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 ratherrarerecords.com 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 …