Random Memories from Mick Orton of Silver Laughter

My guess it was around 1961 or ’62 that everyone in my 6th grade class at Wilson Elementary started listening to the transistor radio and the local radio station. Back then we didn’t have different music charts like they do today, so the likes of “Telstar”, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “Next Door to an Angel” all ended up on the same top ten as Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra.

After listening to songs on the radio, I would go home on the piano and write my own little songs (usually just the lyrics since I played everything in the key of C) then go through them like I was doing the top ten on radio. I thought it would be cool to be a disc jockey.

Later on, when I started buying records, I would create my own song lists (top ten) and do my own “radio broadcasts” in our basement… to nobody! Of course, my favorite songs always made it to number ONE! Right off the bat I liked the major to minor songs which Ken always used to tease me about. “Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrcle was one of my favorites as were many of the songs by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The Lovin’ Spoonful also come to mind.

Jon and I used to go to the Masonic Temple and watch all the concerts. We saw groups like the Yardbirds, Turtles, Lovin’ Spoonful, Young Rascals and one of our favorites; a newcomer called Buffalo Springfield. We thought that must be the name of the guy on the guitar in the fringe jacket (Neil Young), but it turned out to be the name of the band. There were many more that came to town in the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, and we tried to see them all.

In 1966, Jon and I read about a new musical group called the Monkees who had a television show. We had heard the 45 of “Last Train To Clarksville” and really liked it, so we were surprised when our local television station, WOC, decided not to air it in favor of a local show. So Jon and I (mostly Jon – he was the ambitious one) put together a petition and took it to school to have the kids sign it. After all, it was the 60’s, and it was cool to protest the establishment. Whether it was due to our efforts or not I don’t know. But less than a few weeks later, the Monkees were on the air!

Another thing I remember were all the teen magazine that were out at the time. Tiger Beat was one. And there was always something about the Beatles in them. From time to time groups would “challenge” them for the most popular band title. First it was the Dave Clark Five were more popular than the Beatles, then the Rolling Stones. Even the Monkees made a run at it, but the Beatles eventually won out.

Like I have said in other places on this website, I got into the Beatles kind of late. Though I liked the early stuff there was a period there where I really wasn’t interested in what they were doing. Then “Help” came out. My sister, Marjie, went to see the film before I did and came home to tell me about it. To my amazement she recapped the movie to the smallest detail so that I wanted to go see it myself. So Jon and I went one afternoon.

The opening sequence was a hoot as it started out with what we thought was a Beatles performance on stage then one dart after another came and stuck them in various parts of their bodies. The girls in the crowd started screaming in horror, that is, until they found that it was the movie’s bad guy tossing darts at a projector screen of the Beatles.

When I came out of that movie, I was determined to try and be a rock star.

Mick Orton



Categories: History

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