Looking Back 1960

Gary:”1960 is the start of a new decade. I am now a working person at Texaco Canada.  The live music scene in Toronto is just EXPLODING all over the place.  Ronnie Hawkins comes North from Arkansas and really never goes home.  Some of the greatest musicians that Rock and Roll will see are honing their skills on our main drag, the longest street in the World, Yonge Street in Toronto.

Looking Back

I was now gainfully employed and took the Toronto Transit to work each day, 1 1/2 hours there and 1 1/2 hours return. 

I worked on one of the more exquisite streets in Toronto, Bloor Street.  They had all of the best Men’s clothing stores in the city and I spent a lot of money there. 

I was 20. It was a very different time, unlike today’s young people, I loved to dress, suits, ties, puffs and great shoes. It was the thing to do when you went to work. We looked good, we were poor, but we looked good. 

 I  now had a car and great clothes, went to the live clubs and had absolutely no money to save; I spent it all. 

I went to the Concord Tavern on Bloor Street to see this new group, “Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks” from Arkansas.  I had never heard Rock and Roll played quite like they did, it was exciting. 

It was the start of a culture that would produce some of the most famous people in Rock and Roll history, from Toronto or other parts of Canada. 

I saw Gordon Lightfoot playing on the sidewalk outside Steeles Tavern; playing for whatever money people would throw in his guitar case. 

I had learned how to drink alcoholic beverages, not well, but I learned.  I was still under age, but that did not stop me. Drinking, was connected to the music thing; musicians were all in bars, and bars served alcohol.

I always tried to make sure my dates had enough drinks, if you know what I mean… None of that ever worked for me. I sucked as a drinker (do not drink today) and giving my dates alcohol did not work either.

In one more year I would be at the legal age and would not have to get fake birth certificates anymore. I was exposed to a form of Jazz that I would enjoy from a person named Peter Appleyard and he would play at the Park Plaza Hotel where they never asked for an I.D. That was the other reason for going to see jazz.

Peter Appleyard

My priority list (music, cars, women, clothes, etc.) would not change, just the order. The items on my list were still all very important to me, but I was suddenly concerned about who I would be and what I would accomplish in my career, so that sent me back to school to learn about the new world of “Data Processing”.

Cars would move up the list.  I would own 8 different cars from 1960 to 1970, I had the bug.  I still loved clothes and women, but women went to the bottom of the list. 

Music was and always will be just part of my physiological make up and would remain at the forefront for the rest of my life.

Now while I was doing all this, my blog partner, was also in Data Processing” at Zurich Insurance.  He would still be blowing his horn and he would do it at the (infamous) “Zanzibar Tavern” on Yonge Street with a group called “The Ramblers”, but we would not be friends for another 50 years.

Russ and The Ramblers

So, what do I remember about 1960?

  • The US put a satellite in orbit which would take pictures of our weather 
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy is elected President of the United States 
  • A U-2 Spy Plane is shot down over Russia and Francis Gary Powers is taken Prisoner
  • Nikita Krushchev disrupts the UN (It still needs to be disrupted) by banging his shoe 
  • The Cold War is on and we are building fallout shelters 

    a Fallout Shelter

  • Howdy Doody Show Ends 

    Buffalo Bob with Howdy Doody

  • Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz end their marriage 

    Lucy and Desi


  • Pittsburgh Pirates beat NY Yankees 4 – 3 Win the World Series
  • Philadelphia beats the Green Bay Packers 24 – 16
  • Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs  and win the Stanley Cup

Movies of 1960:

  • Best Actor / Burt Lancaster / Elmer Gantry 
  • Best Actress / Elizabeth Taylor / “Butterfield 8”
  • Best Picture / Elmer Gantry / 
Now, for the first time in my life I had an opinion. This would have been my choice for Best Picture of the year.
  • Inherit the Wind (I still watch it) 
  • Dick Clark would make his movie debut / “Because They Are Young” / Music by Duane Eddy

Other great films from 1960

  • Psycho /  
  • Spartacus / 
  • The Magnificent Seven 
  • On a sad note the Great Clark Gable left us in 1960

New on Television in 1960:

  • The Andy Griffith Show / 
  • Candid Camera / 
  • Rawhide (introduced Clint Eastwood to the World) /  
  • The Untouchables / 
  • Route 66 / 
  • My Three Sons / 
  • The Fintstones / 

Music Highlights from 1960

  • The Great Tony Williams leaves the Platters and neither would be as successful ever again

    Tony Williams

  • A 30 year old Berry Gordy Jr. would write a song called “Money” and the foundation for Motown has begun  

Cars of 1960

I was really into cars, but 1960 was definitely not my favourite Year!
  • Chevrolet Impala / 
  • Chevrolet Corvette / 
  • Plymouth Fury
  • Ford Thunderbird / 
  • Mercury / 
  • Ford Sunliner / 

Some of the new Artist’s that debuted in 1960.

