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Why did The Doors and Jefferson Airplane do so badly in the UK charts?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Country Rocker, Apr 8, 2021 at 9:55 AM.

  1. Country Rocker

    Country Rocker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Considering the fact that The Doors and Jefferson Airplane were two of the biggest bands in America, I'm baffled as to why they faired so poorly across the pond.

    Do you recall these bands getting very little press coverage in the UK? Or were they simply viewed as unnecessary, in light of all the amazing British bands from this era?

    The Doors:

    The Doors (#2 in US. Failed to chart in UK)
    Strange Days (#3 in US. Failed to Chart in UK)
    Waiting For The Sun (#1 in US. #16 in UK)
    Soft Parade (#6 in US. Failed to chart In The UK)
    Morrison Hotel (#4 in US. #12 in UK)
    L.A. Woman (#9 in US. #28 in UK)

    Only 1 top 20 single in UK (Hello I Love You) until Light My Fire re-charted in the early 90's.

    Jefferson Airplane:

    Takes Off (#128 in US. Failed to Chart in UK)
    Surrealistic Pillow (#3 in US. Failed to chart in UK)
    After Bathing at Baxter's (#17 in US. Failed to chart in UK)
    Crown of Creation (#6 in US. Failed to chart in UK)
    Volunteers (#13 in US. #34 in UK)
    Bark (#11 in US. #42 in UK)
    Long John Silver (#20 in US. #30 in UK)

    As far as I'm aware, none of their singles charted in the UK.
    Stephen J, 905, Suncola and 1 other person like this.
  2. Mr Sam

    Mr Sam "...don't look so good no more"

    But who where the highest-charting US rock bands in the UK at the time (read: were there many? could it have been a case of UKcentrism ? or were CCR more succesful? etc..)
    john lennonist and zphage like this.
  3. Nakamichi

    Nakamichi The iceage is coming....

    We had plenty of much better bands of our own. It's that simple.
  4. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    The UK had their own musical brand of psychedelia, so maybe the California type didn't mean much.
    a customer and FJFP like this.
  5. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    In September 1968, the two bands played the Roundhouse in London:

  6. Doubtful, list 20 for ‘66-‘70 ones that were active during/through that full period, not founded in ‘68/69


    Small Faces

    And these artists did not all dominate the UK charts

    Herman’s Hermits
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 10:42 AM
  7. Efus

    Efus Forum Resident

    They had their own bands they loved and supported.

    For a lot of American bands and labels, this country was a big enough nut to crack without spending time and money touring overseas and facing those challenges, mainly skeptical local rock journalists/media looking to take the visitors down a peg or two.
    And those overseas bands faced that same thing here when they initially toured America.

    Heres several samples of the Beatles US press in 1964 (and theres about 10 more reviews just like the samples below)
    If your not a Beatles fan, you'll love reading them. Pretty savage stuff.

    What the critics wrote about the Beatles in 1964

    LA Times: With their bizarre shrubbery, the Beatles are obviously a press agent’s dream combo. Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well. But the hirsute thickets they affect make them rememberable, and they project a certain kittenish charm which drives the immature, shall we say, ape.

    William F Buckley, noted conservative writer in the Boston Globe:
    An estimable critic writing for National Review, after seeing Presley writhe his way through one of Ed Sullivan’s shows … suggested that future entertainers would have to wrestle with live octopuses in order to entertain a mass American audience. The Beatles don’t in fact do this, but how one wishes they did! And how this one wishes the octopus would win….

    The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful. They are so unbelievably horribly, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as “anti-popes

    Visually they are a nightmare, tight, dandified Edwardian-Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically they are a near disaster, guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of “yeah, yeah, yeah”) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments….

    The big question in the music business at the moment is, will the Beatles last? The odds are that, in the words of another era, they’re too hot not to cool down, and a cooled-down Beatle is hard to picture. It is also hard to imagine any other field in which they could apply their talents, and so the odds are that they will fade away, as most adults confidently predict. But the odds in show business have a way of being broken, and the Beatles have more showmanship than any group in years; they might just think up a new field for themselves. After all, they have done it already.

