the dj’s I remember were Sam Riddle, Wink Martindale, Bill Balance, Dick Hugg aka Huggy Boy, Wolfman Jack and Art Laboe (of the El Monte Ballroom fame), and KGFJ’s “The Magnificent Montague” (Burn, Baby, Burn!), Hunter Hancock (“It’s Huntin’ with Hunter!”, and Frankie Crocker. I would bet that this was recorded by a White kid because of the omission of KGFJ, the Black AM station. (White kids “discovered” Black music through shows like American Bandstand, occasional appearances on Ed Sullivan and some adventurous radio dj’s.)

    Thanks for the post.

    Mt. Carmel 1968

    1. Did you know Michael Edwards. My cousin graduated from Mt. Carmel in 1969. He is a retired policeman today.

    1. Thaxton was on Channel 13. I think most people in LA listened to KFWB-channel 98. Night time is the right time– to listen and enjoy, KFWB, Channel 98. Others, Wink Martindale on KRLA and his pop show out at Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica. I can still hear, you´re cruising and the Bill Balance show starts with, guess what, Not a rock song, but jazz, bomp bomp bomp, ta da da da da da da da, I´m coming, du du du du du — du du du, I´m coming home baby, by Herbie Man.

  2. I made radio my career and eventually became Dir. Radio Programming & Ops. at Dick Clark Productions because of growing up listening to KHJ and KRLA during the 60s. Radio is no good since de-regulation/consolidation. There IS no local radio. But boy what a joy it was back then with guys like: Humble Harve, Reb Foster, Charlie O’Donnell (great guy) Gene Weed, The Real Don Steele, B. Mitchell Reed, Dave Hull, Casey Kasem, Huggy Boy and Wolfman Jack on a couple of stations with their 100K watt transmitters in Mexico, XERB and XPRS. Kids today don’t know the excitement — palpable it was — of turning on the radio and feeling it was *theirs* because a local quartet from their high school was going to play at the “Battle Of The Bands” or some such occurrence. I wouldn’t trade those days for all the smart phones or Pandoras in the world. Thank you for this.

    1. I agree – more than a feeling of community, it was a musical education, which I think we’ve all benefited from. but you know, with new technology, I’m wondering if that can’t come back – maybe not via the radio, but via something different. I guess maybe that’s why I have this site – to get people in touch with things they’ve forgotten or abandoned, and usually for no good reason. But I’m with you on the de-regulation/consolidation thing. It has ruined the spirit of trying something new and keeping what worked. I will be posting more of these – I think it’s important. – Gordon

  3. Loved this! Was there a ‘clean Jean Andrews at KFWB? Also was there a KROQ at 1500 AM, Came in late in the ’60’s? Do you ever put together programs for 50 year reunions?

    1. KROQ didn’t arrive until the early 70s (the first incarnation) – KBLA was a short-lived Rock Station in the mid-1960s that used to call itself “Super 15 KBLA” – it was 1580. I have run the last broadcast from KBLA in 1967 with Dave Diamond – search KBLA and it should show up.

      1. Ironically, I have an Alan Freed aircheck from KDAY from 1964. As soon as I am able, I will dig it out and share it.

  4. bitch’n….. memories flow hearing sounds of yesteryear……. grew up in the South Bay and those were the stations “we” all listen to….. from the time your mom woke you up, turn on the radio…. blasting every now and then when a song hit the moment of those short memories of with a girl or hanging with your buddies….. there was always music coming from someone’s radio or record player……. we all had to have a Muntz blue light and the 4 track tapes we could our hands on (by the way, still have blue light and tapes) ……. man, the songs…… close your eyes, go back, so easy and remember the days, of our special time that us kids loved…. the very best of growing up and was the most fun of our life’s…… there will never be a repeat of the magical 60’s!

  5. Toronto, Canada sounded like this too. Unfortunately, top forty ‘Oldies’ radio has, recently disappeared around here.

  6. I’m listening right now, as it happens almost 50 years to the very minute. I was there, here in L.A., on that Saturday night. I remember all these songs, although I listened more exclusively to KRLA back then. I was a year out of San Fernando High, hoping my college grades would keep me out of Vietnam (they didn’t). Amazing to find airchecks like this. Thanks so much!

  7. I arrived in West L.A in 1966, from Mpls., MN. I’m sure it was the same music, but against the back drop of Sun, Sand and Surf, Palm Trees, Mountains, and Freeways forever, it was never so alive and vibrant. My mom had a pt job, cleaning offices on Hollywood / Highland and another on Sunset Blvd near La Brea. I was in complete awe… A little later 1968 we would pass KHJ on the walk to Louis Pasteur Jr High, and then on to Hamilton High. I’m back in Mpls now but those day are etched in stone and never forgotten.

    1. It probably was. But L.A., like Memphis and all other cities, had their regional hits -that’s what made it all exciting and vibrant. We all got to learn from each other.

  8. so rad! i was 19 at the timje. this was the background noise of my life, including me in the community of music and events happening around los angeles. i lived in pasadena area and listened a lot to KPFK, a pasadena city college station. thank you so much for sharing this now. it touched a chord in the music of my life!

  9. what a great page!! well I grew up smack dab in the middle of L.A. I went to Belmont High, did summer school at Hollywood High, and attended my prom at the old Ambassador Hotel, had our prom dinner at the world famous Coconut Grove!! how much more L.A. could you be??!! lol these raido programs brought back a flood of memories of 1965 and the British Invasion, I was the biggest Beatle fan, was very fortunate to have seen them perform live!!! i’ve carried the love of the Beatles all the way through to my grandsons, they are huge fans!! the AM radio stations of the 60’s kept all of us L.A. teenagers updated with all the musical happenings, and all the latest bands from England, I for one was mesmerized by their british accents, and of course, we all wanted to go to Carnaby Street!!! I was also fortunate enough to have danced on several local teen dance shows, like Groovy, with host Sam Riddle and Shivaree, and I freq uented the Sunset Strip and the Griffith Park Sunday Love-Ins!! what wonderful times, and memories, we got to experience the greatest generation of them all!!! the 60’s were the best!!!

