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This Week in Music History: August 18 to 24

Posted on: August 19th, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL’S BIGGEST HIT

During the summer of 1966, The Lovin’ Spoonful was at the height of its powers. The group had only been around for a couple of years, but was already one of the most popular bands in the world. The band had first formed as part of the early 1960s folk scene in New York City’s Greenwich Village. American John Sebastian (son of a classical harmonica player) teamed up with Toronto’s Zal Yanovsky (who once lived in a dryer in a Yorkville laundromat, played in a folk-pop band with Mama Cass and fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Papa Denny Doherty, and was also the husband of future “Road To Avonlea” actor Jackie Burroughs). It only took the Spoonful about a year to release its very first single and it was a smash hit: in the summer of 1965, “Do You Believe In Magic” raced up the Billboard charts all the way into the Top 10.

That was just the beginning. “Do You Believe In Magic” was the first of seven straight Lovin’ Spoonful singles to reach the Top 10, including “Daydream,” “You Didn’t Have to Be so Nice” and “Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?” The group was one of only two 1960s bands to get off to such an impressive start on the charts. The other was Gary Lewis and The Playboys. Not even The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were able to match their record.

The biggest hit of them all was “Summer in the City.” It was released during the summer of 1966 and nearly 50 years later is still one of the most iconic songs of the season, played on radio stations all over the world when the weather gets warm. During this week in August 1966, the song climbed all the way to the very top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, where it would stay for three consecutive weeks.

Zal Yanovsky was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

“SUMMER IN THE CITY” BY THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL

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THE KING OF THE BANJO

Canada’s “King of the Banjo” was born in New Brunswick during the winter of 1920. His name was Maurice Bolyer. Growing up, he learned to play a wide range of instruments, including the piano, but as a teenager he picked up the one that would make him famous.

By the time he was in his early twenties, Bolyer was making appearances playing banjo on a local radio station, performing with Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Hank Snow. Before long, he would be heard in kitchens and living rooms all across the country as a regular guest on the CBC’s “Tommy Hunter Show” – first on radio and then TV – and then all across the continent thanks to American programs like “The Lawrence Welk Show.” By the time his career came to an end, Bolyer had earned a place as one of the greats in the history of his favourite instrument and in Canadian country music as a whole.

Maurice Bolyer, the King of the Banjo, passed away during this week in 1978.

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