Music memories of the swinging sixties and the heyday of vinyl records


A recent issue of TWWW prompted me to recall my own childhood memories from earlier times during the 1950s/60s when I was an avid collector.

Who can remember hearing their first pop record?

Well, I can nail it down to March 1950 when Music! Music! Music! crackled over our old valve radio.

I learned later it was Teresa Brewer’s record.

Our old house had no gramophone or radiogram and the songs I heard came solely from the radio, especially Radio Luxembourg.

PYE Black Box record player

For a brief spell I listened to Luxy’s Top 20, which was based on street music sales (song copies).

They fascinated me so much that I prepared my own fantasy charts.

As the 50s progressed I switched my allegience to the expanding New Musical Express record chart, then a top 20 which was dominated by American crooners and balladeers, namely Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell, Nat King Cole, Johnnie Ray, Kay Starr and The Four Aces.

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The Brits battled back with David Whitfield, Dickie Valentine, Ronnie Hilton, Ruby Murray, Alma Cogan and Jimmy Young.

In 1955 Jimmy Young was top dog for many weeks with Unchained Melody and The Man from Laramie.

It was around this time that my close school pal Ray Ball introduced me to the world of records. I was in awe of his growing collection of 78s and his modern three-speed Philips record player, Oh, the countless record sessions.

Naturally I was swept along by the rock ‘n’ roll revolution.

In 1956 it wasn’t Halley’s Comet which was in orbit but Bill Haley’s Comets whose meteoric rise opened the gate for Elvis and other sexier, youthful rockers with their twangy guitar riffs, pounding pianos and lyrics full of love and angst.

So went the life of the 50s teenager, all part of the pop process.

We love nostalgia – it’s a key part of what we do here at StokeonTrentLive.

So much so that we’ve got a dedicated Facebook group – that’s all about nostalgia!

It’s called Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Nostalgia.

It’s a look at the history and heritage of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, including local places and faces, lost buildings and industries, military history and a nod to our proud past.

You can read more nostalgia stories as well as join in with the conversation – sharing your own recollections and photographs.

We look forward to seeing you in our group!

Inexplicably, I still had no record player in the 50s and continued to get my fill from the old wireless radio, emerging TV pop shows and my old pal’s record collection.

But at last, as the 1960s dawned, I became the owner of a smart bit of record playing kit: a PYE Black Box, which was among the cream of the crop at that time.

Nat King Cole (Photo by Echoes/Redferns)

It had a polished bow-fronted wooden cabinet, and placed across the corners of the room the side mounted speakers delivered a joyous sound.

Soon after this momentous event Ray Ball discovered an Aladdin’s cave, no not in Arabia but in Liverpool Road, Stoke.

It was Wilson’s Radio and Record Shop.

It still had shelves full of brand new 78s leftover from their recent demise and they cost a princely sum of sixpence, in old money. Some of them would become collectors’ items in later years.

We filled our boots and my collection suddenly quadrupled. This event coincided with another revolution in pop, that old pop process, as those fellas from Merseyside spearheaded a sea of change.

Elvis Presley sings during a 1973 concert. His music lives on and continues to set records in Britain.(AP Photo)

Soon evey major city would have their own ‘fab four’ or five, including Stoke-on-Trent’s Marauders.

Radio Stoke’s Denholm Siegertsz recently recalled his own golden era and his passion for vinyl, and on the latter I can concur.

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There is something special and appealing about vinyl and shellac which you cannot get with CDs, excellent though they are and convenient to play.

Singer Frankie Laine

And so the music revolution moved on to where we are today; different styles and genres, each one a derivative of its predecessor.

The same cause and effect, only the music is different.

In my younger days like most pop fans I was very subjective regarding my chosen favourites but in my advancing years I am much more objective in my observations on latter day trends.

For me it has been a seven-decade magical music journey with CDs complementing the ‘golden age’ of shellac and vinyl, which still resonate to the sounds of yesteryear. Rock on!





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