    Chicago Tribune: The Beatles must be a huge joke, a wacky gag, a gigantic put-on. And if, as the fellow insisted on What’s My Line?, they’re selling 20,000 Beatle wigs a day in New York at $2.98 a shake — then I guess everyone wants to share the joke. And the profits.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 10:29 AM
    RudolphS, Tlay, MortSahlFan and 2 others like this.
  8. Derek Slazenger

    Derek Slazenger Specs, rugs & rock n roll

    It is pretty baffling, especially The Doors. I'd guess they just weren't getting the radio exposure that was crucial in those days?
    MortSahlFan and Efus like this.
  9. I would put it mostly down to the same bumbling that UK bands experienced being handled in the US during that time. The Doors and Airplane were a handful for their US handlers let alone almost nonexistent respective UK RCA and Elektra label operations.
    Suncola and Efus like this.
  10. CrawdaddySim1

    CrawdaddySim1 Forum Resident

    Indianapolis, IN
    Hard to imagine now... it's as if all those critics had forgotten that the advent of rock and roll predated the Beatles by several years... I don't see how the Fabs were so different--as far as something that would offend the "squares"--from what came before, apart from the hair. (The Everly Brothers had already applied harmonies.) I'm sure that there's some xenophobia mixed in, too, although Great Britain was hardly "exotic." It probably all just comes down to their massive popularity among kids, which the older generation was only too happy to piss on.
    Tlay, 92filmgeek and Efus like this.
  11. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    I just looked at the UK album charts for 1968. Here are the USA performers who spent time in the Top 10 of the UK album charts for 1968:

    The Beach Boys
    The Four Tops
    The Monkees
    The Supremes
    Bob Dylan
    Buddy Holly (!!!)
    Otis Redding (who died in late 1967)
    Dionne Warwick
    Aretha Franklin
    Andy Williams
    Canned Heat
    Johnny Cash
    Simon & Garfunkel
    Jose Feliciano
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 10:39 AM
  12. But they were exotic to a very small world self absorbed post war America, imagine the whole US was one huge Midwest.
    CrawdaddySim1 likes this.
  13. Efus

    Efus Forum Resident

    Never hurts to have the local DJ support the cause, pump the bands up and play their music.
    Foreign or domestic bands for that matter.

    DJs dont play the records then its hard to spark that mass appeal.
    You could do it through touring, word of mouth, but thats a hard road.
  14. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    How'd the Mothers Of Invention albums do in the UK?
    had to be better than what you're showing above....right?
  15. CrawdaddySim1

    CrawdaddySim1 Forum Resident

    Indianapolis, IN
    I wonder if most Brits regarded Jim Morrison's "Lizard King" persona as laughable. Once I grew out of my teenage years, that certainly became my impression... which doesn't alter the fact that The Doors released plenty of great songs.

    As for the Airplane, I always thought they were overrated. One of my least favorite "iconic" 60's bands.
  16. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    CCR did not chart on the UK album charts in the 1960s. They charted twice in 1970:

    Willie and The Poor Boys #10
    Cosmo's Factory #1 (finally the UK comes to their senses!!)
  17. The UK’s tightly controlled BBC radio would probably have banned most of both groups songs for drugs, sexual, and political reasons.
    edrebber, Rufus McDufus and Efus like this.
  18. LeBon Bush

    LeBon Bush Hound of Love

    Not the poster, but I'll try:

    Dave Clark Five
    Dusty Springfield
    The Troggs
    The Who
    The Spencer Davis Group
    Manfred Mann
    The Hollies
    Herman's Hermits
    The Searchers
    Pink Floyd
    Small Faces
    The Moody Blues
    John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
    Gerry & The Peacemakers
  19. CrawdaddySim1

    CrawdaddySim1 Forum Resident

    Indianapolis, IN
    According to my "research", the "Light My Fire" single made it to #7 in the UK.

    Light My Fire - Wikipedia
    LeBon Bush likes this.
  20. Ray Blend

    Ray Blend Demand Sausages Everywhere

    The Midwest
    Story checks out.

    And I enjoy some of The Doors and Airplane.
    uzn007, hi_watt and LeBon Bush like this.
  21. john hp

    john hp Forum Resident

    Warwickshire, UK
    No. 7 on reissue in 1991 - no higher than no. 49 in 1967. The Doors biggest UK hit of the 60s was 'Hello I Love You' (no.15)
    ajsmith and dmiller458 like this.

  22. Good post, I did it above also

    not all these artists are cream of the crop( DC5, Herman, Gerry, etc.,) some had sizable gaps in UK chart activity

    And the average 60s UK punter (and Beatlefan here) wasn’t/isn’t that broad based in their listening

    good list, definitely a hardcore, high quality 15 there
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 10:56 AM
    LeBon Bush likes this.
  23. john hp

    john hp Forum Resident

    Warwickshire, UK
    Takes Off could not have charted in the UK as it was not released here at the time.
    Suncola and The macerator like this.
  24. Country Rocker

    Country Rocker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    That's not true. Bayou Country 1969 (#62) and Green River 1969 (#20) both charted in the UK too.
    Arnold Grove likes this.
  25. Country Rocker

    Country Rocker Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It was pressed in Germany and distributed in the UK.

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