You are on page 1of 6

As I said in the last video, by 1959,

rock was up against some very significant


challenges.
This early period of rock and roll that
started with Little Richard, and Chuck
Barry, and Bill Haley and The Comets.
And Fats Domino, went through Elvis
Presley, and then the artist that we've
been talking about, just most recently
Buddy Holly and, and people like that.
there's some real problems that start to
hit at the end of the decade.
Maybe the most obvious one being as we
said when we're talking about Elvis.
In 1958, Elvis goes into the army.
Now, Colonel Tom Parker was smart about
having a bunch of, of tunes, recorded up.
So that he could continue to release
Elvis, new Elvis stuff while Elvis was
unable to record to sort of sustain his
career so that his career didn't die when
he was unavailable for a couple of years.
But nevertheless he went into the army.
And so he was off the scene to a certain
extent.
It turns out some stories go, that Elvis
could have actually gotten not a, he did
get a deferment.
But he could have gone with the USO and
been a performer.
but no, I mean what he really wanted to
do was serve.
I think the Colonel thought since Elvis
had been so controversial earlier it was
good to show that he was an honest,
upstanding, young American boy who was
happy to fight for his country.
And the whole idea the Colonel had was
about mainstreaming Elvis Presley so that
when rock and roll died, Elvis's career
wouldn't die.
And the people at RCA were behind, were,
were behind that idea, too.
So that's sort of the way.
But, you know, either, either way, by '58
Elvis was out of the picture.
We talked in the last video about how
Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in
February of 1959.
Little Richard quit rock and roll to
preach in late 1957 figuring that rock
and roll was the devil's music.
This goes to this idea of a, of a
conflict between, you know, gospel and
the church as being the, the work of God.
And rock and roll being sort of the devil
drawing people into, you know, dark clubs
at night, this kind of thing.
And so, Little Richard, as the story

goes, was on a flight and it was a very,


very bumpy flight.
And he was afraid he was going to die,
and he made a prayer saying he had made a
promise to God saying if you get me down
from this plane alive, I will quit rock
and roll and I will serve you.
And the flight landed safely and he kept
his word and quit.
Anyway, he was out by late 1957.
Chuck Ber, Chuck Berry in late 1959 was
arrested for violating what's called the
Mann Act, which is transporting a minor
across state lines.
He always maintained this were trumped up
charges that were basically a way of
trying to strike back at a successful
black American in this country.
He appealed the conviction and ended up
having to do some prison time for that.
But anyway he was, he was out for a while
by late 1959.
There was the Jerry Lee Lewis scandal in
May of 1958.
his third wife, Myra, was actually his
cousin, once removed.
It turns out that she was 13 at the time
they were married.
And his second marriage had not quite
been final at the time.
This was such a scandal that it basically
forced Jerry Lee Lewis out of out of the
mainstream pop world, at least for a
couple of years.
He, he went on to have a very successful
career in country and western music in
the 60s.
And I think all is forgiven now.
But back at the time.
it just, that kind of thing really fit in
too much with the negative stereotypes
that had to do with southern southern
life.
And so, by that time, we're talking about
Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck
Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis all being out of
the scene by some time in 1959.
So, rock and roll was in trouble in terms
of its performers.
And then, come The Payola Investigations
in late 1959.
And I think it's important for us to
understand that rock and roll, with all
this crossover, these independent labels
and these unwieldy, unmanageable
musicians.
Had cut a significant, had cut out a
significant amount of market share for
themselves of, of, of market share that
used to belong to the major labels.

and all of these Tin Pan Alley composers


who just not too long ago, publishes had
been selling all kinds of music, were now
having a problem having to deal with this
rock and roll thing.
They thought, they, they kept thinking
that music would just go back to the way
it was in 1945.
When people go over this rock and roll
fever and came to their senses.
somebody like Mitch Miller, for example,
st, at Columbia was proud not to have any
rock and roll artists on their label.
He was staying true to what was real
music.
Most of these guys in the music business,
the older guys who ran the record
companies had no respect for rock and
roll.
They thought that rock and roll musicians
were kind of cretins, and the fans were
stupid and gullible.
And they couldn't believe how it had
gotten so popular.
And mostly they just wanted their market
share back, it seems.
But, to a certain extent, they thought
that perhaps it was because these indie
labels were cheating.
and they were able to convince people in
Washington that, that was in fact that
case.
Now, as it turned out, a Congressional
Committee in Washington was just
finishing up and investigation of quiz
shows.
Maybe you know that relatively recent
movie about that, where there was a quiz
show, that turned out was rigged.
And so the idea that hits on the radio
would be rigged.
And that's how this lousy rock and roll
music could overtake what we all know as
good, traditional, tin pan ally music.
That must be what's going on.
So, this Congressional Committee decided
to turn its attention, after having
finished up with the quiz show, to what
was going on in the music business.
And especially, in radio, and to a
certain extent television.
So, the House Special Subcommittee on
Legislative Oversight got to work and
started interviewing people about this.
Now, their whole contention was that that
there was this pay for play thing going
on.
That people were, the record labels,
especially indies, were paying disc
jockeys to play these records.

