by Gary Pig Gold
Although as a toddler Mom and Dad were already helping send me to sleep with their Big Band 78’s (plus I later learned to print by copying their labels onto the nearest Crayon-friendly surface), I didn’t really encounter a true musical awakening of my very own til Summertime, 1963.
Banished for two weeks that August to my Aunt Jenny’s cottage, and trapped inside her Guest Room with nothing but an old stand-up radio long past dawn every single morning, it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before I stumbled upon the raucous strains of Toronto’s Number One Top Forty station, mighty CHUM 1050 AM.
I am not exaggerating: My life has never been the same since.
Faint prior memories of "Telstar" in my cousins’ rec room notwithstanding, I’d soon made lifelong friends with Elvis ("Devil In Disguise") and even Allan Sherman ("Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"), and Aunt Jenny to this day wonders whatever I was doing in that room those entire two weeks!
But one wacky one-hit wonder in particular, The RanDells’ immortal (Billboard #16) smash "The Martian Hop," became my closest friend that endless summer. Then, thirty-five long years later (thanks to that damned internet), none other than head RanDell Steven Rappaport Himself tracked me down upon reading yet another of my many on-line RanDell Reminiscences.
Most sadly, Steven passed away on the Fourth of July, 2007.
Returning from my Aunt’s care with an entirely new lead on life, my parents were soon forced to re-negotiate my weekly allowance (I now demanded one 45-RPM record per week in lieu of my regular 50 cents), and it was right around then that those Beatles arrived...just in time to save me from another month of Davy Crockett and Peter Paul & Mary singles.
For my ninth birthday, I was blessed with my very first BIG record (as in album) ...just like those shiny ones Dad carefully kept filed near the Home Entertainment Center. I hearby proudly proclaim that my initial twelve inches of monophonic bliss was something called The Beatles Twist And Shout [WARNING. Fab Four Fan(atic)s and/or Collectors out there, Don’t Bother Me: this is a LONG out-of-print collection of early tracks unique to Capitol Records of Canada].
However, I must admit that none other than the third Monkees album, Headquarters, made even more of an impression. Why? Because it was in something called STEREO. Meaning that when I lay my head under the console record player to listen (this was before my parents knew enough to strap headphones onto me), both of my ears began receiving totally different pieces of sound. Mike’s guitar over there; Micky’s voice way over there! COOL!
Within a year of that particular sonic revelation I’d acquired the first in an endless parade of cheap tape recorders, and you know what? I’ve been happily eeking out a living of sorts in Stereophonic Sound ever since!
Thank You, Aunt Jenny.
Video: The Martian Hop: