Talk Radio 1964 and a kid in bed with a six transistor

A couple of things – music and talk radio 1964 and a kid in bed who is supposed to be sleeping. My father had bought me a fantastic 6 transistor radio in the shape of a hockey puck made by Marconi and signed in gold by hockey great Maurice Richard. It had a strap on it so I could wear it around my neck. I was very proud of my radio, carried it everywhere, got sand in it, lost screws to keep the dials on, and shined it with Endust.

My Radioradio inside

chumradioone

CHUM 1050 was The Station for us kids and teens to tune in if you wanted to hear the latest songs, funny jokes or, for a little kid, get educated on what was happening in the world. News every half hour and hit songs that repeated at a certain time everyday. My friends and I would know exactly what song was coming on and be ready to dance to it. We would climb on chairs and pretend we were go-go girls.

In the 1960s and early ’70s, Canada’s leading Top 40 station was home to the ground-breaking and sometimes controversial talk show Speak Your Mind, hosted by the outspoken man with the booming voice, Larry Solway. (CHUM Chart courtesy Ron Hall)

chumchart-jun24-63

chum-solway-chart

Speak Your Mind debuted on CHUM in 1960 Larry Solway took over the reins permanently in 1964. Speak Your Mind became a two-hour show beginning at 10:00 p.m. in 1964. (CHUM Chart, December 11, 1967/Courtesy Ron Hall)

I would put my radio under my pillow so my parents would not hear it and from bedtime to midnight I would listen. Radio was it for me and I believe educated me in music and the current affairs of the time. I never needed to ask my parents any questions – I got it all from Larry Solway. Amidst the rock, CHUM had talk. http://www.broadcasting-history.ca

WUFO in the dark-1968-not just music

Toronto had a great music scene in the sixties however, we did not have a radio station dedicated to soul music which we loved. My father was a photographer and we had a darkroom in the basement of our house and I spent time in there with him listening to the groove of WUFO from Buffalo and all of the great music from south of the border while he would print photos. late night sounds from WUFO in Buffalo

In April 1968, I was in the darkroom with my dad when the news of Martin Luther King Jr’s murder was announced. We were in the dark together shocked by the news. WUFO repeatedly announced King’s assignation after every song that night. I was scared. I was afraid for my family, my uncles, my cousins and every other endangered man of colour.

It was later on that we knew that James Earl Ray, the accused killer had escaped to Toronto at one point. Later in the Fall of that year my father drove me past the building in downtown Toronto that James Earl Ray had been staying in when he was on the run. It turned out that he had been caught jay-walking and given an alias identity as well as fake address. Luckily for the police, Mr. Ray had used the name of a police officer and the address of a known bawdy house so he left a trail.

The world sadly changed with the loss of Martin Luther King and my child view of the USA was a place that was dangerous for me.

As an interesting note, Motown did not just record and promote pop music. In 1963, Mr. Gordy had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. record his “I Have a Dream” speech for Motown’s Gordy label. Zina Saunders SoulfulDetroit.com

The Sixties – some music

My father was the one that bought the music in our household, jazz by Lou Rawls, and Dave Bruebeck, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Ray Charles, Mississippi Delta Blues, and Motown. We were huge fans of Miriam Makeba and my father would play the Lion’s Song on the guitar and I would sing. We would go to concerts to see Harry Belefonte, Hedge and Donna and Miriam Makeba.

Hedge and Donna
Hedge and Donna
My Album Cover
Miriam Makeba

My father also owned a reel to reel tape recorder that he would spend hours, with his mic and machine beside our radio and record music. One of the songs was Bury My Body by Al Kooper but he only managed to record a portion. I had not heard this song in its entirety until today when I searched online. A huge influence on my music choices for life. The channel owner wrote: “From Kooper Session, Al Kooper belts it out on piano and vocals with 15-yr. old Shuggie Otis on guitar. Shuggie’s the son of the legendary rhythm & blues pioneer, Johnny Otis.” You can find out more about Al at He even accepts email

