Not Every Band Gets a 50th Anniversary Celebration. Here's Who Could, but Won't
Editor's note: Since Oct. 6, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' debut single "Love Me Do," we've been on a half-century celebration cycle in which we are scheduled to relive every Beatles innovation, every release of the Beatles' landmark career in real time, right until the inevitable 50th anniversary of their breakup in 2020. But what other long-forgotten anniversaries are being overshadowed by the Fab Four (Again?) To answer that question, we present another installment in this series: "The 50th Anniversary of Something Else."
Thus far in the Beatles American Chronicles, there had not yet been a day like June 6, 1964.
That was the day that "Love Me Do" (that first Fab Four single we already celebrated the 50th anniversary of over a year and a half ago) lost its last bit of staying power and dipped down to a No. 2 slot while its flipside "PS I Love You" peaked at No. 10. With Meet the Beatles and The Beatles' Second Album winding down at numbers 6 and 4 on the album charts, and Introducing the Beatles enjoying its first week of quiet outside the Top 10, there was no Beatles record at 33 or 45 rpm topping a chart here or in England the week of June 6, 1964. Nor would there be another No. 1 until the release of "A Hard Day's Night" single and LP in mid-July.
That left Americans wide open for a viable alternative to the Fab Four. In this unforeseeable lull of Liverpudlian activity, surely someone did something we should be celebrating a 50th anniversary of this month. But who? Let's examine the candidates and find out why no one is celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Something Else at this moment.
The Dave Clark Five
Reasons why they deserve a 50th Anniversary of Something: No one scrounged up more media attention for supplanting the Beatles at No. 1 than The Dave Clark Five, whose "Glad All Over" replaced "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as a U.K. chart-topper in January 1964. Never mind the laws of gravity, the fact that what goes up must come down and that that the Beatles' fifth single had already logged six weeks at that summit. No press agent worth his weight in hyperbole could have resisted making the case that the DC5 toppled the Fab Four with their much ballyhooed "Tottenham Sound."
Broken down to its elements, the "Tottenham Sound" consisted of equal parts Vox Continental organ playing, superlative R&B vocal stylings from Mike Smith, the honking sax of Lenny Davidson and the timekeeping of Dave Clark, whose drum technique might be generously likened to someone driving a nail into a wall.
Robbed of the chance of replacing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at No. 1 stateside when the Beatles toppled themselves with "She Loves You," the DC5 instead took it upon themselves to become Ed Sullivan's second go-to British Invaders, appearing on his Sunday night program two weeks after the Beatles' historic appearances. The Beatles would not return to the Ed Sullivan Theater for another year and a half, but by June 1964 the Tottenham boys had already appeared on Ed's show as many times as the Beatles. In total the band would rack up 18 Sullivan appearances, more times than the Moscow dancing bear and the plate spinning guy combined (Editor's note: This cannot be verified since we do not know the name of the plate spinning guy. Or the Moscow dancing bear for that matter.). Further cementing its No. 2 status behind the Beatles, The DC5's U.S. concert debut on May 30 happened at the same prestigious venue the Fabs debuted in America -- Carnegie Hall.
Why they're not getting a 50th Anniversary nod: The 50th Anniversary of a first US concert should be reason enough to toss some half-century confetti, but it's not happening, and you can lay the blame at the feet of Dave Clark. Then as now, Clark's real talent seemed to be promoting Dave Clark, whether it's putting his drum riser in front of the rest of the band or producing a two-hour PBS documentary that barely mentions the other band members. Much of the recent The Dave Clark Five and Beyond--Glad All Over doc was devoted to pumping up Clark's shrewd business acumen. Yes, Clark retained ownership of all his group's recording masters but that same shrewdness kept the band's music out of print for decades at a time, holding out for a bigger payday which only resulted in the DC5 being virtually forgotten by fans and unheard by succeeding generations.
And good luck ever finding a video of the DC5 performing live -- more of that Dave Clark legacy controlling business acumen at work, the better not to get into any discussions of who actually played drums on the records and who actually wrote their hit songs credited to Clark (Google session drummer Bobby Graham and songwriter Ron Ryan for that news flash). But this Ed Sullivan clip is the closest you'll find to the DC5 "almost live" and it's fairly disastrous. Mike and Dennis are indeed singing and Clark is drumming live to a prerecorded backing track that someone took forever to cue up. Unlike Ashlee Simpson or Milli Vanilli, this backing tape malfunction appearance wasn't a career killer.
The Rolling Stones
Reasons why they deserve a 50th Anniversary of Something: You want half-century milestones? How about May 30, 1964, the American release of the Stones' debut album, subtitled England's Newest Hitmakers? Or how about June 1, 1964, the day that the band The Daily Mirror dubbed "the ugliest band in Britain" and the Associated Press called "dirtier, streakier and more disheveled than the Beatles" first arrived in America at JFK International Airport? Or how about June 2, when they perform their first US concert not at the prestigious Carnegie hall like The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five but at The Manning Bowl, a high school football stadium in Lynn, Massachusetts.
And surely they deserve some sort of medal of valor for enduring the jibes of one Dean Martin, who introduced them to American TV audiences on the June 3 taping of ABC-TV's Hollywood Palace. To add insult to injury, the group's appearance was edited down to about a minute or so of "I Just Want to Make Love to You," to make room for more of Dean's nasty insults. When introducing the show's next performer, a trampoline artist, compère Dean said, "That's the father of the Rolling Stones. He's been trying to kill himself ever since." Ouch! Talk about the moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie. Still there's no amore lost between Keith Richard and Dean Martin. Keef had threatened to "pop [Dean] one with his guitar" backstage, according to Bill Wyman's memoir, Stone Alone, but by the time Keith penned his own book, he'd mellowed on Dino and wished he had hung out with in later years when he saw what a cool guy he was and the mutual friend they had in Jack Daniels. Or maybe Keith would've just snorted Dean's ashes.
Why they're not getting a 50th Anniversary nod: Because the Stones shot their half-century wad by announcing a 50th anniversary tour in 2012, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first live gig and using that goodwill to sell a shitload of concert tickets. Why would the Stones, who started years after the Beatles have a 50th anniversary before the Beatles? Friendly rivals since the earliest days, The Beatles and Stones used to stagger record release dates so they wouldn't eat into each other's sales. Why wouldn't they exercise a no compete clause now and stagger 50th anniversaries?
The Dixie Cups
Reasons why they deserve a 50th Anniversary of Something: For being the first group male or female to knock the Beatles out of the top spot in America with "Chapel of Love," thanks for asking!
Why they're not getting a 50th Anniversary nod: No girl group ever gets any respect. Just ask Pussy Riot.
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