rock music videos of the sixties 1 (introduction)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 min­utes.

WAY BACK ON JULY 31, 2014, Bill To­belman of Good Humor Smile fame (if not for­tune) posted a link to a pro­mo­tional video that the Troggs had made for their single Love Is All Around in 1966 on his Face­book page. He noted that this was “An­other cool promo film from these guys.”

I quickly re­sponded: “How many ac­tual pro­mo­tional videos like this were made in the ’60s? And Love Is All Around is the un­der­pin­ning to one of my fav­erave movies of all time, Love Ac­tu­ally, in which Bill Nighy plays a middle-aged, ex-junkie pop star trying to make a come­back by re­ar­ranging this song’s lyrics to be Christmas Is All Around.”

On Au­gust 1, Bill posted a link to the Sco­pi­tone Archive, where hun­dreds of mu­sical videos from the ‘50s and ‘60s could be found.

I post hastily re­sponded, “In­ter­esting but not what I meant. How many videos for sin­gles were made in that decade? Not live stuff or them lip-synching to their record, but a video like the Bea­tles’ Straw­berry Fields For­ever and Penny Lane. I’ll bet there ain’t many . . .”

BT: The most you get is a handful from some major artists. The Beach Boys did made one for Sloop John B, Friends, Wake The World, Break­away, and He­roes & Vil­lains and two for Good Vi­bra­tions. The Bea­tles made promos for Pa­per­back Writer and Rain as well as Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out, Help!, I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride, Rev­o­lu­tion, and Hello Goodbye.

NU: Elim­i­nate them and what’s left? That’s why I was sur­prised that Fontana sprung for a video for the Troggs!

BT: The Doors made a few of them. The Kinks did Dead End Street and Sunny Af­ter­noon. The Pink Floyd did Arnold Lane, Paint Box, and The Scare­crow. The Tur­tles did Lady-O and The Air­plane made a couple.

NU: I know that Dylan did Sub­ter­ranean Home­sick Blues in 1965, but it didn’t get shone to anyone until mid-’67 with the re­lease of Don’t Look Back. Pa­per­back Writer and Rain are what I re­member as the first rock promo videos get­ting wide ex­po­sure (Ed Sul­livan June ’66). Was there any­thing ear­lier? And I don’t re­call ever seeing the Beach Boys video for Sloop John B back in ’66.

BT: I think you’re cor­rect. It was one thing making a promo video, it was an­other thing ac­tu­ally get­ting it shown on TV.

NU: I am gonna start posting all the rock promo videos from the ’60s that I can find on with some com­men­tary on the record being plugged and the video as an ar­ti­fact. Wanna help!

BT: If you want me to try and dig up more promos, I wouldn’t mind doing youtube searches and stuff like that.

NU: Send them to me via email or post them on your Face­book page and I’ll lift them. If you wanna add any facts or your own opinion, I’ll in­clude that (and argue with you where nec­es­sary). Let’s start with the ear­liest ones and work to­wards the end of the decade . . .

For those readers who are eager fol­lowers of ei­ther To­belphred or Umphman, here is the link to the con­ver­sa­tion in all its charm: Face­book.

Rock music videos of the Sixties

So what fol­lows is Rock Music Videos of the Six­ties 1, the in­tro­duc­tion to an at­tempt to col­lect ALL of the videos that were made in the 1960s for rock and re­lated pop music. The videos that I was looking for had to be (more or less) pro­mo­tional de­vices aimed at plug­ging sales for a record or records.

The Sco­pi­tone and re­lated product were ac­tu­ally made as mini-movies for which one had to pay to view it in a jukebox-like ma­chine. That is, they were product, not promotional!

The list of videos below was col­lected by BT and NU, but most of the com­men­tary is by the talk­a­tive one. So far, we have more than 150 videos, far more than I was ex­pecting. The most im­por­tant ones are those made and re­leased in 1964-65, of which there are few. If you are aware of any that we have missed, please send the artist, title, and a link to it on the in­ternet so that we can add it.

I in­tend for this to be a place where you can go and see EVERY ‘60s video from every rocking country in the world circa 1960-1969! If it was made in the ‘60s with the in­ten­tion of pro­moting a record (al­most al­ways a single), then it be­longs here—regardless of when it was even­tu­ally re­leased to the public.

Be­fore con­tin­uing, I sug­gest that you read three pre­vious posts on this site: first read let’s all hully gully with pussycat a go-go!” fol­lowed by “a whiter shade of pale in some spec­tac­ular ruins (more sco­pi­tone video)” and ending with “video didn’t kill no radio stars – they was al­ready mostly dead any­ways.”

A short film integrating a song and imager

When I started this, I was under the im­pres­sion that Sub­ter­ranean Home­sick Blues was not only the pre­cursor to the ‘modern rock video,’ but also the first rock video. It was not. I turned to a ready source for an agreed upon de­f­i­n­i­tion of a music video, and the one I found is dif­fi­cult to dis­agree with:

“A music video or song video is a short film in­te­grating a song and im­agery, pro­duced for pro­mo­tional or artistic pur­poses. Modern music videos are pri­marily made and used as a mar­keting de­vice in­tended to pro­mote the sale of music recordings.

Al­though the ori­gins of music videos date back much fur­ther, they came into promi­nence in the 1980s, when MTV based their format around the medium. Prior to the 1980s, these works were de­scribed by var­ious terms in­cluding il­lus­trated song, pro­mo­tional film/clip/video, or song film/clip/video.

Music videos use a wide range of styles of con­tem­po­rary video making tech­niques, in­cluding live ac­tion, an­i­ma­tion, and non-narrative ap­proaches such as ab­stract film. Many music videos in­ter­pret im­ages and scenes from the song’s lyrics, while others take a more the­matic ap­proach. Other music videos may be without a set con­cept, being merely a filmed ver­sion of the song’s live per­for­mance.” (Wikipedia)

But do Elvis movies count?

Some his­to­rians point to Elvis’ first few films as laying some of the foun­da­tions fro what was to come. I Presley’s third movie, Jail­house Rock (1957), there is a se­quence in which El per­forms the title song in a highly styl­ized and chore­o­graphed scene. It stands out from the rest of the movies (and from Elvis’ other ’50s mu­sical films) and is often cited as an early ex­ample of a pseudo-video.


In fact, had the Colonel not in­sanely pro­tected the ex­clu­sivity of his property—if y’all wanted to see the boy per­form, you can pay for that privilege—then cir­cu­lating this se­quence as a video on tele­vi­sion would have in­deed made it the first ever rock pro­mo­tional video!

As Presley’s movies quickly de­te­ri­o­rated into pre­dictability (and to a state where re­fer­ring to them con­de­scend­ingly as mere product was not un­just) in the ‘60s, there were mo­ments of saving grace. In Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), he per­formed Re­turn To Sender, a song head and shoul­ders above the rest of the sound­track material.

Not only that, but he was given op­por­tu­nity within the movie’s script to ac­tu­ally get on stage and per­form the song with some sense of verve and vi­tality. It would have made a fine promo video to send to Ed Sullivan.

Now, onto the main article . . .

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