Al Kooper – Bury My body –

1960 and 61 Marvin, the beginning and in love

Marvin's First Album Cover in 1961
Marvin’s First Album Cover in 1961

With a few edits, I picked these early details of Marvin on Wikipedia – Gaye, “a long admirer of different forms of music from early rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and doo-wop, Gaye sought to mix the styles of Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Little Willie John (you can really hear Marvin taking on his style) and Jesse Belvin, first getting involved in groups such as the Marquees. After living in Chicago for two years and following a tour in Detroit, lead singer Harvey Fuqua decided to split up the group and take Gaye with him to help get him work in Detroit that was becoming musical. Fuqua then signed Gaye to Harvey and Tri-Phi Records, his own label and also assigned him to work with his then-girlfriend Gwen Gordy’s Anna label. Listen to this playlist to hear Artists that influenced Marvin Gaye

Harvey Fuqua reassigned Gaye’s contract to Motown’s Tamla label where Gaye worked for the following twenty years. It was during this time that he fell in love with Anna Gordy and married within one year. Reference – wikipedia.org “TheSoulfulMoodsofMarvinGaye”

One of the songs on the album “The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye” is I’ll Never Let You Gowritten by Anna Gordy and Harvey Fuqua.Raw Marvin Gaye, you can hear his youth in this tune. The album was recorded over two weeks and was released on June 8, 1961. Sadly, Jesse Belvin died in 1960, listen to this report here. News Report

Identity 1960

I definitely had some issues as a child dealing with this and played with the salt and pepper shakers as caricatures of my parents (Dad = Salt, Mom = Pepper) and me = Salt and Pepper. I asked my mother repeatedly “is this me?”

By the way, this is not a sad story but one that has given me a great insight into race, identity and the making of a “human being”.

My colouring book
My colouring book

Thinking back, I did not see myself anywhere. Not in school, my colouring books, Saturday morning television or in story books. The only stories that were close to my identity were about animals,like Peter the Squirrel, television shows like Lassie, and Disney on Sundays. The music of Motown helped “us cope with us” some hope, belonging, to aspire to perhaps or just to admire the performers and emulate them in our grooves. Love songs, songs with a good beat and songs we could dance to, songs to get away from our lives, songs that made us love the artists who performed them. It was 1960, and Marvin, struggling with his own identity, signed to Barry Gordy’s Tamla label.

music for the times 1967

Gordon Lightfoot Black Day in July
An anthem that defined the summer of 67 in Detroit

The other Detroit

Black day in July
Motor city madness has touched the countryside
And through the smoke and cinders
You can hear it far and wide
The doors are quickly bolted
And the children locked inside
Black day in July
Black day in July
And the soul of Motor City is bared across the land
As the book of law and order is taken in the hands
Of the sons of the fathers who were carried to this land

Black day in July
Black day in July
In the streets of Motor City is a deadly silent sound
And the body of a dead youth lies stretched upon the ground
Upon the filthy pavement
No reason can be found

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor City madness has touched the countryside
And the people rise in anger
And the streets begin to fill
And there’s gunfire from the rooftops
And the blood begins to spill

Black day in July

In the mansion of the governor
There’s nothing that is known for sure
The telephone is ringing
And the pendulum is swinging
And they wonder how it happened
And they really know the reason
And it wasn’t just the temperature
And it wasn’t just the season

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor City’s burning and the flames are running wild
They reflect upon the waters of the river and the lake
And everyone is listening
And everyone’s awake

Black day in July
Black day in July
The printing press is turning
And the news is quickly flashed
And you read your morning paper
And you sip your cup of tea
And you wonder just in passing
Is it him or is it me

Black day in July

In the office of the President
The deed is done the troops are sent
There’s really not much choice you see
It looks to us like anarchy
And then the tanks go rolling in
To patch things up as best they can
There is no time to hesitate
The speech is made the dues can wait

Black day in July
Black day in July
The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
But the shapes of gutted buildings
Strike terror to the heart
And you say how did it happen
And you say how did it start
Why can’t we all be brothers
Why can’t we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots
Keep falling out of reach

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor city madness has touched the countryside
And through the smoke and cinders
You can hear it far and wide
The doors are quickly bolted
And the children locked inside

50’s doo-wop

Young Marvin
Young Marvin

1959 promotional picture of Harvey and the "New Moonglows". Marvin Gaye is located fourth from the left. A 1959 promotional picture of Harvey and the “New Moonglows”. Marvin Gaye is located fourth from the left.

200px-Marvin_Gaye_promotional_photo

One of the songs I really loved and have remembered my whole life came out in the 50’s. I imagine that Marvin listened to the same tunes by Frank Lymon and the Teenagers one of the original doo wop groups. He would have been eighteen at the time and doo wop was huge.