    1. When I first moved to L.A. in 1958 I lived right around the corner from Belmont High. And then we moved to Fairfax and Pico. L.A. was a whole lot of fun then.

  10. I went to Westchester High school in LA. Graduated in 1969. Moved to LA from San Diego just about the time this recording was made. I LOVED 93 KHJ radio. I remember driving to school in the mornings and just getting lost in the music at a stop light or cruising to Playa del Rey and Toes beach in the summer with KHJ blaring on the car radio. KING OF THE WORLD! Then on a Friday or Saturday night we’d hop in the car and cruise down to the Sunset strip, park on some side street and just walk along enjoying the sights and sounds. Sometimes we’d head out to the Greek Theater or Hollywood Bowl or The Trubador for some great music from some if the biggest names of the era: Four Tops, Turtles, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Neil Diamond and many others. SO MUCH FUN!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  11. I love this!! I grew up in Lakewood, CA and I would listen to David Hull and “Big Bertha’s Girdle Pull Up” every morning getting ready for school.

  12. this is so great! i remember all those clubs on the sunset strip. my mom used to drive us there to check it out when we were kids. i went to the teenage fair at the palladium when i was in junior high. the night of this show i was just shy of 10 1/2. i have a golden hits KHJ double album still from a bit later with little ‘bio’s’ in the gatefold of all the boss jocks. love all 3 or these stations. love this site!!

  13. For a Brit a fascinating slice of 60s West Coast radio – particularly to hear an early incarnation of English DJ Tommy Vance “TV on the radio” who’ll be familiar to listeners in the UK. Initially on the massively popular illegal pirate radio station Radio Caroline which broadcast from the North Sea in the 60s and later with the BBC. The catholic music policy adopted by most radio stations at the time is greatly missed in this age of narrowcasting. Music was a precious commodity and we loved to seek out treasures

    1. Tommy Vance was huge in L.A. – he wound up at the right place at the right time – anything with an accent was worth its weight in gold! His name escapes me at the moment, but KFWB had a British DJ and KHJ (who were new at the time) were in competition – KRLA eventually landed Derek Taylor for a Sunday night slot around 1967 – he’s the one we all first heard Procol Harum from. A great music education was to be had. I will be putting up more in the coming weeks/months – there are hundreds of hours of such slices!

      1. The British DJ on KFWB was Lord Tim.. I think his last name was Hudson but he never used it. most likely because of Emperor Hudson being on KRLA.

  14. I used to sit in my mom’s VW Bug in the garage and listen to KFWB. I loved the Turtles when I was 14.

  15. Just reading the comments, I can see that this sort of tape belongs in the National Archives. It is the sort of thing that people write Doctoral dissertations on for PhD’s in Anthropology or History. It is beyond amazing for me, a kid of the 1970’s LA, to see what it was like before I was born. This tape is an unbelievable treasure.

    1. That’s why we’re doing the Funrdaiser – for this tape and the 150,000+ just like it. BTW – The National Archives would never let this tape out, not in a million years.

  16. Thank you so much for making this available. I’m a UK-based radio academic and being able to listen to this was really useful. This is the early days of KHJ’s Boss radio format which became so influential. Any Briton over 45 will be shocked to listen to Tommy Vance doing his evening KHJ programme. Vance became a staple of British music radio, via sea-based pirate Radio Caroline and the BBC’s Radio 1 from 1967.

    You’d also probably be surprised how many cars had FM radios in the mid-1960s. Although still an option at that time they were widely available and were an aspirational ‘must have’ for more affluent car purchasers. I think I’m right in saying KHJ simulcasted its Boss format on FM.

    As you’re presenting three stations from the golden age of music radio it is disappointing to discover they are now all talk stations. Ironically who are primarily christian.

    And I haven’t even started to open up the possibilities in KRLA and KFWB. There’s so much going on in this recording I’m going to try an write a paper on it!

    1. Thanks so much for your comments – yes, KHJ was simulcast on FM until 1968 when they became separate, and KHJ-FM became KRTH (K-Earth 101) – as many stations did at the time. And, most likely, because VW’s were so popular, and they were about the only car that had FM (the Blaupunkt radios were standard), Detroit started installing AM-FM radios in their new model cars and that’s when FM really took off – but that’s another story. I will post more of these slices of radio soon!

  17. Hey, Gordon, true story. Last night for the first time in many years, you popped into my mind, and I googled you to see what you were up to, and saw that you write for Past Daily, a site that was unfamiliar to me. Planned to take a closer look at the website (looks interesting) and thought maybe I would drop you a note, but this morning my mind was on other things. But then one of my friends happened to share your post on facebook today and the timing really blew my mind. This is Wanda, from the old days (1965, the topic of your blog post, in fact..).

  18. This was great – thanks so much for sharing from a music lover since birth – even dabbled in radio DJ for a while.

  19. Just finished listening… what a great line-up of songs. Two that I knew well, but haven’t heard in years were Mystic Eyes and Ballad of a Thin Man. Great to hear them again. Except for a few songs that were unfamiliar, I knew all of them note for note. I went to a lot of antiwar protests, too, so the news blurbs were interesting, too. Memories.

  20. Covina HS; class of 64. As with all of us of this age and especially in this era, 1965 was a year of great changes in my life. The thrill of experiencing new things and the sadness of the past being left behind. The clash of the two was daunting.

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