If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966.
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended.
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then.
Secret Agent Man - Johnny Rivers
If I had to pick my 10 favorite singles of all-time this would definitely make the cut. In fact, on any particular day, it might even be #1 on my personal list.
I would have to say that the guitar beginning is one of the coolest opening riffs in rock music.
In 1966, secret agent/James Bond fever was at its peak and this song began life as the theme song for a TV show called "Secret Agent".
Actually 2 versions of the song were released simultaneously - this one by Johnny Rivers and a shorter instrumental version by The Ventures. Both made the music charts. but the Rivers version proved more lasting.
The song was written by P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri, who at the time were just starting their own band that would go onto great chart success. You've probably heard of it - The Grass Roots.
In addition to regular rotation on oldies stations, "Secret Agent Man" lives on as part of the soundtrack for several movies including Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.