  • Gary “U.S.” Bonds / 
  • The Chiffons / 
  • Dion / 
  • Ike & Tina Turner / 
  • The Ventures / 
  • Rosie & the Originals / 

The Music of 1960 was very different now.  The raw edge of Rock and Roll from the previous decade was gone.

Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, J. P. Richardson had died in a plane crash the previous year.  Jerry Lee Lewis’ career nose-dived because he married his 13 year old cousin.  Chuck Berry was charged under the Mann Act and would actually be incarcerated  for transporting a 14 year old girl across state lines. Elvis was in the Army. 

In response to all this, recording studios just “sanitized” the music with “White Pop Artists” and the music, for a while, was just Pop.  The first wave of Rock and Roll was gone.

The Music that I enjoyed in 1960:

Bobby Rydell / Wild One / Swingin’ School / Volare 
The Ventures / Walk Don’t Run
The Fireballs / Bulldog 
Jimmy Jones / Handy Man / Good Timin’
Brenda Lee / Sweet Nothin’sI’m Sorry


The Everly Brothers / Cathy’s Clown / Let it be Me

Jack Scott / What in the World’s Come Over You / Burning Bridges /
Bobby Darin / Beyond the Sea /
Jesse Hill (I loved this song) / Ooh Poo Pah Doo
The Hollywood Argyles / Alley-Oop
Rosie & the Originals (favourite) / Angel Baby /
The Beau Marks  / Clap Your Hands 
Bill Black’s Combo / Josephine / Don’t Be Cruel /
Roy Orbison / Only the Lonely
Ike & Tina Turner / A Fool in Love
Kathy Young & the Innocents / A Thousand Stars /
Neil Sedaka / Calendar Girl / Stairway to Heaven
Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs / Stay
Ray Peterson / Corinna Corinna
The Shirelles / Will You Love Me Tomorrow
Dion / Lonely Teenager In Love
Barrett Strong / Money 
Charlie Rich / Lonely Weekends 
Elvis / Stuck on You 
The Safaris / Image of a Girl 
Marv Johnson / I Love the way you Love Me / You’ve Got What it Takes 
Ron Holden / Love You So 
Bobby Vee / Rubber Ball / Devil or Angel 
Wanda Jackson / Let’s Have a Party 
Chubby Checker / The Twist 
The Piltdown Men / Brontosaurus Stomp 
The Piltdown Men were all studio musicians, and I loved the arrangement.
Johnny & the Hurricanes / Beatnik Fly 

Well, 1961 was a pretty good year, but in 1962, I would purchase my first convertible and also get engaged, no!




2 responses to “Looking Back 1960

  1. Gary, it was actually ’59 when Buddy, Richie and “The Big Bopper” died in that horrific plane crash………..
    “Rompin” Ronnie Hawkins was playing at Le Coq D’or on the Yonge strip in late 5o’s, as was Conway……..and Bo Diddley was rippin’ up a storm at the Edison……love your news, never stop!! Tks once again. Laila.

    • Laila: I’m sure I have the dates correct, February 3, 1959 outside Clear Lake Iowa (I have been there)I will never forget that date. The one person who is always forgotten is Roger Peterson who was 21 and the pilot of the ill fated aircraft, he was also killed in the crash. The reference in 1960 is just to show how the loss in 59 has had such an impact on the music, the hard edge of Rock and Roll has gone and white Pop Music takes it’s place, sorry if it is misleading. Now Ronnie and the boys came North on the advice of Harold Jenkins or as everyone new him Conway Twitty. His first Gig was in Hamilton at the Golden Rail Tavern in 1958. I first time I saw him was in 1960 at the Concord Tavern on Bloor Street, I was still only 20, but I had a full time job. I was in school most of 1959, so Tavern’s were not on my agenda until the 60’s. The group I remember at the Le Coq D’or was the Beau Marks out of Montreal, we would line up to see them and I was there when they recorded their live album. I was telling Russ this just last night, The Beau Marks where the first Canadian group (59 under the name The Deltones) to write, produce and record their music all in Canada. I am pleased that you are enjoying all of my strange, embarrassing and sometimes funny exploit’s as I grew up.

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