In 1960, London had become the new hot spot for popular music and TRO was at the forefront. Skiffle music, a British interpretation of traditional folk music, enjoyed major popularity in England in the early sixties and British songwriter Lonnie Donegan scored impressive hits with the Lead Belly songs ROCK ISLAND LINE and MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. With its vast folk repertoire as a vital source of music, TRO’s international affiliate, Essex Music, attracted many young musicians, such as Pete Townshend, Justin Hayward, Syd Barrett and Charles Aznavour.
Meanwhile, in the US, the 1960s were a time of protest, and WE SHALL OVERCOME became the rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement. Other protest songs were also published by TRO, including IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG) written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, which Trini Lopez and Peter, Paul and Mary both recorded and charted with. Folk rock was born when the Byrds recorded Pete Seeger’s TURN! TURN! TURN! (TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON), which hit number one on the Billboard charts and is one of the enduring anthems from the civil rights era.
Other hit recordings from the 1960s include: ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT (Elvis Presley/1960), THE MADISON TIME (Ray Bryant/1960), MY KIND OF GIRL (Matt Monro/1961), COTTON FIELDS (THE COTTON SONG) (The Highwaymen/1962), MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW (Kenny Ball/1962), WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I? (Sammy Davis, Jr./1962), FLY ME TO THE MOON (Joe Harnell/1963), WE SHALL OVERCOME (Joan Baez/1963), AS TEARS GO BY (Marianne Faithfull/1965; Rolling Stones/1966), and MY GENERATION (The Who/1966).
In addition to the pop, rock and folk success, TRO expanded its catalog working with the top theater talent of the day. In June 1960, Lionel Bart’sOliver! opened at the New Theatre in London, and three years later started its historic run on Broadway. The production would go on to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and in 1968, the film version would win six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
In 1962, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s musical Stop the World—I Want to Get Off opened at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. They followed that success with The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd, which contained the hit song FEELING GOOD. In 1964 Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray’s production of High Spirits opened at the Alvin Theatre, and in 1966 Oscar Brand and Paul Nassau’s A Joyful Noise opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Another Oscar Brand production, How to Steal an Election, opened at the Pocket Theater in 1968.
The decade closed with Howie Richmond, Johnny Mercer and Abe Olman establishing the National Academy of Popular Music and Songwriters Hall of Fame, to honor songwriters for their lifetime contributions to popular music.