Friday on My Mind: The 1962 World’s Fair

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, also known as The Century 21 Exposition, took place 52 years ago on April 21st. It’s always fun to look back at this significant anniversary within Seattle’s history, which got under way with a phone call from President John F. Kennedy. With the help of a telegraph machine used by President Taft to open the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909, Kennedy officially opened the fair by telegraph key to 12,000 people seated in the stadium for the opening ceremonies. New buildings were constructed for the purpose of the Fair including the United States Science Pavilion, which is now known as the Pacific Science Center, The Washington State Coliseum, which later became The Key Arena, as well as the International Fountain, Center House, Opera House, and Monorail. Operating under the theme and motto of “Living In the Space Age”, the fair continued on for six more months, during which time 9.5 million people made the trek to Seattle in order to attend. Notable celebrities such as Louis Armstrong, John Wayne, and George Burns made the trek as well. Elvis Presley came into town to film the movie It Happened at the World’s Fair, which used the fair as a backdrop. Albert Rosellini, who was the governor of Seattle at that time, pitched the movie idea to film executives, and they went for it.

“It Happened at the World’s Fair” Elvis movie trailer:

While the 1962 World’s Fair made for an exciting year in Seattle, it was an exciting year all around as far as music was concerned. Many seminal artists released some of their signature and most recognizable songs of their career. This week we’re turning the clock back and looking at just a few of our favorite songs from 1962…

Patsy Cline – She’s Got You

After gaining success with the hits “I Fall to Pieces” and the Willie Nelson penned “Crazy”, Patsy Cline took her career to the next level after releasing “She’s Got You”. Written specifically for Cline by songwriter Hank Cochran, it was said that Cline loved the song upon hearing it for the first time. In fact, she loved it so much that she quickly learned the song within the timespan of that same day and recorded it very soon after. “She’s Got You” was released as a single on January 30, 1962 and served as an important turning point in Cline’s career as it became her first hit outside of the US. As well, the success of the song led to Cline being asked to appear on American Bandstand.

Bob Dylan – Man of Constant Sorrow

On March 19, 1962, Bob Dylan released his self-titled debut album, which was recorded for Columbia Records for the mere price of $402, or so the story goes. While the album seems somewhat removed from the Dylan the world later became very familiar with, it gave insight into what was to come from Robert Zimmerman. Besides “Song to Woody” and Dylan’s take on “House of the Risin’ Sun”, the album included his version of the traditional folk song, “Man of Constant Sorrow”. The song is probably now better known due to its inclusion within O Brother, Where Art Thou? where it was performed by George Clooney’s fictional band, Soggy Bottom Boys. Here is footage of Dylan performing “Man of Constant Sorrow” during his first television appearance in 1963. This appearance was taped in March of 1963, but didn’t air on television until a few months later during May. Dylan also performed “Blowin’ In the Wind” and “Ballad of Hollis Brown” during this session.

Ray Charles – I Can’t Stop Loving You

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” was originally written and recorded by country singer Don Gibson back in 1957. Ray Charles recorded his rendition of Gibson’s song and included it on his album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which was released during April of 1962.

Honorable Mentions:

The Beatles – Love Me Do

First released in 1962, “Love Me Do” was the very first single released by The Beatles.

Elvis Presley – Return To Sender

Presley’s effort from 1962 was Girls! Girls! Girls! with “Return to Sender” as one of it’s many singles.

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One Comment

  1. Ronald Wall
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I was 20 yrs. old at the time, and my Dad and I drove from Garden Grove, Ca. to visit the World’s Fair in Seattle. We had a great time. The only celebrity I recall seeing was Johnny Mathis, who was making a video. I remember him dancing around a fountain and singing.

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