That's why they were getting on the air.


That's why they were becoming hits.
And, these investigations adversely
affected both the major labels and the
indie labels, because they were all doing
it.
It's just that the major labels were able
to endure this and it drove a lot of the
Indie labels out of business.
Just having to defend yourself legally
and, and all that goes with it.
anyway, Payola, this idea of paying for
play has a long history in popular music.
There was nothing really new about what
was going on.
the major labels spent probably a lot
more money than the indie labels did
paying to get plays on the radio.
But anyway, the Congress got in there and
they started asking questions and it
became a big scandal.
There were two people who were sort of
who, who were the biggest stars to be
questioned on all this.
The first was Dick Clark, who was just
getting started in his American band
stand career out of Philidelphia, the
television show he'd been involved in,
radio.
But it turns out, Dick Clark, thinking he
was being a smart businessman, had
invested in, had a portfolio of products.
He was, he owned publishing, he owned
shares in record manufacturing.
He owned shares on the show that he was
he was producing.
And so, you can get the idea that there
could be a conflict of interest that
could arise when you own a part of the
record company.
And the publishing on a record that
you're playing on your television show
that's nationally syndicated, right?
That could be a kind of a conflict of
interest.
The way he portrayed himself in Congress,
however, was, fellows I'm, I'm just
trying to make a living here.
Whatever you tell me you think I should
do in order to keep this as clean as
possible, that's what I want to do.
But I'm just a businessman trying to make
my, my fortune in the music business.
I'm trying to play by the rules here, if
there's something here that's wrong, you
know, I'm happy to do whatever I can to
accommodate.
And so they ended up thinking that Dick
Clark was just a fantastic young man, a
model sort of citizen, a great

businessman, that kind of thing.


He came out of the whole thing almost
entirely unscathed, with his reputation
intact, even though there was some very
edgy moments for him.
And some possibility of his career
collapsing, he came through it with
flying colors and was praised.
Alan Freed, on the other hand, did not.
He continually resisted and was, was not
particularly cooperative.
he eventually pleaded guilty to taking
bribes.
he was he got a suspended sentence and a
$300 fine.
But he, by that time, he'd already been
fired from every job that he had when he
was at the height of his career.
So no more radio, no more TV, no more
nothing.
and by 1965, he was sort of died kind of
a broken man.
And so, it's too bad about how all of
that turned out for Alan Freed and Dick
Clark was able to get through it all.
one of the effects, or the, I guess there
many effects to the Payola
Investigations.
One of them is that it made radio
stations much more conservative in the,
in the sense that they were fearful of
losing their licenses.
I mean, a radio station can only
broadcast if it has a license by the
Federal Government.
So, the Federal Government decides to
pull your license, you're out of
business.
So, you really better be sure you're, you
know, minding your, minding your business
closely and, and, and not transgressing
against anything that can get you into,
into trouble.
And so, after all the rock and roll
craziness that had gone on with DJs and
all this kind of thing.
This music business pros decide that, you
know, they had better take a little bit
more control over what music gets on the
radio so they get into trouble this way.
And in fact, one of the things we can say
about this next era is if the period from
1955 through '59 had been dominated by
independent labels and artists.
Who, you know defied tradition and maybe
polite, regular polite behavior and that
kind of thing.
If it was kind of like the wild west of
the music business.
After that, after all this Payola thing

and various musicians were out of it, the


next era was the music business taking
control of rock and roll again.
That is they liked the idea that there
was this youth, youth market that had
been created, that they could sell
records to.
But they figured, they could probably do
it better and more efficiently if they
took it over.
And so, that's essentially what happened.
So, what we're going to try and figure
out next week is when this happens.
All these years from 1960 through the end
of 1963, The Beatles hit this country in
early 1964, that period between Elvis and
The Beatles.
is this period a kind of a dark ages for
rock music?
When rock music becomes, sort of,
homogenized and family friendly.
And lacking all the kind of excitement,
and interest, and edginess that it had in
those first years.
Or, are these golden years, as new styles
begin to develop, and new kinds of things
start to happen in popular music.
that really were cut short perhaps, by
the arrival of the British invasion and
The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones and
the rest of them.
We'll consider all that next week.