Sunday, August 31, 2014

the history of rock n' roll in 27 minutes

This is truly awesome.  It's like THE BIG BANG THEORY opening titles but with music.  WLS was the powerhouse AM rock outlet in Chicago  (and most of the country thanks to it's enormous signal).  At one time in the '80s my father was the General Manager so I have a particular fondness for the station.   AM music radio was struggling but Dad fought hard to keep it going.   It was a losing battle.  Shortly after he left the station flipped to news-talk.

A WLS tradition during the thirty years they played popular music was to end the year with a montage of hits from that year.  And as each year passed the montage was expanded to include the new additions.  Originally the montage was like a minute.  By the end it had grown to almost a half hour.

What you're going to hear are quick snippets of just about every hit song, masterfully edited together.  Considering how the styles, tempos, and genres changed it's remarkable how cohesive this montage is.  Credit to Scott Childers who assembled this and to the many production people of WLS who contributed over the years.

Radio stations were known for doing special holiday weekend programming.  So in the spirit of that, I invite you to just sit back and relive the soundtrack of your life.  (You'll notice I didn't turn this into a cheap plug for my book on the '60s available here and the perfect companion while listening to this presentation?)

Happy Labor Day Weekend.  Enjoy!

21 comments:

David Carroll said...

Never missed this when I was a kid. Every New Year's Eve. It's outstanding.

Scooter Schechtman said...

I was visiting the Chicago area a few weeks ago and noticed that WLS is also an FM oldies station,even using the old 70s jingle and also Don't be nervous
Don't be rocky
You're our teenage
Guest disc jockey now

jb said...

The montage, which they called "the timesweep" back then, is every song to hit #1 on the weekly WLS chart. Incredible history.

Gary said...

Very surprised not to hear "Hey Jude" in there. Is it possible that song didn't hit number one in Chicago?

estiv said...

As the average quality of the production values in the music goes up in the seventies and eighties, the overall imagination and inventiveness go down. Just like the movies of that era. *sigh*

RyderDA said...

I would swear K-Tel sold this exact thing as an album once.

40west said...

I grew up in the 60s-70s in a small farm town 90 miles west of Chicago and listened to WLS every day.

I remember these montages very well. Thanks for bringing back some pretty good memories, Ken.

Randy said...

The mental snapshots of people, places, studios and experiences associated with each of these songs, all flying through my mind... YOW!!

And then there's the part of me in a cold sweat, with grease pencil and blade in hand, snippets of tape wrapped ouround my neck, imagining myself trying to produce this monster!

No diss to Drake, Bill Mouzis or anyone else, but this outdoes the similar "History of R&R" time sweep.

Thanks for another memory flogger, Ken!

Chris said...

Friday question: as far as I know, there's no high definition transfer of M*A*S*H* yet. What did you guys edit the show on, was it film or tape? If it's film, it should be fairly easy to just scan it and remaster. With tape, it's more complicated and we might never see it in HD.

DJ said...

Yes, "Hey Jude" reached #1 in the WLS weekly survey:

http://www.oldiesloon.com/il/wls091668.htm

It, and "Revolution" were co-Number 1s in the end-of-year survey for 1968.

Gary Theroux said...

That's certainly interesting -- as it echoes the nearly hour long montage of every number one hit from 1956 to 1978 which closed out the Billboard award-winning 52-hour "History of Rock 'n' Roll" in 1978. In producing, writing and formating that special, I constucted half-hours spotlighting each of those years in which we played several landmark hits in full. In addition, I had our engineers (lead by Mark Ford) construct two montages: one of key hits of a given year we did not have time to play in full and the other of every #1 hit of that year in sequence. Once we had an element reel made up of all those #1 hit montages, one of our enginners made a copy and took it home to play for his girlfriend while he went out and picked up a pizza. When he returned, he found his girlfriend sitting cross-legged in front of the speakers -- weeping. He said, "Hey! Those montages can't be all THAT bad." She replied, "No, they're wonderful. But I just heard my whoole life pass before my ears." Once I heard that, I knew how I would end the HRR. We edited all thoe #1 hits montages together into one mammoth one and that became the core of our 52nd hour. It later became the program's most bootlegged sequence -- and sparked a flurry of hit medleys after that ("The Stars On 45," "The Beatles medley," "The Elbis Medley," etc.)

Gary Theroux said...

