memories of the ’70s – Billy Don’t Be a Hero

A 1970s song became a chart-topping song twice in two countries by two different bands: Billy Don’t Be a Hero.

Written by Mitch Murray and Paul Callander, the song focuses on a young man joining the Army and wanting to go off and make his name, much to the singer’s lament.

Paper Lace - Billy Don't Be A Hero.jpgNottingham, England based band Paper Lace were an up and coming musical act in the early 1970s. Looking to gain attention, they competed on the TV show Opportunity Knocks, a talent contest show on ITV in England.

Winning five weeks in a row, Paper Lace drew the attention of Murray and Callander, who offered the song to the band to record.

Recorded as a single for Mercury Records, Billy Don’t Be a Hero hit the UK charts running, and rose to number one in March 1974 and also went to number one on the Australian music charts.

Billy, Don't Be a Hero - Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods.jpgMeanwhile the songwriting duo offered Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods from Cincinnati, Ohio the opportunity to record the song for the US market.

Released in April 1974, the song on ABC Records steadily climbed the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the number one spot in June 1974.

This version of the song also became a hit in Latin America and Japan and was translated into French.

Despite hitting number one in many of the major English-language music markets, the song was disliked by many wand was voted by Rolling Stone readers as one of the “10 Worst Songs of the 1970s”.



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East Van trophy

As spotted in East Van, Canada:

Sasquatch trophy

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A is for apple

As seen on the streets of Old Havana:


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As seen in Old Havana, Cuba:

Jim Morrison

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memories of the ’80s – Emotional Rescue by The Rolling Stones

RollStones-Single1980 EmotionalRescue.jpgHeading into the next decade, The Rolling Stones kicked off the 1980s with the album and the first single of the same name: Emotional Rescue.

Recorded in 1979 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas with the Glimmer Twins as producers, the Stones got influenced by the disco era with their first single of the decade.

Written by Jagger and Richards, the song is often rumoured to be a “girl’s problem with manhood” and how a man will help her out of her emotional issues. It’s also supposed to be evidence of the duo’s growing distance at the beginning of the 1980s.

Released in June 1980 as the lead single to the album, Emotional Rescue was loved by some but not all since its new direction and electronic hooks weren’t as welcome as the typical rock ‘n’ roll that they band had released.

The song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine on the UK singles charts.

But as an album, Emotional Rescue was a hit with fans, thanks to the second single, She’s So Cold and went on to become certified platinum five times over with sales of 5.5 million.

The Rolling Stones never performed the song live until 2013.


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As seen in Old Havana, Cuba:

Jimi Hendrix

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memories of the ’70s – Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones

BrownSugarUK45.jpgThe early 1970s was a good time for The Rolling Stones, and with the first release of an album in this decade, the band’s first single was Brown Sugar.

Releasing the album Sticky Fingers in April 1971, the songs on this album were written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, many done while Jagger was filming Ned Kelly in 1969.

Its beat made it popular, although Jagger does credit drugs and girls with the inspiration;  another folk tale is that the song was inspired by his secret relationship with Marsha Hunt, mother of his first child.

Recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama in 1969, the band was in a battle with its former label until 1971, when the band could get themselves out of the contract and form their own label: Rolling Stone Records.

Brown Sugar is the first single from Sticky Fingers, the song and album the first releases on Rolling Stone Records. Released a week before the album released to radio stations across North America and western Europe, the song’s lyrics touched on many controversial subjects: slavery, racism, rape, interracial love, sex and drug use.

But the song had been previewed in December 1969 at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, a notorious event for the band. The song was also performed during the band’s 1970 European tour, but the song wasn’t known to audiences.

The Rolling Stones taped a Top of the Pops show for BBC, doing live performances of Brown Sugar, Wild Horses and Bitch, but the network only allowed the airing of Brown Sugar at the album release in April.

Quickly climbing the charts, the song went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in the first week of June, while the song also was certified silver in the UK with sales of 250,000 singles and was number one in Canada on the RPM charts.

Jagger often changed the lyrics of the song to make it less controversial, especially when the live performances were being taped for live albums. A perfect example of a song, where everyone sings along but many don’t know what the song is exactly about.

The band’s consequent 1972 tour of America made this song an essential of every night’s playlist and a must-have addition of future compilation albums.



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