1968: A Year of Social Change in Mood and Music

By Bob Scarborough

1968 was one of the most historic years in modern U.S. history.

Jan 23: North Korea captures the USS Pueblo

Jan 30: North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive against the U.S. and South Vietnam

April 4: Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in Memphis, TN

June 5: Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in L.A.

Oct 16: U.S. athletes take a stand at the Summer Olympics

Nov 22: “Star Trek” airs American television’s first interracial kiss

Dec 24: Apollo 8 is the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon

In music, changes were also on the way.

Jan 6: The Gibson Guitar Corp patents its Gibson Flying V electric guitar design.

Jan 13: Johnny Cash performs his famous concert at Folsom State Prison in California.

March 25: The 58th and final new episode of The Monkees airs on NBC.

April 4: James Brown appears on national television, in an attempt to calm feelings of anger in the U.S. following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 29: The rock musical Hair opens on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre.

Aug 4: Yes performs for the first time, at a summer camp.

Sept 19: The Who begin recording Tommy, a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family.

Nov 15: 500,000 people march in Washington, D.C. for peace, which becomes the largest anti-war rally in U.S. history. In attendance: Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, Mitch Miller, touring cast of Hair.

Nov 17: Diana Ross & the Supremes replace The Beatles’ hugely successful “Hey Jude” at number one in the U.S. with “Love Child”.

Nov 22: The Beatles (also known as “The White Album”) by The Beatles is released.

Nov 26: Cream plays their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It will be the last time Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker play together until their 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dec 9: TCB airs on NBC starring Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, becoming the first variety special in America to feature an exclusively African American cast.

1968 was a year that a lot was going on in the United States. The country was embroiled in war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement and the Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina brought a decade of racial tension to a head. Tobacco was king in Winston-Salem and radio stations were playing great music. It seems a lifetime ago, and it was.

Music is a universal language that bridges gaps between age groups and races. The radio stations in Winston-Salem in 1968 included WTOB at 1380 A.M., WAAA at 980 A.M., WSJS at 600 A.M. WAIR at 1340 A.M. and others. Personality radio was over the top. Disc jockeys were the norm and stars like the Flying Dutchman and Daddy-O on the Patio ruled with the kids.

Growing up in Winston-Salem in the late ‘60s, wide-eyed to a changing society and depending on how old you were, taking part in the changes or oblivious to them, music was the soundtrack to all of it.

Today, we reflect on those days of wonder, of challenges, of breaking free from the rules of the past and know that those days have made us, have shaped our vision and focus, and have brought us to today, January 2017. What are you going to do for your family, your neighbor, the stranger you pass on the street this year? Be sure to have some music playing. That alone will create a foundation and bridge to bring ideas and passions and people together.

Bob Scarborough is a DJ with WTOB 980AM in Winston-Salem. WTOB is now on the frequency originally occupied by WAAA.

Source credits: CNN, Wikipedia


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