That's certainly interesting -- as it echoes the nearly hour long montage of every number one hit from 1956 to 1978 which closed out the Billboard award-winning 52-hour "History of Rock 'n' Roll" in 1978. In producing, writing and formating that special, I constucted half-hours spotlighting each of those years in which we played several landmark hits in full. In addition, I had our engineers (lead by Mark Ford) construct two montages: one of key hits of a given year we did not have time to play in full and the other of every #1 hit of that year in sequence. Once we had an element reel made up of all those #1 hit montages, one of our enginners made a copy and took it home to play for his girlfriend while he went out and picked up a pizza. When he returned, he found his girlfriend sitting cross-legged in front of the speakers -- weeping. He said, "Hey! Those montages can't be all THAT bad." She replied, "No, they're wonderful. But I just heard my whoole life pass before my ears." Once I heard that, I knew how I would end the HRR. We edited all thoe #1 hits montages together into one mammoth one and that became the core of our 52nd hour. It later became the program's most bootlegged sequence -- and sparked a flurry of hit medleys after that ("The Stars On 45," "The Beatles medley," "The Elbis Medley," etc.)

Gary Theroux said...

That's certainly interesting -- as it echoes the nearly hour long montage of every number one hit from 1956 to 1978 which closed out the Billboard award-winning 52-hour "History of Rock 'n' Roll" in 1978. In producing, writing and formating that special, I constucted half-hours spotlighting each of those years in which we played several landmark hits in full. In addition, I had our engineers (lead by Mark Ford) construct two montages: one of key hits of a given year we did not have time to play in full and the other of every #1 hit of that year in sequence. Once we had an element reel made up of all those #1 hit montages, one of our enginners made a copy and took it home to play for his girlfriend while he went out and picked up a pizza. When he returned, he found his girlfriend sitting cross-legged in front of the speakers -- weeping. He said, "Hey! Those montages can't be all THAT bad." She replied, "No, they're wonderful. But I just heard my whoole life pass before my ears." Once I heard that, I knew how I would end the HRR. We edited all thoe #1 hits montages together into one mammoth one and that became the core of our 52nd hour. It later became the program's most bootlegged sequence -- and sparked a flurry of hit medleys after that ("The Stars On 45," "The Beatles medley," "The Elbis Medley," etc.)

Lorimartian said...

Thanks, Ken. Really enjoyed this. I listened fairly closely. Didn't hear "Goin' Out of My Head" (and/or "Take Me Back") by Little Anthony and the Imperials or "I Love Rock and Roll Music" (or anything) by Peter Paul and Mary. Maybe I missed those artists. If not, I would have liked them to be included, however, this compilation is truly fantastic.

Steve Bailey said...

I grew up in Illinois in the late 1960's and early '70s, about two-and-a-half hours outside of Chicago. WLS and their "50,000 watts of power" was the engine that kept a lot of us kids going during those growing-up years. Thanks for the reminder!

Ben said...

WLOL in Minneapolis used to play a similar montage every New Year's Eve. It began in 1981 I believe and the montage commenced with the Beatles Invasion. Every year, they would add their top hits to it. This continued until 1990 when WLOL changed formats. You can listen to is on the "Blast from the Past" website, though it is broken up in two parts. The BFTP host also interviews the creator of the montage, who details how they created it, literally splicing the tape physically. A great listen overall. I started listening to the montage in 1984 when I was ten and it heavily influenced my love of music among other things. I still listen to it to this day.

Anonymous said...

Avid WLS listener (would occasionally switch to WCFL)
Best jocks- Lujack, Winston (see Ferris Buehler), Landecker, Roberts, Edwards, Card, Riley, Weber and about 50 more.
I should point out that while that montage says 1960-1989, it is not. The first part contains big hits from 1955-6 on. That was before WLS was a rock station.
BTW- The first rock song LS ever played after it stopped being a farm channel was in the spring of 1960 by the Hollywood Argyles, Alley-Oop.

Craig Russell said...

Ken--hit up our mutual Facebook Friend Dave Benson. He has been working at the same top 40 station in Kalamazoo, Michigan for 27 years. And has done the audio version of this. He created the 1954-to 1989 time period with all the number 1 songs, and has been adding to it ever since. He's VERY protective of it, but for you I bet he'd find a way to get you a copy...

Stoney said...

At 12:12 - "Do I remind you of wild hickory nuts?" That's DJ John Records Landecker doing his best Richard Nixon impersonation from a Dickie Goodman style bit he created called "Press My Conference". It generated huge phone response at WLS during the last months of the Watergate era.

This montage was also aired (in re-edited form) by New York's WABC on their last day as a Top-40 in 1982. The station jingles were substituted but the Landecker snip was left in.

Pete Grossman said...

What a great ride. Thanks!

Guey said...

Growing up in Chicago in the 70s, WLS or Super 'CFL was on my wrist (I had a AM radio that was a wrist band ) waiting for a boogie check, or being our next disc jockey. One of the stars back then, just announced his retirement: http://www.robertfeder.com/2014/09/05/tommy-edwards-signing-off-on-a-legendary-career/
Now WLS is talk radio (with fat mouth Rush Limdumb) but the FM still has the "oldies" which expands a decade every few years.