This Week In History: The Beatles, Ringo & Billy Vera

The music history books are vast and full of interesting bits of knowledge. “Big” Jay Sorensen gives you a recap of the biggest and most interesting music news from the week; something from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

This week, “Big” Jay discusses the influence of The Beatles, Ringo Starr, and Billy Vera & the Beaters.

The 1960s


This week in 1968…

How big was the influence of the Beatles in 1967? Enough to spark a song inspired by their song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” Baton Rouge, Louisiana native and one-time minor league baseball prospect John Fred Gourrier’s only major hit song was inspired by the Sgt. Pepper album track, becoming “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” after the group had been to Florida for a gig and spotted girls on the beach with big sunglasses.

John Fred & His Playboy band had to change their name from The Playboys to His Playboy Band after the national success of Gary Lewis & the Playboys. In fact, that group would do a version of the song on one of their last albums. John Fred wrote the song with band member Andrew Bernard. This track was recorded in Tyler, Texas at the same studio where another number one song, “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel, had been recorded four years earlier. Released on the small Paula Records label, the song pushed the Beatles latest single “Hello Goodbye” out of the top spot. John Fred Gourrier died in 2005.

The 1970s


This week in 1974…

Of all of the solo Beatles, it was Ringo Starr who seemed (primarily) to have the most sustained success in the years after the Fab Four’s breakup. His streak of big hits continued this week in ’74 with a remake of the Johnny Burnette hit from 1960, “You’re Sixteen.”

The song was the second number one single from Ringo’s hugely triumphant album entitled simply Ringo. The LP was produced by Richard Perry and had a rock’s “who’s-who” of stars performing instrumentation and vocal harmonies. All four Beatles performed on the album, but not all one song; making it the closest thing to a Beatles reunion to take place while they were all alive.

The single and album featured an absolute rock royalty accompanying by Mr. Starkey. “Photograph” had already been a number one song  and “Oh My My” was a Top 10 hit after “You’re Sixteen” …all released on Apple Records.

The 1980s


This week in 1987…

This week’s number one single was six years old by the time it reached the top spot. The song had been released in ’81, originally on Alfa Records. That Japanese-owned label went out of business shortly after that time.

“At This Moment” was played on the hit TV show “Family Ties” and the demand for the song to be available by Billy & the Beaters was so powerful, Rhino Records (who specializes in re-releases) put it out as a single and it made it all the way to number one. It was one of the last 45 RPM discs to be certified a million-seller.

Billy Vera led the group and had success prior to “At This Moment” as a song writer and performer, teaming up with Dionne Warwick’s cousin Judy Clay for a minor hit called “Storybook Children” in the ’60s. Billy Vera still records and has had a side career as a commercial voice-over artist.

Hear “Big” Jay Sorensen Saturday’s from Midnight to 6AM and Sunday’s from 1AM to 6AM on CBS-FM and check back every week for more from This Week In History!



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