Sunday, October 10, 2010

Johnny Holliday - WHK Cleveland 1964

On 10-10-10 at 10:10, more of the Cruisin' series from Who Da Guy Ron Jacobs. This is radio as it was in 1964 sans The Beatles who were played just about every other song and then some. Johnny Holliday may be familiar to some of you as the voice of University of Maryland sports which he has broadcast for over a quarter century.  Enjoy.

LP liner notes by Jerry Hopkins - The Johnny Holliday in CRUISIN' 1964 was the "original" Johnny Holliday — lots of disc jockeys were "assigned" that name in later years — and in this, the year the Beatles invaded the U.S., he was No. 1 in the ratings from 3 to 7 p.m. on WHK, Cleveland.

Holliday, if possible, went even faster than B. Mitchell Reed (CRUISIN' 1963), probably thanks to his experience announcing sports in Cleveland, and every word was perfectly enunciated, thanks, perhaps, to his two seasons of Cleveland summer stock. Plus: he savored the rhymed cliche unlike any other ("let's click the turnstiles in our wax files," "headed for the tippety-top of the ol' pop crop") and went absolutely bananas over alliteration (he broadcast not from a studio, but a "platter pad," conducting a "platter patrol"). In the vales of verbal virtuosity, Johnny Holliday was the Master Mouth, a Tour de Force de Tongue.

Holliday, who had been with WHK since 1959, wasn't just known for his delivery speed and sleight. Over the years he'd won dozens of public service awards and while with WHK organized station basketball and softball teams which raised over $100,000 for local charities.

For much of America, 1964 moved almost as rapidly as Holliday's mouth, for this is when Top 40 radio stations began clocking the time in "Beatie minutes before (or after) the Beatie hour" and reported the temperature in "Beatle degrees." For a while there, the four "mop-tops" had five of the top 10 places in the singles chart, three of the top five albums. And when the "fab four from Liverpool" appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," an astonishing 73 million people were watching — nearly 45 per cent of the entire U.S. population! Beatlemania had struck.

Of course the Beatles didn't control the record charts, they merely seemed to. Roy Orbison was back with Oh Pretty Woman; Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and the Supremes were there for Motown; the Four Seasons sang Dawn and Rag Doll; Barbra Streisand recorded People; the Drifters cut the classic Under the Boardwalk; the Beach Boys continued their '60s chart run with I Get Around; Ray Charles released Busted; Nino Tempo and his sister April Stevens won the "best song" Grammy with Deep Purple, and all were joined by the Swingle Singers, Tony Bennett, Al Hirt, Andy Williams and the Singing Nun.

As is often the case, TV Guide probably told more about America than any other text, for here were listed "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Munsters," "Bewitched," and "Peyton Place." And between those wonderful shows came charging the White Knight and the White Tornado and, singing and grinning insipidly, the wonderful Doublemint Twins. Only "Shindig" and "That Was the Week That Was" seemed related in any way to youthful reality.

And reality was grim, as three civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney — were murdered by the KKK in Mississippi ... the Warren Commission Report made the claim that Oswald did it alone ... Lyndon Johnson stormed into the White House over Barry Goldwater ... and the U.S. began bombing North Vietnam — four of several incidents that put young America on the march again.

Such matters were seldom mentioned on Top 40 radio, certainly not on Johnny Holliday's "wonderful funderful platter patrol." Here everything was designed for your driving and dancing pleasure. One of the most unusual songs on CRUISIN' 1964 isn't a "song" at all, but a commercial for Rambler, an automobile whose ad agency acquired the rights to a 1958 hit by the Playmates called Beep Beep (CRUISIN' 1961) and wrote new lyrics. Of course the "song" was still about the mighty little Nash.