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1966 was a remarkable year in music. The Beach Boys and specifically Brian Wilson produced one of the ten best albums of all time when they released "Pet Sounds". Inspired by the Beatles new album "Rubber Soul" Wilson, who was unable to tour with the band for health reasons, spent months in the studio with session musicians. By the time the rest of the band returned from a tour in Japan all that was left for them to do were the vocals. The album set a new standard for pop music and John Lennon even commented "Wow, I wish we would have done that". Later in the year their single "Good Vibrations" would become #1 on the charts and their all time best seller.
The Beatles new album "Revolver" hit #1 in the U.S. and U.K. as well as three of it's songs, "We Can Work It Out", "Paperback Writer" and "Yellow Submarine". 1966 also was the groups last commercial concert. Held at San Francisco's Candlestick Park it was the conclusion to several years of touring and 1400 international shows. There was also a bit of controversy this year when a comment that John Lennon made, mostly in jest, was quoted in a teen fan magazine. He said "I guess we're more popular than Jesus now". He later apologized and tried to explain the comment/joke but Beatles records and memorabilia were burned in some religious communities.
Inspired by the Beatles film "A Hard Day's Night" the Monkees were a group that was formed to create a TV show by the same name. The intent was that they be funny and irreverent like the Beatles and sing some vocals of songs that were written for the show. There immense TV popularity led to their songs getting a lot of radio play and success on the charts. "Last Train to Clarksville" was their first single and right after came "I'm A Believer" they both made it to #1. With all this popularity came a public desire to see them in concert. Their first attempt was in Hawaii and was disastrous. They sounded awful and the fans thought that they had been faking it the whole time. In reality after filming the series for 12 hours a day and making public promotional appearances they hadn't had much practice time together. In time their musical talents grew and the fans forgiving as always returned to the their concerts.
The Rolling Stones relased the album "Aftermath" and the single "Paint It Black" which would become one of the best selling songs ever.
Although the title sounds like it could be another 'Stones hit at #1 "Strangers in the Night" was actually a Frank Sinatra tune and it signaled a come back to the pop charts for the "Chairman of the Board". He also won three Grammys this year for Best Album, Best Song and Best Vocal.
The Mamas & the Papas had their only # 1 hit with "Monday Monday" from their debut album "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears" which also landed at #1. Also this year "California Dreamin'" which didn't chart as well became one of the groups best and most covered songs.
Bob Dylan changes the face of folk music by adding electric instruments and a rock / blues beat. Blasted by the traditional folk music crowd, Dylan who was once their biggest champion all of sudden became the destroyer of the genre. Dylan's social unrest stream-of-consciousness, free association lyrics were squarely targeted at civil rights and anti war causes. His style and substance were the predecessor to the rap and hip-hop genres. His songs were widely covered by other groups like The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Association, Manfred Mann and The Turtles.
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